Thursday, March 19, 2009

Part 8 - The Wal-Mart Miracle

On the Monday morning 3 days after my surgery, my nurse popped into my cubical in the Special Care Unit all bubbly & smiling & said, "Good morning. After we get you your breakfast we'll get you in a wheelchair & send you down to therapy!"


"You're starting therapy today."

"What? Just like that? No warning or anything? But, how? I mean, I don't have any clothes." (I'd been in some form of ICU for over 2 weeks. Who needs clothes for that? Mine were in my closet at the home I shared with my mom, who, by the way, was already at work & so couldn't bring me any of said clothing.)

My nurse replied, "Oh, that's OK. We'll just send you down in your gown until your family can bring you some clothes."

-- enter sound of screeching tires here --

"In my gown?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!"

"No. What's the big deal?"

What's the big deal?! OK, for those of you who have never been in the hospital, visited anyone in the hospital, or seen any number of TV sitcoms on the subject, allow me to describe the "big deal" of my going to therapy in this gown to which my nurse was referring. First, it was thin & white...a combination that always translates into "see-through". Second, it was short...not 60's mini-skirt short, but knee-length, which was certainly too short for rolling around on a therapy mat table in a gym full of 40-some-odd strangers. Third, & most importantly, IT WAS OPEN IN THE BACK! Oh, it had a couple of ties at the neck & shoulders, but the all-important bottom was WIDE OPEN! Oh, & did I mention that I had NO clothing with me...i.e. no undergarments either?


My crazy nurse was standing there, all smiles & sunshine, seriously expecting me to go to my very first therapy day in that gown! She thought nothing at all of the fact that my therapist would be stretching me by raising my legs & rolling me on my side in that see-through, short, open-back gown! I would be exposing myself to all of Shepherd Center & she didn't find anything wrong with that!

At this point, my mathematical mind began a mad dash for some sort of solution to my dilemma. I only had about 2 hours to get some clothes. My clothes were at my home 13 miles away. My mom was at work 6 miles away, so she couldn't bring me anything...& nobody could get in our house to get them, either. The only chance I had was to beg this crazy nurse to call my dad, who was 30 miles away & pray he had a solution.

My nurse agreed to call. She came back a few minutes later & said that my dad wasn't home, but she had talked to my stepmom & she said she'd do what she could. At this point I was down to only about 1 1/2 hours & time was ticking, so I didn't have much hope. I kept praying anyway all through my breakfast & my bath. Then, just when my nurse was about ready to get me in a wheelchair for the first time, the miracle happened. My stepmom raced into my cubical carrying a Wal-Mart bag full of sweats!

I call it a miracle for good reason. What else could it have been? She had managed, in under 2 hours, to get dressed, get in & out of Wal-Mart, & drive 30 miles into the city through rush hour traffic! The drive alone was usually a good hour + in those days, but the real miracle was getting in & out of Wal-Mart so fast.

For those of you reading this from outside the States who don't know about Wal-Mart, let me describe it for you. Wal-Mart - or as my husband & I not-so-affectionately refer to it, The Black Hole - is a one-stop discount department store where you can purchase everything from auto parts to Ziploc bags relatively cheaply. I say "relatively cheaply" because of that "Black Hole" effect. You see, although science has yet to prove it, it is my belief that all Wal-Mart stores contain a black hole that causes it's shoppers, upon entering the store, to become suddenly unconscious & then sucks their money right out of them, leaving them with a bunch of useless crap in it's place. Here's the scenario:

You pop into Wal-Mart to quickly pick up a jumbo bottle of laundry detergent for the great price of only $2.87. The next thing you know, it's 3 hours later & you're standing at the register writing a check for $267.16. That's when you discover you are now the owner of a bouquet of spring flowers, a bottle of shampoo, a blue purse, 6 greeting cards, the latest edition of Women's Day, a carton of eggs, a 6-pack of Coke, 3 fishing lures, a 10-pack of white wash clothes for only $1, imitation gold hoop earrings, a 5 pack of Hanes briefs, a cat toy with jingly bells, a tube of Crazy Glue, a bag of potting soil, flip flops, a 64-pack of AA batteries, a quart of oil, printer ink, a "Best of the 70s" CD, toothpaste, a Shamwow that they said could only be purchased on TV, a 50 lb. bag of dog food, 2 pairs of Faded Glory jeans, a box of Leggos for the kid next door & a Twix bar. Oh, & absolutely no laundry detergent.

I don't know how, but it always happens this way. It is humanly impossible to get in & out of Wal-Mart quickly. I personally think it's caused by some form of hypnosis preformed by the 96-year-old greeter when he says, "Welcome to Wal-Mart."

Anyway, that's why I say a miracle took place that long ago December day. My stepmom, who, by the way, loved Wal-Mart, succeeded at the impossible task of going in, choosing several outfits (including a rather pretty red velour warm-up suit that was perfect for Christmas stuck in a rehab center), getting out with only those clothes & making it to Shepherd in time to save me from unthinkable embarrassment.

Miracles happen everyday. You just have to know where to look.
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