Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 290 - 12/07/2007

I took off early this afternoon to hit the gym before heading over to Fairfax Hospital to visit Rudy. He had another heart attack last night and is back in the hospital.

On my way there, I stopped to get the Altima inspected. It didn't pass. This is the first time it's ever failed and it's going to cost upwards to $370 - $390 to get it passed. Last year the inspector told me that the brakes were close and I guess over the last year, they exceeded the threshold. I made an appointment to drop the car off tomorrow (or maybe later tonight) and, ignoring the rejection sticker on the windshield, drove over to the hospital. (Fortunately it was getting dark so the sticker wasn't easily seen -- driving with a rejection sticker is illegal in Virginia.)

I arrived right before he moved rooms, so I was able to help carry his things to the new room. His new room is in the step-down area, where he won't be hooked up to the monitors 24/7. We visited for a while before a Rabbi came in to celebrate the fourth day of Hanukkah, as well as Shabat. It's been a while since I've experienced any Jewish services (the last one was at a funeral), so it was interesting to see. (Well, I wouldn't really call it a service, more of a couple of prayers followed by a few songs.) Regardless of what it was, seeing Rudy singing and reciting prayers in Yiddish brought some happiness to the room. The gleam in his eyes and the smile on his face convinced me that he had forgotten about his heath issues for the time being.

Reality soon came back in the room, however, when his nephrologist came in to check on him. When the Rabbi left, I was going to take off myself, but decided to stay to hear what the doctor had to say. I was glad I did as it was an eye-opener. They discussed his treatment options and he asked her straight up what the bottom line was with regard to his prognosis. The answer she gave him was hard to hear: His kidneys have pretty much failed him and without dialysis, he won't be with us much longer.

There wasn't a look of resignation or despair on his face, but one of acceptance. In that one moment, the mood in the room went from jovial to somber. The doctor gave him a few options on what kind of treatment he could get, but the bottom line was that he's not looking at very much time.

One thing I noticed sitting in that hospital room was that the man in the bed in front of me, the man wearing a hospital gown for pajamas, the man who hadn't shaved in a few days and whose hair was uncombed, the man who had bruises from his recent dialysis, was that he wasn't ashamed of where he was or what he looked like. At that moment, he was proud. He was strong. He was dignified. There wasn't a moment when he felt sorry for himself and, if there was, he didn't project it. I hope to be able to act like that should I ever find myself in that situation. Rudy's never been one to complain about anything. Well, not much of anything that counted at least. Sure, he gets frustrated from time to time about trivial things, but in the grand scheme of things, he's an optimist. He enjoys life and enjoys making those around him happy.

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