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Rated: E · Fiction · Romance/Love · #2287757
Melinda's mom gets her pacemaker, and plenty of help as she recovers.
Chapter 34 - The Pacemaker

         As with every issue any member of their little group ended up facing, Erick, Crystal, Andrea, and, of course, Harold, made sure Melinda knew they all had her back as that following Wednesday approached. And, they all agreed that they would make sure they could stay by Melinda's side every minute of the day that Thursday, when the surgery would take place.
         That Wednesday, morning and afternoon, while Melinda's mother, Irene, was being admitted to the hospital, Crystal made arrangements with one of her friends in each of their classes that day, to get a copy of those students' notes for their classes the next day, explaining the reason for the request to each of them. All of them easily understood, and agreed to make 2 copies of their notes from Thursday's classes for Crystal and Melinda.
         After their last class that Wednesday afternoon, they piled into two cars, and drove to the hospital to spend some time with Irene. Since only two visitors were allowed in the room at any one time, Harold and Melinda went first.
         "Hi, Melinda, hi, Harold," Irene said as she greeted them with a big smile on her face.
         "Hi, mom," Melinda said, smiling back at her mother. "How are you feeling?"
         "I'm feeling fine, honey. I want you to know that it's a big relief to me to know that Andrea will be looking after you while I'm in here, and for that week or so that I have to take it easy when I get back home. Knowing you're taken care of really takes away the biggest part of my worry, honey. I want you to know that so you know how relieved I feel going into the surgery tomorrow."
         "Thanks for letting me know that, mom. Knowing you feel that way takes a load off my shoulders, too."
         "And don't worry, Irene," Harold added. "I'm going to be with Melinda as much as I can between now and when you get back to a full daily schedule. I'll keep a close eye on her and make sure she's OK while you get this done," he finished with a smile.
         "Thanks, Harold," Irene said with a smile. Between you and Andrea, I can totally relax about Melinda being taken care of. Thank you!"
         "You're welcome, Irene," said Harold.
         "Mom, Harold and I will step outside for a little bit. You have a few others that want to visit with you," Melinda said, smiling, as Harold wheeled her out the door of her mother's room.
         Crystal and Erick walked in next. "Hi, Crystal," Irene said with a wide grin. "Melinda told me you're walking now, but this is the first chance I've had to actually see you do it! I love the way you walked in here! Hi, Erick!"
         "Hi, Irene," they said, almost in unison. All of them chuckled at the "almost" perfect timing of their greeting.
         "Crystal, how do you feel now that you're on your feet again?"
         "It feels wonderful, Irene. There are still a few things that I have to do slowly, like sitting down in a chair," she said as she slowly did just that. "But I can feel the progress I'm making, so I have the patience to deal with it."
         "That's good to see, Crystal. Keep up the good work," Irene said with a smile.
         "Oh, I will, Irene," Crystal said with a smile. "Erick will see to it that I do that," she chuckled.
         "You've got one more visitor waiting to say 'hi', so we'll wait outside for a bit," said Erick, as he waited patiently for Crystal to bring herself to a standing position after being seated in that chair. "We'll see you again in a little bit."
         "OK, Erick," Irene said as he and Crystal went back into the hallway and Andrea came through the door. "Hi, Andrea!"
         "Hi, Irene," Andrea said with a smile.
         "Before we get to jabbering, Andrea, I want to thank you again for everything you've done for Melinda up to right now, and especially for everything you've offered to do for her while I go through all of this."
         "You're more than welcome, Irene. Don't think anything of it. This not only helps Melinda, but it gives a purpose to my life that I haven't had since I was caring for my late husband Frank, as we dealt with his MS. But I want you to know that I deeply appreciate you making sure I know how much you appreciate what I'm doing. That means a lot to me."
         "You're welcome, Andrea."
         Over the next hour or so, the five of them took turns spending time with Irene, then, after agreeing they would all be back bright and early at 7:00 AM to be supporting Melinda as she waited for her mom's surgery to be completed, they all headed out to grab some supper and relax before tomorrow morning rolls around.

         By 7:05 AM, they were all gathered in the visitor waiting area, knowing that Irene's surgery was already underway. They'd already been told that the surgery would take about three hours, so they all relaxed and talked about a variety of things, many that they had not had the chance to talk about for quite a while.
         At 11:10 AM, the surgeon came out to talk the them. Obviously they were all ears. "Mrs. Graham's pacemaker implant surgery was a complete success. She's resting comfortably, and will be mildly sedated for most of the next 8 hours. Melinda?"
         "Yes, doctor?"
         "I believe we already have your cell phone number so we can reach you in case of any issues."
         "Yes, doctor, you do."
         "Fine. I suggest all of you go get some rest, and come back about 7:00 tonight. Your mom should be awake by then. The one thing you'll all need to know, for at least the next 5 days, is that when you're visiting your mom, Melinda, make VERY sure none of you say or do anything that will get her upset, or excited, and that goes for both good news and bad news. We don't want anything to interfere with the initial healing process. Do you all understand?"
         "Yes, doctor," the five said in almost perfect unison. With that, they left to grab breakfast, planning on being back at the hospital no later than 6:45 that evening.

         When they all arrived back at the hospital, Irene was wide awake, and looking forward to their visit. As they had done the week before, the five of them took turns visiting with Irene. The difference now, though, was that they had the time, now, to talk about all the things they couldn't find time TO talk about in recent weeks. All the little things. Trips they, or their families, want to take in the future, places they'd love to go for things like simply sightseeing for two or three days, with nothing to interrupt their enjoyment of it.
         As they all got ready to leave about 10:00 that evening, Andrea decided she needed to ask Irene a question. "Irene, when they do give you the OK to go home, you'll still be on that limited activity schedule for like a couple weeks or something, right?"
         "Right, Andrea. What are you thinking?"
         "I'm thinking I'd like to stay with you at your place while you're on the 'limited' schedule, and maybe for a few days after that, to help make sure you don't overdue anything in what you try to do, even accidentally. Old habits could put you at risk here. With Melinda back home with you at that point, too, it would be easy for you to slip into old habits before your body is ready to handle those things. Would that be OK with you?"
         "Andrea, not only is that OK, but I want to thank you for thinking of this possibility and offering a solution. I don't think I would have thought about this by then. Please do stay with Melinda and I starting the day
I go home, and going until you feel comfortable with the way you see me doing things regularly. I deeply appreciate this offer."
         "It's my pleasure, Irene. I'll see you tomorrow."
         As the five of them walked to their two cars, Andrea brought the rest of them up to date on the new plan. "Andrea, I want to thank you for going the extra mile here to help look after mom," Melinda said as they were getting into their cars.
         "Melinda, it's my pleasure. Trust me. This gives me a purpose to a lot of the time in my days that I haven't had since I was caring for Frank as he fought MS all those years ago. This is a very enjoyable, and meaningful time for me. I'm looking forward to staying with you and your mom."

         With Crystal, Erick and Melinda back in class the next morning, Friday, having their "old" routine back actually made things a bit easier for them, with one noteworthy exception: Crystal and Melinda had to squeeze in time to read through the notes their classmates had copied for them from their classes the day before, and do it ASAP so they could both maintain continuity in their thinking for each of those classes so they didn't get behind. And that meant a new "wrinkle" to things for Crystal: notes for the Thursday classes they missed while at the hospital for Irene's surgery were in written form. Crystal quickly realized how much having those tapes of her classes had spoiled her: she could replay any part of any class if she felt she needed to in order to pick up on all the little details. She couldn't do that with the notes for Thursday's classes. But, true to herself this time, just as she has always been true to herself when practicing the things she learned about her new arm and leg, Crystal used this opportunity to improve her future, both short term, and long term. After she finished her homework each night, she picked one of her class tapes, at random so she was forced to concentrate on its content. Then, she played that class tape from start to finish, trying to take notes with her left hand, and to learn what class content was most critical, so she wasn't trying to write down every word she heard. This gave her consistent practice in learning to write with her left hand, and, at the same time, helped get her ready to take notes manually, starting sometime in the next year or two. AFTER she was writing legibly enough to be able to read what she'd written. She quickly realized how long reaching that point could take, when she saw how few words she could actually read from her own notes that she'd written from each previous day's practice session. And every single time, it only made her more determined to conquer the task of writing left-handed, just as similar feelings of determination always took over when she was practicing the use of her new limbs.

         Irene finally got released from the hospital just over two weeks later. Now, with Irene and Melinda back at home, and Andrea staying with them for at least two weeks, their little group could now, finally, all visit with Irene at one time, and they all immediately began making the most of it. They visited Irene, Melinda and Andrea every other evening for up to two hours. And they all quickly noticed how this added time together was really bringing them all closer to each other in their friendships, and they immediately decided they all wanted these deeper friendships to last for the rest of their lives.





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