The Unexpected Present

Working On a Discharge Bill Evans Style


We had a wonderful Sunday. I came in loaded with things to make it a Bill Evans day, we get good medical updates pointing in the right direction with more doctors, techs, RNs, and aides on our side to get Yuri home. With his candor, it’s become a more humane atmosphere. An understanding and compassionate RN listened to him and put a sign on his door that reads “Do Not Enter 12:30-6:30 a.m. and No Cold Water Bathing at 5 a.m.” It’s very much appreciated. Bill Evans music floated throughout the space. Being the last room at the end of a long hallway has its advantages.

It’s also the long hallway for Yuri’s walk of the day, there and back again, as a hobbit would recall in his memoir. Slow measured steps of determination have become the story of triumph in the RN’s station. No one expects a man coming out of ICU a week ago to be walking the length of this ward’s hallway. He’s pushing himself in so many ways while maintaining decorum and not allowing a Doctor’s hopes of convincing Yuri to remain for a couple of weeks under medical observation to deter him. That was tried last year and didn’t work when Yuri was actually worse off medically.

Joy saved us this weekend. A buoyant, hardworking, energetic, Aide who assisted Yuri in ways that make him feel human again. Clean and trimming his own close-cropped beard, he becomes the Professor offering his music knowledge to an eager former violin player and music lover. I asked her if she cared for family members because her ways with Yuri are both gentle and gratifying. Joy helped her grandmother through her time with Alzheimer’s and passing during the height of Covid. She still helps her grandfather who remains independent and lives on his own. Her thoughtful diligence helped Yuri regain his dignity and this small moment ends in a big way as she bids us farewell because she is a per diem aide on weekends and studies during weekdays. In any case, she is rooting for our discharge and likely not see us next weekend. We could tell from her warm, sunny personality that she will become a successful health practitioner and we wish her well.

Other doctors stop by commenting on the Bill Evans Club atmosphere permeating this past Sunday afternoon. It’s a very different feel when you know we’re into the discharge mode while remaining medically supportive since Yuri is still in a weakened state slowly coming back to his own. It helps to be on the same page and not fight the policies and protocols along with “benefit outweighs the risk” mentality. More than one comment coming from medical staff about the state of business operations replacing what was once a hospital with doctors, RNs, and healing. It has become a consumer outlet. Instead of Patient Liaison, there is Customer Service, Administrators are running the show. Doctors and nurses are employees. That’s how it is. in any case, Yuri is garnering the support of many doctors and technicians after hearing of our plans to circumvent the rehab route post-care. Working on the discharge moment Bill Evans style.

And there’s something very delicious about our texting one another throughout the day and into the evenings when we are apart. Spontaneous notes of support and requests for me to bring something he deems necessary. We allay our concerns for one another to banish the worries that deepen his brow. At times the question is what did I have to eat when he is under strict NPO and can’t even get water until assessed on Monday by the Speech Pathologist.

Other texting thoughts after a day spent in the Ward of Gagnon 3, is our back and forth, call and response small talk that embraces big thoughts on what is next in Yuri’s music life – a collection of tunes from his cassette tapes we saved from the flood; another Gypsy jazz tour in Italy; challenging himself physically to come back playing the caliber he demands of himself. It’s the banter we had during our pre-dinner wine time when we got through this frightening angst last year. There will be obstacles and hurdles along the way yet Yuri and I are single-minded and will find a way to make it work. What we know is that you can’t change the nature of the world, but you can get small miracles from time to time.

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