Sing it with me: Why-oh-why-Oh Hiii-Ohhh!

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

I’m up in Ohio visiting my parents, who are getting along in years. I normally come up at the end of the school year, but I was summoned by my sisters because in the past few weeks the family dynamic has sort of ... uh ... “collapsed” would be a good word.

A few weeks ago, nephew Luke (my brother John’s son) wrenched his knee at a wrestling match, requiring immediate surgery for a torn meniscus, and he’s on crutches and has big pain, but he’s in high school -- he’ll cope.
About two weeks ago, sister Karen went into the hospital to have her hip replaced, six weeks before her daughter, Caroline, was due to deliver her second child, so that she’d have time to heal and be ready to help Caroline.
Then, last week, my mother thought Dad was having a heart attack. 
(Meanwhile, the woman they had finally found to cook dinner for them twice a week had come that afternoon for the first time. She is from Poland and speaks very broken English, but is supposed to be a really good cook. She insisted on making her chicken barley soup, which is evidently all the rage back in Krakow. As she’s beating chicken breasts with a mallet, Dad comes in the back door with horrible pain in his right shoulder blade, which he swears is just a muscle spasm, but Mom calls 911 anyway, and then calls my sister-in-law, Liz, who lives about 200 yards away and is home nursing her crippled son. She leaves Luke and comes running over, rushing into the kitchen just as Ryan, the boy who walks Mom and Dad’s dog, Rosie, arrives for their walk. Now, there are five people and a dog in the kitchen -- Mom, Dad (who’s groaning with pain), Liz, Ryan and Henryka (who is still calmly thrashing the chicken) -- when the three paramedics appear.) 
Dad remains insistent that it’s nothing, but they say his pulse was very low and he needed to go to the emergency room. He said no. They said, sir, either you get on this stretcher voluntarily, or we’ll pick you up and strap you down. He said, well, OK.
One day later, and six days -- yes, that’s days, not weeks -- after Karen’s surgery, Caroline went into labor and had an emergency C-section, delivering a beautiful, tiny pixie of a baby girl, who weighed 3 lb. 8 oz., and who is now in the baby ICU (please send up a prayer!) while Caroline recovers one floor below. And Grandma Karen’s hip is still in rehab!
The next day, Mom arrived at the hospital where Dad was kept overnight, and he was dressed and arguing with his gastroenterologist who wanted him to have several tests, seeing as how he’s lost about 38 pounds the last three months without even trying. He’s never hungry, has no energy and already has an aortic aneurysm which they’re watching closely. But, he said no, he was going home if he had to walk, by God! (Did you know that more men die of stubbornness than any other disease? THAT’S what you call “settled science,” my friend.)
Three days later sister Susan’s son, Michael came home from New York between summer college sessions. He brought his phone and its charger. That’s it. No clothes, no suitcase. A buddy picked him up at the airport and brought him home, covered in a rash from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet.  He hadn’t slept for two days. He was in agony from the burning and itching, and he had no idea what it was. They made him strip on the deck (fear of bedbugs - simply saying it makes me lightheaded, but this is what comes with living in NYC, children, unless you are Kelly Ripa) and threw him in the shower. It did not improve, and after two visits to the urgent care over the following 24 hours, he was admitted to the hospital in utter meltdown.
So both sisters are in the midst of crises, as well as one brother-and-sister-in-law, not to mention Mom and Dad -- and the other brother and his family live in Florida, and no offense but he’s more help when he’s not helping ... I’m just saying. Sooo, who you gonna call? SuperVicki!
It’s 7:30 a.m. Dad’s got a gastroenterology appointment downtown at 9, Mom has a cardiology appointment at 11:45, I need to go visit Mikey at 1:30, Karen wants me to take her down to see baby Madelyne for her 4 p.m. feeding -- and I have to wash my hair, duh. Then, there’s grocering to do, and dinner to make for Mom and Dad. Piece of cake.
Dad and I arrive exactly on time because I’m SuperVicki. When Dad tells the doctor what’s been going on -- tired all the time, extreme weight loss, no energy, never hungry, sometimes nauseous -- the doctor says he needs an endoscopy and maybe a scan of his lower stomach, as well, but hey, why didn’t they do those tests when you were in the hospital? Grrrrr.

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at, or by visiting her website at