Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Good Book Makes Even a Freezing Hospital Room Bearable

I have been practically living in a chair inside an uncomfortably cold hospital room for the past four days.  It all started Wednesday morning when I got a phone call at the barber shop telling me that my father was on his way to the emergency room because he had had another of his fainting episodes - this one, luckily, while seated in a church pew.  So now he's been poked and prodded so much that it's almost certain he's had every kind of general diagnostic test available to modern medicine.

At the advice of a cardiologist, we made the decision together that he have a pacemaker placed in his chest to regulate his heartbeat in hope that his fainting problem would be solved.  That was done yesterday afternoon.  And this morning, we found out that there is a problem with one of the pacemaker leads going to his heart, so the entire procedure will have to be repeated Monday morning.  Throw in the long night we had trying to control dad's confusion and hallucinating caused by the sleep medication given to him last night, and it's been a bit of a struggle  - during which I have slept something like five hours in the last forty-eight.  (So please don't deduct any points for grammar and spelling this time around.) I'm going to get some sleep tonight before heading back to the hospital early in the morning to relieve my son-in-law who has graciously volunteered to take a shift in my place.

I know you are wondering why am I writing all this here on a book blog.  One simple reason: if I had not had four or five books in that freezing room to keep me company for the last few days, I would have probably lost my mind.  The books allowed me to forget where I was - and why I was there- for at least a few minutes at a time.  Tired and sleepy as I've been, they kept me awake, they entertained me, and they reminded me of why I am such a reading advocate.  I cannot imagine a life without books and reading, and I am ever thankful to the small town librarian who encouraged me to keep reading, and who trusted me with books that were probably way over my head when I first read them.  Thankfully, she took a chance on me even though she was breaking library policy that way.  That woman (who seemed ancient to me at the time but was probably only about 70) opened up the world to me in just the right way and at just the right time in my life.  And it stuck.

I will never forget what she did.

Librarians, your enthusiasm is contagious, and if you treat young readers with respect, you just might permanently change a few lives for the good.  You may never even know that it happened, but if you are lucky, it will.  

Thanks, too, to the following authors for these books (the books I'm living with this week):

Matt Gallagher - Youngblood (a war novel with a mystery embedded in it that is set in Iraq)

Ruth Rendell - Dark Corners (her very last psychological crime novel, one that I suspect would have been a "Barbara Vine" novel if she had not recently died)

Gerald Seymour - Vagabond (new thriller set in Norther Ireland; a what if the Troubles start-up again novel)

Skip Hollandsworth - The Midnight Assassin (true crime book about an 1885 serial killer who terrorized Austin, Texas)

Andrea Valdez - How to Be a Texan (a how-to manual that reminds me just how fantastic a place Texas still is)

So it's back at it tomorrow...hoping to post again soon.


  1. Your father's lucky to have family like you. Very nice post, to turn a struggle like this into a positive message.

    1. thanks for the kind words, Rob...just got him to my house because his assisted living facility is impossible to get to right now because of heavily flooded roads surrounding it. It's been a really long 7 days (about 15 hours short of seven) and it's really good to get out of that place.

  2. Books do sometimes almost literally save our lives. They certainly get us through some very trying times. Best healing wishes to your father.

    1. Thanks, Joan. I don't know that the books saved my life, but they most certainly saved my sanity. Now I need some sleep, but that won't be happening for a while longer because he is liable to get out of a "strange" bed and be so disoriented that he falls in the middle of the night. So I'm on guard duty again tonight.

  3. I'm sorry about your dad and the weather and all the crap you've been dealing with lately, Sam. But I appreciate your commentary here - thank goodness for books. They really are such an important part of life, in my opinion. Where would be without a good book? Lost, I think.