I am overjoyed—hell, ecstatic—to report that I just got off the phone with Mrs. T. It was, of course, a one-way conversation, since she’s intubated with a ventilator and a tracheostomy, but her nurse informed me that she is now fully conscious, nodding her head vigorously and moving her mouth in response to questions.
“Would this be a good time to talk to her?” I asked.
“You better believe it,” he replied.
We’re not completely sure how clearly what I told her on Sunday night came through, and I didn’t want to waste precious phone time playing Twenty Questions, so I spent most of the call updating her on the state of the world, explaining that the hospital is closed to visitors but that I’ve been checking in twice daily with her nurses and doctors, calling her family with daily reports, and posting updates on Twitter and Facebook. “You’re not going to believe this,” I said, “but there are tens of thousands of people all over the world who are pulling for you.” I hope she believed it.
As for her overall condition, she is—to use the technical term employed by her nurse—copacetic. All her vital signs are looking good. The dialysis that was started over the weekend is keeping her alert and aware. Her hands are still swollen, but she’s passed off enough fluid to be able to squeeze the nurse’s hand in response to questions (except that she doesn’t need to do that anymore!). She is still fighting off a bacterial infection of unknown origin, but the doctors are hitting her with carefully chosen antibiotics and are confident that they’ll get it under control.
Needless to say, I have no idea when I’ll be able to see Mrs. T in the flesh again. That remains in the uncaring hands of the coronavirus, which continues to inundate New York-Presbyterian Hospital with fresh cases and is responsible for the hateful (but understandable) no-visitors order that has been keeping me a mile from her bedside. You can rest assured, though, that I’ll be there as soon as it’s both possible and absolutely safe for both of us.
So that’s my news. At long last, Sleeping Beauty is really, truly awake. And while I haven’t been sleeping very well for the past three weeks. I’m thinking maybe that’s about to change.
UPDATE: I spoke to Mrs. T again for ten minutes on Thursday night. No video yet and she still can’t talk, but she was definitely receiving my signal, and was amused to hear that I made a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner (the limit of my kitchen competence) and am now bingewatching Frasier episodes. I also told her about my review of Syracuse Stage’s Amadeus—she’s a great fan of Jason O’Connell—and about the open letter I wrote to the family of the anonymous donor of her two lungs.
She knows that lots of you out there are following my updates on her condition, and she seems to be touched to know that you care so much. (So am I, needless to say.) She knows, too, that the hospital is closed to visitors, and this time I tried to explain why. Imagine having been in a coma for three weeks and only just now waking up and finding out about the extent of the coronavirus pandemic! I told her that I’ve reserved our Sanibel bungalow for next January, and that the landlord will hold it for us until the last possible minute and can’t wait to see us again. We’re both living for that.
Finally, I told her that I love her more than anything in the world and called her my “gallant gal,” a nickname she loves to hear. That’s just what she is—gallant, indomitable, fearless. May she get well soon!
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Constant Lambert leads the Sadler’s Wells Orchestra in an excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty: