Support of family helps Susan get through the tough days

Susan Manzke
Susan and daughter, Rachel, just before leaving the hospital and heading home.

When I found out I would be having major surgery, the first thing I did was tell my children. They then put their heads together and figured out how to support me through the tough days.        

We knew the date of the surgery, but not the exact time. Every day one or another of my kids would ask, “When do you have to be at the hospital?” I didn’t have an answer until mid-day before I was due at St. Vincent’s. It’s the way they do things these days. The schedule isn’t set until all the ducks are lined up in a row.

After my successful operation, the next question was, “When are you going home?” That was another question with an open end. No matter when I would go home, it was all arranged that my youngest daughter would be spending time taking care of me at home.

Rachel has the only job that can be done remotely via her computer and the internet. Though my DSL connection isn’t half as good as her setup at home, she said she could manage.

An office was set up on my dining room table. There Rachel would be conducting business over the next few days.

It was great to have her with me. I knew if I needed anything, she would be there.

Susan’s pets: Barn-E the cat and Sunny the dog waiting for her return.

Feeding my menagerie was the biggest chore for my youngest daughter. Too bad my cats gave her a run for her money.

First thing, Car-E escaped out the front door. Luckily he didn’t go far and returned to the house by the same door. Rachel kept the news of this breakout from me. She didn’t want to upset me while I was in the hospital. Eventually, she let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

Since the cats were/are all escape artists, Rachel figured a way to lock the inside cats in while getting all the food ready for each and while feeding the outside cats. This way Barn-E isn’t leaping up and knocking over the bowls of food and Car-E isn’t trying to escape—I now lock up everyone just like Rachel did. It is so much easier when they are not underfoot. So I learned something while in recovery.

Susan and son, Russell.

After Rachel returned home, my son, Russell came for a few days.

Since all I can eat is a liquid diet, no one had to do any real cooking for me. Rebecca had shopped and left lots of broths to warm up in the microwave. The other items on my menu were yogurt, pudding, and applesauce, but I guess the star was vanilla ice cream.

While Russell kept me company for three days, he did some odd jobs around my place. One high porch window had wiggled loose during a wind storm. It didn’t take Russ long to fasten it back in place.

Since my township had scheduled tire recycling that weekend, Russ loaded up a few into his van and took them up to the town hall—there are many more to be recycled but that was a start.

One thing I asked of Russ was to make a stand for my clipboard. I needed to read old columns so I could type them into my computer.

New clipboard holder next to Susan’s laptop.

Just like his father, Russ went into the basement, scrounged around, and came up with a perfect stand. It only took two short pieces of wood, and two screws to do the job.

During my recovery, no one expected me to cook. Rachel tried to hide when she needed to eat. Since I didn’t have any appetite, I told them they could eat when I was slurping my broth.

My family got me through the tough days. They continue to check up on me, even though I seem to be doing pretty good on my own now. Phone calls and instant messages connect us when we are apart, and that’s a good thing.

My big thing now is waiting for my post-operative checkup. After that my selection of food moves up to include mashed potatoes and other soft, easy-to-go-down foods. My appetite is starting to return and for sure, I’m up to my eyeballs in broth.

Thanks to all my readers for your support, prayers, and cards. I appreciate every one.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;