Dad’s First Stay in DC

January 2, 2009

Warm Day in DC (WRAMC, 12/27/08)

Warm Day in DC (WRAMC, 12/27/08)

I got to spend the weekend after Christmas with Mariah in her new room at the Mologne House hotel on the Walter Reed base while Clay attended to his art and some business in North Carolina. For me, the shift after nearly half a year from the familiar hospital setting in Richmond to a hotel environment in Washington, DC, was jarring but welcome.

Napping in the Hotel (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

Napping in the Hotel (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

Clay and Mariah had already worked out systems for managing the meds, laundry, meals, bathroom and sleeping arrangements, so I just needed a quick tutorial from Clay to feel competent in their brave new world. Before heading out the door, he handed me a single file folder with important papers, and a stack of business cards for anyone I might need to contact during the weekend, including whom to call first, second, third, etc. What a joy to be working with such a caring and well-organized partner.

Breaking Into AFIP (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

Breaking Into AFIP (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

That weekend, we walked around the “campus” and Mariah showed me her beloved Armed Forces Institute for Pathology (AFIP), one of the inspirations for her professional goal of becoming a certified vet pathologist. AFIP, like all of Walter Reed, will be relocated soon when the Walter Reed complex in DC is shuttered as part of the military’s base closings program.

At the Military Medical Museum (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

At the Military Medical Museum (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

We also stumbled across a Military Museum of Medicine featuring medical instruments used 150 years ago to save lives during battlefield mayhem. Diseased tissue samples from long dead soldiers, canisters of ether, knives and saws for amputating limbs, and clamps and pliers for pulling back skin and tissue were interspersed with displays of optical and electron microscopes (primary tools of the pathologist) and a full-size hologram of a cutaway view of the human body.

We also went into town and bought a lovely oriental screen room divider so Mariah can have some privacy in her bed.

Saturday evening we went to dinner at the Burtonsville, MD, house where she rooms with Suzanna and other friends. The gravity of being home for the first time since her stroke last June was mitigated by a great batch of chili, cuddles with her dog, Chai, and witty repartee (i.e. hilarious insults) among her  friends and roommates. Mariah used her walker to go from the car into the house and to give me a tour of her room. A few modifications will be needed to make the place accessible for her, but it certainly seems feasible. The biggest issue is that there’s no place for Clay or another attendant to stay, so returning home will depend on attaining almost complete independence for daily living and transportation.

Friends Suzanna and Eboni (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

Friends Suzanna and Eboni (WRAMC, 12/28/08)

A date to see the Nutcracker with a friend on Sunday evening was preceded by a visit from Suzanna and Eboni who double-teamed Mariah to get her ready to go out. Suzanna helped her bathe and apply her makeup, and Eboni sculpted a dramatic set of curls from Mariah’s beautiful and lengthening chestnut hair.

Captain K continues to get stronger and bolder as she faces the challenge of breaking out of the hospital cocoon. Perhaps after a moment’s rest in the warm sunshine, she’ll unfold her beautiful and fragile wings and fly into her future.

– Mark


4 Responses to “Dad’s First Stay in DC”

  1. Cheryl Nipper said

    Happy New Year Mariah! I hope 2009 will be full of wonderful new beginnings for you. You look beautiful. I love your shiny and long. I am glad you are closer to home now and getting to spend more time with your family, friends and dog, Chai. Pets always have a way to make their owners feel happier. I can’t wait to get a dog of my own. I am continually amazed at your progress. Way to go! Clay and your Dad are such an inspiration as well, with their love and support for you. Here’s to sublime in 2009!

  2. Grandma said

    Oh sweetheart, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!
    It’s starting out fine and will only get better as it goes on.
    You look so good. I see more and more of “my” Mariah in every picture.
    You and Clay are terrific.
    Love you Grandma

  3. Cousin Wayne said

    Happy New Year to all your family. Thanks for the update. I’m very glad to hear that things in D.C. are going okay for Mariah.

    Please take care,
    Cousin Wayne

  4. Elizabeth said

    Happy New Year Mariah!

    You are so beautiful in your pictures…in a way, looking more calm and relaxed than you ever did as OIC at Fort Meade 🙂

    I just wrote a long note here and realized it is probably not the best forum! I will get a good old-fashioned letter off to you soon.

    For now, know that I think of you often and cheer you on from afar.


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