The Power of Miscommunication

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Miscommunication-Cartoon

This weekend I had exactly two mandatory errands to run: get the oil changed in my car (because it’s three months overdue #dontjudgeme) and take it to DEQ because my registration was due (two weeks ago… #okayjudgeme).

Instead, at 9:06 Saturday morning I woke up to the following text from my dad:

FYI: nothing for you to do, but Mom fell this morning and broke her hip. I’m at [the hospital].

I sat on the edge of my bed for a few seconds clearing the morning-fog from my head. I turned off my phone’s screen then turned it back on again — hoping that would somehow change the words I was reading. [There was one morning a few years ago where I woke up to the screen on my phone saying the SIM card was missing, and in my morning stupor I somehow convinced myself that someone had broken into my apartment and stolen my SIM card. And ONLY my SIM card. This should maybe give you a clue as to where this story is headed...]

I read the text several times then headed for the bathroom, phone in hand, trying to calmly write back the following reply:

Nooo!!! Can I come?

And this to my sister:

Are you at the hospital? I just woke up

I immediately get this response from my dad:

No point. She’s sleeping. [Your Aunt] is arriving at 4pm.

Why is Dad’s sister flying in from Minnesota? Was she already coming out to visit? HOW BAD WAS MOM’S FALL?! Why is she at a hospital that is so far away from where she was camping?! WHY DOESN’T HE WANT ME TO COME SEE HER?!?!

To my dad:

What’s going to happen? Surgery? Where’s [my sister]?

From my dad:

Yes and at home.

Well if she’s still at home then it must not be that bad, but why isn’t she texting me back? 

My Mom has complained of hip pain before, but my parent’s recent vacation filled with walks and hikes, and her recent weight loss (yay Mom!) seemed to help it feel a lot better. My Mom, sister, and I are also all scheduled to walk in the Portland to Coast relay race this year in August, so she’s been getting up in the mornings to get in some practice walks. This weekend, she’s on a camping trip with her adult Girl Scout group so the only possibilities I could think of were that she fell while hiking, or down a flight of stairs at the camp.

And now that she’s broken her hip, she won’t be able to walk in the relay, and that was a huge goal she set for herself earlier this year and she’s been working so hard to stay healthy and Dad just retired and they were going to go camping again next week and how is she going to manage all the stairs at the house, and what if she dies during surgery!?

And that’s when the sobbing started. Full on open-mouthed-ugly-cry. It was so bad my cats ran away in a panic, one bouncing off the bathroom door before tearing down the hallway to hide under a couch in the living room. I’m also certain my neighbors heard me since the windows were open. I don’t cry often, but when I do, the perfectionist in me makes sure I do a really good job.

To my Dad:

How did it happen? Are they replacing or repairing?

From my dad:

Don’t know.

In the mean time, I’m texting my best friends to ask them to pray for my mom who’s in the hospital with a broken hip, and getting increasingly irritated with my dad for seeming very nonchalant about the whole thing.

To my dad:

Will you please let me know, when you know, what time the surgery is?

From my dad:

I’m home now. Going back when [your Aunt] arrives.

[surgery is schedule for] Monday.

And now I’m mad that he seems to have left my Mom all alone in the hospital, and doesn’t seem to think there’s any reason to go back sooner than 4pm, or any reason for me to go sit with her. I don’t care if she’s just sleeping!!!! 

Then I text my boss and tell her that my mom is in the hospital with a broken hip and surgery is scheduled for Monday, so I probably won’t be at work.

My sister finally texts me back:

No [I'm not at the hospital]. I just woke up too.

To my sister:

If you go over there will you please let me know. I don’t think it’s nice to let her wake up alone, but Dad doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal and I’m not waiting until [our aunt] gets here.

From my sister:

I thought Dad was there? I have no idea what’s going on. Are [other Aunt and Uncle] not there?

What is going on? Why is Dad’s brother and is wife already at the hospital with my Mom?

Then I somehow convinced myself that since my aunt and uncle were at the hospital with my mom that I could do the two things I needed to get done for my car today, then head over to the hospital. I also started to write, but never posted, “please pray for my mom” on Facebook and Twitter. I threw on some clothes, put my dirty hair in a bun (but remembered to brush my teeth), then put my sunglasses on to cover my puffy I’ve-been-crying-hysterically eyes and headed out the door to get my car’s oil changed.

To my sister:

He said he’s home now. Dad told me not to come to the hospital because she’s sleeping, but I’m gonna be pissed if everyone else sees her before we do.

From my sister:

So then go.

Has everyone else been there?

To my sister:

I don’t know. Dad is a man of few words and I don’t want to upset him with more questions.

I’m just freaking out. Don’t mind me.

By now I’m at the mechanic, irritated that my sister doesn’t think this is a big deal either, and trying not to pace around the tiny waiting room. Note to self: when the car guy asks you “how’s your day going?” just respond with the normal “fine,” not, “not good, my mom’s in the hospital.” The former is socially acceptable in all situations. The latter will be met with a blank stare and awkward silence (but super fast service, free air filters, and 20% off you bill).

Sorry, car guy.

Almost exactly two hours after I read my dad’s first text, as I’m getting into my car to leave the mechanic’s shop, I see this on Facebook:

facebook saved my sanity

Mom-in-law…Mom-in-law. Did Grandma break her hip too? My aunt is flying in from Minnesota. My other aunt and uncle are at the hospital… … …

HOLY CRAP! DAD MEANT HIS MOM!!!

And now I’m driving and frantically trying to call my sister and my dad to verbally confirm what they already knew, and I had just realized. I pulled into a side street and parked (no driving and talking on phones, kids!) and couldn’t get a hold of my sister but managed to reach my dad.

“Hello?”

“Dad! Did you mean your mom, or my mom?!”

“What?”

“Is grandma in the hospital, or is my mom in the hospital?”

“My mom. Your mom’s camping.”

“I know!! But all you wrote was that Mom broke her hip and was in the hospital…”

“Oh… OH!! No. No. No. My mom. Sorry! Your mom is fine. She’s too young for hip breaking. She’s out having a good time.”

And then as a wave of relief washed over me, I couldn’t stop laughing at all the many ways the last two hours of communication had gone so very wrong.

And then I had to undo my frantic “my mom’s in the hospital” texts and replace them with “my grandma’s in the hospital” texts. Sorry, friends!

As I was debating on writing about this or not, I started to think about how my insistence to hold on to what I thought was happening to my mom, ties in with how tightly I hold on to beliefs I have about myself, even when all the signs around me point to a different conclusion. I’ve been having some very serious miscommunications with myself for years now and this experience taught me that if I would just take a step back, take a deep breath and evaluate the whole scene, asking myself specific questions about what I’m feeling right now instead of jumping down a rabbit-hole based solely on a past thought or experience, I might save myself a lot of time and heartache in the future. It’s tunnel vision for the brain, and it’s all lies I’ve been telling myself, and believing, for far too long.

*****While the miscommunication between my dad and I is definitely funny, the accident, of course, is not. My grandma is doing okay, but it was a very bad break and the doctors are deciding how to proceed. My family and I would appreciate any prayers and good thoughts you can send her way!

What miscommunications with yourself (or others) do you need to work on fixing?

 

*names and places have been changed/removed to reduce the possibility of Google stalking. Because I watch too many crime dramas on TV.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    It’s amazing how perception can cloud everything! I do the same thing :( Objectivity is not my strong suit. Half the battle is recognizing it, though, right?? So glad your mom is ok. Sending good thoughts for your grandma!

  2. says

    I would have freaked out as well. Though I’m a pick up the phone kind of person when an emergency text has to do with my parent or sister. Glad your mom is okay and I hope your grandmother’s surgery went well.

    Lately I feel like I’m miscommunicated in all areas. This is a great reminder to breathe and think calmly. :)
    Patty recently posted..Facing The ScaleMy Profile

  3. says

    So sorry to hear about your grandma, but sadly, I totally understand the family miscommunication. It’s so frustrating sometimes!

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