Picking The Right Pick


The doctor took one look at Dad’s leg and said we should get to the hospital. The angriest looking leg I’ve seen, his right calf was swollen twice its normal size, feverish, bright red like a bad burn from foot to knee. Always putting great faith in Mother Nature, Dad hoped the bump he got from the tractor would take care of itself. After a couple weeks, it looked like it had healed. Then, almost overnight, he could hardly walk. Not the gout or phlebitis he suspected, it turned into a full blown case of cellulitis, an infection of the skin.
I asked the doctor if Dad could hold off long enough to have the early supper with his granddaughters that he’d planned for after the doctor visit. Dr. Skinner, emphasizing that he wasn’t totally without heart, said “Absolutely!” My girls met Grandpa at Arby’s and, as he puts it, bridged the generation gap while I readied for the hospital trip.
Answering a booklet’s worth of questions for admission, I left Dad in the capable hands of the hospital staff. During the next day’s visit, I agreed to learn how to help administer his antibiotic through the tube they called a pick-line. Since I’d left any inclinations I’ve had to play nurse with my youth, I was a bit nervous about the prospect. Not that I’m squeamish or hate the sight of blood, but I’m the goofy mom who can’t even kill a spider. The idea of someone’s vitality depending on my responsibility with a medical procedure made me doubt myself.
Six days later, Dad’s leg calmed down enough to leave. They prepared us to continue the antibiotic procedure at home. I carried the beautiful planter the church sent a couple of days before from the hospital room and left to bring the car around. Set on Dad’s table, by the next morning, the cut daisies stuck in the planter arrangement hung their heads looking wasted. I slid the stems up from the planter and found them all inserted in water-filled picks, but the ends of the stems all cleared the water level!
If only I’d checked them before! I pulled the daisies out of the picks, planning to pitch them, when my dedication to “preserve nature” (save the spiders) kicked in. I drew water into an empty root beer bottle that Dad and I split at lunch and stuffed in my handful of withered blooms. The un-rinsed bottle with its sugary residue proved the perfect prescription for the ailing flowers. The stems made a tremendous comeback in just a few hours. By the next day, the bottled bouquet looked like new.
I couldn’t help but compare the flowers’ recovery with Dad’s. His calf has calmed down and, after a couple weeks, will be back to normal. Plant picks and pick-lines are not so very different concepts since they both administer vital fluids in certain ways, so I’ve learned that if you use your picks correctly, they can perform miracles.


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