this time, this year. part 2

October 6, 2018

Moderation has always been more a practice of willpower than something that comes naturally to me. So I suppose I could claim that, not content to rest on my laurels of celebrating 39 years with a hospital visit, I needed to complete that experience with an overnight in the ER. “How old are you?” asked the doctor, as he flipped through my files. “39. Today.” He looked up from the paperwork, regarding me quizzically. “Today?” I nodded, and enjoyed the gratification of his shared grin at the irony of my choice of celebratory locations.

I had taken the day to rest at home and attempt a no-motion day since the antibiotics had not seemed to affect the pain and swelling thus far. All things considered, I was in a generally positive mood about it, as it seemed to be the right step to take. I know my weakness as a patient, and am well aware that any hindrance to my state of perpetual motion brings out the worst in my stubborn “I don’t need to stop! I can do it!” mentality. So yesterday was an exercise in willpower, in an opposite way from my norm: the willpower to stop.

But for all those good intentions, what ended up happening was that, by the end of the day, I was worse instead of better. We tried accelerating bedtime, laying down early in my last ditch effort to “fix it.” But it did not work. I did not work. My body was severely rebelling against me and I did not know what else to do about the pain. As I lay in bed, I texted a friend, asking about what antibiotics her son had been given. I admitted to her that I was not ok, and was really scared, and she said I should go to the hospital. Now. We had intended to wait until the morning to go and, truthfully, I was ready to go by then but was under the assumption that they closed at night. Finding out they were open I reached over and grabbed Peter’s arm to wake him. “We need to go now,” I said.
Thanks to the care of a kind friend, we did not have to deal with finding a taxi, but just walked downstairs and hopped in the car. On the way there I made a few light-hearted comments about the painful swelling (I was barefoot because shoes wouldn’t go on my feet) and difficulty in dressing (I left in my nightgown), but underneath it all was a great deal of fear.

The treatment began as I expected it would, with prescriptions for two rounds of new antibiotics, and one while there for an IV and another buttock pain killer injection. I warned the nurse of my vein issues before she began but she waved me off and proceeded with two unsuccessful attempts to insert the IV. Feeling the waves of a black-out coming, I was grateful when she gave up and called for help from an anesthetist; then I lay back down for the next injection. This one was more pronounced than I remembered it being—I gasped, and gritted my teeth until she had removed the needle, then tried to focus on breathing while I recovered. By this point the anesthetist had arrived; to my teary-eyed thanks, he managed on the first try. I lay there and closed my eyes for the remainder of the IV drip, hoping that was it for the needles, but afraid to ask. It was.

We were sent out, and given an appointment for the next day with a specialist. They had given me a wheelchair, so the chair was parked right outside the door to the room. Peter had given me his hand to help me walk over there and, as I stepped, I stumbled. That’s odd, I thought. I didn’t realize I had misjudged the location of that step . . . We wheeled on out the door to the car and when I moved to get up, taking Peter’s hand, I reeled. Instead of stepping onto my left leg, it had wobbled underneath me. “It didn’t work!” I blurted. Thinking I just needed to lean more into him, Peter helped me into the car. I dropped into the seat, reliving the sensation I had just had and then, tears filling my eyes, I repeated. “It didn’t work. My leg didn’t work.” Christy stopped driving. “Do you need to be admitted?,” she asked. “We can do that. I had to stay here overnight—others have as well” I nodded, tears springing to my eyes again. “Yes. I think I do.”

We turned around and began the process of checking in for the night. Peter’s suspicion turned out to be correct: the needle used for the pain injection had deadened a major nerve in that leg so, for a few hours, not only was the pain gone but my feeling was as well.

And now we are home for the day, once more in a state of waiting. Waiting for antibiotics to take effect. Waiting for the next hospital visit. Waiting for some semblance of normalcy.

There have been moments in all this that are not, at this point, worth the gory retelling—not worth it for me to relive, and certainly not worth it for you to read about. And yet, mixed in with what has been perhaps the worst physical experience of my life, there have been moments of strange joy . . .

Last night I had an exquisite night of sleep. I would occasionally wake up just enough to be aware of how little pain I felt, and of how deeply my body had sunk into that restful state. There was the occasional sound of the infant being lulled by its mother on the other side of the curtain, but that almost blended in with the white noise of the fan.

After one round of medications, and a hot, trafficky ride home, I blacked out and woke to see Peter’s face above me. “What just happened?” I asked. “You fainted,” he said. “I caught you.” A few minutes later, he was about to go get our wash from the clothesline. I stopped him on his way out the door. “Peter?” “Yep.” “Thank you for catching me when I fall.” He shrugged, kissed me, and said, “That’s what I’m here for.”

2 Responses to “this time, this year. part 2”

  1. octoberanchorman said

    Thanks for the update Pal!! Your Redeemer folks are praying hard for you and Peter and the docs there to be given all things necessary to get to the other side of this mysterious, debilitating, frightening awful malady!!! Keep the updates coming!

    BIG HUGS across the miles!!!!!


  2. […] be carded?”). And I could not help but remember, with a sobering dose of reality, that last year this day was spent in a hospital, recovering from a terrifying brush with the nearness of my own […]

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