Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

6:32 PM, 9/6

My wife is currently in the hospital.  She's been having stomach problems for the last couple of days, and today we decided it was bad enough to go to the emergency room.  We got there around 10:00 this morning, and spent a lot of time waiting.  She got a CT scan, and it turns out she has something called Diverticulitis, and they have to do Laparoscopic surgery to remove a small piece of her colon.  She's going to be in the hospital for a few days.

I've been very stoic all day, to the point where I was wondering what was wrong with me.  She has intestinal blockage, I have emotional blockage.  Then I got home, called her mother, and it really started hitting me during the call.  Once I hung up, I broke down in tears.  It was the first time today I haven't had to be strong for her, and I just bawled.  It was probably the worst crying fit I've had in 15 years.  I was braying like a hyena, grateful that no one else was there to see it, whilst simultaneously sad that no one else was there to comfort me.

It's silly in a way, as I know she's going to be okay.  Sure all surgeries have some risk, but the doctor didn't sound like this was going to be a particularly harrowing operation.  He said there's a 15% chance she could end up with a colostomy, but if that happens we'll deal with it.  I'm trying not to think about how much more debt this is going to put us in, but we'll deal with that too.  At least we have insurance.

Right this minute she's probably still in surgery.  I've been sent home to get some things, and will stay home until she's settled into a room.  I'll go back out to see her tonight, though they tell me that she'll probably be so loopy tonight that she won't even recognize me.  The waiting is going to kill me.

Update 12:30 AM, 9/7

I was wrong.  Waiting is not the hardest part, unless you mean waiting for her painkillers to work.  I thought it was rough sitting around waiting for time to go back to the hospital, but once I arrived things were terrible.  It was probably one of the worst nights of my life (the other top contenders also involve taking her to the hospital), and of course her night was 1000 times worse than mine.

The doctors told me she'd be loopy tonight, and that it was barely even worth my stopping by because she wouldn't be coherent until tomorrow.  But of course I had to see her.  I got to the room about 10 minutes before they wheeled her bed in.  She was not out of it.  She was tired, but she was very coherent, and in great pain.  She kept screaming over and over, and it just killed me.  I stood by her bed, feeding her ice chips, letting her squeeze my hands, and wishing over and over again that we could just rewind the last few days and do something else instead.

Her nurse was having a bad night, and wasn't good at communicating with my wife.   The machinery kept malfunctioning, and had to be reassembled several times.  There's a breathing monitor that goes off every time she stops breathing at a certain pace.  The problem is, whenever she falls asleep, she starts breathing differently, setting the alarm off.  So she can only sleep for 10 seconds at a time.  I don't know how she's going to get any sleep tonight.

I didn't want to leave her.  I really didn't.  I was going to sit in the chair all night.  But I knew I wouldn't get any sleep.  I'd be okay with that, but I have to sleep sometime, and it would be better for both of us if I'm awake during the daylight hours.  So we agreed that I should head home.  I'm home right now, and I'm going to try to get some sleep, but I doubt it will be much.  I'm heading back out there as soon as I'm up.

Update 6:00 AM, 9/7

I had a hard time falling asleep; I kept seeing images of the doctors cutting her open.  I woke up at 5:30 after sleeping a good 4 hours straight.  I woke up crying, feeling like an asshole for being able to sleep at all while my wife might still be screaming in pain across town.

Update 8:21 PM, 9/7

When I walk past strangers at McDonalds or Wal-Mart or wherever, I find myself resenting these random people for the dumbest reasons.  It's like, how dare they think they have their own problems while my wife is in the hospital.  These people don't know pain.  I'm usually not like that, but tragedy brings out my selfish instincts.

She was a bit better today.  Her family came to see her, as did a couple of friends, and another friend is going to see her tomorrow.  My current plan, despicable as it is, is to go to work the rest of the week.  I need to save my days off until she gets out of the hospital, so I can use them while she's recovering.  She's well cared for this week.  Her mother is going to visit her every day, and I'm going to stop by every night. 

Well, that's the plan.  But I don't know if I can handle work this week.  I'm so shaken.  And I'm starting to get cold symptoms.  It's probably just allergies and stress, though.  I almost ran off the road on the drive home; my mind wandered for a second while I was approaching a sharp curve.  When I got home, once again I no longer had to be strong, and as soon as I turned off the engine I started bawling like a baby.  It only lasted about 30 seconds, though.

So, work tomorrow.  One of two things is going to happen.  Working will keep my mind off my wife, or I'll get stressed out and break down.  But I've been there nearly 16 years, and they like me.  I have two weeks of vacation left this year, a float day, and about a year's work of sick leave.  If I have to leave work, they'll let me, despite being understaffed.

I bought a 12 pack of canned soda this morning, then stupidly left them in the back of the car, in direct sunlight.  When I went out for lunch, two of the cans had ruptured and spilled all over the back seat.  I will try to clean it up when I have time.  I don't have time for much of anything right now; if I did I'd head back to the hospital.  There's a lot to do around the house.  I'm updating this blog a paragraph at a time as I think of things.

We were going to go to a comic convention later this month, but we're going to have to cancel now.  We're thinking about still going but have her in a wheelchair, but first I'm going to try to get a refund somehow.  It's simpler if we just don't go.

Oh, and remember a few days ago when a former DM of mine posted something on Facebook that I found offensive?  Today, I was at the hospital checking my Facebok status, and another friend of mine posted something that ticked me off a little.  A meme that said "A Christian can disagree with gay marriage and still love gay people."  This friend is closer to me than that former DM; in fact, this one is the wife of my best friend. If it were a normal week I would probably reply with a ranty wall of text, but I just don't have the time or energy this week.

My brother did, though.  I read their discussion in the replies.  Offensive friend claims she shared it by accident, but still agrees with the sentiment.  She says she isn't against gay marriage (or is at least undecided), but that she agrees in the general statement - that loving gay people is separate from wanting them to be allowed to get married.  That's some funny definition of love she has.  But again, I'm just going to have to let this one go.

Update 10:33 PM, 9/8

Last night I went home about 8 so I could get some rest. I was having bad allergies (probably intensified by stress) so I took some Nyquil to help me sleep. I finally drifted off around 11 maybe. Then at 1 AM the phone rang. My wife asked me to come back, it was an emergency. She wouldn't say what over the phone.

One dangerous, drug-addled, sleep-deprived drive later, I reached her room. Apparently the mix of drugs was making her sleepwalk. She had woken up (sort of) and didn't know where she was, so she fought her way out of the bed, hurting her dressings in the process.

I stayed all night, and didn't sleep a wink. I tried for the first hour, but she kept getting up. Finally I just resigned myself to sitting up all night. I had to stop her from getting up at least ten times, and she had a different story each time. "We have to go to the baseball game" or "I'm going to the mall."  One time it was even "It's a big world out there and we have to see it."

But worst were the times she woke up and didn't know where she was. I kept having to tell her she was in the hospital and why, and it broke my heart every time. It was like 50 First Dates. I know she hates hospitals, and rediscovering she's in one over and over is Hell. My only consolation is she probably won't remember much of this.

I stayed up until her mother arrived around 10 AM. Then I went home, made some important calls to her work, and napped. I slept very deeply for one hour, then the phone rang. It was more of her work stuff. I tried to fall back asleep, but I couldn't stop thinking of all the things I had to do. Then my wife called again and I had to go back.

I got to nap a bit in the fold-out chair. It wasn't the least bit comfy, but I slept a little better being near her.  But I'm really pissed.  I want to help as much as I can, but I simply can't function with out some amount of sleep.  I can't be of any help if I can't sleep a little now and then.  I respect the medical crew and I know they have lots of patients to check on.  But it's not my job to stay up all night to keep her from sleepwalking.  If I hadn't been there, she would have torn her dressings out again and again. What do single people do? 

I realize they can't spare an orderly to sit in one room all night.  The other alternative would be to strap her to a bed, but waking up restrained is one of her worst nightmares.  She's claustrophobic, fidgety, and has to have things a certain way.  If she was strapped to a bed she wouldn't stop screaming.

Of course they're changing her medication mix tonight, so we'll see how that goes.  Every time we ask how long we'll be here, it gets longer. First it was "until the end of the week", then Monday, now next Wednesday. Having to redress the wound after her escapades probably added a day or two.

We both keep having trouble accepting the reality of it. This doesn't happen to us, must be a dream. This is a life-changing event, and I don't know what things will be like once it's all over. I keep trying to find bright sides. When this is over, she'll have gone over a week without smoking, so maybe that will stick. But I'd rather she smoke 10 times as much than go through this. Yeah, there's an irony in there somewhere but get over it, I'm sleep deprived.  

I'm home right now, and about to try to get some sleep.  I hope the phone doesn't ring, but I'll still come running if she needs me.  I do want to help, but there just aren't enough hours in the day.  There are things that need to be done around here, and I keep getting further behind.  And if I have to stay awake all night while she's sleepwalking, that's fewer conscious hours I have to spend with her when she's actually awake and missing me.  

Update 11:21 PM, 9/9

This was funny... well, not that funny, but right now I have to look for humor where I can find it.  My wife is hooked up to several alarms, that will beep loudly at various times for various reasons.  One goes off when she's breathing wrong, because she's supposed to take deep breaths.  Another beeps when her IV gets blocked, another beeps if it can't detect her pulse, and so on.

My best friend called to see how we were doing.  As soon as he called, my wife had a coughing fit.  This is actually a good thing, because she's supposed to cough in order to avoid pneumonia.  But the coughing made her breathing alarm go off.  Bending her arm too far while coughing blocked her IV, causing another alarm to start.  Then she knocked her pulse monitor off, causing it to think she was flatlining.  So on the other end of the line, my friend heard all these alarms going off, and for all he knew it had been doing that all day. 

I tried talking to him for a couple of minutes, because I miss him.  But I could barely hear him, so I finally told him I'd talk to him later.  Then, as soon as I hung up, all the alarms stopped simultaneously.  I was like, "Seriously?"  My wife and I both laughed.  It's nice to laugh.  I'll try not to think about how long it took any hospital personnel to come in to see what was happening.

Update 12:30 AM, 9/10

God damn it, more bad dreams. I've been sleeping on the couch, because it's easier to imagine that she's in the bed upstairs instead of the house being empty.  I had barely fallen asleep when I had a hallucination/dream that woke me up.  I thought I heard her voice say something clearly in my ear (I can't remember what she said), then I thought I saw her sitting in the recliner opposite me.  Still in her hospital gown, looking sort of zombie-ish.  

I hope I can fall back asleep, but my heart's kind of racing. I'm going to try going back to work tomorrow, so I need to sleep tonight.  There's only so much time I can get off work, and I want to save it for when she's home so I can take care of her.  It's going to be hard not seeing her until I get off work tomorrow night, but it will be even harder if I'm exhausted.

Update 8:57 AM, 9/10

I slept okay eventually.  Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up for a few minutes and made a little noise, and two cats came running up to make sure I was okay.  My cold/allergies/whatever is getting worse, and I miss my wife, but I'm going to take Dayquil and try to go to work.  I'll make sure work knows I might have to run out of there.

The doctor visited my wife last night while I was away, and apparently let slip something that bothers me.   We think the insurance is pressuring him to get her out of the hospital as quickly as possible.  I guess they know I'm going to hit my out-of-pocket maximum, so they want to pay as little as possible.  The woman has a tube sticking out of her stomach right now, but by all means lets rush things.  Of course, I want her to come home as soon as possible too, but only if it's safe.

Update 1:08 AM, 9/11

On the way to work this morning, I almost took a wrong turn towards the hospital. It was actually painful to turn the wheel and head to work instead.  At work, I could almost actually see the invisible eggshells people were walking on around me.  Turns out my work is very nice about time off, though, so I should be able to take plenty of time to care of her when she gets out of the hospital.

I went straight there after work, and stayed pretty late.  She looks a lot better, and is connected to fewer tubes and wires.  On the downside, she no longer has a direct connection to painkillers, and is on pills instead.  So she's made a lot of progress but she's in a lot more pain.  More good news, the doctor thinks she'll be able to go home on Sunday.  I'm crossing my fingers.

Update 9:24 PM, 9/13

There's a strong chance she'll be able to come home tomorrow.  She still has a tube coming out of her stomach right now, but it's getting removed tomorrow, and I'm getting there early so they can train me how to change the dressings on her wound.

Update 8:20 PM, 9/14

She's home now.  We're having some difficulty finding ways to make her comfortable, and we've got a long road to recovery ahead of us, but I'm glad she's here.

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