It’s been 34 months since we last spent the night in Providence Hospital, an enviable streak for the chronically broken among us.
We busted the streak Wednesday.
Caregiver Nykkie came in that morning about 7 a.m. and rousted me from a deep sleep, from a sleep aided by one of the few mornings cold enough in central Texas to cool down my sheets. It had been a good sleep.
Nykkie gently poked my bare shoulder and said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think Marty feels good.”
It’s a lot like waking and looking at the clock and realizing you have over slept and you have 15 minutes to get to that important meeting, you get up putting your pants on and running, all of the sudden wide awake, all of the sudden moving from sleep to wide awake. It’s an awful way to start the day.
Nykkie told me Marty had been vomiting and her blood pressure and oxygen levels were well below what is considered normal for Marty. Puking in your sleep is not a good thing, puking for Marty leads down way treacherous paths like aspiration and dehydration.
I walked briskly down the hall pulling on my shirt from the night before, following Nykkie. We got to Marty’s room, she was laying in her bed, pale, pallid, clearly ill. This is an easy decision, “Let’s take her to the emergency room, now,” I said.
Nykkie, who had already, by 7 a.m., cleaned up the products of Marty’s illness, moved quickly to get Marty dressed so she could get in a cold van and make the five minute ride to Providence Hospital. I started the van to let it warm up, brushed my teeth, tried to tame my bed head and chased Maggie the dog down after she snuck out while I started the van. Nykkie suggested a cap for my still untamed hair, I transferred Marty to her wheel chair and we were actually in an ER exam room with a nurse by about 7:45 a.m...
While we were waiting for the triage nurse in the ER I asked Marty is she was afraid. I think that’s more for me than for her, I think in my own perverted way I’m looking for reassurance from the sick.
She said, “Yes.”
I asked, “Why?” with my best reassuring tremble.
“I don’t want to admitted.” She doesn’t want to be in the hospital.
I reassured her that it even if we had to stay in the hospital it probably wouldn’t be too long. My hope.
Once in the ER we did X-rays, blood tests, urine tests, catheters, IV fluids and oxygen. The chest X-ray was clear, the white count was elevated, her blood pressure was scary low. Marty threw up once more for good measure before we made it back to the ER, but that stopped and mostly she slept through all of the needles and tubes.
Ultimately the tentative diagnosis was a stomach virus, the 24 hour kind that is perfectly miserable to everyone involved but extremely debilitating for someone in Marty’s condition. She was very dehydrated from the puking and pooping and once they started IV fluids she started to perk up just a little bit.
By noon, sure enough we were up in a room on the 4th floor, where the nurses flocked around her to get her checked in and Nykkie and I went into our standard hospital mode. She went to the house to give Maggie a needed outside potty break and to get our hospital supplies; me, I gave Marty’s story to everyone that darkened our door.
Marty ate, she drank, she was given copious amounts of IV fluids and eventually her blood pressure started to even out to a normal range for a normal person. It took several hours.
Great and Wise stopped by that evening to reassure all of us that this seemed pretty simple. He felt good that it would be just short stay; I told him I wasn’t counting this against our 34 month non hospital streak.
Renea came that evening to relieve her Nykkie, her sister. I went home about 8 p.m. confidant my bride was in good hands. We had met the night nurse and Renea, always right and always in charge, who never takes anything off anyone is the perfect person to represent Marty.
By 7 a.m. Great and Wise was back again to spring us. We left without incident about noon, a 30 hour stay.
Since coming home Marty still feels, to quote her, “Crappy.” We have struggled with her energy, her blood pressure and her nausea. I have had to call Great and Wise once to get him to talk me down from the anxiety wall I was climbing. In my mind, we ain’t done with this yet.
My experience tells me to do this one step at a time and just deal with what is in front of us, don’t try and make plans for longer than what is right in front of us, don’t try and deal with what we don’t know, don’t bury anyone yet, don’t start the eulogies. I struggle with this many days, the hospital simply amps up the negative wave. I know in my head not to imagine the worst; my stomach and my heart are hard to drag along. I tend to fall back to the bad old days of endless worry about what is coming.
I don’t know what is next, I hope this turns soon and we get back to our baseline. The best we can do is make Marty comfortable and watch and care for her in ways that make sense. One step at a time, I keep saying it, one step at a time.