It was about 9:30 p.m., last night, Wednesday, we were in the van following Nykkie in her car. Marty was behind me, her wheelchair locked and strapped down and she was trying to hold her orange puke bucket steady, I was trying not to drive too fast as I constantly checked her in my rear view mirror and offered encouraging platitudes as it was clear she felt really bad.
It’s a short drive from our house to Providence ER and quick thoughts ricocheted through my brain, “shit, not again”, “what a break that we weren’t at the lake 90 minutes away”, and always, always on this trip, “what if this is our last ride”. That my friends is how you do morbid and banal at the same time.
We had just made this same trip, the result of the same unique to Marty symptoms a couple of weeks ago. Was it another respiratory infection, a UTI this time, or pneumonia again? It makes you tired running all of these thoughts through your head as you make the simple seven minute drive, man the brain moves fast.
I pulled into the ER bay, put the van in park and in our practiced and well coordinated fashion Nykkie helped me get Marty out and then took over the van. I took over Marty and with our drug information, medical history, I Pad, phone and orange puke bucket, we rolled into the ER.
The next words, the words to get you into triage fast are a big deal. I spit them out, infection, septic, hypotensive, stroke, vomiting. Marty helped by dry heaving over the bowl I cradled under her chin as I held the paper work. We hit triage in about 15 minutes and were in a room with a doctor in another 5 minutes, it helps when Marty cooperates with really low oxygen and blood pressure numbers.
Nykkie and I expertly moved Marty to the gurney and sweat started pouring from my forehead and ran down the back of my neck and down my back, a sure sign of my red lined anxiety. This was not a new situation, in fact we have been in this very room before but I have to say, this had come on so fast and Marty was so sick I was walking on that fine line between panic and controlled anxiety.
She got immediate attention and over a multi-hour period of time blood was taken, urine was taken, an IV was started and my “why we are here” story was given multiple times. I don’t mind repeating myself because talking helps me with control and any time you walk in the hospital you cede control, I don’t do control ceding well.
A case in point, Marty was soon on the receiving end of a nasal gastric tube, a tube that sounds bad, looks bad and is bad. The tube runs through your nose into your stomach, it literally sucks, sucks to have it put in and it sucks really nasty looking stuff from the stomach.
We had never experienced this and I really doubted the efficacy of the whole thing but the ER doc was pretty convinced, based on an X-Ray and exam that Marty had a GI impaction. I sat there trying to figure out, do I allow this, do I stop it and say no, we don’t need to do this.
I gave her history, I gave dates, it didn’t change the experts concerns, it’s hard to argue with experts. I sat there and felt guilty about allowing the whole thing but afraid to stop the rolling ball for fear this educated man was more right than I was. They did the work, they did the CAT scan, there was no obstruction, and there was no need for emergency surgery. All of that was good news but I kept thinking, I should have objected, but the reassurance of knowing her gut was good was good.
The end result of the tale, after spending the whole night in the ER, is probable pneumonia, possible sepsis and time in the hospital. We are back on 3rd floor south across the hall from where we were two weeks ago, those good folks know us.
I don’t think we will be here long but the comfort of skilled nurses, good drugs and fluids trumps my rather obsessive need to control all aspects of Marty’s care, besides I’m a pretty charming fellow and more often than not can cajole these health care professionals to do some things my way.
I hate being here, I hate it mostly for Marty, but for sure I hate it for me.
Truth and I know this…..it’s a necessary part of our journey and frankly I’m really just along for the ride, regardless of what I think.