Just a bit of background information to this post, perhaps on the verge of TMI (too much information) – About ten days ago, my doctor diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection and prescribed an antibiotic. The following morning, I woke up chilled and couldn’t get warm. Funny when you have a high fever you feel really cold. I wrapped up tighter in my blankets and went back to sleep.
When my alarm went off to get up for work, I couldn’t seem to wake up. I turned it off and went back to sleep. My husband made coffee and breakfast, but I still couldn’t seem to wake up and get out of bed. I would try to get up and then just lay down and go back to sleep. Meanwhile, my temperature kept going up and up until it reached nearly 103 degrees. By then, my husband couldn’t get me to stay awake and I wasn’t coherent.
Joe called my boss to say I wouldn’t be in to work. He then called my doctor’s office to find out what to do. Poor guy was freaking out. They told him to take me to their urgent care clinic, which he did. With all of the COVID stuff, the urgent care staff comes to the car to check you out before they actually let you in the building. The person checking me out called the doctor over right away after taking one look at me and they immediately sent me to the ER.
Long story short, the UTI had gone up into my kidneys and I was technically septic – not the kind of septic where the bacteria has gone into the blood stream yet, but, rather, a set of criteria (low blood pressure, low oxygen level, high fever, dehydrated, lack of coherence, etc.) that fits that particular medical diagnosis. As each of the doctors kept telling me every time they came in my room, “You were really sick!!” They got me on an IV, oxygen, antibiotic in the IV, tests, scans and then admitted me to the hospital once a room became available.
Thankfully, I responded fairly quickly to the regimen, much to their amazement. They actually kept me an extra day to monitor me and to make sure the progress wasn’t a fluke and that it “stuck.”
I can’t say that I could recommend the hospital I was in. It’s the same one my husband was in when he had his heart attack, but has been bought out by a different company – and not with great results. I felt the staff was pleasant and trying really hard, but that they were stretched thin and overworked. For example, I had a horrible, horrible headache the whole time I was in the hospital. They gave me two Tylenol the first day before I left ER to go to my room. I again asked for additional Tylenol or something to help on the second day, but was told it was not on my charts and they would have to ask the doctor. I understood and was okay with that, but it took five hours (after reminding the staff again) and another half an hour after that to get two Tylenol and an ice pack. It also a long time to get checked in to ER, they took me to a room that had been double booked (already had someone in it), tests and scans took forever as I sat in a wheelchair in a holding room for some machine to free up.
And, I have to say, I would not feed the hospital food to my dog!! I didn’t have much of an appetite at all, but I’ve never been served worse food in my entire life, including meatloaf that looked like it was made up dog food! I was extremely thankful that Joe was allowed in with me – plus, he brought me decent food to eat!!
I am getting better, much more slowly than I would like. Much to my doctor’s chagrin, I have returned to work a couple of hours each day this week, just to put out fires and stay on top of urgent issues. I promised I would listen to my body and go home when I felt tired – and I have kept that promise. Heaven knows, I don’t want to go back to the hospital again!! The thought of the hospital food is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. At least I see forward progress each day.
One thing I realized while I was in the hospital was how alone I felt. Joe stayed with me as much as he could, but at times he had to go home, get rest, and tend to some other things. I kept the hospital room door shut while I was there, as I ended up being a bit noise sensitive after Jason died. Once that hospital room door closed and everyone left, it gave me a lot of time to reflect on things. One of the things that came to the forefront – one of which I am quite aware, but tend to ignore – is how alone we are. Our son is all the way across the country, grandkids that make no effort to contact or connect with us at all, daughter 4 hours away, son-in-law and daughter-in-law who make no effort to really connect with us.
Add on top of that how guarded I am after being burned so many times by people I considered to be friends, it’s no wonder we feel so alone at times. I’m friendly, but I’m not very open at all (for example, I initially actually didn’t tell anyone other than our son and daughter how sick I really was when I was in the hospital) and really don’t make any effort to connect with people any more as friends. I just don’t make friends easily. Never have, and it’s even harder now. It just feels like opening up to make a new friend is an opportunity to get burned again. Most of that stems from how we were treated after Jason died. It’s hard for me to make friends, to be open, and I don’t know how to change that. I’d like to; I just don’t know how. And so, until I figure out how to do that, I will struggle with feeling alone.
I’m not depressed or unhappy; I’m just not really very happy. Everything is tinged with Jason’s absence. Oh, how I miss him.
Joe and I are not ones to sit around. We never have been, but at times it feels more urgent to find “something to do” than it used to. Our daughter calls us “high maintenance.” I think, in my personal opinion, that when we don’t have something “to do,” it emphasizes the emptiness in our lives caused by Jason’s death and resulting trauma. (There’s really no word for it other than “trauma,” is there?)
Staying busy keeps the aloneness, emptiness and ever-present shadow of grief somewhat at bay. “Staying busy” has been a little difficult since my recent illness and the fact that recovery has not been very fast. We’ve both struggled with trying to figure out what to “go and do” that won’t set me back or zap my energy too badly. We’re both restless at times. We have been looking for a home to buy, trying to figure out where we fit and where to move (again). I’m not sure it matters where we move. The restlessness, aloneness, emptiness and grief are inside of us. What we have gone through contributes to who we are now.
It’s ironic that at Jason’s memorial service we played the song “Friends (are friends forever)” by Michael W. Smith. It fit Jason at the time. He was a good friend to so many and valued those friendships so much. I believed that our friends would stand by us, the way we had stood by them and the way Jason had stood by his friends. I can’t even listen to the song any more, because I no longer believe the words or the sentiment – that friends will stay by you forever because you both serve the same God.
I realize that it falls on me to figure this out. I’m just not sure I have the energy to do it. But, I am aware of it and keep working on it. It never ceases to amaze me how long the tentacles of grief are and how much our lives are affected following the death of a child. I’m not sure it ever ends to some degree or other. We just have to figure out how to make it work.
Life would be so different if you were here, my precious boy. I miss you so much.
© 2021 Rebecca R. Carney