(Warning: Super-Long Post ahead…this is for ME to remember so skip this if you are not in the mood to read a long-winded story.)
Here is another example of how life throws you curveballs, hands you lemons, and gives you a gray cloud when you least expect it.
This was the original plan for one of our weekends this December:
Have family movie night on Friday night. Go to bed fairly early. Wake up early Saturday morning. Drive to #1’s volleyball tournament (about an hour away) with my dad (Ever-Patient and #1 would leave earlier to ensure they would get there on time). Enjoy a day watching volleyball with our family. Stop by my in-laws on the way home to celebrate my father-in-law’s 62nd birthday with a yummy dinner and possibly some cake. Chill out on Sunday at home by watching some football, making some teacher gifts, and catching up on what else? Laundry.
This is what actually happened:
Friday night went according to plan. #2 and I had some alone time together as she accompanied me while I ran out to take care of some errands and then we had a nice family dinner early so we could enjoy a DVD and turn in early. Early Saturday morning, Ever-Patient and #1 left early, as scheduled, and my dad came by to pick the rest of us up for the long drive up north to the tourney.
It was during the drive that things started to veer off course.
After a fairly uneventful 45 minutes in the car (although some may differ in the opinion that #3 singing along to the Black Eyed Peas is uneventful), I began to feel a bit of cramping in my stomach. Within minutes, as I began to break into a cold sweat, the cramping morphed into excruciating pain. I unbuckled my seat belt and put my head between my legs hoping beyond hope that maybe if I could just squeeze the pain away. (I’m obviously not trained medically whatsoever.)
At this juncture, the kids are all talking to me at once asking if I’m ok. I try my best to yell as calmly as I can, “Shhhh! Stop talking right now!” Yelling hurts. Talking hurts. Moving hurts. Just breathing hurts. My dad suggests we pull over somewhere so I could go to the bathroom and see if that will relieve the pain. He frantically looks for some sort of fast food restaurant. Again, let me remind you we are now almost an hour away from home, a couple minutes away from the tournament, and in unfamiliar territory. However, there is now dead silence in the car – a miraculous achievement for anyone who has ever been in a car with 4 children between the ages of 7 weeks and 6 years old.
We spot a Subway Sandwich place and I am sure I look as awful as I feel. I run in, clutching my stomach and breathing heavily, I ask, “Bathroom?” The scared shitless teenager pointed in one direction and I stumbled towards it unsure of how going to the bathroom would alleviate my suffering. I spent the next 5 minutes throwing up in a toilet in a washroom in a Subway in a small town wondering if this was all for real. The pain remained intense. I sat on the floor and could not get up. I remembered that my poor father had 4 small children with him in the car with probably at least one crying their lungs out. I held my breath as I clutched my stomach and ran out of there (I was thinking that breathing would make the pain worse – again, I am obviously not medically trained). I opened the passenger side of the car. In a frenzy, I emptied one of the plastic bags carrying our snacks and water. It was like the pain was taunting me, “I am going to make you hurl woman!”
I crumpled in the seat with my head leaning on the middle console. The kids were still silent. I told my dad to drive me to my mom’s house which was about 25 minutes away and then realized she was in L.A. and told him to head to my in-laws. I wasn’t sure how this would medically help me. I think I really just was concerned about the kids and lying down on a floor somewhere. In the end, my dad made an executive decision and took me to the nearest hospital. Besides the sound of vomiting, there was nothing. The kids had thought that making any noise was making the pain worse. I can’t imagine what they were thinking or feeling as they watched me heave and struggle to cope.
We get to the hospital and my dad pulls up to the front of emergency. He grabs a wheelchair and wheels me in to triage leaving all the kids in the car. Although I am still consumed with pain, I somehow have the wherewithal to remember to grab my health card out of my wallet (after minutes of cursing trying to locate it since I carry 6 health cards in there) and talk to the triage nurse as I send my father back out to the kids. I’m conscious. I know my name. GO TO THE KIDS.
My head is on the nurse’s desk. My eyes are closed. Each breath is laboured. I am starting to unconsciously grunt. She says, “So on a scale of 1-10, I’m assuming your pain is a 9/10?” I nod politely although I am thinking in my head, “No shit sherlock.” She rushes me into a room. I tell her that I have to nurse #5 soon and wonder how the logistics will work. She tells me she’ll bring the baby in and not to worry. Bless her heart. All I can do now is worry. How will my dad handle the 4 kids in an emergency waiting room? Will they touch everything in sight? What if they get hungry? What if one has to go to the bathroom while another is having a tantrum? My mind is going in circles which in the end was a good thing as it helped distract from the pain for brief moments. The pain begins to dissipate a little bit. It is not blinding anymore but I am still very uncomfortable.
My dad brings #5 to me for a feed and I assume that the nurses were watching #2, #3, and #4 although I never confirmed that tidbit. After I nurse, I tell him to take the kids to my in-laws so that he can focus on taking care of #5 and because I don’t want them in emerg – a veritable petri dish of germs. I can see he is torn because he doesn’t want to leave me alone but knows I’m right about what is best for the kids. I am also torn. Do I call Ever-Patient and let him know what’s going on when I don’t even know what’s going on? Or do I wait? I had an initial visit from a doctor who at first asked me a number of questions regarding alcohol consumption and proceeded to prescribe some gravol to manage the pain, they’ve taken my blood, a urine sample, and am now awaiting a visit to x-rays. I know nothing new though I am just grateful the pain has subsided a bit.
I tell my dad to make the call to Ever-Patient just for the reason that if the roles were reversed, I would want to know what was going on. My dad tries to call. No signal. What God-forsaken place are we in? No cell signal?? He tries to text and nothing. Lovely. He leaves and I am alone, wondering again if this is all for real. (Actually, I am not alone. I am sharing a room with an elderly gentleman and we are separated by a super-thin curtain and I am fortunate enough to hear every cough, snort, and moan he makes.)
After a few hours, my father returns with #5 who is famished. I nurse him and hand him back. I ask about the girls and he assures me they’re fine, fed, and happy. I am relieved. My father’s phone rings. A miracle! It is Ever-Patient in a panic wondering what the heck is going on. He received an obscure text message from his brother that read: “Did you know Rozanne is in emerg?” I speak to him and reassure him that I’m feeling better but don’t know anything and am still awaiting someone to come get me for x-rays. I tell him to stay put and I will call him once I know something. Of course, the man doesn’t listen and he calls back a few minutes later saying he’s on his way but he hasn’t told #1 who is currently on the court playing a game. He relinquished his coaching duties to a willing parent and made arrangements for #1’s godfather, who came to watch that day and whom #1 hasn’t seen in maybe 5 years, to take her back to my in-laws. On one hand, I am happy he is coming to be with me as I am feeling anxious about my situation but on the other hand, I am concerned that he has left our oldest daughter behind.
My father is now sitting on the edge of my hospital bed holding the sleeping baby. He keeps shifting his weight in discomfort. I feel awful that we are here, stuck in this makeshift hospital room, and I feel helpless as I curl into an even tighter fetal position. I finally get x-rays done. As the doctor walks in, he is looking down at my chart, and asks me if I am a “heavy drinker” only to look up and see me nursing the baby. I give him an obvious “No, I don’t drink at all” look and he is still waiting for an answer as if to doubt that I am telling the truth. “No, I don’t drink any alcohol nor have I had any drink for over a year now.” He tells me that there are no obstructions like gall stones or kidney stones though he thinks that I had an attack of acute pancreatitis and an added bonus – a urinary tract infection (and my bloodwork also shows I am anemic – what’s new?). He orders fluids and antibiotics to be given intravenously and says I have to stay over at least one night for observation to have an abdominal ultrasound the next day. And oh yes, nothing to eat OR drink until after the ultrasound of which the time is still uncertain. Just to remind you, I haven’t eaten or drank anything for the last 6 hours at this point in time. In fact, I threw up most of what was left in my stomach a few hours earlier. I ask the doctor if the baby can stay with me overnight and he makes arrangements for me to stay on the maternity ward so that Ever-Patient will be able to stay overnight with me as well. After the doctor leaves, the nurse sets up the IV, and I ask her what’s with all the “heavy drinker” questions. She tells me that normally they treat old men who are alcoholics for this condition. I really can’t believe how random my life can be.
It has been about an hour since I’ve spoken to Ever-Patient and I begin to worry since the hospital is only 10 minutes away from #1’s tournament. Then it hits me. When we spoke, I never mentioned which hospital I was in. He probably assumed I was in the hospital that is close to my in-laws since I mentioned that the kids were there. Crap. Almost immediately after this thought, my father’s phone rings. Finally a signal! It is Ever-Patient and he is at the other hospital frantically searching for me, pissing off every single front line health care worker in the joint. I break the news to him that I am at a different hospital and have to stay overnight. We decide that it’s best he go home and grab clothes for the kids, him, and myself for our little overnight adventure before coming to see me.
They set me up in a nice little private room on the maternity ward. (Originally, because we don’t have insurance, I was set up in a room with two other women and their newborn babies and was specifically told that I could not have a guest stay over and should I experience another bout of pain, the nurses would not be allowed to help out with the baby. My father suggests I move to the private room which would cost us quite a bit money and basically says, “Merry Christmas.” Another small miracle.) Ever-Patient comes and relieves my father of baby-duty. I ask about the kids and they are more than fine with their doting grandparents and #1 has made it safely to their house as well after catching up with her godfather and his wife.
I end up staying a few days in the hospital (apparently at this hospital there are no ultrasounds done on a Sunday). During my stay, I have met kindest nurses who sympathize with me having a newborn while dealing with this and who sympathize even more when they realize that we have 4 more waiting for us to come home. During my stay, I get more rest than I have ever gotten in the last two months and I am grateful that Ever-Patient is who he is – Ever-Patient. He has been there for me through my many hospital stays over the years – sleeping on hospital floors after surgery to lying on cots snuggling his newborn children. During my stay, we are both able to catch up and have conversations we’ve been meaning to have but haven’t been able to as we pass out from sheer exhaustion day in and day out. During my stay, the TV people come just in time for Sunday football which I can watch without interruption or guilt. During my stay, I lose 5 pounds from my “no food or drink” diet which turned into my “clear fluid” diet, although #5 drained me of most of those 5 pounds. (After my ultrasound was postponed 24 hours, the nurses told me that I could eat. As I was alternately stuffing a slice of pizza and a handful of perogies in my mouth, the doctor walks in stunned and says, “I told them you could eat CLEAR FLUIDS ONLY!” Ooops.) During my stay, as I worried about the kids and my health, Ever-Patient kept my spirits up by amusing me through his stories of walking down the maternity ward halls with a rather robust #5 pretending he was just a very very HEALTHY newborn to some very shocked hospital staff and parents-to-be. During my stay, I counted my blessings. I was grateful that none of my children or my rock, Ever-Patient, were lying in this hospital bed or that none of them had felt the horrible pain I had felt. I was grateful for having my father, my in-laws, my daughter’s volleyball team’s supportive parents, and her godfather all helping us while I was in the hospital. During my stay, I have an ultrasound which reveals no cause or preventable measure I can take in the future and only shows fluids around a pancreas that indicates it had been inflamed at one point. There are no answers only questions, “Are you sure you don’t drink?” or “Maybe it was due to your fluctuating hormones after pregnancy which may have caused a large excess of triglycerides to be released in your bloodstream?” I think we’ll go with the latter explanation. During my stay, I send Ever-Patient to the gift shop to find me a good book or magazine to pass the time after our TV time was up only to discover he just couldn’t decide amongst the vast array of Harlequin novels they had for sale. He actually said to the cashier, “I just can’t decide which one to get.” During my stay, Ever-Patient remarks that I look rejuvenated and calm. During my stay, we are flooded with concerned texts and phone calls from family including one from my witty aunt who said jokingly, “Where did she stash the bottles? Under the bed? Now we know how you can handle 5 kids!”
I’m ok now although I find that from time to time I feel a discomfort and brace myself for the excruciating pain which hasn’t returned thankfully. I am finding comfort in sharing battle stories with my cousin who has experienced something similar since she has had her baby this summer but who has endured far worse. (Green tea baby!)
I realize that everything happens for a reason. This is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down and to take care of myself…and of course, to stay off the hooch.