I just got back from a five day visit to the Emergency Room.

January 21, 2014

I was in the middle of folding some clothes, scooping clothes out of the dryer, sorting them into vague piles, peering up at socks and shirts and warn thru towels. I was wondering, even wandering, which respective pieces were ready for the rag heap. None had. I am kind, and have a variety of uses for holy socks- cleaning coffee tables, warn thru towels- kids don’t get the fluffy ones till they are working fullotime, and dated, faded teeshirts- on many days I totally identify with dated, fading tee-shirts. It would not speak well of my self esteem if I discarded the tee-shirts.

I started coughing, just when I was piling piles on piles. I started coughing so hard,the laundry fell over, cottony, sweet, smelling dominos. I kept coughing and I couldn’t stop.

A call to Sheldon, a lurching trip up the basement stairs, still clutching handfuls of stuff, not sure what. I couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t even cough. My chest was rising and falling and from inside it’s walls were a thousand screeching voices of Whos from Whoville after a very long night hanging out with the cast of Breaking Bad smoking all the meth in the world. It was a nightmare that I don’t remember at all, but I can hear the screams coming from deep inside of me that stung and broke me forward.

I went to the ER. I was admitted around 7 pm. By around midnight, they gave me a bed. I was there from Thursday until tonight, Monday January 20. I am so glad to be home.

Being sick is tough on everyone, and I had the additional challenged presented by being financially struggling mom of two remarkably talented kids. By remarkably talented kids, I’m talking children that collectively belong to three basketball teams, one swim team, one studies flute and the other is working very hard to learn the fine points of skating. The logistics were a nightmare, but with the help of friends, and other moms, who I now consider friends, we got thru it.

But the hardest part for me during every step of the process, was I never really did find out what was wrong and still don’t know. The oxygen saturation in my blood was and still is low. I have a deep growl of a cough lodged in my belly that seems to be hibernating for the season, even when coaxed by Mucinex and Prednizone and nebulizars and prodigious quantities of tea. Today,since my blood is saturated with a little bit more oxygen, my body was allowed to return home I need to make an appointment with a specialist later on in the week.

All this not knowing weighed and weighs heavy.

While I was in the hospital, I sought solace by figuring out how to work my hospital bed. Really, you ask. Really. I had a state of the art hospital bed. It was capable not only of the up and the down that is so popularly advertised on late night tv, but of weighing it’s inhabitant, in this case, me. I was quite worried about chicken patties and cups of custard adding to all of the holiday indulgence, so by Saturday morning, I decided to figure it out. None of the nurses had quite knew how to operate it, or so they said. (There was a regular scale in the room, and there may have been one or two other patients that also needed their attention.) I read some instructions I found in the closet. I figured out how to turn it on. Then, how to zero it out. (This is a pretty important step, what with all of the stuff that piled onto my hospital bed by Saturday morning, and a complicated process. I probably shouldn’t share it because I don’t think the nurses would approve.)

Next, I figured out how to fling my scantily clad body onto the zeroed out bed so that my head fell at just the right angle to read my current weight after I pressed the right button. Finding the right button was another process, and I probably couldn’t find it again, because their were so many damn buttons to choose from. At the end of it all, I can tell you that on Saturday afternoon, at 2;03 pm, I had lost 3.2 pounds, or maybe kilometers, according to my upside down analysis of the numbers since Thursday morning. Approximately.

With that project finished, I turned to some beautiful books my friends had brought. One was “Taking the Leap”, by Pema Chodron. Anne Lamont’s latest, A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, looked good. But when I went to open them, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for careful meditation, for taking some time to consider what in my life might have led me to a hospital room with oxygen levels that made even the most jaded nurse scowl. Of course, she might have been sick of me fiddling with the equipment.

I wanted to watch Jeopardy. I made phone calls for my work with Quincy College to students who were a little behind in registering for the spring semester. I chatted with orderlies about the best workouts for weight loss, and I told nurses where to find the most outrageous zumba class. I made notes on a recipe for brussel sprouts, angle hair pasta and bacon, then calculated the calories per serving.

Tonight, when I got home, it was wonderfu. Well, the dog was really happy. And the kids smelled really good and told me a couple great stories. But the best part- Colin needed my help with his History Pape. He let me proof read it. I got to visit a world where action verbs are always better and run on sentences are just wrong.

Then the printer wouldn’t work. I fixed it. (The paper was jammed, but it was really really jammed. I had to go in.)

And for the mighty climax, just after I inhaled my kids kisses and glanced at them head up the stairs, I tackled this. The computer. Somehow our Apple had lost it’s way. Diagnostics told me it was no longer connected to the internet.

It took a while. In the past, I’ve ever attempted anything more complicated in regards to computer “repair” than finding the wireless mouse. I am currently connected to the internet.

In these times of uncertainty, when I truly don’t know why I am not breathing easy, for real or as a metaphor for a type of spiritual foreshadowing, I find comfort in making things work. I can’t make my lungs work, I can’t make my kids work, (without causing certain amounts of stress that would probably impact the whole lung part of the equation,) but when I put my mind to it, I can make stuff work. Stuff that I wouldn’t have even attempted before I was temporarily defeated by a pile of laundry, and a choir of nasty sharp whispering gnomes temporarily lodged in my diaphragm.

Tomorrow, I’m going to have get down to the rest of it.

One Response to “I just got back from a five day visit to the Emergency Room.”

  1. metalmmom said

    Julie…your writing is awesome, sorry that the subject was terror about health issues, but girl you can write! I’m gonna read everything on your site over the next few days. Forgive me if I comment inappropriately but you’ve put it out for the public of which I am a part of….as well as an old, old friend. You’re in my thoughts …and prayers. Be well. Deb

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