Thursday, February 6, 2014


It's unfortunate, but between Marty and myself, I've acquired enough hospital stays to recognize where I am, emotionally-speaking, in terms of dealing with this latest trip.  You see,  just like everything else in life--grief, addiction recovery, etc.--there are emotional stages that go along with hospital stays.

First, there's the shock. The whole "I can't believe we are back here again".  This is the stage that involves dealing with PTSD emotions.  The sounds of the medical equipment and computers. The smell of their brand of soap.  The familiar rooms of the hospital.  I broke down in the ER when I watched them put an oxygen cannula on Marty. It just brought back too many emotions.  His first room was in the same unit as his ICU room from his last major stay.  We both watched in horror as they wheeled in a roto-prone bed for another patient. I can't stress enough that PTSD is very real for anyone who goes through the process of almost losing a loved one. This particular stage involves lots of tears, lots of ear-holding (so as not to hear certain sounds), and lots of gritting the teeth.

The next stage is that of situational control. I'm laid back in some areas; I'm a control freak in others. Dealing with hospital stays brings out the control freak in me.  If you have someone in your life who deals with chronic health issues and many doctors, you know what I'm talking about. This stage brings out the "mama bear" in me.  When they moved Marty from ICU to a regular room, they didn't connect him to an o2 monitor. For a whole 12 hours.  About 18 months ago, he almost died of sudden ARDS.  Being a former ARDS patient dealing with yet another massive pneumonia and not being connected to a monitor is unacceptable, and I wasn't about to let it happen. Fortunately the nurse understood and brought one quickly. This stage involves me asking a lot of tough questions. Questions that sometimes make doctors uncomfortable, but that must be asked, for my sanity as well as Marty's. During this stage, I make sure all of his needs are met. That he's comfortable and well cared for. That things are running like clockwork at home with the kids. This is the only time in my life that I am a successful multi-tasker. I'm actually a little proud of my ability to manage under duress. Shame it doesn't carry over.

I've moved on to the third stage, which is where I am now. I'm in the bitter stage. I hate this one the most.  Please...don't take this the wrong way. I could not be happier with how well Marty is doing, all things considered. I'm thrilled with the care he's received this go-round, overall. But I have to be honest here because I need this vent BADLY.  I'm tired of it. I'm sick of driving to and from the hospital. I'm sick of the hospital food. I'm sick of not seeing the kids regularly and not being able to follow our usual routine (we are a VERY routine-oriented family for lots of reasons).  I'm tired of Marty being sick and hurting. I miss having conversations with friends that don't revolve around breathing and oxygen and pneumonia.  And because I'm just so very tired of everything, and tired in general, I get...bitter. And it plays out in a very bad way in my head. See, I think mean thoughts. When I'm trying to find a parking spot in the overcrowded hospital garage (which has been more than crowded the last few days--the top floors are closed due to ice, so there literally is NOT enough parking), I'm saying choice words to the others who are also trying to park. I think mean things about the hospital employees who are walking down the halls, dressed up for work nicely with their hair fixed, make-up on, laughing at some joke.  I think horrible things about the mamas who are leaving with their cute babies, balloons and flowers in hands. I get mad when people across the hall come and go and yet we are still there. It's just a very bad place to be.

This time, I'm trying to combat the bitterness with one of its opposites--kindness. As I get older, I find that I enjoy talking to strangers more than ever before. In the hospital, this translates into conversations with other people in the halls and elevators, in the waiting rooms. Even in the gift shop. Talking with them about their loved ones. Chatting about the weather. Talking about hometowns and our kids and the cafeteria food. Because sometimes, when you get caught up in a "normal" conversation, it takes your mind off of the issues at hand, gives you a sense of normalcy. So instead of focusing on being bitter and thinking terrible thoughts about people who definitely do not deserve it, and throwing myself a pity party, I'm reaching out to others. Trying to take THEIR minds off of things, too. Some people aren't keen on talking, and that's okay. For others, words just spill out, as if they were just waiting for someone to ask. It's therapeutic for them. It's therapeutic for me.

So...that's where I am. I'm not saying I don't do the bitter thing, just because I'm chatting it up with strangers. This morning when I drove around for literally an hour in the garage, I was definitely, definitely bitter. But when I see myself sinking into the dark place, the thoughts that just do no good for anyone, I fight it with words. More often than not, it works.

Today's update is a lot of nothing, at this point. No word on the pathology of the spots removed from his lung as of yet. He accidentally pulled out his own chest tube (YIKES), but so far, that's okay too. Switched to oral pain medicine and is waiting for a room on a regular floor. He's in good spirits, but he's tired, too. We all are. If you could send prayers/healing thoughts our way, we appreciate it.  Nobody has mentioned discharge at this point. Sigh.

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