SCENE: Last Tuesday night. I was at work. Sitting in my cube, finishing up a project. 9:30p. The phone rang.
Anyone in the office could have answered it, but I happened to be the one to pick up
Me: “[Company name] Los Angeles, this is Amy.
Caller: “Hey Amy it’s Keith…”
Me: (frantically trying to remember which of our client companies has a contact named Keith. Clients do this all the time – just give us their first name and assume we remember all the details of their business)
Caller: “…from Andrew’s… thing.”
Me: “Oh! Hi! What’s up?” (thinking why on earth would Andrew’s coworker be calling me at work?)
Keith: “Um, well. Andrew is pretty sick. He’s lying down and, uh, wriggling around and stuff.”
Me: “Wriggling around?” (trying to understand what that means)
Keith: “Yea, I mean. Uh, he’s pretty bad.”
Me: “Ok, can he come to the phone?” (thinking, what are you trying to tell me)
Keith: “Lemme check. ……. No, he’s just. … He’s really sick.”
Me: “Ok. Does he need me to come pick him up?” (trying to read Keith’s mind)
Keith: “Yes. Can you?”
Me: “Yea. Ok. It will probably be 30 min or so, but I’ll be there soon.”
I got off the phone, and my supervisor who sits close to me, had a worried look on her face, “Is everything OK?”
Um. No. My husband who never needs sleep and goes to work sick needs me to pick him up from work and is too sick to call and ask me to do it himself.
Andrew has never ever been that sick as long as I’ve known him – which is nearing half his life.
Luckily, we were slow enough that I didn’t have to feel too bad about leaving work an hour and a half early. I sent an email to the powers-that-be that I needed to leave early to pick up my sick husband. Looked at that sentence for a second and added a P.S. It really is worse than that sounds.
But in the 4 minutes or so between when I got off the phone and walked out the door, I had gotten a text from Andrew’s phone saying, “This is Keith. We’re calling the paramedics.”
So not only is Andrew so sick he can’t call me. Not only is Andrew writhingly sick with something I have no idea what it is. Not only do I still have to drive for 30 minutes before I see him …. Now apparently I’ll be meeting him at a hospital.
Of course – and this truly makes me a terrible person – my next thought was ‘Well, I’m glad I have a big book with me’ … I can’t help it.
Keith kept me up to date via texts… and I basically got to the hospital just shortly after the paramedics brought Andrew to the emergency room. I walked into his room just as the nurses were finishing putting his hospital gown on him …. And, he was in fact “wriggling around and stuff”
His eyes were closed. He was crazy pale and even a little green. His arms were up with his hands at weird angles (um. Kind of like T-Rex arms) and he was having some trouble breathing normally.
I said, “Hi Andrew” loudly and tried to stay out of the nurses’ way. He said, “hi tiny wife” in the saddest weakest voice ever… but that is one of his pet names for me, so he was at least lucid.
I took it as a good sign.
They got Andrew on the path to stabilization. Hooked him up to the monitor to track his heartbeat, breathing and all. Got an IV hooked up so they could start putting fluids back in him.
I reached the hospital a little after 10p, but apparently before that Andrew had vomited … all over his clothes and at work. In fact, his clothes were sitting in the room when I walked in and the nurse instructed me not to touch those and she’d get me a plastic bag to put them in.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an emergency wing, but the room they brought Andrew to was just large enough for a bed in the middle, and 2 chairs for sitting against one wall. I sat in the chairs all night, and the poor nurse kept bumping me whenever she turned around from the bed.
But nobody seemed to mind my presence.
Except, maybe when I was patently unhelpful.
The nurses did all they could to get Andrew a little more stable, and the doctor walked in and started asking questions. Of me. Of what Andrew had been doing and what he had eaten and what happened right before he got sick.
Answer: No idea.
All I know he was at work. It’s not a physically strenuous job. Other than that I got nothing.
One of the nurses passed along info that the paramedics got from either Andrew or one of his co-workers – Andrew had eaten some piece of unidentified candy not long before he started feeling ill.
My immediate thought: He is never allowed to eat candy again.
So, based on that plus his symptoms they treated him assuming food poisoning or a stomach bug of some kind. Severe, obviously. But he would be ok once they got some color back into his face and fluid back in his body.
And so it just became a waiting game. Waiting for his body to stabilize. At least he was no longer vomiting.
Sitting in an emergency is just … bizarre.
Everything is kind of a sad pastel color: lavender floor, muted spring green curtain, blue sheets. Obviously an attempt to brighten up what has to be a sad and scary place for some people, but will all those awful overhead lights it’s not as though anyone is noticing what a lovely purple the dirty floor tile is.
The nurses left us alone, coming in to check every half hour or so. Andrew and I talked a little bit, but mostly I just let him rest.
At one point, though, I leaned down and whispered, “This is totally going in Project Life” …. And he laughed and then cursed me out for making him laugh.
Apparently laughter is NOT the best medicine.
Which is too bad because I kept thinking of great jokes that he would have loved in any other situation.
Instead, I spent my time trying to translate the conversations-in-Spanish that were taking place in the hallway. My Spanish is a bit rusty.
There was also an older woman in the room next to ours that was insufferably whiny and some of the interactions she had with the nurse were …. Highly entertaining.
Eavesdropping on other hallway conversations that include the sentence, “Make sure there’s no poop on the bag or they won’t take it.”
For the next 2 and a half hours or so, they let him rest and sleep and take in fluids. He wasn’t doing great with breathing, so they put an oxygen mask on him. And he finally fell asleep for a little bit, was able to answer questions and just looked a little better.
Well enough that they discharged him.
I signed the paper. They gave us a prescription for some kind of drug. And told us he’d be fine once he got home and rested a bit.
Good. Fine. Andrew’s clothes were all vomitty, but he was going to wear the hospital gown home.
At 12:45a, I got my purse and things together and got ready to help Andrew out to the car.
At 1:05a he had only gotten as far as sitting up and literally could not do any more than that. He couldn’t open his eyes, he couldn’t bring himself to move any muscle further.
Obviously, our nurse noticed that 20 min had passed and he was still in there so she came in to check.
Andrew told her he was just too dizzy still and couldn’t open his eyes without getting nauseous.
Nurse: “Dizzy? You mean the room is spinning? Well that’s completely different! Lie back down. I’ll be right back.”
Andrew is sure he told the paramedics he was dizzy, but apparently they did not relay the message properly to any of the hospital staff.
Once they learned he was dizzy, the doctor came in asked a couple quick questions and diagnosed vertigo. Most likely brought on by the sinus infection Andrew just can’t seem to shake (despite a round of antibiotics and Claritin). The doctor gave us some instructions (see an Ear Nose and Throat specialist), a prescription (Valium) and an anti-nausea drug.
They gave him a dose of Valium and let Andrew rest for another 20 minutes or so – and by that time the Valium had kicked in and he was fine enough to open his eyes and get out of bed.
He still was incredibly weak and exhausted, so they helped us out to the car with a wheelchair. But the immense difference in that Valium was a HUGE help.
As I drove home (another 35 minutes), he just lay his head back and closed his eyes. … Poor guy. Please don’t vomit in my car….
We got home around 2:30a … I grabbed my bags of stuff, rushed inside to make up a bed on the couch for him. By the time I was done, Andrew had shuffled, shoeless, 2/3rds of the way through our dirt front yard to the door. I thought he would wait for me to get back to the car! But no… he did stop at the foot of the steps to wrangle his strength, but he made it inside, into the living room, and onto the couch.
So much different from the first time that he was discharged.
Our couch is amazing and really great couch for sleeping, so he was cozy and set. Blanket, pillows, water, trash can for barfing, Kleenex for his sinus infection.
And now. Bed…
Wednesday morning I woke up early – 730a or so. I went downstairs and Andrew was a little awake. Still feeling tired and weak but much much better. We talked for a little bit, about the night before, about what the doctor said, etc, and then we both fell asleep again until about 10:30a.
I knew that Andrew wanted to go to work that day, but I made it my mission to talk him out of it. That kid does NOT know how to relax. And he CLEARLY needed physical rest.
We both got showers, and I called out from my job, and then I spent hours just encouraging him to lie down. Call your work and tell them you still need a few hours. Just close your eyes.
We have this “rule” that I used to invoke all the time – when I know Andrew is tired and he is in denial about it, he has to close his eyes and lie quietly for 5 minutes and if he’s still awake after 5 minutes he can get up.
He is NEVER still awake.
We had lunch and I got him to take a nap on the couch with the promise that I’d take him to work once he woke up.
I got *some* things done, like reading and grocery shopping, but mostly I just tried to stay quiet so he could sleep.
Andrew woke up again in the late afternoon, and seemed … ok to go to work. No longer sick. Still exhausted, but not physically weak.
And I’ll say this for Andrew – he is NEVER lazy. He works so hard all the time that it would be unnatural for him to call out sick from work if he could physically get out the door. He promised me that if he went to work he would just be a body to answer phones and his co-workers would let him rest still.
So I agreed. And yes, he needed my permission because his keys, his car, and everything was still at work.
Around 5p, we got in my car and headed down to his work. After a couple blocks, I asked if he had let his work know he was coming, so he texted the studio manager. After another couple blocks, he got a text back telling him not to come.
Don’t have to twist my arm!
I pulled into a fast food restaurant parking lot, while Andrew called to see what was going on. And they had it mostly handled. Handled enough. Handled enough that Andrew could actually take one full sick day for the first time in his life (more or less).
I actually expected Andrew to argue and insist on going in anyway, but he seemed relieved. As soon as he hung up the phone and we were turned around to go back home he said, “Can I change into my PJs when we get home?”
Yes, honey. You can put on Pjs and go back to bed.
He basically spent the rest of the evening sleeping and eating and then sleeping some more.
I would estimate he slept about 20 hours of a 30 hour span of time. That might be a slight exaggeration, but only slight.
He had been getting 4 hours of sleep a night for a few weeks prior, so his body obviously took advantage of him resting for once and just took over on the sleep front.
He woke up Thursday morning basically better. Whenever you sleep that much, you still need to make a bit of an effort to get your body up and moving, and he did still have a sinus infection.
But Thursday morning I took him to work, he went and filled his prescription, just in case, and made an appointment with a doctor about his sinus infection.
I’m not positive Andrew has learned the value of relaxing and resting and taking care of himself, but at least now I have a “remember when” lecture ready when he starts running himself ragged again.
(The only other time I’ve had to go to the emergency room was when I was little little, my brother cut his toe really badly and we ALL went to the emergency room for him to get stitches. But I only remember the car ride there, so it doesn’t count. Right?)