In all the many times in as many years that my hubby and children were sick, in pain, in the hospital, I prayed (I really did) that I could change places with them. I knew, as a patient myself, that being the patient was much easier than being the watcher of the patient. Even in the presence of terrifying news, there is a strange kind of peace around the patient that somehow ignores the ones with the patient. So, as I’ve always said, I’d much rather BE the patient than not.
I was diagnosed with heart trouble at 15, got my first pacemaker at 20, 2nd one at 23 (on my 7th one now) so until Kerry’s appendix burst when Julie was a baby, I had never been on the floor side of the hospital bed. It’s funny sometimes the things you remember. His doctor told him “do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go straight to the ER or else”. We didn’t’ ask “else what?”. Everything was happening so fast I didn’t have time to be terrified. While he was being operated on the calm, quiet sound of the unknown started to bear down on me but in a flash he was back and all was well.
Mary ended up in Scottish Rite hospital at 11 months old. I must say that it was the most terrifying experience I had ever had. It was, again, a louder realization of how important, how precious my children, my family was to me. At each birth I was awestruck with the wonderment of life. But when you think you’re about to lose that life, nothing compares to THAT feeling. Mary was dehydrated from an intestinal virus and couldn’t stop throwing up. But in my little world, the snug cocoon of my family, all hell was breaking loose and I wanted her to stop hurting, and I wanted it NOW. Then having to watch the nurses and doctors try to put IV’s in her little collapsed veins in her arms, hands, and feet was about all I could take. Then next morning all was well and she was happy. I had been to the edge of terror and back and I did not like what I saw.
Mary headed for the hospital every Christmas for her first 5 years. Danny went once also. Some where around the 3rd or 4th year Kerry got at Thanksgiving. I had not been at my job at Mizuno but 6 months when I called in one day to say I’d be out until the doctors figured out what he had. So, back to the edge of terror with 3 small children at home. I sat by Kerry’s bed watching him shake with the chills, blankets covering him while sweat poured from his face. They kept giving him spinal taps until they decided it was meningitis. He doesn’t remember anything. Yeah, well, I do. I still remember everything about every hospital event where I wasn’t the patient.
Julie’s been the healthiest or luckiest (or whatever) of all of us. She’s had her share of bumps and bruises, cuts and rashes, etc.
And then there’s Danny. I must say with each hospital trip for my family things have gotten a little more electrifying, mystifying, terrifying. I used to think I had to ‘be strong’ for the rest of my family. I needed to be there for them to lean on. I never thought about who I was going to lean on. It was all in my perception of what a mother/wife should be. I was taught that we are the glue. I didn’t want to be. I longed for my momma to hold me in her arms again at that kitchen table from my childhood whenever the worst seemed inevitable. And then it would pass and I was back to being me.
But not anymore. The worst had happened and I’m just trying to survive. I lean on anyone that will hold me up. I don’t say prayers anymore. Either they don’t help or I’ve been saying them wrong. I don’t care if someone sees me fall apart. I don’t care if I cry in public. I may look pretty scary at times but when the worst happens it is scary. It’s so much worse than scary. With each terror moment I’ve had a little piece of me was chiseled away I think.
I didn’t even get to go to the hospital for Mary. She was already on a cold metal slab in a dark lifeless mortuary when we found out. How about that picture. No one to hold her tight, to tell her it would be alright. I see her face in my mind when the crash is happening. Sometimes I’m in the truck as it’s coming at her. Sometimes I’m sitting in her seat seeing what she saw, what I KNOW she saw. How do I know? There were skids marks left by her car. If she could hit the break then she knew what was coming at her. And I can’t get that vision out of my brain. I don’t know if it will ever go away.
Maybe if I write about it enough it will fade a little. But it’s hard to write and cry. I can’t see the screen. Once I get past the terror on her face I can almost feel the pain, the twisting, breaking, crunching. Stop, you say? I wish I could. I wish I could.
Four Letter Words