Monday, January 07, 2013

Die Another Day or The Quantum of Solace

Like so many of our friends' families, we spent the holidays with sickness. It's been okay, but it is still part of the story, so... Over Christmas I was pretty sick with a sinus cold that, as usual, drifted down into my chest. I wasn't resting because I had a project-commitment that I was determined to fulfill. So I pressed on through, and it would have been fine, except that the day after Christmas at the end of a day of working, I stopped in at Walgreens to get cold medicine. I was really miserable at that point but knew that Brad and I had a date planned with my mother- and father-in-law able and willing to watch the kids for the night (we were in Des Moines for a week over Christmas). I started to pick up Tylenol Cold but decided to ask the pharmacist who suggested the Walgreen-brand Musinex. I headed on back to my in-laws. Brad and I went on a short coffee-house date and then came back for bed. I took some of the medicine and tried to go to sleep. I was having trouble breathing when suddenly my legs started to go numb. I was a little concerned when the chest pain I had been experiencing through-out the week returned and then my hands blanched white and started shaking. When the left side of my face started to go numb, I started to get scared. I told Brad I needed to go to the e.r. (it was 2 am). Brad woke his dad up to find out where to take me. We got in the car and took off. As we got onto the freeway to Des Moines I started losing feeling in all my extremities and entire chest was like an ironband and also like fire...I could barely breathe. Soon I could barely see anything...I thought I was going to pass out and probably not wake up. My first thought was "I am so glad You [God] are with me here and that I am going right to you." Second thought was utter sorrow for missing the rest of my children's lives and how not having a mother would shape their lives. Third thought came exactly at the same time of simultaneously grieving over missing the rest of this life with Bradley and, honestly, sheer terror for him trying to figure out how to parent these four children alone and no one to take care of him either. I said, in between gasps, " I love you so much, Brad...Tell the kids I love them." Brad had called 911 and they wanted to send an ambulance out to meet us. Brad sees a hospital (not the one we were trying to get to) off to our right. He veers onto the ramp and runs us up to the emergency room doors. A wheel chair arrives and we get in...I vaguely think there will be a stretcher and nurses and one of those chest-zappers...But what happens next is an hour (?) of sitting in an e.r. room with ekg monitors on...then chest x-rays...and arguments with the nurse that I do not need tranquilizers and that I am not prone to panic attacks nor am I mentally-inducing what is happening to me. After four or more similar attacks (not as intense as the first one), the heart-attack like episodes cease. The verdict is that I had some kind of medicine-induced heart-attack like panic attack. It sounds so flim-flammy and made up. We head back home. We are exhausted. (Later I find out on the internet that this particular medicine has produced attacks like these commonly enough to have research forum boards existing for it.) And as embarrassed as I am, I know I didn't make up what happened, and how could I have known? Mostly, I am just overwhelmingly, washing-in-floods-over-me-even-now grateful that God gave me one more day, one more week, another month with my husband, with my children. So grateful. And so grateful that I wasn't really scared to die and be with Him. Only not ready to go because my work here, my part of the story here just isn't done yet. Deep breath of thankfulness.

So after that... I was sick for a few more days -- slept one day straight through. Then Dietrich came down with a fever and took a week to kick it. Then Lincoln woke up with what we thought was pink-eye. It ended up being viral pink-eye which is basically a cold that "settles" in ones eye. It isn't as contagious (nor is it treatable, being viral) as bacterial pink-eye. His actual cold has been mostly just runny-nose and coughing. Tonight Atticus has a fever and some kind of stomach thing..not sure what's up yet. Despite all these illnesses I have been so grateful to have missed the lice scourge and the stomach flu nastiness that has visited other friends. Even worse, we have had distant acquaintances lose a baby over the new year and others who are battling cancer. My own dad continues to fight a horrid infection related to his initial cancer biopsy. These things and the lingering gratefulness from the e.r. visit has truly carried me through with a good perspective on how light these particular troubles are.

The pictures here are from the 3-hour wait at the Target clinic to get Lincoln checked for pink-eye. It was quite the morning. The kids had enough. Lincoln had to pee in this one.

But we made it in...and it was all fine...

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