12 weeks and 6 days. 24.66 % of a year. 90 days. 2,160 hours. 129,600 minutes. 7,776,000 seconds.
That’s how long it’s been since the world stopped spinning. My world, anyway. Being a wife, a mom, a daughter, a grandmother, even just being me, have all taken a back seat.
I am a care giver. All of me is focused on my husband Mike’s next breath, next meal, next medication, next doctor’s appointment.
12 weeks and 6 days since a doctor told me Mike didn’t have a kidney stone. He had an aneurysm in his lower aorta and it was so serious he had to be airlifted to a hospital. Then the heart attack, stroke and heart stoppages, all within a week.
24.66% of a year spent going back and forth to Duke University. The fear that if I left something would happen, good or bad, and I wouldn’t be there. The weeks of ICU Delirium when the doctors and I decided that to best help Mike I should have a set arrival and departure time every day. When the delirium was at it’s worst, phone calls every hour I was out of his sight . . . wondering where he was, where I was, why I had left him there, why I had put him there. The heartbreak and fear in his voice as I tried to explain it all again. And again. And again. Fighting the urge to just sit in the car in the hospital parking lot. Having to pull over on the side of the road because I’m crying so hard I can’t see the road. Afraid to tell someone, anyone, just how scared I am. How tired I am. How overwhelmed I am.
90 days of worry and pure terror. Holding my breath waiting to hear what the next doctor thinks. What the next treatment plan is. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next diagnosis, the next prognosis. Afraid to leave the room in case I miss something. Afraid if I leave the room I won’t learn something that will put Mike on the road to recovery.
3 months during which I’ve held him as his eyes rolled back in his head and his heart stopped. I’ve watched doctors and nurses come running to once again bring him back. I’ve been looked in the eye by doctors telling me it’s time to call the family. Telling me they’d better hurry. I’ve been so tired that I’ve asked for help and been ignored. Some of my support system wasn’t my support system at all and that brought me to my knees. Leaning on my daughter, knowing she has my back and watching her step up when I can’t even verbalize the questions I want answered. Fighting for me as hard as I am fighting for Mike.
Mama doing my laundry. A neighbor taking care of our dog Duke and making sure on the few occasions I did manage to come home for an hour or two, there was food in the house. My friend Tina, taking over Southern Belle Charm to keep my dream going. Answering the phone when I call regardless of the time of day, letting me ramble for hours so I won’t feel so alone. So I can just get some of the fear off my chest. I’ve sagged with relief when I’ve looked up and Chloe and Debbie (part of my Tribe from Florida ) were standing in the doorway, knowing that while they are there I can breathe. I can let go and cry, rant and rave. I will fall. They will catch me. For one glorious weekend I can sleep. They will take up the fight. He’s safe with them. So am I.
2,160 hours I’ve gone toe to toe with countless doctors and nurses. I’m pretty sure most of them will never forget me. I hope some of them learned to listen to families more in these situations. I’ve questioned everything they’ve done. Accepting some. Refusing some. All while processing information of procedures and drugs I can’t even pronounce. I’ve insisted on things being done a certain way because I knew he would be comforted by it. Knowing in my heart that it’s not just about the medicine, it’s about the patient too. Doctors know the body but I know his soul.
7,776,000 seconds of being focused on one goal, fighting for “stable” so I can bring him home. Knowing if he were home, he would finally break the ICU Delirium. He could sleep, maybe eat. But knowing as well that if something needs done, it’s all on me. Not grasping until we’re home that stable is a fluid term. Frantic calls to the doctor, more trips to the ER. More hospital stays. C-Diff. Again. A nose bleed that won’t stop and now another diagnosis, Congestive Heart Failure. I have to do it despite being so tired I can’t remember my name half the time.
129,600 minutes of keeping him positive, making sure he has what he needs, when he needs it. Of focusing solely on being his advocate.
1 entire lifetime since I realized I could lose him.
Once again, I want to thank Karen from Baking In A Tornado for being my editor and mentor. It’s amazing that she can take my jumbled thoughts and help me put them together so they make sense.
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