Speedbump? Hurdle? Pothole? I don’t Know Anymore.

I wrote a long, ranty post yesterday about how hard everything has been.  Not just the last few weeks, but the last couple-three years, what with Michael battling cancer, then the emotional fallout from that, then the setbacks along the way, up to and including his most recent hospitalization, emergency surgery and brush with the Grim Reaper, how difficult a time he’s had trying to rebound from that surgery and sepsis, and the toll it all takes on poor little me.  It was a release to write it all out, but I didn’t like the whining, complaining tone of it, so I decided to sleep on it before deciding to share it.  Sometimes I do that (believe it or not) – I pour my heart and guts out and don’t share it.

Before I could sleep on it, though, things took another turn.  A recap:

As I said, Michael has had the toughest time bouncing back from his latest hospitalization.  I have waited and waited over the last two weeks since he came home for him to turn a corner, so to speak.  With his previous surgeries/hospitalizations, there would always come a point when he would just seem more like himself again, his energy and strength would noticeably improve, and it would be clear that he was on the mend.  That hasn’t happened this time.  He’s been weak and so incredibly fatigued, sleeping the night and half the day away, with the most minor exertion wearing him out and requiring him to lie down.  He’s had a low-grade fever that has come and gone for two weeks, very little appetite (and has continued to lose weight), and difficulty breathing deeply.  And I admit it, I’ve grown frustrated and a little impatient.  It is difficult to be the one to have to hold it all together, to try to meet everyone’s needs (and to feel like I’m failing), to feel like there is absolutely no room for me to be unwell (even if I have the flu or a raging UTI) or to crack a little bit.  So on top of it all, moods have not been the most pleasant and skirmishes have erupted here and there.

A week ago, both of Michael’s doctors told him that it was the effects of sepsis that were making his recovery such a struggle (plus he had developed anemia).  Which, of course, has been infuriating because it seems so crystal clear that the sepsis could have been prevented had they not allowed him to just languish in a hospital bed for twenty-four hours with no visit from an actual physician while they just pumped him full of pain meds.  But okay, this is what we have to deal with – it can’t be undone.

Yesterday afternoon Michael made himself a cup of coffee (his second of the day) just to try to get through the afternoon.  Upon finishing it, he promptly fell asleep on the patio swing for two and a half hours.  I woke him up around dinner time, and . . . I don’t know.  Some gear shifted in my head or something.  He was again complaining of pain in his ribs and back when he tried to breathe deeply, he was coughing a weak but rattly cough and I just though, enough.  He’s not getting better, and he might even be getting worse.  What if he’s got pneumonia?

So I talked him into going to Urgent Care because I knew they could do a quick chest x-ray on the spot.  So he drove himself to Urgent Care and it was closed.  Of course!  He came home and we hunkered down, prepared to ride out yet another night like this.  Through all of this, I was texting updates to my friend, who used to be a nurse, and she mentioned the word “embolism,” and I went into instant panic.  “ER, Michael.”  “No,” he said.  Who can blame the poor man?  He’s been to the ER so many times in the last two years that we’ve both lost count.  They recognize him on sight there!  “We’re going,” I insisted.  A friend/neighbor came to stay with the kids, and off we went.

Based upon his symptoms, the two things the intake nurse mentioned were pneumonia and embolism, neither uncommon post-surgery.  They got him into a bed in a cubicle, took a bunch of blood and a chest x-ray, and we waited for hours.  Finally around 12:30 a.m. the doctor came in and said that Michael’s white blood cell count was elevated, indicating some kind of infection, and the chest x-ray was inconclusive.  They were now going to do a CT scan of his chest and abdomen, and it was going to be several more hours of waiting.  I decided at this point to go home.  My friend has her own kids to look after and get to school in the morning, and I didn’t want my kids, the four youngest of whom were already in bed when Michael and I left for the hospital, to wake up and find both of us gone.

I got home around 1:00, climbed into bed some time around 2:00, and slept fitfully until a little after 4:00 a.m. when Michael called me to tell me that the CT scan had revealed multiple abscesses in his abdomen as well as “a touch” of pneumonia.  Fucking fuck fuck.

So he was admitted, again.  He’s on heavy-duty IV antibiotics, and they are going to attempt to drain the abscesses with a needle.  If this is not successful, more surgery is a possibility.  Also, he is, as I type this, receiving a transfusion of three units of blood because of the severity of his anemia.

I did not go back to sleep after that 4:00 a.m. phone call.  I laid in bed contemplating all of this, my whole body buzzing and trembling with stress and adrenaline.  I couldn’t decide what to do about school today, and the prospect of telling the kids that Dad is in the hospital again put knots in my stomach.

When the girls started trailing sleepily out of their room, I decided on the fly to try to keep everything as normal as possible and send them to school as usual.  How I was going to get them there in my exhausted state, I wasn’t sure.  For a few fleeting moments I thought maybe with the morning hustle and bustle, they wouldn’t notice that Daddy was missing and I could stall an explanation for later in the day.  And all through breakfast, the girls didn’t say a word about Daddy, and neither did I.  Then it was time to get the boys up, and right away they both asked where Dad was, being that the two of them were still awake the night before when we headed to the ER.  So, with dread in my heart, I gathered all the kids in the boys’ room and told them, as matter-of-factly but optimistically as I could, that Daddy is in the hospital.  I honestly thought I was going to throw up.  The horrified, bewildered look on all their faces, as they all said in unison, “AGAIN?!?” just about killed me.

So this is where everything stands for now.  Finn and I went to the hospital and hung out with Daddy for a little while this morning.  We are all tired . . . so very tired.  Voices are cracking and tears are spilling.  Hard times.


15 Comments on “Speedbump? Hurdle? Pothole? I don’t Know Anymore.”

  1. Sweet Pea's Mommy
    May 2, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Thinking of you and your entire family!!!!

  2. Liz
    May 3, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Lisa…I’m sorry. I’ve followed your blog for a long time and I was hoping when I got on today that there would be a glowing post of moving on from the recent surgery and Michael back to his old self. I wish I lived closer because although I only “know” you through the information super highway I think we would be friends in real life and I would do anything and everything to help you get through this very difficult time.

    Please know you are in my thoughts. And from one wife and mother to another, give yourself permission to get pissed, cry, pound your fists and curse the unfairness of this whole situation. Because that’s just what it is…unfair.

    Big hugs to you and your family Lisa…wish there were more I could do.

  3. Taryl
    May 3, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Oh Lisa, my heart hurts for you. I’m so sorry Michael is still battling illness and side effects of the surgery. I wish I could give you a hug and babysit while you get a pedicure 😦

  4. Keri
    May 3, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Monica Crumley
    May 3, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Oh Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear he’s so sick again! The stress and toll it’s taking on you is evident and to be expected. It’s so hard with 6 kids, making sure everybody is everywhere at the right time and be running on empty yourself. I hope you have some friends you can lean on to help and when your husband is back home and well, you can find some time to rest ( I know… sounds ridiculous as I type this…). At least TRY…

  6. Anna
    May 3, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Oh Lisa…Stay strong, sister!

  7. Asha
    May 3, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    Lisa, I am here, thinking of you and Michael and the kids. It must be heart wrenching. I am so sorry this is happening! I wish I could help somehow!

  8. mom of 2
    May 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Life sucks sometimes. I hope Michael gets better soon and is back home with all of you.

  9. Addie
    May 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Wish there was more I could do for yall… I cant even imagine having to deal with things one on top of the other and never having a break for yourself…

  10. Rachael
    May 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m speechless… and I wish there was something I could do from a physical standpoint for you, Lisa. I’d come stay with your kids around the clock if I could.

  11. Lisa Brownlie
    May 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    You are not failing. You are amazing. Most of us would be rocking, curled up in a ball in the corner of the room. Its also okay to fall apart for a while, long enough to expel some of the sheer emotion of the situation. Like a steam valve. I wish I could help. I wish I could say something helpful. My heart is very heavy for you and your family. Take care of YOURSELF Lisa. Your well being is equally paramount. Breathe. Close your eyes. Know how many are wishing for Michael’s speedy recovery and a clean bill of health going forward from here. All our best wishes and love. Clan Brownlie

  12. Stacey
    May 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Oh Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve been away for a while between too much work and my work computer crashing & I was so hoping to come back to good news. ITA with the others, you are NOT failing, you are doing a great job for your family. Please take advantage of your friends, or maybe even some strangers from a cancer support charity, and be sure to take good care of yourself, too. I’ll be sending good energy your way, and wishes for a speedy recovery for real this time.

  13. Alyson
    May 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Oh Lisa 😦
    I don’t know what to say. I wish so much I could help you guys in some way. Please know that Michael,you and the kids are all in my thoughts.

  14. christina
    May 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Like everyone else, I wish there was something I could do to help you. I hope knowing that you have people, who dont even know you, that really care about you, helps get you through this time. Hoping things get better for you guys soon. You all deserve a break.


  1. Another Footnote in Our Cancer Saga | Life As I Know It - January 31, 2012

    […] thank goodness.  That suspicious spot, it was deduced by his oncologist, was a remnant from the terrible infection he contracted post-surgery way back last […]

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