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Picking Up the Pieces of ParentingPatient in hospital bed face profile

  • What: Recovering from illness
  • When: After hospitalization
  • Why: Someone has to feed the kids
  • Where: At home

I landed in the hospital in less than 24 hours with some sort of raging infection that caused horrid headaches paired with a fever and pain so intense I felt nauseous anytime I tried to move my head. I spent 19 hours in the ER before getting upgraded to a regular hospital room, mostly because they were very concerned I had bacterial meningitis which requires an isolation room. Isolation rooms apparently aren’t widely on hand waiting to go, or if they are, the hospital had filled them during my tenure.

I entered the ER around 7:00 p.m. the night before. I got my hospital room around 1 p.m. the following day, after the infectious disease specialist decided that it was unlikely I had bacterial meningitis. She took me off all the IV meds except one antibiotic and let me remove my mask, so she moved right on up in my esteem.

Then they moved me up. That didn’t go nearly as well. I’ve no idea what I had (and neither does the hospital or team of doctors), but because I’d already been upgraded to a cushy hospital bed form the ER cot, they wheeled me on out and up.

I don’t think it had anything to do with the bed. I still had a headache but compared to the excruciating nauseating pain, the headache was completely bearable and I was downright chatty before the move. Then came the elevator ride. Two of them. I went from a chatty happy patient looking forward to a real room to a sniveling ball of nauseous pain.

I get motion sick. Not as much anymore as I used to as a kid, but a curvy mountain road in the backseat of a vehicle can still do me in. This sickness was like that, in the way where a lion is like a kitten. I thought I might expire on the spot from the intensity of the nausea, which only caused my headache to come roaring back as well.

I held on until they wheeled me into the room, trying deep breathing and any other silly exercises I learned to manage labor pains. There, I figured, they could hook me up with some more anti-nausea meds, which I’d had earlier when they worked like a charm.

Only no, first I had to run the gauntlet of hospital admission, even though I’d been there 19 hours and waiting for a room since 5:30 a.m., seven and half hours earlier. The nurses had to ask me a slough of questions, such as did I have cancer (I don’t know. I’m in a hospital. Aren’t you supposed to be telling me that?), do I have an UD (what’s an UD? It took at least three times for me to understand they wanted to know about an ultimate directive), who has my UD, (why are we talking about UDs? Am I dying? I feel like I’m dying!!! Please give me medicine!), what belongings I have (clothing, what kind of clothing? The kind you wear.), what’s in my purse, what’s in my wallet, please count your cash for me (I can’t count, I can’t formulate sentences Medicine!!!).

On the plus side, once I jumped through all the question hoops, they gave me medicine. Right after I dry heaved all over the irritating nurse who wasn’t allowed to go through my belongings (I passed caring at some point in elevator one) they hooked me up with the good stuff and I rolled over and passed out.

Feet propped up at end of hospital bed in hospital room

When I woke up, I felt better, in that way where I still had a headache but wasn’t likely to vomit all over anything or anyone. My condition improved from there, so much so that by the next day, they’d decided to release me. Despite the doctor saying at 10 a.m.  it would likely be a few more days, by noon I was up for dismissal. That was quick, but who am I to complain, at least until tomorrow when I have a vicious headache again?

They don’t know what hit me. The tests and jury are still out. It seems plain I had viral meningitis (better than bacterial, which is a three week sentence) but it was a secondary infection. Since no one in our household was even vaguely sick, not even a sniffle, it remains unclear what caused the virus that then migrated into my brain, but at least they’ve ruled out the scariest suspects. I’ll take no answer and good drugs over some of the possibilities they had on the table.

Better luck next time.

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