You have relieved me in my distress;
Psalm 4:1b NKJV
The saga continues…
About nine the following morning, another nurse let herself into the house through our unlocked front door, strode determinately into my bedroom, took one look at my pathetic, unresponsive veins and knelt confidently by my bed to work. Within minutes she had painlessly threaded a catheter into my vein and connected me to the IV unit. The fluid dripped methodically into the tube, and a relief rapidly advanced through my body.
I hoped this treatment would return me to normal within hours, since two obstacles confronted me: How would I care for Parker and drive him to pre-school two times a week; and how would I change the IV bags when Chris was at work?
To take care of the first concern, Chris and I decided to extend Parker’s pre-school time from two to five days a week – from seven thirty in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon – so I could remain in bed. Tammy,* a friend from church, graciously volunteered to pick him up at three to take him back to her house to play with her three daughters. Then Chris would pick him up after work.
I’d have to deal with the second concern, by learning how to change the IV bags myself, if necessary.
The more concentrated anti-nausea injections started working, and the IV solution restored some health to my body. After three days, I could sip Ginger Ale and nibble on dry cereal – and keep them down. Church members brought Chris and Parker meals, and the glorious day when I could enjoy bagels and donuts finally arrived! Reading material I voraciously absorbed piled up on the floor on my side of the bed, and I enjoyed reasonable stretches of comfortable sleep. The big day arrived – six days after the treatment was ordered – when they felt that I no longer needed the IV therapy. The nurse would return the following day to remove the tube. Confinement to the house would continue through the weekend, without encumbrances to hamper my movements, or brain-jarring alarms sounding throughout the night. I’d be untethered and free!
~ ~ ~
My release to freedom didn’t come as easily as expected. The nurse who promised to return at nine in the morning arrived at three in the afternoon. This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, if it weren’t for the terrifying night Chris and I experienced.
In the dark, early morning hours, I awakened abruptly and found myself staring at a large air bubble migrating down the IV tube toward my arm. The machine had failed to sound its empty bag alarm. In the middle of frantically trying to shut the machine down, Chris managed to siphon my blood back into the tube.
The on-call nurse, whom Chris phoned in panic at four-thirty in the morning, was indifferent to our plight. She said she was unfamiliar with the type of IV line inserted into my arm, even after repeated explanations about what it looked like and how it was inserted. She even sounded incensed that we had awakened her to request help, and managed to succeed in making Chris seethe with uncharacteristic anger when she refused to come to the house. Instead, she condescendingly assured us that someone would arrive at nine in the morning to remove the line, and then nonchalantly offered us another option: Chris could remove the tube and inject heparin into the line himself.
After shutting down the machine and managing to stop the vacuum action of the tube, Chris’s anger and disgust escalated, intensifying my guilt and feelings of helplessness. Bitterly frustrated, he strode across the room, pivoted to an abrupt stop, glared at me from the foot of our bed and blurted out, “I don’t know about you, but if this doesn’t work out for some reason, I don’t think I can go through it again!” Swamped in fear, exhaustion and weakness, I could only agree with his assessment.
Inwardly, I wasn’t so sure. If I were unable to carry this child to term, could I intentionally embark on a similar journey of such agony, frustration and paralyzing fear? I just knew that in my current physical and mental state, it wasn’t a good time to be making that decision.
When the home health nurse eventually made her appearance, she was confronted with a small blood clot at the IV entrance site. After repeated, unsuccessful attempts to dissolve the clot with heparin injections – she slipped the tube easily from my vein. Then she pronounced that if I needed IV therapy again, they would insert another tube.
She quickly whisked away the vestiges of hospital-room equipment. Parker would again be able to jump on the bed and envelop me in his gargantuan hugs. It had been difficult for him to keep his distance from the machine and understand that his mommy needed seclusion and rest. Valiantly, he tried to control his two-and-a-half-year-old perpetual motion body, to lie quietly curled against my left side during afternoon naps. Sometimes he’d grab my hairbrushes and gently brush and “style” my hair. He had a confined, captive audience and often took advantage of the situation by depositing heaps of Match Box cars and Hot Wheels racers next to me – for us “to play.”
But schedules and activities had to resume some normalcy since I needed to work. Vacation was over, just another short detour in the road. We had goals to meet and plans to keep. The world’s roller-coaster ride beckoned us. As soon as the doctor gave the thumbs up, we intended to scramble back on.
Now I look back on it and wonder if God sighed, shook His head sadly and whispered, “When will what I give them ever be enough?”
~ ~ ~
Enough. Is it ever enough for any of us?
In next week’s blog, I’ll take a brief break from my story and begin discussing the shaky faith and compartmentalized, worldly thinking that led to our poor decisions and behavior. Maybe you’ll identify. Maybe you’ll be convicted. Perhaps I can help others avoid the tragic, life-altering mistakes we made. Hopefully, the discussion will cause all of us to reexamine our fragile lives and faith in light of truth.
I’ll also start talking about the stress our son experienced but didn’t display until later. All was not well, and our energies were so focused elsewhere that we failed to both recognize his internalized fear and adequately address his needs. Children are resilient, but their feelings under adverse circumstances – like ours – must be addressed.
Thanks for joining me. Until next week!
* name changed to protect privacy
For those who haven’t read the comments and my response on the October 24 blog, I have included the comment of a reader below. He had a very important point to make about insurance coverage and pregnancy often being considered a “pre-existing condition.”
Nearly all insurance policies exclude pre-existing medical conditions. Pregnancy is considered a pre-existing medical condition and typically leads to denial of coverage. So before you even think about getting pregnant, be sure that you have health insurance cover in place. Good news is, beginning in 2014, all pre-existing condition exclusions for adults will be be removed, including pregnancy.