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When Mom Gets Sick

I’ve been sick for almost two weeks now. For the first week, I used over the counter cold remedies and slept mostly. My son was still sick with the flu and out of school all week. Halloween was canceled at our house because of Conor’s flu and my being unable to get up and down to give out candy and try not to cough on the little beggars.

This week, I went to the doctor. He told me my lungs sounded wheezy and junky. Wheezy, I understand. This all started when my asthma went haywire and I ended up using my nebulizer for breathing treatments every four hours or so. My doctor put me on antibiotics, my choice: Levaquin. Despite its “black box” warning that it can cause Achilles tendon rupture, it’s the drug that’s worked for me over the years and is my go to drug. I finished the course of antibiotics on Thursday. But now it’s Saturday and I still feel like crap.

My family has responded to this, well, as little as possible. Maybe it’s because I’m sick so often that they’re used to it. I call them through our house’s intercom system for ice, or water, or tea. I remind my son to feed the pets and let our dog out. I call down to wake up my husband for work (he works night shifts). I usually have to call him three or four times before he’s actually awake. I ask him to heat up one of my Nutrisystem dinners in the microwave and he brings it up and gives me a quick peck on the cheek and leaves.

No one wants to be around me, until they know exactly what’s wrong. I blame H1N1. My husband had the vaccine last week. My son will get it this week (hopefully, if his pediatrician has it. He’s number 247 on the list for the regular flu shot so I’m not getting my hopes up). I had a regular flu shot in September but haven’t found a place to get an H1N1 vaccine, even though I’m in a “high risk” group. I’m immunosuppressed from steroids, which I take for Lupus. The irony of the whole thing is that the lower I go on steroids, the better my immune system should work. But the last three times I’ve tried to wean it, including now, I’ve gotten pneumonia. And yes, I’ve had the pneumonia shot.

It’s funny how people react when their families or friends get sick. My best friend, Marie, has been to the hospital every time I’ve been sick. She nearly stayed there two years ago, when I was critically sick, on a ventilator, in the Intensive Care Unit. She helped my husband with decisions and questions to ask the doctors. She was there when I woke up from my coma, and stayed by my side, despite my disorientation that lasted until the day I was discharged from the hospital.

The second time I was in the ICU, she was there too. And she was there, on her only day off, waiting for my doctor to discharge me. I was supposed to be discharged at 11:00 a.m.; it was after 6:00 p.m. when I finally left. In the meantime, she went to my house, picked up my son at the bus stop, and brought him to the hospital to wait with us. My husband was working dayshift at another hospital, and I wouldn’t have gotten home until after 9:00 p.m. if it hadn’t been for Marie. And she sent me an “Edible Arrangement”: a fruit basket in flower shapes, because she said I made her realize how important friends were. I learned that a few admissions ago!

I’m not one to get flowers from friends or family when I’m in the hospital. My brother and niece came to see me when I was critically ill two years ago. I wasn’t awake at the time. It was special because my brother hasn’t spoken to me in five years over a petty argument. The fact that he was willing to come over to the hospital to see me made me realize that he would always be there in time of crisis, despite our outwardly disagreements. My Mom in heaven would be proud!

Here’s some do’s and don’t’s for visiting in the hospital:

Don’t stay all day—hospital patients don’t get a lot of rest, day or night.

Someone is always coming in to draw blood, or take xrays, or take your vital signs.

Send a card, or flowers. They really make your day when your sick.

Bring the patient’s laptop in. Even if the hospital doesn’t have Wi-Fi, at least there are games that you can play- or articles to write.

I’m going to the Emergency Room tomorrow, most likely. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow when I wake up. I know it’s coming. I feel it. And my family will have to be without me for a day or more. There’s dishes to do, and laundry to be folded. And the kitchen is probably a mess, along with the family room. My husband cleaned up the house before I came home in February. It was nice to come home to a clean house. One less thing to do while I get better.

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