(TL;DR: M has renal failure and a bevy of health issues and will be in hospital for the foreseeable future.)
I’ve had one of the worst weeks of my life. Actually, I shouldn’t be bitching about my own week being bad because I’m not the person in hospital, in a lot of pain with various tubes and things sticking out of my body, but for the purposes of venting, I’m going to say that my week fucking sucked.
M has been in hospital since Monday so for seven days I’ve been a ball of worry who is functioning on very little sleep and spends her days travelling between the hospital, the office and home.
They’re not really sure what the infection is that started everything, but it’s some sort of staph/strep/cellulitis infection on his scrotum (of all places!) that caused it to swell up to the size of a melon. He was shuffling around the house for a few days with that uncomfortable thing between his legs not wanting to go to the doctor – like a typical man – until eventually he made an appointment and when it came time to leave the house, he realised that he’d never be able to put his pants on, let alone walk to the car and drive the 30mins to the doctor, because, you know, that’s what happens when you leave an infection for too long.
So he arranged for a home visit from another doctor and called me to come home because our apartment has super security that means you actually have to go downstairs to the lobby to let people inside and you need a security fob to operate the lift. That week I was travelling over east and roaming through the countryside for several days with customers so the timing of everything was bad. The doctor gave him a script for antibiotics and said if it wasn’t getting better in a couple of days to go to the hospital.
Four days (four days!!!) later he finally gave in and called the non-emergency ambulance/patient transport number. They asked what the problem was and as soon as he said ‘my balls are as big as melons’ he got transferred through to the 000 line (that’s Australia’s version of 911) and if the whole thing hadn’t been so tragic and wrong, I would have laughed about the conversation he had which went something like this:
Operator: “Hello, what’s your emergency?”
M: “It’s not an emergency, I’ve just got big balls.”
Operator: “Ok, we’re going to despatch an ambulance, I need some more details from you.”
M: “I don’t need emergency care, I just can’t walk or drive to get to the hospital.”
And so on and so forth…
About ten minutes later the first ambulance arrived and after assessing the situation they called for a different ambulance because there was a logistical problem with his lack of mobility. After about an hour the second team arrived and they then went to work trying to figure out how to get him into the lift and into the ambulance while negotiating the obstacles, stairs and the slight hill our apartment building is on. We also live on a very busy road and it was morning rush hour and he wasn’t wearing anything from the chest down. Yeah. There was a lot of shielding with sheets and fortunately the cafe that is on the ground floor of the building is still closed for summer holidays and the audience that gathered to see what was going on only included a couple of nosy neighbours.
Anyway, we got to the hospital, he waited four hours to see a doctor then it was another eight hours before he was moved out of the emergency department into a ward. They started pumping him full of antibiotics and said he may be discharged on Wednesday or Friday at the very latest.
Tuesday was a public holiday so I spent most of the day with him playing cards and chatting happily while he sat gingerly on a chair and left about 5pm then Wednesday I went to work and told him to call me if he was going to be discharged before I went to visit. We exchanged a few text messages that night and he asked me to bring a charger for his ipod and the next morning I sent him a couple of messages asking how he was and said that I would visit in the afternoon. I didn’t get any response to the texts but I just assumed his phone was either flat or he’d run out of credit or whatever and I didn’t think anything more of it because he was perfectly fine and reasonably chirpy when I saw him the afternoon before.
So I rocked up at 4pm and got told he was in the operating theatre having a venous catheter inserted because his kidneys had shut down and would probably need dialysis and they’d had two teams in trying to insert a catheter to monitor his urine output which was made all the more difficult and painful because of his infection down there and they were worried about his heart and blood oxygenation and they were checking for fluid on the lungs and I was all, WTF?!?! and just burst into tears and spent the next few hours while I waited for him to come back from theatre bawling my eyes out. I had a long talk with the nurse and he told me that the antibiotics had caused a bad reaction and things had just spiralled out of control after I’d left the previous afternoon and I was super angry at M because he hadn’t told me anything and we’d been texting until about 9:30pm.
So eventually M got wheeled back in with all the tubes and stuff coming out of various parts of his body looking like Frankenstein and I couldn’t stop crying which was bad because then he got upset because I was upset. And then I did the worst thing ever, I expressed my anger about him not telling me that something was wrong during out text messaging (because I assumed he had chosen not to tell me because he does shit like that sometimes not to make me worry.)
Me (crazy bitch voice with angry/upset tears streaming down my face): “You didn’t think there was something more important to tell me other than that you needed your ipod charger???”
M: “Well, it all happened after that and I was being taken from here to there for all the tests and things shoved into me. I didn’t have my phone or a chance to tell you.”
And I’ve never felt so guilty in all my life. Not only because I got angry at him but because I wasn’t there when all this shit was going down (and granted I was angry that no-one from the hospital had contacted me to let me know that shit was going down). I stayed until visiting hours finished that day and walked home (another 45 minutes of crying time) then I spent a sleepless night, went in super early to work the next morning, did what I needed to do, broke down a couple of times when different people asked me if things were ok and then headed back to the hospital where I stayed as long as I could. I went back first thing the next morning, then went to work for a few hours to do a few things then went back to the hospital again. Rinse and repeat for most days.
I spend lots of time at the hospital just holding M’s hand and watching the pee drip into his bag. I help him to the toilet and wipe his bum. I gave him a sponge bath and shaved his face (first time I’ve ever shaved a face and that was scary as hell) and even though he’s fully capable of feeding himself, he likes me to feed him and do “Here comes the aeroplane!” and give him fluids through a straw. When he’s feeling ok we play cards. I banter about the weather and work. Today I’m going to try to get him into the shower
I talked with the nurses about the importance of getting him mobile again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the infection and swelling that started this whole thing doesn’t seem to be getting better, and they’re trying various cocktails of antibiotics. His heart seems to be ok and there’s no fluid in his lungs (but there is about 10 litres of fluid in his system that needs to come out.) His kidneys seem to be doing better at the moment, but I’m not sure how much of his output is courtesy of the diuretics that they are also giving him. They’re going to assess him on Monday for dialysis, so fingers crossed he doesn’t need it.
All in all, it’s been a bit of a harrowing week. I’ve got a few other things to write about the emotional side of all of this and impacts on our dynamic, but all of that will have to wait until I’ve got a bit of space in my head and heart.