During the Week of the Kidney Stone Surgery (a week I am hoping will soon be over — please keep those prayers coming), I have spent almost every minute of the day and night with my husband who has been, for the most part, in excruciating pain. We've been at the hospital, at the urologist's office, in laboratories, and waiting rooms — or here at home, in a quiet empty house. We have both been so sleep-deprived that it all became a blur; the days and nights sliding together. My laptop computer, which I used mostly for looking up information about the kidney stone surgery, and his cell phone have been our main contacts with the outside world.
My younger two kids became nomads during this time. I didn't want them staying home alone while my husband and I were overnight at the hospital, and my husband didn't think it was good for them to be in the house when he was writhing in pain. But there were any number of places where they could stay: my mother's house, my sister's house, my daughter's off-campus apartment, Neighbor Family's house, Quick's house. Boy in Black came home and spent the night with them the first time we went to the emergency room; my daughter came the next night and stayed with them while we were still in the hospital and then chauffeured them from place to place.
My sister-in-law, who is a nurse, helped translate medical jargon. My daughter and Sailor Boy went grocery shopping so that we'd have food in the house. My father and brother-in-law offered to drive the kids anywhere they needed to go, or run errands. Blonde Sister, who is especially close to my youngest two because she was their babysitter for years, invited the boys to come to her house. When my husband said that the one food he felt he could eat would be a strawberry milkshake, my daughter drove to a place that makes them and brought him one. My mother-in-law, who has a host of health problems including untreated depression and anxiety, lives in an assisted-living home, and usually my husband and I pick her up for holidays, but Red-haired Sister, who was in town for Easter, came to our rescue and took care of her completely, including picking her up and bringing her to dinner at my mother's. It was a relief not to have to worry about her. My mother fed all my kids and sent me Easter dinner, on a plate covered with tin foil.
As exhausted as I have felt during the last week — sleep deprivation took its toll — I didn't have to worry about anything except taking care of my husband. I'd check in with my youngest son and hear that he was playing happily with his cousin at my mother's house. I'd feel hungry, and someone would appear at the door with food. I'd call Shaggy Hair to see where they were staying that night, and he'd tell me that they were having a ping pong tournament at Neighbor Family's house, that With-a-Why and Philosophical Boy were in the midst of a game. I had a whole list of people I could call if I needed someone to run an errand. And a whole group of online friends, too, who sent prayers and emails and comments and Easter greetings.
I can't help but think about some of the other patients I saw that first night in the emergency room: people who seemed to be completely, totally alone. I can't imagine what it must be like to go through any kind of medical emergency or health problem without a network of supportive friends and families to pick up the slack. So as difficult this last week was, it also made me feel very lucky.
Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter even brought me a vegan dessert from a downtown coffeehouse.