Following the get-together last Saturday with my family, Christmas was fast upon us two days later. On Christmas Eve, we always have our children come over for our family time. Since the baby was still recovering from his cold, my daughter brought him to our house before heading in for the Christmas Eve church service. I planned to watch him, cook dinner and be ready for everyone to come back around 6 or 6:30 for dinner. However, shortly after they left, Lynn started running a fever.
While fevers can be a source of discomfort and can make anyone feel bad, for an MS patient, they can be devastating. Between 4 and 6 p.m. his temperature rose to 103 degrees. Along with the aches and malaise brought on by the fever, his spasticity became so severe he was asking me to stretch out his arms every few minutes. Meanwhile, the baby needed to eat and I had dinner to cook. I fed the baby but other than that, just rotated him from play site to play site. Then he began to get sleepy and wanted attention. I had put potatoes on to cook and was literally running from kitchen to bedroom every five minutes as I bounced the baby rhythmically trying to “rock” him to sleep in my arms (it didn’t work).
I called Lynn’s son, Eric, and told him, “Dad had a fever and I needed help; come early,” but by the time he got the message and could get ready to come, it was already six. When Eric and his wife walked in, I was so relieved. I handed Erin the baby, told Eric to stay with Lynn (I had finally gotten the temperature to start coming down) and I took off for the kitchen. Fortunately, the other kids were late and didn’t get here till almost seven. By then all had settled, and dinner was ready. Whew!!!
Lynn was not able to join us because he felt too bad but everyone would go visit him periodically to keep him company and then let him rest. It was disappointing that he could not join in the festivities, but, all in all, Christmas Eve was fun and certainly memorable.
The next day, Lynn was very tired from the aftermath of the fever but was able to participate in a late lunch with his family. His sister came over in the morning and fixed the meal and it was delicious. She left us some food for dinner and after everyone left (and Lynn had a nap) we rounded out the evening with a movie. Later we had leftovers (which were made just for him according to his diet) and we went to bed around 2:00 a.m.
At 3:30 a.m., I woke up terribly sick. My stomach was grumbling and I knew I better rush to the bathroom before I had an accident. As I rushed past Lynn, he said, “I need to pee.” I replied, “too bad, I’m going to be sick. Hold it!” and rushed on to the bathroom where I proceeded to have both vomiting and diarrhea. Several people in the community had GI bugs so I was not sure what was going on. I thought it might be food poisoning because the stuffed mushrooms with cream cheese had set out for several hours and I finished them off for dinner, but what if it was a virus? I didn’t want to expose Lynn. I could not imagine managing him through hours of diarrhea and vomiting, plus something like that could be a major setback for him or even require hospitalization. But he needed to pee so I needed to figure out how to care for him and reduce his exposure to me.
The entire time I was being sick, I had in the back of my mind, that he needed to pee. I figured if I could get a foley inserted he would be okay for a while till I could get someone to come to take care of him. So after I would vomit, I would have that period of peace between events. I shuffled off and got the foley insertion supplies and laid them out. Then went back to the bathroom. When all was calm again, I came and put in the foley and then went back to the bathroom. Knowing he had a foley, I figured he should be okay for a few hours. I grabbed my cell phone on one of my trips out of the bathroom and sent a text to his son, “I’m sick. I need you now! Come take care of Dad.” It was in the middle of the night so he did not get the message for several hours but came as soon as he could afterward. By then the worst was over and I was sleeping the needed sleep of recovery. Eric stayed most of the day until I felt strong enough to eat and take over Lynn’s care.
I had wondered before what I would do if I got sick like that. Now I know. I just keep going and work around the illness. I thought about calling the rescue squad to put in a foley but I have heard they won’t do that. They would take him to the emergency department and have it put in there. Can you imagine? I’m sick, they load him into an ambulance and take him in to get a foley. He’s then stuck in the emergency department somewhere totally ticked off and worried about me and I have to figure out where he is and how to get him! That would be a mess, wouldn’t it? But then again, if you can’t pee, it does eventually become an emergency.
You may recall I have a daughter who is a nurse and you might be thinking, “why doesn’t she call her?” Unfortunately, my daughter has a phobia of being around vomiting. This is a true phobia and she becomes dysfunctional in such a situation. She would be no good. She could handle just about anything else calmly and professionally but knowing I was vomiting would make her avoid my house as if we had the black plague. Her phobia is beyond her control and something we have dealt with since she was six so I know better than to try that route unless there is no other option, and even then, I’m not sure she could handle it.
Anyway, I figured out my own solution and managed to take care of Lynn while I was sick. I’m sure what I had was food poisoning, not a GI bug because by the next day I was fine. So all ended well. Lynn’s fever did not return. My cold is slowly getting better and tonight is New Year‘s Eve. I’ve started taking down my Christmas decorations and hopefully will make a big dent in them tomorrow.
I hope 2013 will be a good year full of family and love and hope. I know if challenges come, as I’m sure they will, we are not alone. Our Lord is with us and the angels he has given us (a family, friends, and acquaintances who look out for us every day serving as his hands) will meet any need we may have. We are truly blessed.
May God bless you all throughout this coming year!
From my house to yours, Happy New Year.
2 thoughts on “What do I do Now?”
In the six years I cared for my husband Bill, may he rest in peace, I always wondered what I would do if I got sick. We didn’t have anyone to call on for help. I probably could have moved him to the nursing home, but I still would have had to get him ready. Fortunately, the only time I got really sick was while I was visiting my brother in New Mexico. Bill was already in the nursing home for respite care during my absence so I didn’t have to worry about him. Of course it wasn’t fun being sick while on vacation, but it was better than being sick at home and having to take care of Bill.
what an eventful end to the year – wishing you all a more peaceful year ahead
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick