Tag Archives: sick

The Quiet is Disturbing 

It’s 4am and I’m in the ICU family waiting room awaiting news on my father. He has a rare autoimmune disorder, which I have touched on briefly before, but he had a random setback today and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance from my home. It’s been awful. Worse than awful. There are seven other people here. Three are from my family and four from another patient. The other four have a huge air mattress, while others are sleeping on chairs. We are scattered, covered in blankets and pillows I picked up at home. And socks. Socks seemed very important to me at the time. I’m the only one awake. Everyone else is asleep, or at least trying to sleep through the uncomfortableness and anxiety. Yet somehow, as exhausted and mentally drained as I am, I just can’t let myself fall asleep. Kind of reminds me of Nightmare on Elm Street.  I’ve been checking on my dad every hour. Nothing has changed much which is good and not so good. I visited the chapel and sat there for awhile. And then, reluctant to go back, I decided to explore, thinking maybe I’d crack a smile if I found the maternity ward. While I know this particular hospital, the last time I was here was a little over two years ago for the birth of my daughter. We wanted to be here. It was a happy place then. Now it’s fucking hell. It’s funny how a hospital can seem so busy and yet at four in the morning, it’s like a ghost town. There are barely any patients or doctors walking around; no one is at the front desk except a security guard hidden behind the glass. The cafeteria is empty and the noise from the vending machines are making a curiously loud hum all night long (or morning for that matter). The lights are brighter and more fluorescent and everything seems sterile and gray. You discover random rooms and offices; like the residents’ library, located next to the waste management office or the sleep center hidden on the sixth floor with it’s own private elevator. It’s miserable here. I hope we get out soon.

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Moms Can’t Get Sick

I’m not a good sick person. Never have been, never will be. However, over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid getting sick all that often. When my husband and daughter both get colds or viruses, somehow I dodge the bullet. I say that’s because moms can’t get sick. But this week, I did.

I woke up at my parents with a stomach bug, food poisoning, or a combination of the two. Whatever it was, I felt like shit. I won’t get into details but it had been awhile since I had felt that bad. I’ve fought things, but this was full blown sick. Luckily, because I randomly was staying at my folks, I had two sets of hands to watch my daughter while I tried to get better. I drove home that same day when I started feeling a little more like myself, but a few hours after I got home, I was worse than before.

As soon as my husband came home, my daughter peed all over the comforter and duvet cover, was screaming “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” because I shut off Bubble Guppies, and I was ready to throw in the towel. This wouldn’t be ideal on a good (yet typical) day, let alone a day when I was feeling like such crap.

But there he was, my knight in shining armor. While I changed the bed just so I could get right back in it, he cleaned up our kid, fed her, gave her a bath and put her to bed, all while bringing me Gatorade, Advil and Ambien. And to top it all off, he stayed home the next day so that I could actually rest and get better. How lucky am I?

Single moms, working moms and women with no family or extended help do it all the time. I’m pretty fortunate to have such a village behind me.  And if my parents or husband hadn’t been there, then sure, I would have pulled up my boot straps and plugged along, begrudgingly, because that’s what moms do. We rule the world all while working, being sick, taking care of kids, scheduling appointments, waiting for repairmen, paying bills, shuffling to activities, running an entire household AND trying to have a little time for ourselves. And when we’re sick, it’s like the whole damn operation shuts down. It’s not like we can call into our kids and take a sick day (like that DayQuil commercial mocks). They don’t care if you’re ill, tired or hungover; they want (and need) to play, be fed, changed, and entertained. Which is why moms just can’t get sick.

Outside Distractions

Recently, my dad got very sick. Sick enough where he was in the hospital for nearly a month and some days were so bleak, we thought we might lose him. As the weeks have gone on, he’s feeling better and starting to get back to a (somewhat) normal, yet modified routine. And so are we.

When my dad was in the hospital, it was awful. Probably one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching times I’ve experienced in my 36 years. All my focus was on him, my family; my mom, my brother. Everything else was on the back burner. Unreturned phone calls, text messages, and emails awaited responses. Some people knew what was happening, others had no clue. And during that time, as fucked up as it sounds, I was probably most at peace with myself mentally; though I would have traded it in a heartbeat to go back to what we remembered as “normal.”

Without all the outside distractions and drama, I didn’t let anything bother me. Things that normally might aggravate or piss me off didn’t get a second thought. Big things, small things, trivial things; none of it mattered. People’s behaviors and actions were not something I concerned myself with. But now, those frustrations are starting to creep their way back in as things settle down on the home front.

By nature I am a happy, yet very worrisome person. I am alway in my head. I worry about people’s feelings while letting others’ actions affect me more than they should. I let the little get the best of me, mostly because I care so much. I’m trying to figure out how to get back to that place where I don’t let those stupid things and stupid people get the best of me because honestly, it’s a waste of my time and energy. There’s so much more to focus on; so much good to be thankful for and surround myself with. But it’s a lot harder than I thought.

Why I Went to Mexico During the Swine Flu Outbreak

So after much back and forth, I decided to head to Cabo for my fun filled girls vacation. And man, am I glad I did. To quickly refresh, I was struggling with the decision of leaving for Cabo San Lucas, located in Mexico, just days after the swine flu outbreak was splashed all over the media.

I definitely did my research before leaving. I called my primary care physician, who told me that since I was a healthy, young (don’t you love when they call you young after 30?) woman and there were no state restrictions on traveling to Mexico, it was OK to begin my Mexican fiesta.

I reached out to my old response director at the American Red Cross, who had since moved on to another emergency response job, and is well versed in pandemics and epidemics and really tells it like it is. He said it was really a decision that was up to me and if I was going to a resort, I would probably be fine. Resorts go out of their way preserve business, especially during something like this, and if I was planning to visit downtown areas, I just needed to make sure to use some antibacterial gel and wash my hands with soap and water.

One of my traveling companions was also a nurse, so I felt better when she said she talked to many of the doctors and other nurses in the hospital where she worked who gave her the go ahead to travel to Cabo. They said while this was an unknown flu strain, the regular flu kills something like 36,000 people a year and we weren’t even close to that (at that point). She also said she would bring along some masks just in case; the good kind, from the hospital ward.

There were also the people from Mexico, specifically Cabo, who reached out to me on my blog and told me that there was nothing to be concerned about out there. No known cases were reported and people were not walking around in masks at the beach, bars or in the streets. The sun and beach were awaiting my arrival!

And then there was the research I did on my own. As a person who worked with and for the media, I know how things can get blown out of proportion. I noticed that the first three days, this was a huge news item. Then, a Supreme Court Justice announced he was retiring and the swine flu suddenly became old news. I also looked on a map where Cabo was in relation to Mexico City, where the “outbreak” had first started. It was over 1,000 miles away; you’d have to take a plane or a boat to get from one area to the other and somehow, that made me feel like there was less risk.

After reviewing all these factors and debating in my head for nearly a week (and purchasing tons of Purell), I decided to keep my reservations and go as planned. A lot of people helped me make my decision and frankly, while I love and respect the media, it was because of them that I almost did not go.

I think there is a better chance of me getting the swine flu by traveling on the subway to a job interview then from my recent trip to a tropical paradise. It’s a personal decision that must be made by the person traveling.  I will say that Mexico’s tourism is definitely suffering from the negative media surrounding the swine flu, when frankly, in many areas, there does not seem to be much to be concerned about. While I probably wouldn’t recommend heading to the heart of Mexico City, if you have a trip planned, do your research and do what feels right for you. Don’t let scare tactics and endless news reports make the decision for you. Bon voyage!

Can the Swine Flu Disappear Before I Leave for Cabo? In Seven Days!

With the way 2009 is shaping up, I shouldn’t be surprised that the swine flu is hitting Mexico during the exact time that I am supposed to land in beautiful Cabo San Lucas…seven days from now.

After my husband lost his job, I lost my job, I got another job and lost that before I even started it, I decided to jump at the chance to go away with two of my best girlfriends to their recently acquired timeshare in Cabo. They had planned the trip for a few months before I got on board, and this seemed as good a time as any to get away, relax with my friends, sip margaritas and work on my tan. Boy, did I need this vacation more than ever.

We have talked about this trip for the last six weeks. We’ve been so excited for the food, the drinks, the sun, escaping New Jersey and our everyday lives. Going away on vacation together was something we had always wanted to do and until now, something we had never made happen.

Then came the swine flu. When I first heard the news on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t think too much about it. It seemed to be isolated in or around Mexico City and that was nowhere near Cabo. Then it started spreading – New York, Kansas, California, New Zealand; it was like you named a city or country and it had been affected by the swine flu. Even though there were numerous accounts of infestation popping up left and right, I was confident my trip would not be affected. I checked the World Health Organization and CDC websites and there was nothing on there about Cabo San Lucas; I searched online through news reports about traveling to the luxurious resort area and still found nothing. While I am obsessed with the news, I slowly found myself distancing away from the television set.

By Monday, the news got worse and I couldn’t escape it . The CDC recommended non-essential travel to Mexico be canceled. My mom was calling to tell me that she didn’t think I should go to Cabo. I wasn’t too surprised; if I was a mom, I would probably advise my son or daughter the same thing. I checked in with my girlfriends and they said until there was a mandate against going to Mexico, they were going to go. One of them is a nurse, so she knows the dangers of this virus. They said they completed understood if I wanted to back out given the circumstances. But I don’t want to back out. I also don’t want to explore this gorgeous city with face masks.

Today, Tuesday, has been the worst day thus far of “Deciding Whether to Go to Cabo with Swine Flu Swirling Around Mexico.” Friends are sending emails, news reports are getting worse; I even heard something about restaurants not letting patrons eat in their establishments, they can only take orders to-go.

That is not the vacation I want to have – walking into bars with face masks or wondering if the maid who cleaned my room just infected my bed with swine flu. But I don’t want to cancel just yet. What if it slows down by the time I leave? Is that even possible?  I have a call into my doctor for his opinion and the airline will honor my ticket at a later date. I’ll probably make my decision at the 11th hour, see how it all plays out until then.

This was the one thing I was looking forward to given the fact that everything else has gone downhill since the beginning of the year. How much worse can 2009 get? I fear that by saying that, I am just setting myself up for the next hit.