A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

In which I learn how hard the sickness and the hospital is on a marriage.

So, happy news: I got a new job!!!!

Balloons released against a blue sky. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

More responsibility, more pay, and more vacation time than my last job.

And the Dude got a job offer. Between the two salaries, we will be doing better than ever.

But first….the hospital stay

The Dude came down with a bout of diverticulitis. We went to the ER last Sunday and returned home with a diagnosis, some meds, and a prescription for rest. By Wednesday, the pain was worse than ever and he was admitted to the hospital, “for a few days.” Now it is Saturday night with no end in sight. He was starting to do better yesterday but overnight the pain got more severe again and now he is back on tons of pain killers and the ice chip diet. New CT scan tomorrow. Meanwhile we just wait.

Beagle tied to a bike rack by a busy street. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Anthony Ginsbrook on Unsplash

This has been super difficult for a host of reasons. It is really hard to know that he is in so much pain, and he is frustrated at the slow pace. I am worried like anything, although it is a relief to know that it is mostly just pain-and they are monitoring closely to leap into action if that changes.

Pieces of a whole

But there are some extra layers. I haven’t been in this situation before, and there is so much of this that I never considered before. The Dude and I function as a team. I do a lot of big picture planning and pay attention to the details while he does a lot of the heavy lifting. We are thrown so off balance right now. On Sunday, the washer stopped working.

Woman sits on washing machine in laundromat. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

The boys diagnosed it, took it apart, and dealt with the problem. But getting it back together has proven more difficult. So we have not had a functioning washing machine since last Sunday. Hopefully a fried will be able to come over and put it back together tomorrow night. That was a real feeling of helplessness and unbalance. That is one example of the way I have felt this week.

I feel so incredibly stressed about his job. He was offered the job but I don’t know how long they will hold it. We are so close to real breathing room, and now it is again on hold.

He is the caretaker. I have put him in the reverse situation so many times when I am sick and he handles it with grace. He makes my breakfast and lunch in the mornings, and now my first day will have no send off.

When sickness changes a person

But the hardest part is that my best friend is sick, and I can’t turn to my best friend for support. He is very much in the role of patient, compliant with the staff and in a very small world of vitals and symptoms. Between the meds and the pain, he is really spacey and not very responsive. His spark is currently absent.

Dark hospital corridor. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Brandon Holmes on Unsplash

But the worst is that when I talk to him, his reaction vacillates between non responsive and actually looking pained at the sound of my voice.

In the past few years, I have been silencing my voice more and more. When working on my dissertation, it was so specific and so tedious to explain what exact horrible thing was bothering me that I would often opt to say nothing instead of trying to unpack it.

And since the election, The Dude is so quick to anger about the events of the day. Because I don’t want to add anger and frustration to his life, this walls off a major topic of conversation since I am a news junkie and spend so much time reading and processing political news of the day. I am a talker and I feel closeness to a person through talking so this has been a difficult shift for me.

Person sitting on a rock edge of a cliff. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

But he looks like he is actually in pain when I am speaking to him, and it is devastating. And there is nothing I can do about it because he is not doing it consciously or on purpose. Listening to anything is hard for him right now.

How to fix it

Friends are asking what they can do to help. But I don’t even know what I need, besides a healthy husband who is home from the hospital.

When I get rounds of anxiety and depression, they are not necessarily visible. I can still function in my day to day, go to work, have conversations. But in the house, I retreat to my room. And my symptoms are also inward. I develop all sorts of little physical symptoms: racing heart, heartburn, chest and back pains. All of them are indicators of a larger problem, which spirals my anxiety up. Usually I am able to talk to The Dude about the underlying reasons for the anxiety, and it helps me feel better. But right now I can’t do that.

Why I am posting this

Sometimes I feel certain things that I don’t see other people talking about. For a long time, I assumed it is because I am weird and my experiences and feelings are abnormal. But with this blog, I have decided to talk about those things. Now I assume that other people feel these things but don’t talk about them, and we all end up thinking that our feelings are abnormal. So today I am writing about the terribly alienating feelings of having a sick partner.

An arm wrapped in a comforter on an unmade bed. A detour to the hospital: Sickness derails us

Photo by Matheus Vinicius on Unsplash

I am hesitant to post this because it feels so self-involved and navel-gazey. I don’t want to add feelings of guilt to the Dude’s world. None of this is his fault. He is in the hospital! If he feels a burden because of the way I feel, then I kind of suck.

It is hard to talk about this because I feel like I am supposed to be selfless during this, and I should focus on him and his health. But that is not the way I work. My first thought is that I haven’t been through this before, and I don’t see other people posting these feelings when they have family members in the hospital, so I must be doing this wrong. But this post is the chance for me to stop, check myself, acknowledge my own feelings and limitations, and post in case others feel this way too.

I should be spending the weekend celebrating-dissertation is done, I have graduated and I am now starting my exciting new career. Instead, I am driving up and down the freeway, waiting at red lights, sitting at a hospital bed, and not talking.