Posted on | March 27, 2018 | No Comments

It was cold in the emergency room.

Not the kind of frigid that makes you uncomfortable, just the kind of cold that makes you want to take a long nap under a very warm blanket. My husband was reclined back in one of those avocado green ER chairs, with an IV in his right arm but nothing attached to it. Although a nurse had come in once or twice, I’d yet to speak to a doctor of any sort. We were curtained off from the world, hidden in a sterile corner of the emergency room.

And my husband was in pain.

Not just a little pain, but pain that crumpled him from the knees to the chest. He tried not to, but occasionally he let out a soft grunting moan that I imagine would have been louder had I not been there.

Finally, they came; two surgical residents in scrubs and tied off head scarves, looking like they had just stepped out of a television drama… or an operating room. They’d let him go home, they said, everything was fine. Just a weird and rare infarction of the omentum that would heal itself. Nothing to worry about, really, they said, as my husband nodded through his pain. They stepped away to call their attending physician and said they’d be back.

It was a long time before anyone came back, pulling aside the curtain at 1:00 am, 10 hours after we arrived, to tell us he would be admitted for observation. To tell us that for some reason, his kidneys were failing and needed more fluids. For some strange reason, not in any way related to his pain, they said.

I left him there, in his avocado chair, and went to be with our boys. At 1:30 am I let the tears fall… all the many tears that had cramped and kicked their way into my chest as I watched my husband fight off pain. We slept together that night, me and both boys, all three tucked and tumbled into the same bed.

My husband slept alone.

When I arrived back at the hospital the next morning, he was still in the emergency department.

Nothing had changed.

No one had done anything to help. No one could explain the pain.

Twenty seven hours after arriving at the emergency room, my husband was finally transferred to a regular hospital room.

Twenty. Seven. Hours. Later.

Twenty seven hours of kidney numbers failing. Twenty seven hours of waiting for answers. Twenty seven hours of “any minute we’ll let you go home, oh wait no your kidneys are failing.”

Twenty seven hours of watching my husband grimace and curl with pain and discomfort, watching the fear slide slow across him, dripping down with the fluid in his IV… seeing the numbers come back lower and lower, evidencing the damage the emergency room physician had wrought on his kidneys.

“A perfect storm,” they said.

“Shouldn’t have given him that IV Contrast,” the wonderfully kind surgeon acknowledged.

“Could have been avoided,” I heard, bouncing around and around my head.

All of this. All of this pain and agony. Some his, some mine. All of this fear and worry. All of this could have been avoided.

The worst of it was the being alone. I was so alone… carrying the weight of my husband’s illness and my need. Carrying the weight and worry of two boys who need their father. Carrying the weight of a woman who needs her love. Alone. I sat alone by his bedside, watching him rest, finally, when the pain medicine kicked in. Alone. I have done alone before, my heart screamed, I can not do alone again. I wanted someone there… someone to hold my hand as I held his. But I was alone.

“I can’t lose him,” I sobbed to the nurses. “I can’t.”

He is my everything, I spoke to myself, He is my only. With him, I am not alone and I can not, I will not be alone. I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick and punch my way to answers. I wanted to save him so that he could continue to be my salvation. I can not lose him.

“You won’t,” they assured me. “Totally fixable. You won’t lose him.”

And I didn’t. We were lucky. He came home, not the same but better. He came home and still I heard the nurses in the back of my mind, reminding me that I wouldn’t lose him. Reminding me that this fear was temporary.

Their promises wove into my heart, bolstering my confidence to leave him at home, alone, without my watchful eye. But deep in the back of my mind, a voice whispers still a truth I dare not speak aloud:

“You will lose him, Karen. Someday. You will lose him. Just not today.”

And Fear reclined back, terrifyingly comfortable in his curtained off corner of my heart.


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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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