Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flu and pneumonia: when mom gets sick

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. January has been, to summarize it succinctly, bittersweet. I can't say it was a complete failure due, solely, to our trip to Orlando(!), which I will recount over the next few days. But let's get the bitter out of the way, so we can remember the sweet.

Ainsleigh escaped unscathed if you don't factor in that she already had flu/strep/pneumonia for the two weeks following Christmas. But there we were, in Orlando, with just a day or so left when Joel led the charge downhill. He wasn't feeling well for our last full day there, and the day we were leaving I wasn't feeling great. But someone had to pack everyone up and vacate the condo by 10am and, after all, we were headed to Downtown Disney. More memories to be made! Souvenirs to be purchased! Food to eat! Excedrin to take!

We got to the airport extra early, having learned four years ago what a nightmare the Orlando airport's security can be. When we got to our gate and sat down, I started to shiver. Just a few tremors at first. Hmm, that's interesting, I thought. I bet I'm beginning a fever. For the next few hours, I tried to get warm. My body started hurting. I realized that I was, in fact, running a fever. A while later, I figured we had to be close to landing. I checked the flight tracker, only to discover we still had two hours and 15 minutes. I wanted to stage a coup right there on the plane. Are you KIDDING me?! I was so hot and cold at the same time. And then I was just hot. And then I was nauseous. No. Please no. Please don't be the person who throws up on a plane, I thought. Very carefully, so as not to attract attention, I slipped the air sickness bag out of the pocket in front of me, and began to open it. I'm sure the woman next to me was thrilled.

Donovan, in a voice laced with innocent interest, brightly asked, "What are you going to put in there?"

Matching his tone, with a big fake smile pasted on my face, I quietly answered, "My vomit! Maybe."

His face fell and he sank back against his seat, back under the pile of jackets he had amassed to combat his own chills, back to watching a movie on my phone.

I sat there, slowly breathing through my mouth, trying to relax, doing everything I tell my kids to do when they say they're going to throw up. And then I noticed my peripheral vision going black, closing in like the ending of a Warner Brothers cartoon. But instead of hearing, "That's all, folks!" I heard a heightened roaring in my ears and the thought, "I'm going to pass out. Oh no. Oh well. Here we go."

Regaining consciousness happens in slow motion. Sound returns, as if someone were slowly turning the volume of life up from mute. It was only when my hearing completely returned, and I became aware that I was bathed in sweat, that I opened my eyes. In that moment, I felt better than I had the entire flight so far. I kind of wished I could pass out again. But I didn't. I did make Donovan feel my back ("Did you spill something? Why are you soaking wet?").

The rest of the flight was misery. I'm not entirely sure how we made it home, but we did. I'm sure our dog was a little disappointed in our return. We kind of petted him, and then we all collapsed into our beds.

Joel was sick for a couple more days, but then got better. Gemma got sick and well again. Donovan and I continued to run fevers of 102-104.5 for the next week. And, actually, there's a lot I don't want to remember: changing my shirt in the middle of the night because I could practically wring mine out from the sweating; having Joel lie on top of me so my body would stop shaking so much; head pounding so hard I thought I would die; heart beating so fast to give me anxiety; my skin feeling so hot as if it were sunburned; plunging my feet into cold water to relieve the fever that overheated them.

I went to urgent care on Sunday and had my first (and hopefully last) chest x-ray, which revealed that my left lung had "developed quite the case of pneumonia." I saw the x-ray. It looked like my left lung was about half the size of my right lung - the rest clouded over with fluid? Donovan went to pediatric urgent care and confirmed his own case of pneumonia. Oh right, and that was after he already got diagnosed with an ear infection. We're on the mend, finally. Our lungs still sound a little crackly, and we still cough a fair amount, but I haven't had a fever for days now and that is something about which to be joyful.

There's a lot of stuff I do want to remember. I have learned that I have some of the kindest, most generous friends. On that first day home, a dear friend dropped off homemade chicken noodle soup, bread, and gatorade. She didn't ask, just did it and texted, "Soup and bread on your porch. Feel better soon!" And from there, we've had meals brought in almost every night. People would ask what they could do and I'd think, "I don't know." That's literally what I was thinking, "I don't know." But bless those people who knew my family would need to be fed. We have benefitted from people dropping off soda and juices, snacks and flowers. Bless the friend who dropped off three bags of groceries from Whole Foods - juices and soups, chicken and vegetables, bread and snacks. I'm so grateful for the friend who picked up my favorite salad for dinner, and then delivered smoothies the next morning. These friends have, for lack of a better description, kept us alive. They have brought things to nourish our bodies, but their service has fed my soul. I cried just about every time we received something. I still get choked up, thinking about it.

Always, Albus was there, watching me with his big brown eyes. Sitting up, like a watch dog when I would cry, sitting ON me when my coughing got too hard, sitting by me as I dozed. He's a good buddy, and I've appreciated his company.

In a time when some people bemoan the state of the world, I just have to look at my own little world and think that it's actually a pretty wonderful place. People are nice. I look forward to being wholly healthy again, so I can do my part to continue to make the world fantastic.

And also, to get the flu shot next year.

NOW I can talk about Orlando. Get ready for an abundance of photos.

(sidenote: my kids got the flumist and still got the flu. I'm hearing now that the mist has not been as effective as the shot. I know the shot isn't a guarantee, but I'll do what I can to ensure this never EVER happens again.)


Annie said...

Ugh! I'm so glad you are all on the mend. I think not being well has to be one of the worst trials in life. We are going to DW this upcoming Christmas! I'll be excited to read your posts.

NancyO said...

Wow! What a dramatic month! You all paid dearly for your Orlando vacation it sounds like. I'm glad you're all on the mend.