It’s been a hard month or so here.
Six weeks ago I tripped over the preschooler and tweaked my back while keeping myself from falling or dropping the baby. The following day, I walked into my bedroom after bathing the kids and collapsed on the floor in agony. My L4 disc blew. Again. For the third time in 2 years. My screams terrified the baby while I begged my husband to call my mother and then an ambulance, in that order. Within three minutes, the room filled with firemen and a medic was pressing his knee into my back to ease the tremors that the shock were causing. They rolled me onto a frigid metal board and carried me down a flight of stairs and the stone steps leading from my front door before loading me and my exposed nursing bra into the ambulance. I refused any pain medication on the ride, not knowing what was compatible with breastfeeding. The medic called me “one tough cookie” upon our arrival at the ER. One IV of morphine later, the pain subsided and I was both high as a kite and severely nauseous. I spent a week in a haze of codeine and bed rest, only to suffer a seven-day regimen of oral steroids that brought on a severe (but temporary) depression.
Four weeks ago, I contracted what I can only describe as officially the world’s worst cold. Not quite the flu. More than a cold. Body aches, fever, congestion, fire throat, zombie brain, and finally a hacking cough. It’s still not completely gone.
Eight days ago, I woke up at 1am with my heart racing, almost jumping out of my chest. My first thought was a random panic attack and I wondered where my Ativan was. Then the vomiting began. And continued every ten minutes for three straight hours. The heart palpitations only increased and between my fatigue and signs of dehydration, I graced the ER with my presence once again. The male nurse who placed my IV tossed each vial of blood he took for tests onto the bed as if it was the bane of his existence. I have never had such a painful needle stick. And yet I could kiss him for bringing me the Zofran. And though the nausea ended early in the morning, the following day’s fever, body aches, and fatigue had no magic cure. It took until Saturday – seven days – before I felt like myself again.
Six days ago, my mother took the preschooler overnight so DH and I could focus on my recuperation. DH took some Tums in an attempt to cure his indigestion and I prepared for the worst. At 10:01pm, I watched on the video monitor as the baby threw up over the side of her crib. There is nothing worse than the sound of a baby attempting to cry in-between dry heaves. I started nursing her in-between bouts of nausea just so she wouldn’t have an empty stomach. We snuggled in the guest bed until morning, when her nausea subsided and her body relaxed into a deep sleep.
Three days ago, we packed everyone up and drove 40 minutes north to my parents’ home. It’s not easy for me to ask for help, but DH was still on the mend, the baby needed my constant attention, and the television is incapable of providing my preschooler with any babysitting care other than distraction. They were, as they always are, amazingly helpful and I started to think we were out of the woods.
Two days ago, No1 woke up at 5am and was sick every 30 minutes for six hours. After the first hour, she began fighting the illness, insisting she was fine and wrestling with anyone who tried to help her. She seemed to bounce back the quickest and yet this evening brought a relapse, complete with fever and nausea.
Yesterday, we left my parents sitting on the couch with saltine crackers.
And today, my preschooler threw up in the parking lot of my psychiatrist’s office on my $300 Clarks riding boots. The fear in her eyes brought me to my knees beside the car and I held her through all three fits of coughing.
But when my psychiatrist asked me how I’ve been the last three months, I was honestly able to answer, “normal.” I’ve been overwhelmed. Stressed. Short-tempered. Exhausted. And in desperate need of some intensive self-care. But I think my reactions in every situation were typical. And though not ideal, typical is a pretty great place to be if you struggle with mental illness.
I’d like to think it can only get better from here. Knock on some wood with me, will ya?