Two Posts in One Day

I process by writing. I’m sitting here watching my husband sleep. He’s not meant to be here, he’s meant to be at work, but he came back early.

Not normal.

The symptoms are not normal either. Not for him. He’s hardy. He’s not even on my medical aid because he never gets sick. He’s on a cheaper one that only pays for hospital admission (certain hospitals ) and medication up to a certain point. And doctor-with co payment, I think. Not that my children get sick either, but look at it this way. Between the seven of us, we’ve already finished my R8 764 that I had in the medical aid scheme. So from now on, doctors, medication, brain scans etc, I need to pay for cash. Already finished. Joys of chronic medicine. Meanwhile, he hasn’t bought himself any medication at all.

Anyway, he’s healthy. So back in 2018 when he got sick, it was a big deal to me. It began somewhat like today’s sickness began. This morning at around 1am I woke up with him being ill in the loo and returning with nausea and pain, including back pain. Last time, it BEGAN with back pain. We even saw the Gp for the pain and she prescribed some muscle relaxant.

Turned out to that wasn’t the cause of the back pain.

So, I got a WhatsApp message from my husband today saying he might return early as he’s still not well and is dizzy. And here he is.

Let’s rewind to 2018. He had back pain on a Monday. That night, the pain seemed to go away, but it was overtaken by a very runny tummy. By the morning, he had a fever, and so did my daughter (my middle girl.) In fact, her fever was higher at 39 degrees Celsius and his at 38.4, but somehow I knew he was in a worse state. I told my doctor friend that he was asking if it’s normal to be dizzy with diarrhea. Felt like the world was swaying, actually. Needless to say, she said it wasn’t, and he needed to get to hospital.

He refused

He said I should first go to my physiotherapy appointment (for my back) and THEN he’d go to hospital. My appointment was at 1pm. He and my girl who I’d put next to him had been feverish since 7am. At that point, she was just weak and had the high temperature. No runny tummy, no dizziness. Just the horrible effects of that awfully high temperature, so I worked on cooling her down and checking her temperature which went down to 38.

I got back from the physiotherapist and my husband could not walk without support. He was going to the loo holding onto the wall and swaying. It was showtime. I NEEDED to get him to the hospital asap.

I got him into the car and by the time I got to the hospital (10 minutes away) he couldn’t walk at all on his own. I had to park right by the door and had to almost lift him out. At this point, I was scared. How do we go from someone who never gets sick, to someone who needs to be helped out the car?

The security guard took one look at him and told me to just leave the car in the way and get him in. We went into triage, and he could not talk. He was whispering. He couldn’t see to sign his name. When they took his blood pressure, I knew something was VERY bad. I sent my doctor friend a message asking if I was crazy to worry about a BP of 70 over 50. Yep! Add the temperature and she told me to name drop. Her partner works at the hospital and knows a very good trauma doctor. They said I must mention my friend’s partner’s name and ask if the good doctor was in.

As soon as we got into the trauma ward-he was classified as urgent so we went in ASAP-I casually mentioned my friend’s partner. It worked. They were on it. Drip was put up. All sorts of samples were taken. He just lay there. It was terrifying.

Hour after hour, no change at all in the BP. In fact, it dropped down to 60 over 40, but his heart rate was extremely high. It was WEIRD. The longer it took, with me passing on the stats, the more frantic my friend became. They even phoned the hospital to ask why test results were taking so long.

Can you imagine the horror of the situation? And at the same time, my tummy was feeling off, and I knew my girl wasn’t well. Though her older siblings were there.

The worst part came when I heard a doctor asking for certain test results and saying, “But why is the patient not responding to treatment? He’s not responding…”

When you’re in a hospital and the hospital has no idea what to do, then what?

They decided he needed to be admitted for possible surgery to see if he had internal bleeding. Except that was not a hospital in our medical aid network and we did not have R8000 for the co-payment, so they arranged for an ambulance to take him to a hospital about 20 minutes away.

As he was being strapped in, the triage nurse came round. She told us, “When you walked in, I thought he’d be dead by now. He was a dead man walking. I’ve seen enough people come in here who were his purple colour… They all died. He is a miracle to still be alive now.”

As the ambulance drove off, with me speeding behind it, dark night now, I started crying. “Please Lord, A and M have already lost parents. You can’t let them lose their second father too! No! They need a father!”

I cried and prayed and drove in the dark, also speeding through red lights, staying close to the ambulance. We arrived and they put him in the surgical ward, awaiting surgery to find out if he was bleeding.

A nurse came in, took his vitals and told him not to get up at all. To call if he needed to stand up so they could support him. But, he’s something else. He started getting up. I told him I’d buzz for the nurse. He told me he’s not that bad and that all he wanted was to go to the loo, that he’s not a baby, he’s strong. So I helped him, walked him in, and left him in.

I kept checking if he was done… Silence. I eventually opened the door, and out he came.

Out he came, and before I could grab him, down he went. Out cold. I was so ANGRY! I had told him he should obey orders! Now we’d both get into trouble! Hey, I didn’t say I was mentally all there!

Long story short. After a CT scan and other tests, he didn’t need surgery. We think he’d caught Shigella from contaminated salad in Johannesburg when he’d gone there on a work trip. It’s a bacteria that is usually found in feces. Yuck! All we could do was hope he’d recover as his kidneys had started failing -hence the BACK PAIN! It took days for the kidneys to recover. Days for his tummy to recover. Days till he was allowed to eat. Days going up and down to hospital while I too had the bug and would drive in pain, and get home and run to the loo or run to the loo at the hospital.

Yep , I was up and down to the house. All of us now had the tummy bug. We were all on anti diarrhea meds and rehydrating… My poor girl’s temperature went down, they were on meds to get rid of the loose bowel, and I made sure I left to go back to check on her dad when she was asleep, only for her to tell me she had been awake still when I left and she didn’t understand why I left her when she was feeling so sick

That bothered me longer than it bothered her. My poor baby! But their dad was still in the valley of the shadow of death. I couldn’t leave him alone and no visitors were allowed, he was in isolation because of how bad that bug is. And..I truly thought she’d fallen asleep.

So, when one has that kind of past experience, watching someone who has returned from overseas going through similar symptoms is not easy at all.

People get tummy bugs all the time.

But it still has taken me back to the time my children almost lost their father.

Activated charcoal on board, but I’m going to watch that BP. (We have a home BP monitor that I use for myself. My BP tends to go down , down, down, when my anemia is back. When it does, time to get another iron infusion (drip.)

Grateful for hospitals and prayer. And knowledge that there has been a bad tummy bug going round Will be happier when he’s back to normal though.

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