If I'm being honest, I haven't had the strength to write part two yet. It is long overdue, I admit. The emotional toll that this period of time has taken on our family is no small amount. Thinking about my husband and how challenging this was and is, I land smack dab in yet another anxiety spell and then avoid the thing all together. That's right, I sweep my issues under a rug. Because facing them has been too scary and too lonely. But I'm finally sleeping again. I'm finally trying to take care of myself- something I forgot to do somewhere along the way. Isn't it funny how moms and dads forget things like that? It's a hard line to walk, taking care of yourself and everyone else too all the while being patient and loving. It takes a lot of chocolate and a lot of yoga for me to stay present when I'm on my last leg. The job doesn't stop at the end of a long day or even on the weekends. Moms and dads…you truly are my heroes.
As Chad and I drove home from the brain scan that evening, his doctor called with results. There were no abnormalities. He hadn't had a stroke and there was no tumor. It was good news, the best possible scenario we could have hoped for really. She told him to be at the hospital the next morning for a spinal tap test, where fluid would be drained- relieving some of the pressure from chad's head and giving us a sample to send to the lab for more testing. I think I was numb from fear at this point and completely unaware of the range of emotions I was going through. I had prepared myself to hear the words "cancer" or "brain tumor". But we still didn't know what was wrong with Chad. That scared me more than anything. The not knowing and the waiting helplessly.
That same evening I couldn't sleep. I laid in bed awake while the rest of the house was quiet and asleep. I began to shake. My hands, arms, legs and face all started to tingle until finally they went numb and I felt like I was literally suffocating. I hated myself for having a reaction like this when chad was the one that was sick. Chad was the one who needed me and here I was falling apart. Why couldn't I keep it together for my family who desperately needed me now? I have always been far too hard on myself. Chad knew I was having a panic attack and tried coaching me through it, but no amount of help could stop my fear from coming. I'm pretty sure this is what we call a nervous break down. And that's exactly how it felt.
Thank you Danielle for driving in the middle of the night- to stay with my babies while I was falling apart. I'll never forget your kindness and willingness to help us.
We got about three hours of sleep that night and chad drove himself to his procedure the next morning. He was on his back for the remainder of the day per doctors orders, although he felt surprisingly better having less pressure from his spinal fluid. It was the best I had seen him since the night his symptoms began. By the end of the day we had a diagnosis. Viral Meningitis. His spinal pressure levels had been severely elevated, there was way more fluid than normal. No specific treatment was to be done but thankfully, Chad would recover on his own. That was such wonderful news- that he would get through this. That we all would. Up until this point, I really didn't know if that would happen.
Due to the intense stress Chad was under while trying to finish up school and juggle his time at home, he wasn't able to properly fight off this infection to begin with. It would take some time to work through his body before he felt completely healed. He would need another spinal tap within the next week to help relieve more pressure. His doctor gave us a time period of about six weeks until most symptoms would disappear, but that Chad would feel the lingering weakness and fatigue for the next year. Now, he needed rest and lots of it.
While our families were both very kind and supportive of our situation, there was only so much they could do for us from so far away. After my own episode, I realized I was going to need additional help if we were going to get Chad well- and if both of us were to finish our semesters of school. With three weeks left before finals, I honestly did not know how it would all come together. I was prepared to do what I could with my schooling and be okay with the rest. By some small miracle, Chad's mom was able to fly out to be with us for a whole week. I don't remember much about that week she was here. But I do remember feeling like she was our angel who helped pull us through the mess. I finished my assigned work for Chemistry and took my final exam. My grade did not suffer, and Chad was able to complete all of his end of semester tasks. The MUSC faculty was very kind and sensitive to his situation as were his peers who helped to bring meals to us.
Thank you does not seem like enough to say to our family and friends who helped us through this time. I dare say, it was one of the most intense and difficult experiences I have ever been through. I will never forget how humbling it was to realize how much I needed help. I could not do it alone no matter how much I willed myself. There were many long days of caring for my sick husband and making sure he was where he needed to be, while juggling the needs of my two littles. There were many tearful moments of worry and pure exhaustion. I am so grateful chad was healed. I know that we were watched over and protected through this time. There were many angels sent to be with us.
What a blessing my family is to me. I want my husband to know I love him. I want him to know that I still choose him. Even on our hardest days, I would do it all again- the exact same way. I want my babies to know I would do anything for them, for their happiness. I hope they learn about strength, love and kindness from watching their dad. He is the greatest example I could ever give to them.