Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bottoms Up: Confessions of an HG Husband

8:25 AM

Home from work.  I've been up since 5PM the day before.  I give my children hugs and kisses.  Tyler leaves for school minutes later.  Lydia goes with her Grandma.  I start Carrie's morning IV.  I mix phenergan with saline in a syringe.  Push 10 ml of saline solution through her PICC.  Now the phenergan for the next 5 minutes.  I go slow.  Careful.  It's over.  Time for 10 ml more of saline.  Then the IV.  I make her food.  I eat.  I wait.  

10:00 AM

I check her IV.  Half has drained into her body.  She's cold.  I cover her with more blankets and kiss her softly.  She closes her eyes.  I wait.  

10:30 AM

I check her IV.  Is it finished?  Almost.  I wait and watch.  She is sleeping now.  She's not in pain.  She's not nauseous.  She's peaceful.  It will come back when she wakes up.  The IV is finished.  I clamp her PICC and unscrew the IV tubing.  I wipe down the end of the PICC with alcohol.  I push more saline and heparin now.  I try not to wake her, to let her sleep, to let her be peaceful.  I fail.  She sits up.  She throws up.  She doesn't want me near.  She doesn't want me to hold her hair.  She doesn't want me to be grossed out.  I leave the room.  I try not to think about all the things I can't do.  I distract myself.  Food?  Cleaning up the IV and medicine?  Reading through material "try this if you have morning sickness".  She's finished.  I return to help her sleep.  I try to get her food.  I know she needs her energy.  I make plates, syran wrap them so they keep and save.  I ask if she needs anything.  She lays down.  I tuck her in.  I leave her alone so I can sleep.

10:45 AM

I lay down.  A couch, Tyler's bed, the floor.  It doesn't matter.  I sleep.

1:00 PM

I'm awake.  Carrie's still sleeping.  I get ready.  The kids are coming.  Tyler from school, Lydia from grandma's house.  

2:00 PM

The kids are home.  I give Carrie medicine.  I push more saline.  I push more phenergan.  Again I go slow, careful.  Push, 1.. 2... 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10... push.  Just a little at a time.  More saline and more heparin, more questions of "can I get you anything?"  The medicine makes her loopy.  The medicine makes her drowsy.  She sleeps.  

3:00 PM

I take the kids to the park.  They are happy to run around.  They are happy to get out.  I take my camera.  Carrie will want to see this.  Lydia runs.  She falls down.  She calls for me and I scoop her up.  I kiss it better.  She smiles.  She wants a drink.  Tyler runs straight for the merry-go-round.  He hops on.  It goes fast.  He lifts his legs up and starts to fly.  Lydia wants to swing.  "Higher Dada."  Tyler runs around.  His arms are out.  I know he is an airplane.  He runs so fast.  He goes back to the merry-go-round.  "Faster," he calls.  Lydia is done with the swing.  "Help me Dada". I lift her up so she can go down the slide.  Again.  Again.  Two more times.  She explores.  Tyler spins in circles.  I capture what I can with my camera.  Carrie will want to see this.  

4:30 PM

It's time to go.  I chase the kids.  I warn the kids.  I hug the kids.  They come.  Lydia holds my hand.  Tyler asks questions about everything.  I answer.  He asks more things.  We see a quinceanera party.  Lydia asks, "Dada, is she a princess?"  Yes.  I ask he if she knows who my princess is.  "Lydia is and mama is."  I smile and she squeezes me tight.  "You are a prince Dada!"  She says it with such excitement.  Tyler has a stick.  He swings it.  "It sounds like a whip Dada."  He's right.  "Do you know I like sticks Dada?"  I do but we have to leave the stick at the park so other kids can play with it.  I take them to Pace's and order them small slushes.  They both order Tiger's Blood.  Tyler because he likes it and Lydia because Tyler ordered it.  

5:00 PM

We're home.  Carrie is still asleep.  I make the kids PBJ's.  It's what they wanted.  I make them eat their sandwiches before they can drink their slushes.  We chat.  I learn about school.  I learn about recess.  "And Dada did you know I can run SO FAST?"  Wow Lydia.  They finish.  

6:00 PM

They're tired.  I bathe them.  I dry them off.  I brush Lydia's hair.  I help them brush their teeth.  I trim their fingernails.  I pray with them.  I read them stories.  They snuggle on my lap.  They love me.  I scoop up Lydia.  I rock her.  I sing to her.  I lay her down.  "Dada, did you know I love you SO much!"  I love you so much Lydia.  I turn on Dada's songs for her, close the door and leave.  "Wait Dada, blow me a kiss."  I do.  She catches it and rubs it in.  She blows me a kiss.  "Catch it."  "Rub it in."  I smile and obey.  I close the door.  I talk with Tyler.  He has a lot more to say.  I give him a hug.  I kiss his forehead.  I tuck him in.  I turn on "Tyler The Wizard Boy Stories".  I open the door just right.  I turn on the correct lights.  I tell him I love him.  He loves me too.  

6:30 PM

I check on Carrie.  She needs something to eat.  "What would you like?"  She makes a face.  I bring her food.  A creamie, yogurt, my mom's homemade mac'n'cheese.  She eats.  

7:00 PM

Both kids are asleep.  They were tired.  I leave to go shopping.  Milk.  Eggs.  Juice.  Where is the Unisom?  Carrie texts.  She wants a jamba juice.  Mango a go go.  I'm relieved.  She wants food.  I rent a redbox.  An action movie.  

8:30 PM

I'm home with her jamba juice.  I get her evening IV read.  Open the needled syringe, draw out the first mutli-vitamin.  Draw out the second multi-vitamin.  Push it into the IV bag.  Draw out the phenergan.  Shake.  Push saline.  Push phenergan.  Again I go slow.  Again I count.  Five minutes.  More saline.  I connect the IV bag.  I fold laundry.  I wait.

11:00 PM

The IV is finished.  I push more saline and more heparin into her PICC.  She sleeps.  I cook a frozen meal a neighbor brought over.  I eat.  I sit to watch my movie.  I blink.  I missed much of the movie.  I'll finish it some other time.  I blink again and fall asleep.  

12:30 AM

I wake up.  I crawl into bed.  Tyler's bed.  He is sleeping on the "little matress".  We're having a "sleep over".  He's still asleep.  I turn my phone up so I can hear if Carrie calls.  She calls if she needs me.  She doesn't call.

Sometime in the night

Tyler wakes me up.  He needs to go to the bathroom.  He goes to the bathroom.  I tuck him in.  I kiss his forehead.  We go back to sleep.

I Try.

I often fail.  I'm not perfect.  

"If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task. Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to “stand still” or “be still”—and wait.6 Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education."

"For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.7 Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.”8 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; … [it] beareth all things, … hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”9  

I Pray.  I Plead.  I Drink It Up.

"Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How am I doing? Confessions of a HG Husband

Simple Request

Read to the end, it's long, I know but just do.  In case you haven't heard Carrie is pregnant and she has hyperemesis gravidarum.  I explained what that is in a previous post.

How are you doing?

Short answer: I'm fine.

You Wanted the Long Answer?

It doesn't make sense to me.  All I have to do is work graves, give Carrie her medicine and take care of her as well as take care of the kids in the evening and put them into bed.  It shouldn't be that difficult.  So why is it? 

This Week

This week I would get home at about 8:20, see Tyler for a few minutes before he catches the bus, spend a few minutes with Lydia and then watch her leave with one of her two blessed grandmas.  I'd then get the AM IV going and try to sleep a bit before waking up a few hours later to finish the IV.  I'd then try to get some more sleep before 5PM.  The kids then come home and I feed them, spend a little time with them, bathe them and put them to bed.  Then I do the evening IV and try to get some sleep.  As soon as the evening IV is done, I leave for work.  The longest stretch I slept was for four sweet hours.  When I do sleep I'm not sleeping very well.  It is like I never fully get to sleep anymore.  Usually I can fall asleep in 5 seconds flat now it feels like 5 hours flat which isn't good considering how frequently I have to wake up.

Grateful and Guilty

It's hard dropping my kids off with my parents or my in-laws.  Not because they won't be loved and well taken care of, but because I should be able to take care of them.  I'm a grown man.  They're my kids.  I should be the one breaking up the fights, playing with them, doing homework with them, greeting them as they get home from school, taking them to dance and putting them down for naps.  But I'm not.  For that I feel so grateful and yet still so guilty.

Why am I so Overwhelmed?

I only have two kids.  I only have one job.  I only have one wife.  There's the cat and she can be a little much, always wanting me to pet her, smashing her face into my leg, wanting to be fed twice a day. 

I even withdrew from school for a little while so I don't have that to worry about.  The grandmas take the kids during the day and sometimes longer.  I've even gotten help from friends.  Even more friends are helping to feed our family.  Seriously we've had some wonderful meals delivered by even more wonderful people.  So why am I so overwhelmed?

My Flip Flops Don't Match

I was spending some time with Lydia when she kindly pointed out my flip flops didn't match.  It was painfully obvious even to a 3 year old and I only noticed when she pointed it out.  Sure enough I had on one bright blue one and one brown one. 

I did laundry.  Sort of.  I put it in the washer.  I put it in the dryer.  It is now sitting in the cloths bin.  I've been meaning to fold it since Tuesday (it is now technically Sunday).  I don't want anyone else to do it because I can do it.

People may see my house and think it is a disaster but I am doing the best I can and you know what, if cycling the laundry through and leaving it unfolded in a basket for the next month is how I do laundry, people are just going to have to get over it.

I vacuumed too.  You can't tell now because while I was doing a morning IV the kids decided they wanted to crumble frosted mini wheat all over the rug.

I washed down the table but only because Lydia spilled the flower vase and Tyler spilled a VERY full glass of milk. 

A Dark Place

I debated sharing this and only do it because maybe it will help someone.  There was a night when I was trying to get a major project done for a macro economics class.  I had to go to work in a few hours.  Carrie looked like she was dying and needed to go to the emergency room.  And did I mention my grandma had just died?  I needed to do it all.  I couldn't give up on my dream.  I couldn't leave my wife.  I had to go to work.  This project needed to get done and I wasn't understanding it and would need to spend several more hours before I did understand it.  I was so tired.  I had slept for about six hours total the previous two days.  I had to hyper focus, I had to compartmentalize.  I had to check the boxes but there were too many boxes.  I needed five minutes to just breathe but I didn't have five minutes.  I didn't have five seconds. 

I panicked.
I could not think.
I could not act.
I was shutting down in body and in mind.
I prayed.
I acted.
I made a decision.
I put my dream on hold.

I will not graduate as early as I had hoped but I will still earn an MBA.  For now all I can handle are Faith, Family and Work and I barely handle that.  It felt like I was giving up, like I was a quitter, like everyone would look at me and think "there's the guy that couldn't handle it just because his wife got sick".  Still I have made my decision.  I will finish school but for now the plan has changed.

Whispers of Thought

I was upstairs trying to sleep on my couch when I got the thought: check on Carrie.  So I did.  She needed me.  She needed my help.  I don't remember with what but that is because this is not a singular experience.  "Check on Carrie" has come into my mind on numerous occasions over the past several days.  Each time there is a reason.  Each time she had needed something.  I tell you that there is a God and he knows what we need.  There is no other explanation for it.

Help Me, Help Me

As I mentioned before, Carrie frequently says "help me, help me".  She's not necessarily talking to me.

Friday night at 7:00 I checked Carrie's phone (btw don't call her, call me).  There was a message from the pharmacist to call by 6pm if we needed more IV supplies.  We did.  It was too late.  The on call nurse called Saturday, I asked for more supplies which got a process rolling.  The pharmacist called me and said they tried to call Friday, now she has to pull in 3 people on a Saturday.  They left a message even.  I explained Carrie doesn't talk on the phone right now, I asked her to call my phone from now on.  The pharmacist asked me about what supplies I needed and as I talked with this woman she softened.  Have you tried this?  This?  This?  She spent half an hour on the phone with me.  That wonderful woman then called our doctor and arranged some changes.  She called and texted several more times.  "I just thought of this, you should try this..."  She was on call and went in to work, spending 4 hours getting Carrie's medicine ready.  She later texted me and wrote, "If she would have called yesterday none of this would have happened in the madness of Friday, so I am glad it worked out, and hope she feels better soon."  It hasn't been very long but already it seems to be helping a little. 

The Divinity Within Us

People have brought meals.  They've watched Lydia, made her feel like a princess, an artist and a super hero.  They've picked Tyler up from school, done homework with him.  There are so many people who have offered to help.  Who have asked for ways they can help, that it is impossible not to see the hand of God in this.  I pray He blesses you wonderful, beautiful people.  You are our angels.

Little Angels

Tyler and Lydia over the last few days have provided me a gift.  Tyler put Mr. Potato heads on a stuffed animal and brought it to me.  He made funny voices and so I scooped him up and snuggled him.  "There, now you can smile again Dada."  He has done this a few more times.  So had Lydia.  Same glasses, different stuffed animal and an incredible amount of love.  This is why we are doing this.

Lift up, With Wings of Eagles

In my moments of desperation I have turned to the Lord again and again.  He truly does hear me.  Not always does he solve the problems before me, sometimes he takes the burden away and sometimes he makes me stronger so I can more easily shoulder the weight.  To have my heart feel light, to feel the surge that it can be done, to have clarity of thought is a great gift that God gives to His children.  I have experienced that lifting up.  Critics of religion call faith a crutch that allows people to hobble through their adversity in life.  They have it wrong.  My faith is a set of wings that allows me to rise up and be better than I can be on my own.

I pray you may feel God's love for you as I have.

Long Answer Short 

Life is a trial, it was meant to be, but we have our family, we have our faith and we are so, so very blessed.

How Is She Doing? Confessions of an Hyperemesis Gravidarum Husband

It's a Vein, Not a Goldmine.

How is Carrie doing?  The same.  As in not well.  She is now getting IV's.  Which on the one hand means she is at least getting fluid on the other hand it means she is getting poked.  A lot.  4 times for one IV.  And they dig.  Carrie cries.  I hate seeing her in that much pain. 

20 Minutes

She eats very little and when she does eat, she throws up.  Sometimes she throws up even when she doesn't eat.  Our goal is 20 minutes.  If we can just keep something in her tummy for 20 minutes then at least she will get SOME nutrients. 

What Can She Eat?

Popsicles, yogurt, apples, mashed potatoes, soup, and bread are among the things she has thrown up.  She can eat pretty much anything.  She just throws it up after eating it.  I am supposed to meat with a nutritionist next week.  Maybe that will help.  I'll try anything.

Is she taking medicine?

Within the last day we have effectively tripled her anti-nausea medication.  Maybe it will help.  At the very least the extra dosages of Phenergan will make her sleepy enough she might not notice how nauseous she is.

Every morning I give her a bag of IV's along with various medications I shoot into her arm.  It takes about 15 minutes.  I then wait two to four hours for the IV bag to finish draining into her body.  Then I unhook the IV and shoot some more medicine into her arm.  Then I repeat the process at night before going to work.  Now we will add a third medicine time without the IV bag. 

Is She Able to Get Up and Around?

Today the pharmacist and the nurse warned me not to let Carrie drive.  I laughed to myself.  Not the funny jovial laugh but more of a macabre laugh.  Carrie can barely walk 10 feet to the bathroom.  One day she was missing the kids.  She got herself out of bed.  Walked up the stairs.  Went up some more stairs to see if Tyler was home from school.  She pretty much collapsed in his bed.  I bring the kids to her now. 

Okay, but How Is She Doing?

This is hard on her.  She frequently asks, "Why did we do this again?"  She says repeatedly, "help me" which is both a weak whisper for help and a well practiced prayer.  There's not much I can do for her.  I can't take away the pain.  I can't make time go faster.  I can't bring her things to eat she can keep down.  She is hungry but doesn't keep food down and gags on anything more than a few teaspoons. 

May 15th feels like an eternity.