14 January 2013

On Turning 40

  Today is the last day of my 30's.  I'm home today because Little A is sick with the flu.  It's sunny outside; I wish I could lace up my shoes and go for a run; I wish I could make my lungs ache the way they used to after running outside in the cold instead of the way that they ache now. 

  I didn't spend the last year in my thirties as planned.  When I added it up in my ever-thinking brain, I spent about three months in the hospital and almost all of it laid up because of my hip.  Four surgeries later and I finally have hope; sometimes that is what springs from the darkest of nights. 

  After my last surgery, the day after I came home, my temperature was 102.9.  The following day it was 103.2 with a racing heart and difficulty breathing.  When I said that I was hurting and couldn't breathe, I was met with disbelieving eyes, so I quit saying it.  The next day I had an ache in my back that I said pain was radiating from.  That was the same day that I had to promise the visiting nurses that I could get to the hospital faster than them calling 911.

  It wasn't the emergency room that was so bad; it was what followed about six hours later when nurses and a doctor ran into the room.  They told me I was being moved to a bed for more tests; when I got back, the doctor sat down on my bed and reached for my hand.  "You're very sick, you are septic."

  After initially joking that sepsis couldn't kill me (yes, I still joke at the darkest times; it's my coping mechanism of choice) I asked him if I was going to live.  I expected him to answer yes, but instead he said that I had a big battle ahead of me.  It was an odd sensation; like a whirling inside, spinning fast, yet slow; hearing voices, remembering moments, recalling regrets, all at once, with The A's wrapped around all of it.

  I had to call my parents.  I remember the conversation, asking my mom if my dad was home.  I tried to sound casual, but my mother wasn't buying it.  I told her that I was in the hospital and sick; that I was septic.  "Are you going to die?" she asked.  I can't imagine asking either of my daughters that question.  I don't remember how I answered her.  When I awoke, my friends were there.  I had IV's in both arms and the room was dark.  The fight began.   

  I asked for my computer; not out of boredom, but to type up letters to say goodbye.  I did this periodically, between waking and sleeping.  I worried about the A's.  I worried about my family. I worried about my friends.  I wonder now if I should just send the letters despite making it; that's the hardest part-the wondering. 

  I wanted to go home; I wanted to be with the girls, but at the same time, not let my family see me.  I wept each day as the infection grew and began to compress my internal organs. Each time they tried to draw blood, it was an extremely painful process; it took an eternity as my veins rolled around inside of me and IV's blew out of my arms.  I wept each time until they finally gave me a PICC line.  It entered in by my elbow and ran to near my heart.  When they pulled it out of me, I asked to keep it as a reminder of what I'd done, just in case I lose my nerve or hope again. 

  I had dreams; dreams of my grandfather, dreams full of light.  Dreams that I was swimming deep within the ocean.  

  I wasn't afraid to die; I just didn't want to.  Those are two very different things. 

 Each day my lungs filled with fluid.  Each day I thought of the irony-that all my life I'd worried about open water and drowning in it, but the reality was that I would drown myself in a hospital. I would say the lung tap was the worst pain that I endured there, but truly, it was a visit from Big A that was the most unbearable.  She had broken down and wept and wept and wept.  I wanted to take all of her pain and place it within me.  I know that this is not how it works. 

  I wonder now why I pushed her so hard to grow up.  She's a freshman excelling in advanced classes with a 4.0 GPA; next year, the odds are that she will actually attend college rather than high school.  I tell her each day how much I love her.  Each day I wish for more time.  Almost without fail, I cry on a daily basis from being so happy or seeing something so beautiful that it makes me ache and want to share it with her and Little A.  I want more time with her.  I will not get it.  

  The day I came home, it was easier to let go of the people that weren't really friends; it was easier to see appreciation in each sunrise, easier to breathe, figuratively, although each day the breathing does come easier.  

  Tomorrow when I turn 40, my grandmother turns 80.  I never would have imagined us spending birthdays apart, yet we will.  I've loved sharing our birthdays over the years, but I can see dreading them in the future.  So much of me was woven with her; by her, and  yet here we are, so many miles apart.  I wonder what it will be like if I get the opportunity to grow that old and not be with the people I love the most.  

  I thought I was going to dread tomorrow.  Rather I am grateful for it.  For a new chance; for a new day; for a new birth at 40.  Here is to 2013; to 40; to The A's; to life in general.  


Sarahviz said...

Beautiful. As are you.

Amanda said...

I remember reading about you and a garbage can— musing on hope and love. I am so grateful that you are on the mend. Wishing you expanded moments when time slows inexplicably and you are blessed with an awareness of so loving an experience. xo

Sarah said...

Happy birthday, girl. I love you.

Jennifer said...

Wow, Jenn! So glad you are better. Experiences change us don't they? I've never had an experience like that, but I thi k about writing letters to my loved ones a lot. Because what if I die in a car crash with no warning?? There are so many things I want Ellie to know...about life, about how much I love her, my dreams for her, how she was my dream come true. I've thought about writing these letters, but now I will. Thanks for sharing your story. 40 is pretty amazing too. 41 isn't too bad either. Happy birthday!

luckyzmom said...

You have touched my heart once again as you have so often. The place in me that is connected to you wishes you strength, health and love in you 40's and beyond.