29 April 2014

On being the good wife

Yesterday morning when I got out of the shower, C was uncharacteristically sitting upright in bed. He complained of what felt like a pulled muscle in his back, told me to drive myself to work, and set himself up on the couch with a heating pad and ibuprofen. When I had a break around 10:00, I texted him to see how he was doing, and he replied that he was on his way to the emergency room with his brother B.

"Do you want me?"
"I'm fine."

So of course I went immediately to my supervisors and said, "My husband is in the emergency room. I feel like I should be there too." They completely agreed.

Certain combinations of words carry so much weight.

Given twelve hours in the emergency room, I had the opportunity to practice a lot of good skills:
  • Patience.
  • Putting C's needs before everything else.
  • Not taking others' crankiness personally.
  • Holding my tongue when I'm frustrated/impatient/hungry/tired and feel like lashing out.
I can't say enough about the support of our chosen family. B picked C up, brought him to the hospital, and stayed with us as long as he could, then came back later with his wife and food and help to get home. This is exactly why we moved back to Pittsburgh: our people are here. We have support here, as soon as we ask for it and often when we don't. We've gotten messages from so many people offering anything we need. Sharing the responsibility for taking care of each other is another important lesson.

We finally got to go home after spending 4 hours thinking he was going to be admitted to the hospital. I don't think I've ever been so relieved to be here together and to be able to care for my husband at home.

For those who are medically inclined: The neurosurgeon's working diagnosis is an irritated/compressed nerve root affecting the muscles in his right upper body, rather than the spinal compression we were concerned was going to require immediate surgery. C is still experiencing muscle twitches on his right side and numbness in the first three fingers of his right hand. He has a bunch of medicines to take over the next week, when he will follow up with the neurosurgeon.

25 April 2014

An Open Letter to You

Dear You,

Welcome home! We are so excited for you to join us, and we can't wait to help you grow. You have grown so much already, and we are very proud of you. We can see the progress you have made on a lot of fronts and how ready you are to move forward.

I know we all talked, together, on Skype with faces and voices. And I know, too, how sometimes things aren't real for you until you see them in print. So I want to take a written opportunity to say this again:

We want our home to become your home. You are family to us. We love you, and we are so excited that we are able to support you on this next step! We want you to succeed, and we want to do what we can to help you succeed. We want you to feel comfortable in Pittsburgh before you feel the need to make any more changes. You are welcome with us.

Recognizing that relationships sometimes change in unexpected ways, we all know and have acknowledged that this is up for reevaluation as necessary. We all need to stay in touch with ourselves and each other--this is a big change for all of us. I am optimistic that we will maintain the open channels of communication that have gotten us this far.

I really think this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn a lot and grow as people. I think we're gonna have a lot of fun, too! Keep breathing, and get here in one piece.


10 April 2014

Letter, part n

I still haven't written you a letter. Not a whole one, anyway. If you are anything like all of the other people I have loved, I will write you one long, continuous letter, in many stages, over the course of my life. Why not begin.

I have already written to you privately, and I will continue to do so. You know how some things must be shared. I hope you understand how grief is one of those things. Even if you don't, you're certainly getting to witness enough of it now.

That's what I really don't understand. How could you not have known the effect this would have? How could you not believe how deeply how many people would miss you? How did you not know how big an impact you made, and on how many lives?

I am determined to let this change me for the better, because if I do not, then it will all have been worthless. I owe you better than that.

Strangely, this has helped me on my own journey of mental health. I took your mother's advice and took my medicine. It helped me get out of the hole. I will always wonder if things would have been different if, that Saturday, we had acknowledged how deeply we were both there. I understand how you could have found yourself on that cusp so suddenly. I understand that we were one choice apart from each other. What an enormous rift.