February 09, 2003

Early Morning Helplessness It was

Early Morning Helplessness

It was inevitable, I suppose. Since last weekend was wonderful, it only stood to reason that this one would be less than stellar.

I returned to my hometown on Friday night to check on my parents' house, ensuring that the pipes hadn't frozen and that everything was in order. It also gave me the chance to get my taxes to the local CPA. Good news: I only have to pay in $3,000 this year, as opposed to the $6,000 I was envisioning.

Saturday afternoon, however, I talked to Mel and she sounded strange. So, I decided to make the two hour drive to be with her. She seemed fine when I arrived, and we went out to eat at a Thai restaurant. Even as we ate, she started showing signs that things weren't quite right. She barely touched her food, and her eyes were taking on a reddish hue. She was sick, and whatever was making its way through her body was wasting no time taking control.

By 10 p.m., Mel was miserable, and her face was taking on the pale veneer that accompanied labored breathing and a whooping cough. Still, I wasn't too concerned. Colds are common this time of year in Minnesota. She fell asleep at 11 p.m., and I joined her a few minutes later.

Come 3 a.m., I awoke with a start, with Mel frantically pawing at my chest while making a gurgling sound that made my arm hair stand on end.

"I can't breathe," she croaked, and I saw lightning flash behind my eyes.

She couldn't breathe. What the fuck was going on? I violently grabbed her and brought her quickly to a seated position, with me seated behind her. She continued to gurgle and hack and wheeze and, worst of all, panic. I tried to tell her not to panic, that panicking would just make things worse, but it seemed hypocritical because I was almost blind with panic myself. I scanned for her phone, determined to call 911, but Mel just clung to me, refusing to let go. I couldn't leave her. I could just hold her to me and trust that things weren't as bad as I feared.

As her panic subsided, she started focusing more on breathing, and even as her tears dripped down on my arms, it was obvious that she was getting air, albeit in desperate gasps. Whatever had happened, it was going away. She sobbed softly as the panic subsided, nuzzling back into me, saying she was sorry for being sick, as if she had any control over that at all. I could only tell her to shush and to keep breathing deep.

After about half an hour, I put a stack of pillows against the wall and I laid back against it and had Mel lay back on me. It wasn't the most comfortable arrangement for me, but it ensured that Mel would remain upright, so the peace of mind was all the comfort I needed. She slept deeply for about 45 minutes like that, with me sleeping fitfully, if at all. I was mostly in an exhausted state of vigilance. Finally, with the frightful gurgling replaced by regular breathing, Mel slowly slipped down from my chest and slept soundly until the sun rose.

At 8 a.m., Mel was up and in the bathroom, vomiting for all she was worth, and I paced in the kitchen, feeling just as helpless as I had just a few hours earlier. She emerged exhausted, as is often the case after a 10 minute puke-fest. She moaned that she had thrown up in the sink and clogged it. I told her not to worry about it and to go back to bed. We slept into the afternoon, with Mel suffering a noticeable temperature and an inability to keep water down. Still, she was undeniably getting better, her body battling whatever strange soup of pathogens commandeering her body.

I got up for good at about 1:15 p.m., and I unclogged her sink with a knife, a most unpleasant task. I then did the dishes, checking up on the sleeping patient every so often. The worst was over. Now was the recovery project. Come 3 p.m., I went in and lay down next to Mel. She told me to get back on the road before it started getting dark, and she assured me that she was feeling better. I was dubious, so I stayed with her for another half hour before she insisted, once again, that I get going. The only thing she asked of me was that I not get sick. Gotta love her.

I kissed her good-bye at 4 p.m., and I stopped in Cannon Falls about 45 minutes later, ridden with guilt that I wasn't with her. I was about to start driving back to her, when I was reminded that, when Mel insists on something, like me going home, it was best not to second guess her. So, I continued on my way home.

I called her at 8 p.m., and she sounded better, though still exhausted. I told her that I almost turned back, and she sternly announced, with as much authority as she could muster in her beleagured condition, that it was a good thing I didn't, or she would have been very mad at me. Gotta love her.

I went for a five mile run tonight, taking advantage of what is likely my last few hours of being healthy. There's only a slim chance I'm going to avoid Mel's fate, and I wanted to enjoy being able to breathe deep while I still could. Now the countdown begins. How long before I fall ill? Any one want to place a bet?

Posted by Ryan at February 9, 2003 08:48 PM
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