Good or bad it all changes...
“Okay, Lauren, we’ll be back and then it’s time to start pushing”. That was the nurse right before the birth of my firstborn. I turned to my mom as the nurse left and said, “I can’t do this”.
In a moment of panic, I didn’t know how I was about to give birth, let alone take care of another human being. Life really does change in a single moment.
Fifteen years and three kids later there have been many instant life-changing moments. Each time a new challenge and a new normal.
Good or bad, it all changes...
Heading to my car on a Saturday night saying goodnight and locking up the improv theater, I thought to myself, “tonight was a great night.'' It’s been several stressful months with the expansion and upgrades and to finally feel it settling in and watching the community bloom makes the blood, sweat, and tears worth it. I drifted off to sleep feeling good that everything was headed in the right direction and looking forward to a day off with my family.
Eight hours later I opened my eyes.
Good or bad it all changes…
To put into words what was happening is difficult. The first thing I noticed is that the room was spinning and spinning fast. I was lying flat on my back just waking from sleep so how am I experiencing this is my first thought. Okay, maybe you just didn’t drink enough fluids or you tried to wake up too fast? Maybe you just need to readjust your position?
A slight movement of the arms… worse. Slight movement of the legs… worse. Moving my eyes… worse! Paralyzed is a better description. On the spinning teacups inside a cruise ship during a hurricane.
Good or bad it all changes…
What is going on? Don’t panic. Breathe. The dog starts moving around. C’mon, sit up.
Sit up and want to throw up. Nope, back down. Okay, we know it’s better on your back. Just lay here for a moment, let’s see if this passes. Tick tock, tick-tock.
One hour later and no change. Okay, we have to get you to the bathroom and get your bedroom door open. Doing that will let the dog go wake up one of the kids and we can try some things.
Push up and GO!
I think nausea is one of the worst feelings. I’ve experienced a lot of different illness and injury and nausea truly brings me to panic.
Manage to get the door opened and back to bed. Please stop spinning! Close my eyes. Okay, that is helping which is weird. Am I having a stroke? Heart attack? Did I hurt myself and not remember?
My youngest enters the room.
“Hey, don’t panic, I’m not feeling well,'' I tell him.
“Okay”, he says. He stays calm. After all, his brother has a rare medical illness so “not feeling well” is normal.
“Can you let the dog out for me and then get me some water?”
Sip water. Fuck. What do I do? I can’t move?
My husband is at work so I guess I’ll call my dad.
Thirty minutes later my dad is at the house, stethoscope in hand. The heart sounds normal.
Yes, my head. My head always hurts. I have chronic migraines. It’s a little different though. This headache is coming from elsewhere.
Dad says, “well we need to go to the hospital then”.
Panic. I hate the ER, I hate the hospital, I don’t want to do this. The room won’t stop spinning. This needs to stop. Maybe they can make it stop. I relent and go to the hospital.
Arrive at the ER. Start throwing up. Sure, I had to move and my body doesn’t know how to make the adjustments. Into a room, I go. IVs begin, the onslaught of questions. I can’t concentrate on the questions. I can’t focus on the people.
“Lauren, follow my finger with your eyes”. I can’t, I need to throw up.
Tests being ordered.
“Lauren, we are going to keep you for observation”.
Good or bad, it all changes …
No thank you. I’m going home. I know I’m not but I start to panic because I don’t want to go for anything anywhere. I just want it to stop. Plus “observation” is code for we don’t know that we can send you home and make sure you’ll not die. That’s what a hospital is for. Not rest or recovery but to stop you from dying. Panic. Dizzy. Can’t walk. Throwing up. Barely can talk. Can’t open my eyes.
Every hour they come to take my vitals. They don’t know what’s going on either.
“Lauren, you aren’t going home today”, they tell me the next day.
The meds have slowed the room. I’m not throwing up. I can drink some liquids and eat some crackers. The room is still spinning. My gait is gone. I don’t know how to walk. I can’t sit up.
They finally agree I’m not going to die if I go home. They don’t really know what is happening. There are theories.
I’d rather be in my own bed and I can hold down fluid so yes, let’s go home even if there are no answers.
They tell me I have to use a walker. The physical therapists come by and I’m a completely different person. I can’t look them in the eyes because it makes me dizzy. I can’t look ahead bc I see double. I can feel if there is a bump in the floor and I’m scared it’s going to make me fall.
I get home. I throw up. I climb into bed. I fall asleep. I open my eyes. Still dizzy. Still weak. Everything is different. It’s all changed. I am changed.
Good or bad, it all changes.
A week later and still awaiting tests and answers. What was once a given is no longer. Relearning everyday tasks. The small moments are now the biggest victories.
I am writing this from a big comfy chair sitting upright. I take a lot of breaks but sitting up and typing nonetheless. I can take a shower with a handheld showerhead. I can walk in my house without a walker albeit dizzy and using the walls for support, it’s walking!
I can ride in a car without throwing up. I cannot drive. I go on small outings to try and push myself. I get tired but it’s progress.
I’m in limbo. Is this the new “normal” or is this a transition phase to the new “normal”? I have a lot of big scary and unanswered questions that still need answering. My entire life has been changed in a single moment.