OCTOBER IS SPINA BIFIDA AWARENESS MONTH. ARE YOU AWARE?
It’s already a well-known fact among Holdin’ Out readers that I’ve been in my fair share of hospital beds in my life. Although the vast majority of my surgeries were in Puerto Rico, I had many hospitalizations here in Florida, particularly due to bladder infections.
Some of you will no doubt think that this is sick. Others might feel sorry for me. I tend to disagree with both groups.
I think part of me suffers from a degree of Munchausen syndrome. This is more a tongue-in-cheek diagnosis rather than a serious illness to me, but the feelings often persist to make me believe I have some sort of psychopathology related to it.
If you’ve been reading my Facebook or Twitter updates, then you might already know that my Mami is currently in the hospital. Everything seemed perfectly normal Saturday morning. Paola had slept over at our house, and Mami had gotten up early and had made us waffles.
Then, shortly after breakfast, I found her in her room, doubled over in pain. She didn’t want any of us to worry, but Mami had been experiencing some lower back pain for the past few months. Although she has a history of arthritis, this persistent pain was very uncommon for her.
Now, here she was, writhing in pain on her bed, and in tears.
My heart shredded in pieces over and over again. Shortly after Paola left (seeing there was nothing she or any of us could actually do there), Mami surrendered and let Papi and me take her to the emergency room.
As we escorted her into the waiting room, her pain seemed to intensify greatly. She struggled as she alternated between trying to stand and sit in a chair.
Frantic, I asked the receptionist if the wait would be much longer. It seemed endless to all three of us.
When they called her back to the E.R. exam room, it seemed as if by magic, her pain was relieved. It was gone as quickly as it had come.
After hours of testing, the doctor came in and told us she had a stone in her gallbladder. The funny thing is, before leaving home, I had already Googled gallstones. She also had “very elevated levels of liver enzymes,” which suddenly became the main concern.
She was admitted that night to a (gulp) semi-private room. It was a long night for all of us; we each barely slept. Mami had a rough night in the room, and at home, I kept looking at the clock to see when Papi might take me to see her.
It absolutely broke my heart to see her like this. I’d very rarely had to be a caretaker; I’ve always been the patient. And I wasn’t prepared to handle anything like this; this was totally unplanned.
That Saturday, we planned to start packing for our trip to Miami and the Blogalicious conference. It is with deep regret, for both their anticipation and mine, that I say we are now pretty certain we will not be going.
I am very hopeful for her recovery, though, and she’s very much alert, eating well, and walking often. She pretty much takes care of herself, but she appreciates our company. I know that my parents have never left me alone in the hospital without either one of them there.
By the second night, she was relocated to a private room, and because of that, I was able to get a nice little cot for me to sleep on. I was overjoyed that I would be able to stay at her side. I actually slept better, despite all the beeps and the comings goings of the nurses in her room, than had at home, watching the clock.
She’s had several visitors. Yesterday Aunt Giny stopped by, and today, our friends Leon and Krystal visited.
My family is so grateful for the outpouring of support from all our friends and loved ones. I’ve received many kind and thoughtful comments on my personal Facebook page.
Now, back to the whole “Munchausen” thing. By definition, Munchausen syndrome is a “factitious” disorder (mental illness) in which a person repeatedly feigns illness when they are not in fact sick (except for psychologically). Now, I do not have Munchausen. I know that, and I am familiar enough with spina bifida and hydrocephalus that I try not to get overly paranoid about benign symptoms. In short, I don’t go to the hospital for kicks.
But, while I hate having people feel sorry for me, and I am extremely proud (to my own detriment), I always initially enjoy my hospital stays, and am morbidly fascinated by every beep, blink and button that you hear and see in hospitals.
I’m genuinely worried about my mom. I love her more than anything in the world. So, it isn’t difficult for me to wish it were me instead of her. But there’s also the fact that I almostenvy the very unique, very personal role of being the patient.
Besides, I’m quite used to it. But I’m not used to this. I have a deep faith that she will pull through this, and soon. But until then, I’ll have to be strong, and just settle for keeping her company at night on my comfy cot, as I now find myself on the other, less-enviable, side of the hospital bed.
Please know that I appreciate each and every prayer that is sent to our family. Thank you for your loving support, as it means a lot to all of us.