Just Another Day in the Life of a Caretaker
This morning was just like any other day. The alarm went off. My husband and I jumped out of bed to take care of our baby and get the day started. It felt like any other day. Except less than 10 hours before we were grappling with the decision of whether or not I needed to go to the ER. My stomach pains were lingering all day. Just when I would think they were under control, I would eat something and that unfortunate feeling would rise again.
I took a pain pill and we went out for Mexican food. Probably not the best idea, but then again...who can turn down Mexican food! Am I right!? I went to Target on my own after dinner and those bowel obstruction type feelings started to take my breath away. The pain radiates from my sternum all the way to my groin, making me feel nauseated and making each step more difficult than the last. I went about my shopping with the fear in the back of my mind that this could be it.
The crippling fear of hospitalization
This could be the first time I'm hospitalized as a mom. My son recently turned nine months. The thought of leaving him and being hospitalized cripples me with fear. I hadn't felt those pains since prior to my bowel resection surgery in August 2015. Even though it's been nearly two and a half years, the pain feels so memorable and so recent.
When I got home from running my errand, I ran to the bathroom. Nothing. Just pain. I knew my husband was rocking my son to sleep, the room was dark, his little aquarium was playing his bedtime music. I held my stomach, doubled over in pain and whispered with the only energy I had, "Bobby...Bobby...are you in there?" Then, I heard his voice in the family room, "Babe...is everything alright??" No. No it's not.
I crashed on the couch in the fetal position, not sure what to do next. Do we go to the hospital? Who will care for the baby? Do we wake a family member up? It's almost 10 at night on a Wednesday. Is this serious enough to deem an ER visit? Am I delaying the inevitable? How long will I be admitted? The questions start racing through my mind as quick as the tears are rolling down my cheeks. Flare ups are so much more complicated when you have to think about a family and not just yourself. This is all new and foreign to me. I'm a stay at home mom who freelances, blogs, and writes on the side. My baby is my side kick; we're rarely apart. How the hell am I going to be able to function going days without snuggling him and keeping him within my reach? With it being cold and flu season, the last place I want him is in a hospital.
Everyone needs a Bobby
My husband did what he always does in these moments. He remains calm, cool, and collected. He holds me and talks slowly, patiently, and confidently. He asks me questions with purpose and listens to my responses. He asks me what my pain level is from a one to a ten. He asks me if I want my back or stomach rubbed or if I just want him to play with my hair. He smiles at me and it brings me back to earth. As he rubs my back, we discuss possible game plans. I take a pain pill and decide to try to sleep and see how I am in the morning.
We go to bed but I'm still crying--not only from the pain, but the thought of what I am about to endure. An IV, followed by drinking Barium, followed by a CT scan, finding out something is wrong, possibly needing a colonoscopy, going on steroids, changing up my medicine... the list goes on. It's like we get PTSD from each hospitalization because we know exactly what goes on once we walk into the emergency room. My husband stays by my side and holds me till I fall asleep. It's almost midnight on a work night.
We wake up in the morning. It's just like any other day. He showers, helps me with the baby, asks me to eat something to see if I get pain, and if he needs to stay home. Then he leaves for work. He calls me when he's parking (which he never does) to make sure I'm feeling ok.
He's sitting at his desk today, just like everybody else. But nobody knows. Nobody knows what my amazing husband endured only hours before. This is why he's my superhuman caretaker. This is why I say everyone needs a Bobby. Because it takes someone special. It takes someone to go in the trenches with you, witness you at your lowest low, and only love you more because of it.
Will you help us understand the impact of Crohn's & colitis by taking the IBD In America Survey (US only)?