The last time I was here, I was wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and here we are, well into the new year. The wreaths are down and all red and green decor stowed away until next year. There are no more candles in windows or gifts yet to open. And while some might see only cold winter days ahead, my hope is that some of the holiday warmth we all love so much has stayed with us somewhere, somehow.
If I’m to be honest, I’ll say it’s that way for me.
I was sick during the holidays. I don’t know how I got up each morning to bake or put on the Christmas Carols. But I did. I coughed so much no one wanted to share my space, and who could blame them. No matter how much concealer I dabbed on, my circles remained blue/black and my nose stayed an irritated red. Christmas day was wonderful despite all that – how could Christmas day be any other way? The day after, I crashed, slept nearly all day. There had to be a way to fight off this cold/flu/allergy/whatever, and it seemed rest was it.
By New Year’s Eve, I was feeling better but not quite myself. My fear was if I didn’t get better immediately, I’d bring whatever germ I had to Colorado… to my mom. And that was not an option. I self-medicated, rested, drank plenty of fluids and washed my hands a million times. All this so when we flew out to Colorado for my mom’s FINAL chemo treatment, I wouldn’t be the one to stress or test her chemo-compromised immune system.
And so, in the wee hours of the new year, we boarded a flight at JFK and headed out there with hope in our hearts.
The first day was wonderful. My mom had one more day of Chemo, the next day, and then she would be done. With luck, they’d say her leukemia was in remission and she’d go on going on. We celebrated, rested, caught up on ‘stuff’ and otherwise had a wonderful time.
And then Sunday morning came.
My father, who has not missed a day of work in nearly three decades – and then it was only because he’d nearly died of blood poisoning from a severe allergic reaction to poison ivy – called in sick. Food poisoning, we all thought. Had to be. Anything else would be something my mom could catch, and that was simply not an option.
He was sick all day and we did what we could to keep him comfortable and my mother safe. Daughter, meanwhile, started coughing like I’d been just a week before.
Monday, Sister and I take mom for follow-up blood work. It’s not good, but that’s to be expected right after chemo. Her immune system is practically non-existent and will not bounce back for about a week. She has to be careful – wash her hands constantly, stay home, not go shopping or out to dinner or anything else that might put her in contact with germs she cannot fight off.
And so we go home.
And I start to feel queasy. Tired. Dizzy.
Father, meanwhile, has stumbled out of bed for the first time in 24 hours and has plain broth and white rice. I merely look at it and… I’m done. Food poisoning, it is not.
Houston, we have a problem.
The dreaded stomach virus.
All I could think as I wretched up my last meals was how this would effect my mom since she would be unable to fight it off. And then I thought of my grandmother – at 94, how would the stomach virus affect her?
Hubby, meanwhile, was skiing, because if you’re in Colorado and there’s snow in the mountains… what else are you supposed to do with yourself?
To sum things up… I spent the next 30+ hours in bed, unable to move or eat. Let me tell you, if there’s anything good to come out of having the stomach virus, it’s being able to lose those last 5 pounds so quickly… though not so effortlessly. :-/
The next day my sister calls. She’s got it now. By that night, I’m up but unable to eat. I scrub everything, washed hands, sheets and pillow cases. Everything I could think to do to keep mom from getting this, I did, she did, we all did.
Except hubby who went skiing again.
By Wednesday we think the worst is over. Daughter is sick with a cold but not the virus. Grandma is downstairs safe in her own living space, Dad is back to work, Sister is able to get out of bed, I’m eating again, Brother-in-law is feeling just fine and Hubby… is out skiing for day #3.
He’s no fool, out there in the fresh, stomach-virus-free air.
By Thursday morning, mom’s not feeling so good. We’re supposed to leave for home the next day at noon. By Thursday, noon, it’s clear she’s got it, too. And now panic sets in. She’s gone through four months of chemo without getting sick. We’re here, now, at the end, and she suffers this setback. What should we do?
I call the emergency number and try to calmly express my concerns. To my great relief I’m told this: The stomach virus is just that, a virus. It will have to run it’s course. If it were food poisoning or some other bacterial issue, THAT would be a major concern. This virus will have to run its course.
Hard to believe anyone would be happy they ‘only’ had a virus.
The next day, Hubby goes home alone. Why? Because he has events to photograph that weekend so he cannot stay. I cannot leave because mom’s still recovering. I also cannot leave because Grandma woke feeling nauseous. And Daughter? Well… she can’t leave because now she’s got it, too.
The next day proves even skiing and flying hundreds of miles away is not enough to insure freedom from such a wayward and determined bug. Hubby now has it, too. And Sunday? Brother-in-law is also out for the count.
And so… the moral of my story is thus… share and share alike. What goes around comes around. There’s no escape. If anything can go wrong it will. And any other Murphy-esque law you can thing of.
We’re all okay now and life has gone back to… normal (whatever that is). I’ve gotten back to my story… YAY! …daughter has gotten back to her schooling and activities, mom’s immune system is slowly rebounding, and the rest of the family is otherwise healthy and doing their thing.
Some more good news after all the bad?
My mom’s CLL is indeed in remission, and so, all that anxiety, all that fear and diligence has paid off. It might be for only a year, it might be for ten. However long it is, my hope is science will use that time to find a cure for this and other cancers.
Well, that’s my long, drawn-out story. I’m glad to be back. I’ve missed all my blogging friends and I WILL be visiting your blogs regularly again. <<hugs>>
Oh… and one more thing…
Happy New Year.