Friday, September 7, 2012

Long Way From Home

     Twelve hours and a couple of rest-area stops later, I have officially made my arrival in Charlotte, NC, my new home. It's still not real to me, that I quit my job of almost a decade and will never occupy that desk again. It's not real that these unfamiliar streets will soon become as known to me as any neighborhood in St. Louis ever was. It's certainly not real yet that in a few weeks' time, I will leave behind my family and friends and make a new life with my husband in a place so foreign to me. It's just so much to get my head around right now.

     I know I can sort out a few of my emotions from the tangle of the rest and the strongest one right now is relief. I've been separated from my husband for almost two months now and only once was I able to see him in all that time. While I'm well aware that eight weeks is nothing for someone who, for example, is partnered with active-duty military personnel who are deployed for months or years at a time, it's the longest we've ever been separated from the first time he kissed me. He's has a couple of different go-rounds with his health during this time and the frustration of being hundreds of miles away from him as he was hospitalized was unpleasant, to say the least.

     Somehow or another, my husband developed a staph infection in his elbow a few weeks ago that got so bad he had to be hospitalized for IV antibiotics. His arm was completely swollen from his elbow to his fingers, so much so that he could barely get his wedding ring off. He first went to urgent care to get it treated, but the oral antibiotics threw his INR levels so far out of whack that he had to stop taking them before the round was complete. At that point, he was still operating under the belief that it was nothing more than a bad case of bursitis. Yeah, it wasn't.

     When it came back with a vengeance a couple of weeks later, he went to see his primary care physician, who drained it and gave him an injection of antibiotics. The injection was supposed to both reach his bloodstream faster and screw with his INR less. It didn't work particularly well, even after the second draining and shot the day after the first. Finally, it was decided that the only thing that would clear it up would be hospitalization and IV fluids. When he told me that while he was en route to the hospital, I just felt awful.

     It's not that my husband is helpless; he's not, by a long shot, and I don't mean to imply otherwise. It's just that ever since we've been together, I've always accompanied him to the hospital on his many medical adventures. Even when he doesn't get admitted, I try to stay in the ER with him until he gets his walking papers. It's not always possible for me to do so, but even then we have a system in place that allows me to be his support system. For the first time, though, I wasn't there.

     I'm so grateful that he has people here in Charlotte who love him and were able to step in and take care of him, essentially doing the little things that I normally would have. Without them, I think my heart would have broken a little bit to think of him sitting in his hospital room all weekend without anyone there to visit him or talk to him. Alongside that gratitude, though, is a layer of guilt that I can't get out of my head. I should've been there to watch Food Network with him until he fell asleep. I should've been there so that I could bring his bag of meds to the hospital so that the attending physician could see what he was currently taking. And I wasn't.

     Common sense tells me that it's stupid to feel guilty for such a thing, since it's not like I was off doing my own thing and just couldn't be bothered to come be with him. I was still in Missouri, working and wrapping up what I could for my impending departure next month. And if it would have been something like another T.I.A, you bet your ass I would've been on the next flight to Charlotte. The truth, though, is that when you're partnered with someone who has a chronic illness like Marfan's Syndrome, you have to choose your battles. My husband and I both know that not everything can be treated like an emergency, because it's just not.

     I'm here now for almost a week so that we can find someplace to live when I get here for real in October. It's not a fun process, this business of trying to find somewhere to reside, and I'll be glad once we find a place and sign the lease. Deep down, though, I know my anxiety isn't entirely rooted in the stress of moving or of find a new house - a big chunk of it is because I just needed to be able to see with my own eyes that my husband is okay.

     I can't fully explain how nerve-wracking it is to hear about these medical bombs being dropped and changes being made to his medication without being there to experience it first-hand, probably because I never expected it would be. I'm a really self-sufficient person and my husband is, too, in a lot of ways. I can promise you that I never saw myself as someone who would be tweaked over what is by any standards a minor hospitalization. It sure as hell shouldn't have even been a blip on my radar, considering the things that my husband and I have experienced in the past. So to say that the realization shook me would be an understatement.

     I'll go back to Missouri on Tuesday and then I have to ride out four more weeks before I can come down here permanently. There's a lot to do in the time, including getting my resume and cover letter ready and working on finding a new job. That alone should occupy the biggest part of my brain, but I have my doubts as to how much of it will actually be wrapped up in what's going on in the Midwest when my heart's otherwise occupied in the Southeast.

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