My Secret

The summer of 2013 was the hardest since 1991. Mark was in the hospital three times for a total of thirteen days, a care center for rehab for an additional twenty days, and home healthcare for about sixty days, which is still on-going. The cause of this four-month trial is blood clots. Mark has had no previous history of blood clots, recent surgeries or injury, yet he developed multiple clots in his right lung and left leg. The doctor’s best reason is inactivity.

While Mark was at the Care Center, a therapist said to me, “You stay so positive and supportive. What is your secret?” I was taken by surprise by her question and compliment and my expression must have shown it. “No really,” she said, “I’d like to know so I can share it.”

“I don’t think I have a secret. I love my husband and want him to be the best he can be.”

I’ve thought about that conversation a lot. Ironically, the therapist didn’t know that I had a break-down several days before her question after enduring a sleepless night in the emergency room.

At the hospital, we were overwhelmed with tests and the concern of why his blood clots had grown when he’d been on blood thinner medication for several weeks. The conclusion was that he needed to be admitted in the hospital for the third time this summer. At 5:30 a.m. Mark’s nurse from emergency pushed him on the stretcher to his hospital room. Two aids moved him from the stretcher to the hospital bed. We met the doctor and nurse that would be caring for Mark. I settled in on the bench in the hospital room with a blanket and thought, great, we can now get some rest after our stressful, sleepless night in emergency.

Not so. Soon there was the shift change so we met the new staff, then a routine started. Every ten minutes a doctor dressed in green scrubs would come into the room, poke and prod, ask a couple of questions, and leave the room again. Just when I thought we could finally get some rest another doctor or nurse appears again. This routine lasted through breakfast and for several hours. Exhausted and frustrated with the situation and hospital, my head was pounding and I felt nauseated. The worry and constant interruptions with doctors and nurses had pushed me over the edge. It took a toll on Mark as well. He started having a series of seizures. The doctor said I should go home and get some rest.

“I can’t go without Mark. I worry his needs won’t be met because of his speech impairment and short term memory loss.”

He assured me that Mark would be well cared for. The thought of him being alone and confused about where he was and what was happening to him was more than I could bear. Nevertheless, I felt physically ill from exhaustion, so for the first time in twenty-two years, I left Mark alone in the hospital, adding “guilt” to my burnt out state.

As soon as I arrived home, I called my brother Steve, who doesn’t live far from the hospital. He rushed to stay with Mark until our son, Chris & his sweetie Jenn could be there. They stayed overnight and into the next day until I arrived. The following night, my daughter, Katie & her husband Eldin came and spent the night until I arrived again the following day. Family shifts were organized for the week he was hospitalized so I didn’t have to carry the stress and worry alone. I got the rest I needed to get better. I’m forever grateful for my family!

After contemplation, I realized, that’s my secret. I have a wonderful family which stands behind me and renders help whenever and wherever needed. I also have great friends and neighbors that do the same. This remarkable support group makes it possible for me to be the positive and supportive caregiver I want to be. I could not do it alone.

What is your secret?