November 17th, 2009 | From My Journal
The magnesium didn’t hit like a Mac truck. Instead it wound lazily through my veins radiating warmth.
OK, I could handle a flush of heat and a bit of weirdness. This wasn’t so bad. At 30-weeks pregnant and in antepartum with outrageously high blood pressure, I needed something to work. My baby needed more time to develop and grow.
Since I was doing fine, my husband didn’t need to stay. He had to be at work in a few hours. “Go home and get some sleep.”
“Are you sure?” He looked haggard. The long hours of his job added to taking care of the kids, cooking dinners, cleaning house, washing the laundry and worrying over me for the past two months showed.
“I’m going to be fine.” I did my best to sound confident. “Give the boys a kiss… I’ll see you tomorrow.”
After he left, Jenny, the nurse, checked my vitals and the graph paper that charted the baby’s heart rate. “Hmm …” She reached over, adjusted the belts and monitors strapped around my stomach and said, “There we go. She was hiding.” The machine amplified the sound of a quick-beating heart. “Why don’t you get some rest? The lab will be by to draw some blood in about an hour.”
I tried to comply, but the pressure in my chest, the medical scent of alcohol, weirdness from the magnesium, rub and burn from the monitor straps and strange room wasn’t helping.
“Want me to lower the bed or get you a sleeping pill?”
“No.” No way and no how to sleeping pills. If I died tonight I wanted to know it.
“Actually, I want to sit up more.” After a few adjustments, I was finally able to relieve some discomfort and doze.
When the lab tech arrived, I forced a smile and tried to be socially polite with some small talk. It was too much. My focus slipped into a kind of twilight. Meaning? The tech spoke. My lips moved and I felt the vibration of my voice in my throat, but had no idea what we were discussing. How could that be? Maybe I split into two people.
At some point the tech left. By then, he was just one of the many shadows that entered and exited my room. My eyes couldn’t focus to clarify faces and name badges. That, and I was too tired to try.
When I felt my body tilt and turn, I knew it was the nurse adjusting the monitors again. When my hand lifted and was set back, it was another blood draw. It wasn’t until I felt a burning slap and rush with an intense urge to vomit that I sat up and joined the external world.
“What’s going on?”
The nurse was standing next to the IV pole and watching the attached machine. “Your tests came back and the magnesium level wasn’t high enough. Dr. Terry ordered a bolster.”
Her words felt like déjà vu. No, wait. She told me this already. Another more intense wave hit me. “Oh my god, I feel sick.”
Jenny placed a bag attached to a plastic ring in my hand. What in the hell? She motioned how to use it.
Oh, a barf bag. Literally.
I dry heaved into the blue vomit catcher. My skin crawled and the pressure in my lungs and ribs intensified. Was I going to bust open or implode?
Everything ached. I had to get out from underneath this. Must escape. When I tried to swing my legs over the bed and physically leave the pain behind, the crushing weight of my illness followed. I was pinned and couldn’t loosen its grasp.
It was then my sense of time busted from a linear line and fragmented into overlapping pieces. Oddly, the sick bag amused me. It was a much better design than a bowl or bucket. So much more compact and transportable too.
Peppered in my bizarre thoughts like buckshot, were the voices of the nurse and aide, the harsh squeeze of the blood pressure cuff, another bolster or two of mag, sounds of from the TV, cell phones chirping and carts being wheeled down the hall. And somewhere, someone was mowing the lawn.
I wasn’t sure what was real anymore. Beyond the tan privacy curtain and teal walls, I saw Craig run into traffic. When I shouted for him and reached out, it was air I grasped. A young Jared walked between the staff’s colorful scrubs and doctor’s white coat. He was headed down a path through some trees.
He was sad, overwhelmed. I felt angry.
Angry … why?
My husband was at the end of the path, saying, “You’ve got to see this.” Oh, I remembered. That was the weekend we camped in Yosemite with friends. Jared was in kindergarten.
And I was angry. I was as mad as a mother bear because my cub had been insulted. I was informed Jared should be excited and happy to be outdoors by one of the friends. He shouldn’t be lagging on the trail, hanging onto my leg and acting overwhelmed. “The kid was weird,” she said.
There was something more … something dangerous. Panic and pain alternated and tapped like drum beats. I wanted to scoop Jared up, get back to the car and drive home.
I wanted. to go. home.
A nurse’s aide walked through the hallucination. I didn’t recognize her. “You called?”
Did I? It was hard to know. Maybe she wasn’t real.
Maybe none of this was real.
The only thing that soothed was the thub-thub thub-thub sound coming from the hospital machine.
Eve Reiland (US)
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