“Row or Die!” These were the words Doug read from the side of a building outside my window. Not the most tactful message to have outside of a hospital room, however the view of the lake and the bridge and even the appearance of some sunshine was quite cheerful. Yes, the sun is now an “event”, in much the way that rain was a weather “event” down in Los Angeles.
After a long night of waiting in the UW Hospital emergency room Monday night, and after some confusion among the doctors as to what they were treating, I was admitted early Tuesday morning with a kidney infection. I had woken up on Easter morning with a shaky, fevery feeling, and made my way through the day as best I could. But by Sunday night I knew I was sick and when Monday morning hit, I was miserable.
Doug has class on Mondays and had some homework to do before class so I felt bad calling him back and decided I could just push through the day. We operated at minimal capacity: Mercy did not go to preschool; the kids watched two and a half hours of PBS; I think I fed them cold waffles for breakfast and lunch. I finally called my mom and begged her to come and spend her lunch hour with us to give me at least some minutes’ rest. She came toward the end of the day and, seeing how badly I was doing, she packed up some jammies and the necessary blankets and animals, and took the three kiddos to her house (Doug was not going to be home until later in the evening due to his class). I crawled back into bed and when Doug called me around eight to check in. I took my temperature: 104.4.
I called my folks and asked my dad to come pick me up to take me to the ER. We drove to the UW hospital and he stayed with me until Doug showed up. When I got checked in, there was that slightly awkward moment with the woman behind the glass looked up at my dad and asked: “And this is your…” “Father!” I answered, quickly. I was of course still in the system as Erika Carney, and my parents were still my next-of-kin. As my dad informed Doug when he arrived: “You’ve been promoted.”
When we were finally given a room, I was shivering from my fever and huddling under my down jacket and as many of the heated blankets as Doug could find. One of the first doctors we spoke with was a beautiful young woman who, after looking at my chart, informed me that she is a member at Quest, another area Covenant church. Her warmth and personal care for us throughout the night and early morning were a gift in the midst of the pain.
Because I had come in with a high fever and back pain, they were afraid of what might be happening around my spine, and of course with everything our friends in L.A. have gone through with sudden paralysis due to spinal inflammation, that was deeply concerning. But by morning, the decision had been made to move me upstairs for treatment of what they believed to be a kidney infection.
When we got upstairs, we were told who our doctor would be and our nurse whispered to us: “You’ll love her!” And we did. As the residents gathered (it’s a teaching hospital so it’s a little Grey’s Anatomy sometimes) to run through my history and talk through the treatment I had so far received in the ER, my doctor was the only one who seemed to notice I was shivering in the new bed that had no blankets and she quickly pulled what she could find to cover me.
Treatment was basically IV fluids and IV antibiotics and pain medication. After I had been sufficiently poked and hooked up to things, we were left to try and rest. I wondered aloud to Doug that morning: “So when you’re the pastor, do you get visited?”
It turns out the answer is yes, and friends were quick to show up with provisions and prayers.
Coming from L.A. where we had more than our share of hospital stays, we found the UW hospital a bit remarkable. Not only were our doctor and nurse superior and the view lovely, but as a patient you get room service. No generic hospital food that comes when it wants, but a full eight page menu that you can order from at any time throughout the day. Thai basil stir fry, lemongrass pork loin, pacific salmon…and as many diet cokes and chocolate chip cookies as one would like.
We used to have moments in Los Angeles where something would happen and we would make the comment: “You know, because we live in L.A…” After my breakfast had been delivered, and the nurse introduce us to “Pinky”, the staff member whose job it is to go from room to room with coffee refills, we looked at each other: “Because we live in Seattle…”
One surreal moment came when, during my last morning, I flipped on the television and clicked through the cables channels only to see my OB’s from L.A. on their Discovery Health show, Deliver Me. Doug and I were filmed for the show, and this was the first time I had seen a real live episode. So as I sat in the midst of room service and lake views, I watched other people’s pregnancy dramas unfold form a distance.
I was able to go home on Wednesday, and have been resting at home recovering since. Friends have brought meals over and offered to play with the kiddos. Aaron is more concerned about the tape residue on my hands and arms from the many needle pokes, and he thinks those are the things that are making me feel sick. My sister comes into town tomorrow with her little baby, and I am hoping to feel well enough to spend as much time possible holding that little baby girl. Of course, I have my mother to compete with in that arena so I should probably reduce my expectations there…