So here’s how it’s been the last month or so.
First, about a month ago, Barb had to go in for abdominal surgery – a long story, which maybe I’ll tell much later. The short version is that the surgery was more complicated than planned, lasted twice as long as planned, and had a much longer recovery than planned.
The week before surgery, one of my kids brought home some ailment, the primary symptoms of which were dizziness and fatigue. Barb came down with it the evening she came out of surgery. Which means that in addition to pain and wooziness and nausea from surgery, she had spectacularly bad bed spins for the better part of a week.
At this same time (the actual day oo surgery), my eleven year old daughter Ruby sprained her ankle so badly we all thought it was broken (clearly she inherited my feline grace; she did it by trying to walk while her foot was asleep). She wound up on crutches, barely able to move; her whole foot wine purple and her ankle swollen up like a grapefruit.
Also around this time, we took one of Olivia’s favorite pet rats (Eddie, which is short for Edgar Allen Poe) in to the vet to have a cyst on his foot looked at. The conclusion was that it wouldn’t heal, and the choices were looking like euthanasia, or amputation. Now, normally I’m opposed to major intervention of any kind with pets that don’t live more than a couple of years; but I think we all transferred a bit of worry about the rest of the members of the family onto this big gray lump of a rat; we made a choice that’s opposed to my rules, and had him de-legged.
Since that time, Barb has caught every ailment that goes around. She’s had two or three different cold-like viruses (one of which might have been swine flu, her doctor says, though he can’t tell for sure). The last round developed into – in order – a sinus infection, then bronchitis, and then into full-blown pneumonia, with a lovely case of pleurisy (just take a look at the famous cases for a fabulous list of people who died of pleurisy.). She was very close to needing to go back into the hospital. She’s been fighting that – with an array of meds that makes me very, very glad I have good health coverage) – for well over ten days, and is still unable to do much of anything.
So it’s been a bit of a rough patch.
Last week, Eddie (legless ed, eddie the tripod, eddie three legs) took a turn for the worse. He’d been healing well; he was moving around like a tiny fuzzy elephant seal, eating like a champ, and seemed happy to get picked up twice a day for his medications. We figured he was out of the woods. And then infection set it.
I again had to make that hard choice; follow my rules and euthanize, or spend more damned money. I broke my own rules again. The vet had to remove a hunk of infected muscle the size of a sugar cube, and then stapled him closed again and sent us home with a double dose of antibiotics.
We though we were losing him; he pulled out his staples and left behind something like you’d see on a battlefield. And then, suddenly, the wound started to fill over with granulation tissue, stopped weeping, and Eddie started to come out of his little house to greet us when we come to get him out. He’s back to moving loping like an elephant seal, pathetically clumsy and yet fully able to get around his cage. He’s not, as they say, out of the woods yet. But we’re starting to hope.
Eddie and Barb and Ruby all seem to be on the same schedule; Ruby just got put of her cast, Barb’s ailment is slowly receding, and Eddie the Gimp is looking better. So (I almost want to knock wood here) maybe we’re past the end of one of the worst octobers in memory (at least the worst since last October, but more on that later.
Amazingly, Olivia and I have gotten through all this without ever getting sick, despite stress and severe lack of sleep. I’ve missed way too much work due to my nurse-and-single-parent role this last month, and I’ve been at no better than half capacity when I’m there; but I haven’t picked up a case of the flu, haven’t come down with a sinus infection, didn’t pick up the swine flu.
Either there’s a crash coming, or it’s my immune system doing that hyperdrive thing it does when I’m under extreme stress. We’ll wait and see how that plays out this next week or two.