My Forced Vacation at Club Med

Colleen

My Forced Vacation at Club Med

Colleen
accessories-84528_640It's Thursday, 4 a.m. My alarm goes off and I rise but feel so tired. I had an argument with Gregg the day before, never really resolving it before we went to bed. Never a good thing! I had asked him to do a small thing, give one of my babies his bottle, something he usually enjoys doing. He didn't answer me at first, his eyes glued to his phone (damn thing is both a blessing and a curse). So I ask him again, and he replies, "I am not at your beck and call, ya know!"

My heart took this comment like a punch to the chest. Really! I screamed to myself, biting my lip. After all the times I had been at his beck and call! This is how he repays me! Grimacing he holds out his arms to take the baby, I swallow my hurt and gently deliver my bundle but drop the bottle into his lap. "Snot!" he yells as I stomp off!

Really! I can't believe he is acting so, so, rude, so uncaring! My heart is pounding. I feel light-headed. But I have other children to feed, so I continue. I take deep breaths. Calm down, I say to myself, just calm down. I get the children fed, relieve my husband of the baby, making sure he receives my hurt glare as I do. He hobbles off to bed, I offer no assistance. Instead, I make sure the older children are off to sleep and the baby is secure and resting with soft music playing. Breathe! I keep telling myself. I take my pulse. It is 108. That is not great. I get online and talk to a friend. Breathe, she says, so I breathe. After a short chat, my heart rate goes down to about 92. Better. A panic attack! That's what it was, just a panic attack. I am not sure why I was letting his careless remark hurt me so, but each time I allowed it to replay in my mind, the rapid heartbeat returned, followed by a rush of lightheadedness, and a slight tightness in my left arm. Hmmm! I shake the thought from my head. It's a Panic Attack! Breathe!

By  evening, as most of my children have went home, my last daycare parent notices my stressed state, "Rough day with the kids?"

"Yes, my biggest one!"

"Well, why don't you come out to dinner with us." She is a dear friend and asks me out often, usually I reply, "No, I need to take care of Gregg." Tonight I accept!

I leave the house with a short and vague goodbye. I have a pleasant evening and a rare alcoholic beverage. I come home and Gregg is sitting up waiting for my return. "Did you have a good time?"

"Yes I did." I feed him my leftovers and we begin the evening like nothing has happened. This is his usual mode of ending a fight, just pretend nothing has happened.

As I go to bed, I notice my heart beat is still racing, my breath becomes short and hard to catch at times. It's just the alcohol and I try to get some sleep.

So back to the beginning of my story. It's 4 a.m. Thursday morning and I feel terrible. Heart is still racing, breath hard to catch, so, so tired. By 4:30 I relent. "I am calling 911." I say as I am waking my husband.

"Why? I am okay."

"Not for you, for me."

He stares at me wide-eyed as I make the call. While waiting for the paramedic I send out a quick text to my day care parents, stating I am closed and the reasons why.

"Maybe you should just breathe," my husband finally says. God! I am tired of breathing.

The paramedics arrive. My pulse is 116, blood pressure 230 over 116. "Well, if you aren't having a heart attack you will have one soon."

They bundle me onto the gurney, this is so weird to have me being taken away as my husband looks on. I instruct him to call his brother. My caregiving empathies emerge as I am being taken away. I explain to the paramedics my husband's condition. "Would you like someone to stay with him until help arrives?"

"Yes!" I say and he jumps out to hail down a lingering fireman. "All taken care of, now let's take care of you."

The hospital is such a different world on this side of the bed. Except for a few minor episodes I have managed through my life to avoid them. But now, so many familiar tests, tests I have seen hundreds of time performed on my husband were now being done to me. Echo Cardiograms and EKGs, monitors and aspiration tests, IVs and pulse ox, I have watched them all but now they are being done to me. After a few hours they let me rest, and finally Gregg's brother wheels him into my small ER cube. He is slumped, pale and guilt-ridden. He knows he contributed to my condition. "I will be alright." I say, perhaps a bit unconvincingly. He gives me a weak nod. Soon the rest of my family emerge, my sister and her daughter, my mother. All come and go, observing the two-visitor only rule. Finally the doctor arrives, "Hello Mrs. Austin, Mr. Austin This is quite the switch." It is Dr. Betkowski, my husband's cardiologist.

"Was it a heart attack?" my husband asks.

"Atrial fibrillation," he states. "An irregular heartbeat, most likely caused by stress."

"So, it can be treated with medicines, I can go home, " I am relieved and anxious to get home. I need to let my daycare parents know that I will be open tomorrow.

"Not quite," Dr. Betkowski interrupts my relief. "As you know with your husband, Afib can quickly become serious if not treated correctly."

"Sure, with meds and..."

"No stress!" Dr. Betkowski ended my assertion. "Can you assure me that if I let you go home today you would not be exposed to stress?"

I open my mouth but he cuts me off right away. "Mrs. Austin, I have watched you for five years tend to your husband as well as a handful of kids, all who you have brought to doctor appointments. I was telling a colleague about your visits and we both agreed that you would be showing up as one of my patients soon. And here you are!"

"But I have to take care of...."

"You! You have to take care of you first!" I was really getting tired of him interrupting me and the monitors were proof of my annoyance. "As of now you are on vacation, for the rest of week, through the weekend."

"Okay, " I concede, "I will let my parents know that I will close tomorrow. Then I can go home?"

"Yes," my husband speaks for him. "I need her home. I'm lost without her."

If it wasn't for the IV and wires clipped to my hand I would have slapped my husband and shouted, "For the love of God, please shut up!"

"No," says Dr. Betkowski. "I would like to monitor you over the weekend. Do more tests. Yes, I think it would be best if you take your vacation here. That way if you have another episode we can record it, monitor it."

"But what about me?" Okay, my husband is really annoying me now. Did I really create this? Did I make him this spoiled that he can't put me before himself? A rapid beat interrupts my thoughts, my pulse is 110, blood pressure 116 over 194.

"If you can not find someone to stay with you there is always a respite home."

"I don't want to stay in a home."

"Well, if your wife is not taken care of, that is where you will be. Permanently."

My brother-in-law assures Gregg that he will be taken care of at home but still he slumps in his chair and pouts.

By dinnertime I am in my room, a very nice private room with a large screen TV with WI-FI access, movies on demand. The bed is comfortable and except for the IV line and the monitor wires I am quite comfortable. Gregg is wheeled into the room, he looks miserable. And I feel guilty, because quite frankly, I am glad that I am being admitted into the hospital. I am looking forward to not have to care for anyone but me. Selfish, maybe. No, required. He kisses me goodbye, "I will miss you." Okay, that breaks my heart.

"I will be home soon. Aron will bring you tomorrow."

He nods his head. "I'm sorry," he finally says.

"It will all be okay," I assure him. "Just think of it as my going to a health retreat, kind of like Club Med."

"Yeah...," he laughs a little.

"Everything will get better when I get back."

"Yes, and I will be better, too."