I lay here in the semi-darkness, in a shabby, aged, not particularly clean hospital room. It is the middle of the night. Although I can hear the sweet sound of rain that I love, the bed is lumpy and hard. I've been moved up from the ER, where I had spent many miserable hours, feeling so, so sick. My roommate snores. Am I ever going to sleep in the same room with anyone who does not snore, for Pete's Sake?!?! Apparently this room is across from the staff room. About a half a dozen voices chatter cheerfully in Tagalog. A couple of residents earnestly discuss their futures, marriage and vacations. And I still, after 8 years of MS and a previous lifetime of ridiculous good health, cannot believe I am here.
I started feeling worse than usual a few days ago. I was super weak and had the chills. I just couldn't get warm. My poor, lymphoma-ruined legs could not swing up onto my bed. The pain level was through the roof. The area being radiated every day was beginning to feel sore and a little cluster of blisters had already developed on my neck. My restless leg syndrome, usually so repsonsive to the medication, was resisting for a change, with that awful sensation extending up to to my arms. And, my personal, most humiliating favorite, incontinence, was complete. Ahh, the wonderful world of multiple sclerosis. I was changing my clothes dozens of times a day. And, as shaky and wobbly as I was, that was no easy feat. Finally, this morning, after a nightmarish night of unsuccessfully trying to make it to the bathroom on time over 20 times (yes, an unbelievable 20+ times), I curled up in bed and wept. I gripped my rosary and murmured the words I have known for almost my entire life. But in my head I just kept begging God to end this horror, the constant pain, the mortifying dependence, the fear, the worry. Then I slept for about twenty minutes. A record.
When I woke up Mary Kate was standing over me looking horrified. "You HAVE to go to the hospital!" she demanded. It only took me seconds to agree. She called the ambulance, her husband went out to wait for it and I just sat in misery. I was escorted by two kind EMT's and two professional, serious paramedics. They found my blood pressure was 200/110, which won me a free, speedy trip to the ER. And so here I am.
I felt like the dog's dinner. They started me off with a huge dose of IV Solumedrol. Slapped monitors on every inch of skin. And I could not get comfortable for even five minutes because the whole bathroom thing was hanging over my head. I had no idea what the plan was, but at least I had a commode next to my bed. And, while the setting here is pretty gross, scruffy and neglected, every single staff member has been incredibly cheerful, sympathetic and helpful. They offered things before I would even think of them. They offered to do things before I knew I needed them. It is indeed the little things that make a difference, but actually these acts of patience and kindness were huge.
The plan now is to do an MRI of the brain and spine. This could be an MS exacerbation, a pseudo-exacerbation caused by a virus (which ramps up MS symptoms but is not a true relapse) or, so wonderful to hear, further metastasis of the breast cancer.
Two lovely, kind ladies just stopped in my room, volunteers from the hospital's ministry program. I am having such a hard time not being sad and scared, but in the few minutes we chatted and prayed,
these women were truly inspirational. They were pleasant, down to earth and simply beautiful in so many ways. Every encouraging word they said about not being afraid really hit home. I still have to work on it, but God sends His light to me through people like this and my wonderful, generous friends, old and new.
I am counting on healing, hoping against hope I will be healed. But if I am not, I pray for acceptance and grace, for courage and dignity.
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