Thursday, September 26, 2013
I Knew Something Was Wrong
Thankfully, we get to sleep together.
Sleeping in the same bed was an adjustment for both of us.
When we first got married, Michael had to get used to sleeping flat, and not in a hospital bed. I had to get used to waking up to turn him in the middle of the night. He adjusted and generally no longer needs me to roll him over. I got used to the occasional muscle spasm. It wakes me up for half a second. I lay still to feel it out and see if it happens again. Usually, it doesn't, and I go back to sleep. Or, if it does, I wake Michael up and ask him, "Are you okay?," he grunts and we both go back to sleep.
I felt a strange feeling. It didn't feel like normal muscle spasms or puggle snoring.
I asked Michael, "Are you okay?"
"No," he says.
I shoot out of the bed, with an instant jolt of adrenalin, way stronger and more instant than a pot of coffee. Boom! I'm here to fix your problem, my love. Anything you need, I'll get it. He says he has a fever, and chills. I'm worried. I knew he didn't look right this morning. He said he was exhausted, but I could see it in his eyes, pain.
I work an overnight shift. I'm familiar with exhausted. That look in his eyes this morning was not exhaustion. But, I tend to be a freaker, so I gave him a couple of Ibuprofen, threw him in the bed, and we called it a day.
Until this afternoon, when the shaking woke me up. He was not well. He looked near tears and his body was shaking.
He asked me to roll him over, I did. I took his temperature: 101. Gave him some Azo and more Ibuprofen, and I held him until he stopped shivering. I stroked his hair and his chest - up high - where he could feel it.
He fell asleep.
I googled on my phone, laying there beside him - back to back.
I knew what he was experiencing was Autonomic Dysreflexia, because I'm a CFN (that's Certified Fake Nurse).
My plan was to keep an eye on his blood pressure and his headache and make sure to keep filling his water bottle up.
He gets them often, but this one is bad. Never seen him like this in the 4 years since we got married, and I never saw him like this in the two years before that - even though I know he's had a thousand UTIs in that time.
It's after midnight now - and I'm in the living room with Brokaw, while he's back asleep after half a sandwich, an episode of 20/20 and a little cuddle time with his nurse lady.
Autonomic Dysreflexia is a scary, powerful thing.
When you have a spinal cord injury, it's like the phone lines from your body to your brain have been cut off. Your tummy or your feet can't tell your brain, "I hurt," so, they scream out in other ways - spasms, blood pressure spikes and drops, it can be really dangerous.
Isn't it amazing, though, that his body still manages to get its message through? Look at how hard it works to communicate. Sometimes it's subtle. Sometimes it's screaming. But if you pay attention - even though it's below the level where it's easy to understand, if you listen, you can find out what's wrong.
I'd say we could all learn from that kind of committed communication.
I hate UTIs. I feel like if you're going to be paralyzed, you should be handed an immunity card on the day of your injury. Like, okay, so you're going to spend the life in a wheelchair - so it's only fair that you have this "get out of any other illness or injury" card.
Too bad it doesn't happen like that.
There's nothing worse than seeing him suffer. I'm glad that (other than the whole paralysis thing) he is generally a very healthy, low maintenance quadriplegic. I'm grateful he doesn't deal with pain or other medical issues on a daily basis, because we know some people who do, and I can only imagine how difficult that is.
I want him to just rest. I'll do anything and everything I can, being a CFN and all.
I'm staying up, in case he needs anything. This too shall pass. I don't want to worry either of our mothers by posting about this! I just like to keep it real, so there you go.