Winter home, hospital antics, narrowing paths

Day 3 at St. Joseph Hospital, Bangor, ME. Last week I got sick, and spent days in bed before being admitted to the hospital. We nailed down a rough plan for our future, and stopped drawing them in the sand between tides.

I came to the hospital unable to check myself in or walk to the door. Kevin got a wheelchair, rolled me in, told them who I am and what my problem is—not all of them mind you, they don’t have that kind of time. We were the only one there at five in the morning. It was work to keep one eye open. The woman behind the admission counter was working on a landscape painting. They rolled me into a room in minutes.

The next few hours is a bit of a blur. My blood oxygen had tanked to 88 and I had a fever of 102, which I’d had all week. I was woozy, and tried to text but forgot how words worked. It had been six days since I’d slept more than 20-minute spells between coughs aside from two occasions—one where I’d taken two nighttime Mucinex, and another time I slept for a solid hour after hacking up what I can only describe as an alien fetus.

It didn’t take them long to access that I needed a room after taking an x-ray confirming a severe case of double lobe pneumonia—which is apparently very rare. As you all know by now, when I do something new, I go all in.

There is no way to describe to you the force of which I involuntarily coughed violently at complete random without getting nasty. Those who get grossed out easily, skip ahead. I coughed so hard that anything in my gut was forced out every time I had a coughing fit, which was several times in an hour for the last week at home—my poor mother-in-laws’ home actually, but more on that later. So not only had I not slept, I’d barely kept anything down in a week. And, now that you have a grasp on the extreme coughing—you can understand why I also pee myself.

I’m now the proud wearer of a pull-up. If the I’m a big kid now jingle comes to mind, you’re probably a child of the 90’s because it was drilled into your brain between Saturday morning cartoons. With my husband being 20-years my senior, I figured I’d be helping him pull up a diaper first. Boy was I wrong.

The hanger, and Hector Salamanca.

I love pranks. I get that from my dad. By the time the strange man from the cafeteria showed up with a tray of things I wasn’t capable of eating without enjoying twice, we’d incidentally kicked off our first prank. You see, it wasn’t meant to be a full-out prank. Just a subtle funny thing to keep it real. Kevin wrote Hector as my preferred name on the whiteboard in my room, then left to run errands.

At the shift change, the new nurse came in to introduce himself and get my vitals. At that point, I had been on oxygen for several hours and was able to talk some—but still having the constant coughing fits. I was just recovering from a fit when he walked in and it would be a few minutes before I was capable of talking.

He looked at his computer, looked at the white board, looked at my wrist band, looked back at his computer, looked back at the white board… Finally I caught my breath and said “I’m Hector Salamanca” before coughing wildly again, half laughing. It was awful. I spat out another alien fetus and finally explained it was a character from Breaking Bad. I told him my husband wrote it as a joke. He didn’t look impressed. I don’t think he was a Breaking Bad fan.

That night I only woke up three times. They brought me a sleeping mask and monitored my vials from the nurse station. I have five stickers all over my chest with wires leading to a weird purse around my neck, and another wire from a magnetic red-glowing earring to keep tabs on my O2 levels. Then the IV and oxygen tubes. It’s truly amazing I haven’t strangled myself. Thank goodness I’m a knitter, because these tangles are life-or-death man.

As of this morning, we have bamboozled various staff with our second prank—the hanger on the IV bag pole. Kevin, being the sweetie he is, bought me comfy PJs for my stay. As a quick and easy place to hang them while he cut the tags off and unclipped them from their hangers, Kevin hung them off the IV stand. Once I was dressed, I asked him to leave the hanger on the pole until someone noticed.

Hours went by. The tally rose. The parameters of gaining hanger points: they must in some way touch anything on the pole without removing or verbally acknowledging the hanger. Once they notice, I ask them to leave it and swear them to secrecy. One nurse moved it out of the way to look at a bag level, then walked off. I’m truly amused. As of this morning, we are at hanger 12 and staff 3.

Kevin came in with a special surprise this morning—CHIPPY! The staff was happy to let him is as my support dog. They didn’t even ask to see our card. He was very excited to see me.

Roughing it at the lake

We have settled into our home for the winter at Kevin’s mother’s beautiful lake house in Otis, Maine on Beech Hill Pond. After losing her husband, then shortly after losing her first born child, she could certainly use the company.

I feel spoiled, and pretty rude at the condition we left the room in after living in it sick for a week. It looks like a teenager’s room. I’m looking forward to feeling healthy enough to tidy up and nest a little when I get back.

The secret’s out, and fizzled out

Our super secret up-our-sleeve wild card plan has been tossed out of the deck. The night I started coughing we’d booked a cabin at a campground we’d been considering purchasing. By the next morning I’d had all night to think about the tour and discussion with the owners while I tossed, turned, and coughed nonstop—my poor husband.

I’d decided by dawn that it wasn’t for us for many reasons. It needed a lot of deferred maintenance, the cabins weren’t salvageable or would need new roofs and to be gutted. It was tacky, and worth about half the list price. I woke Kevin up, packed our things, and was out of there in minutes. When we got to Otis I got right in bed, and stayed there for a week.

Building a dream for spring

We often have all these things we want to try, see, do, feel and by-golly that we have done. No regrets or lingering burning needs for another insane adventure anytime soon. It’s time to have a home. A place of solace and love. And, strangely, it looks like we are going to end up where we started, 13 years ago. Building a home where we spent our first weekend together in Bradford, Maine.

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