Y’all, Matt and I (but mostly Matt) have been put through the wringer these last few days. It all started last Wednesday (the 17th) when I was at my mom’s house for our usual Wednesday family lunch, and I started coming down with what I thought were allergy symptoms. That would make sense with spring in the air and the trees and plants coming back to life, right?
I got a little worse Wednesday night, and then Thursday, those allergy symptoms had turned into what I thought was a full-blown head cold with a bit of chest congestion. It was a pretty miserable day, but I started taking all of the appropriate anti-viral supplements as soon as I got home Wednesday, and by Friday, I was pretty much back to normal.
Then Friday, Matt started showing the same symptoms, and I figured we were in for a rough ride. When most people get sick with a cold, it’s miserable, but we can handle it. Matt is a different story. Since he has multiple sclerosis, any little sickness wipes him out completely. It’s about 1000 times worse for him than it is for me because his M.S. already renders him weak and easily exhausted. Add a sickness onto that, and he’s like a piece of cooked spaghetti until he gets better.
I gave him all of the anti-viral supplements that I had taken and that made my illness so short, and by Saturday, his symptoms (headache, itchy eyes, aching face, runny nose, sore throat, chest congestion) had all disappeared. But his weakness remained.
I didn’t think anything of it, because again, that’s not unusual for him after experiencing cold symptoms. Sometimes even after all of the other symptoms are gone, it can take up to a week for his strength to return fully. So he just rested and slept most of the day, but things seemed mostly normal that day.
On Sunday morning, he remained weak (still not unusual), and he still had no symptoms of the cold. So while he rested, I went about my business, coming in to check on him every hour or so.
But as the day went on, he continued getting weaker, even to the point that he couldn’t lift his 50-ounce tumbler filled with water to drink. He complained of being hot, and being hot always zaps his strength quite a bit. So after checking his temp (which was normal), checking his blood oxygen (also good), I turned down the thermostat and turned on a fan for him, and then sat by him and fed him about 40 ounces of water with electrolytes half of a straw-full at a time.
After that, he was exhausted and wanted to rest, so I left him alone for about 45 minutes. When I came back, he was even weaker, and this time to the point that he was having trouble speaking at all. After asking him a series of yes/no questions that he could answer by shaking or nodding his head, I finally figured out that his heart was racing. I had asked him several times throughout the day if he wanted me to call 911 so he could go to the hospital. Every time before, he had said no. But now with his heart racing, I could tell he was scared, and he nodded that he did want to go to the hospital.
The ambulance got here about 5:00pm to take him to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital, I was so scared and nervous that he might be C-19 positive, which would mean he couldn’t have any visitors at all.
After waiting and waiting, I was finally allowed in to see him in the emergency department room. At that point, he was still pretty much out of it. He couldn’t even open his eyes most of the time. I would ask him yes/no questions, and about half the time, he didn’t even have enough energy to nod or shake his head in response. We were in there for what seemed like forever while they drew blood and did all kinds of tests.
They finally gave him a saline IV, and that seemed to help a little. He still wasn’t talking, but he was giving a thumbs up, nodding his head, and shaking his head in response to questions. After a while on the IV, he even said a few words.
Then they took him for a CAT scan. When he came back, he was worse again, not able to speak or move, and he pretty much stayed that way the rest of the night.
But they finally gave us a diagnosis. He had Influenza A. Which means that I had Influenza A. To say that the doctor and nurses were shocked is an understatement. One of the ER nurses came in and said, “Did anyone tell you that you have Influenza A?! I can’t believe it! I haven’t seen this all year!”
Matt was finally admitted to the hospital around 11:40, so we were able to go up to a nicer and more comfortable room. Matt had already told me (through nods and head shakes) that he didn’t want me to stay. We were having the big oak tree cut down in the back yard, and the tree guys were supposed to be at our house around 7:15am on Monday morning. The nurse also encouraged me to go home and get some sleep, so I got home around midnight with the plan to come back first thing in the morning, as soon as I got the tree guys squared away.
When I arrived at the hospital early the next morning, Matt had not improved a single bit. In fact, he may have been a bit worse. He couldn’t really open his eyes, and he wasn’t really able to respond to any of my yes/no questions. I knew there had to be something going on besides the flu, so I set about trying to figure out what was going on.
The first thing I realized is that his room was SO FREAKING HOT it felt like a sauna! As I’ve stated before, Matt absolutely cannot tolerate heat. We keep our thermostat at home on 67 degrees because he needs to be cool at all times.
So I called to see about getting the air conditioner on. It took them a long time to come, so in the meantime, I got a wet washcloth and dabbed water all over his skin from head to toe, and then fanned him with a thick folded up bed pad. I did this for about 30-45 minutes while waiting for someone to come do something about the heat.
I also crawled up onto the guest chair and tried my best to open the window since it was pretty cool outside that morning. Those hospital windows clearly aren’t intended to open. They tilt into the room at the top, but the entire window is covered by wood window blinds that aren’t made to actually raise up at all.
I didn’t care. I was determined to get cold air into that room, so I pulled and pulled as hard as I could to get that window cracked open enough to let cool air in. But then I had to find something to prop it open because the weight of the blinds against the window kept pushing it closed.
The only thing I could find to prop the window open with was a round plastic container of pancake syrup (that looked like this) that had come with his breakfast (as if he could have eaten solid food at that point), so I shoved that round plastic container into the side of the window to hold it open. Then I continued with the wet washcloth/fanning process until they came about 45 minutes later to check the thermostat.
The thermostat in his room had been set to EIGHTY-FOUR DEGREES. I was so frustrated. That alone probably contributed to a great deal of his weakness.
I also learned that he hadn’t been given any water at all to drink since he had been there. So I sat by his bed and fed him water, again a half of a straw-full at a time.
And finally, I learned that they still hadn’t given him any Tamiflu at all. The doctor had prescribed a Tamiflu capsule, but there was no way he could swallow a capsule at that point. Tamiflu comes in liquid also, but the doctor would have to authorize that switch in the prescription before the pharmacy could release it, and they were having a hard time getting in touch with the doctor. So ten hours after his diagnosis, he still hadn’t been given medication for the flu.
The nurse finally came in with the Tamiflu capsule and an idea. She suggested emptying the contents of the capsule into about a half tablespoon of applesauce, and feeding that to him. I agreed, so that’s what she did. Matt was so weak that it literally took him about 10 minutes to get half a tablespoon of applesauce down. It just sat there in his mouth just behind his lower teeth, and he would touch it with his tongue every few seconds. I finally had to add some water, just a couple of drops at at time so he wouldn’t choke, so that he could get all of that applesauce (again, half a tablespoon!!) down completely.
Then it was back to alternating between feeding him water a half of a straw-full at a time, and cooling him off with the wet washcloth and fanning. He fell asleep and seemed to sleep comfortably, so since the room was cooled off by then, I sat down and rested for a bit.
He woke up around 1:00pm, and actually said a word. Y’all, that was music to my ears! He had started to regain strength and was able to move his arm enough to touch his face and scratch his nose. I was so relieved. About 30 minutes later, he said he was hungry, so I fed him a whole container of applesauce. What a beautiful sight that was after that morning when he struggled to get half of a tablespoon of applesauce down!
At dinner time, they brought Matt two plates of food — one pureed and one solid food — since they weren’t quite sure what he would be capable of eating. He still wasn’t strong enough to lift the fork repeatedly to his mouth, so I cut up his food and fed him. He ended up eating both plates of food! He was moving pretty slowly, and it took about an hour-and-a-half for him to finish all of it. But y’all, I would have sat there feeding him food for four hours if that’s what it took. I was just so relieved to see his strength returning! And again, to go from struggling to get half a tablespoon of applesauce down that morning, to eating two full plates of food (and one filled with solid food) that evening, was a miraculous turnaround.
He was released on Wednesday afternoon, and was so glad to be home. He and I both spent the rest of Wednesday and all day yesterday recuperating from that ordeal. I stayed with him on Monday and Tuesday nights and slept on the little pull-out chair/bed thing in the room. Those things are not comfortable at all. And of course, it’s impossible to get good sleep in a hospital with people coming in every two hours to check vitals, do breathing treatments, etc. So we were both ready for lots of rest and a good night’s sleep with no interruptions.
Matt is still on the mend, but he’s out of the woods now. That was a scary couple of days! I’m so thankful they’re behind us, and he’s almost back to his normal self again.
And now that I’ve had a chance to rest up and get a couple of nights of good sleep, I plan to get back to the hallway and home gym projects today while Matt continues to rest and get completely over this sickness.