Dealing with two ER visits in 6 months

Hello dear you! It has been pretty crazy over here in the Selby-Kogan household. This is a long email, so why don't you get a cup of coffee or tea, get comfy and read on!

It isn't me that has been in the ER...well, I've been there but only to BRING my husband, Scott. These visits and the recovery times have been powerful experiences in our household. Yes, they have been disruptive. Yes, they have been challenging. But we've also learned a lot and grown and we've grown because we are both committed to that in our relationship. But trust me, it isn't always easy.

For those of you that don't know, at the end of January Beck (my son) came down with influenza. Influenza is a very nasty virus and every year otherwise healthy people end up in the ER as a result of it. It can be particularly hard on the young and the old. Beck was very sick and had a fever that ran for 10 days but he got better and headed back to school with all his 5 year old energy in tact. My husband, Scott, picked up the virus from Beck during that time and also came down with influenza.

After about 5 days, Scott started to turn the corner and felt a little bit better. So he made the mistake (huge mistake!) of going back to work. A day and a half later he was back home in bed and feeling worse than ever. That was a Tuesday. By Friday he seriously looked like a zombie. I can't explain it but he was so ashen, so changed, his voice didn't even sound the same...it was scary. He saw his doctor and also called the advice nurse over that weekend because he was feeling so miserable. But the doctor and advice nurse kept saying, "You have a virus, there's nothing to do but rest." The thing medical professionals look for in influenza is bacterial infection in the lungs which leads to pneumonia but Scott wasn't presenting with any of those symptoms so they just kept telling him to rest.

Fast forward to Monday and it was clear we had to go to the ER. It is a very frightening thing to see your partner looking like he's at death's door but that is what it looked like. I was clear-headed and strong in my resolve that we needed to go to the ER but I was also scared. The idea of anything happening to Scott was too much to bear.

We went early in the morning which, by the way, is the best time to go to the ER. They checked him inright away and started him on fluids. The ER doc performed an exam and parroted what others had said, "You have a virus, there's not much we can do." I was shocked. It was evident to me that something else was going on and let me tell you there was NO WAY I was going to let him be discharged. Scott was complaining that his elbow was in a lot of pain and by late morning his elbow was red and hot to the touch. Long story slightly shorter: they stuck a huge needle into his elbow and drew out a ton of fluid, tested it, and realized that Scott was septic. The elbow had a septic infection and the bacteria had entered his blood stream. This was scary--sepsis can kill you if not caught in time. Thank goodness we caught it intime. He was scheduled for surgery that day and they went in and "scrubbed" his elbow. Luckily the bacteria hadn't done any visible damage to the bone or cartilage. He was placed on very heavy duty antibiotics.

He was in the hospital for a week. They subsequently discovered he had a sinus infection caused by strep and that the strep had migrated into his blood stream and caused the infection in his elbow! CRAZY. This is super uncommon which is why no one picked up on it. He came home and was out of work for about a month. He had to administer liquid antibiotics into his arm every day...he slowly regained his strength and came back to his old, healthy self.

That experience was intense and when someone you love comes close to dying, it affects you deeply-obviously. But Scott and I have good attitudes :) We also are really good at talking about things and talking through things. We both knew it was important to acknowledge all the feelings that this event brought up for us. I recently heard a great quote: "What you can't be with, owns you." Love that. We really needed to BE with our feelings about all of this. I think both of us came away from it feeling just a little more scared...like hay--bad things can happen to good people! Nothing is guaranteed! Who the hell knows what will happen?!! We felt a little unstable for a while. But slowly, we got into our groove, Scott was well, our routines were back in place and honestly, life was GOOD.

Then July 16th happened. It was a MAGICAL day up in Nicasio (beautiful place up in Marin) spent on our dear friends' ranch. After a catered dinner on a hilltop overlooking the property and then s'mores (withorganic dark chocolate!) over a fire pit, the day wound down and it was time to go. We were last to leave. We hugged our friends goodbye and gathered our things. As I reached down to pick up my bag I heard a splash in the pool. "Why is Scott jumping into the pool? Is he trying to be funny?" That flashed through my mind in a split second because I couldn't make sense of it! Scott pulled himself out of the pool (he was fully drenched) and said, "I think I broke my leg". He was in a bit of shock and shivering terribly. He made us splint his leg (thank goodness--you guys, ALWAYS SPLINT A BONE IF YOU THINK IT IS BROKEN!). We used a wooden hanger broken in half and duct tape. We got the car as close to him as possible and he crawled to the car! I then, very very carefully, drove him 45 minutes to Marin General Hospital. Every brake, every acceleration caused pain for him--so stressful! (Note: thank you, God, that Scott did not crack his skull when he fell in--we were 45 minutes from medical care so it could have been so much worse.)

At this point we assumed he would get a cast and head home. My sister was watching Beck, thank goodness, so we had peace of mind there.

BUT- after the x-rays they came back to us and said, "So sorry. The break is severe and we need to admit you to the hospital and you will need surgery tomorrow." WHAT??????? (He had a spiral fracture down his tibia to his ankle and two fractures on his fibula.) Surgery meant 2 metal plates and 16 screws into his leg.

Here's the odd thing--this broken leg has been WAY MORE DISRUPTIVE than the sepsis! Less life-threatening for sure, but much harder to deal with.

Healing time for the break: 5 months.

Scott cannot drive. He cannot lift things. He's on crutches. At first he was in a ton of pain (that's getting better thank goodness).

What that has meant is all the driving. all the lifting, all the house care and most of the child care has fallen on to me. And at first I truly fell into a deep depression. I know that sounds selfish, and I felt really crappy for being depressed when Scott was the one that broke his leg, but I couldn't deny it. In fact, it threw everything in my life into a state of doubt--including my work. Because I now needed to drive Beck to school every day (Scott usually did this on his way to work) I could no longer make it to my Orangetheory work out class in the mornings. Exercise for me is crucial for my mental health. Because I didn't have help with the housework, my days felt frantic and overwhelming because there was so much to do and I also wanted to WORK!!! One thing about running my own business is that it often falls through the cracks when other stuff rears its head. I just re-read this paragraph and I realize how lame it all sounds. I mean--how much house work can there be? Well--a lot. We are re-doing parts of our house so organizing and scheduling workers actually takes way more time than you can imagine. But just simple stuff like taking out the trash and recycling--Scott always did that! Scott always helped getting laundry done. Scott would often clean the kitchen after dinner. It all adds up. Sigh.

One happy thing about getting older is the fact that I'm getting wiser. Having experiences teaches you things...and I knew that even though I felt like I was in the dark, depressed, lacking faith...I absolutely knew that this was happening for a reason AND that the feelings would pass. That knowledge was so helpful because when I felt especially down I could draw upon it and know that I just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the feeling would pass. Not only that, but I've learned that going through the hard stuff ALWAYS has me grow and evolve and honestly, I was excited about that!

But here's the reality-being a care taker is no joke. The person that needs to caretake MUST learn ways to prioritize their health and well-being because it really is a huge shift. If you know anyone that is a caretaker, please do something WONDERFUL for them today--if you can give them a break, that's probably the nicest thing you can do. One of the best things someone did for us is to order meal delivery! We got to choose what we wanted and they ordered it and paid for it for us. I can't tell you how wonderful it was not to have to cook or do dishes that night--we felt very taken care of!

I'm not totally sure why the broken leg threw me so off course and it's true that I'm a little embarrassed about the fact that it plunged me into the dark night of the soul..but it did. And I'm happy to say that despite that I continued to show up for my husband and my son and now the broken leg is our new normal. I put a freeze on my Orangetheory account and found another place to go to that has a class at 9am which means I can go after dropping Beck off at school and Scott off at work! Yay! And Scott and I continue to talk and figure out how to manage things in the house, what HAS to get done, what we can let go...all that jazz. We're good.

So--if you've made it this far I applaud you! I'm fairly certain this is the longest email I've ever sent. I just wanted to share what has been going on with me. It has taught me a lot about the need for self care, the constant need for good communication in relationships, about the fragility of the human body, about deep gratitude and it has strengthened me as a person. 

Sending love,

Elijah