Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Confessions of An HG Husband: The Darkness Does Pass

I believe in Angels.

No, not the kind with wings that have super powers and fight demons with super powers.  I believe in those awesome beings who do God's work, spread joy, peace, love, comfort and support upon the face of this earth. 

In the hour of need.

I've shared before how when my wife was pregnant with our daughter and had hyperemesis gavidarum the first time around I had H1N1 (swine flu, remember that?), my son had it and Carrie had HG.  While on the way to the hospital, wondering how I was going to take care of everything an angel came to our rescue.  Right then a woman from our church called my cell and asked if we needed anything.  She took my son and cared for him so I could spend hours and hours in the hospital with Carrie.

That was just one of the tiny miracles I experienced during the pregnancy of our first daughter.  During the pregnancy with our second daughter there have been many more miracles.

Meals have poured in.  Frozen meals I can thaw and cook when I need something.  Hot meals, chicken noodle soup, enchiladas, prime rib, chicken and rice casserole and more.  We have had a neighbor clear the sidewalk with a shovel, we have had another clear the driveway with a snow blower. 

There have been moments when I needed to try and get some sleep between Carrie's IV's, working graves and caring for kids.  Angels without complaint or question gladly took my little Lydia so I could rest.

During the bitterly horrible pregnancy there were so many angels to lift us up.  My Mom would take Lydia for the day and get Tyler out the door to school.  Often she was in obvious pain but did it anyway.  We later learned she had a condition that can be extremely painful when it flares up.

My Mother-in-law shouldered so much.  She practically became the kids' mother during the worst of the hyperemesis.  I look back now and I don't think I would have been able to mentally handle it all without the help of my two moms.  For some people "I don't think I would have been able to handle it" is an expressive saying.  For me, it was a harsh and cruel reality.  Angels saved me.

What is an angel if not a messenger from the Divine?  What better messenger than the one that lifts, strengthens those who are too weak to go it alone or comforts someone even though they can't fix the problem.

The Brightest Star

During Christmas time the women's organization at my church asked if I would narrate a story for their Christmas party.  Of course I would.  I practiced and sob that I am, couldn't make it through the story without crying.  It was so silly.  It was just a little book.  In the story an old man without a family travels to Bethlehem, he encounters Joseph and the pregnant Mary.  He also can't find a room in an inn, he can't find food, he is cold and alone.  Yet bit by bit, through the kindness and sacrifice of strangers, he is fed, comforted and eventually finds shelter in an already occupied manger.  There he becomes one of the first to hold the Christ Child.  I guess I wept because in some way I felt like that man.  I knew where I was headed.  I knew the journey would end but I couldn't do it on my own.  I hated that I couldn't do it on my own.  I felt like I should have been able to.  I shouldn't have been so weak.  I should have been able to handle it all just fine.  But reality is harsh and it is wise to see our own limitations and reading that little story gave me hope.  For me that silly little book and the story it told were a miracle.  A message God needed me to hear and understand.

Somehow during that actual program I managed to read the story for the first time without crying.

The Miracle of Prayer

Through the months that Carrie lay in bed suffering we felt lifted up by the love of others.  I know that at one time there were people praying for us on at lest four continents.  There is such a unifying power in such a prayer.  I cannot prove anything tangible but I tell you I felt it and those prayers lifted me up.  In those moments when Carrie would utter a whisper-plea to me, to anyone and to Heaven, "please, please, please" I found strength in knowing her pleas were not alone.

The Miracle That Has Blessed Our Life

I don't get much sleep these days because our little princess thinks she should be up until 4AM.  It's not hard to hold her close and count the blessings instead of sheep.  She is beautiful.  She is healthy.  She is ours.

I've been thinking about this battle with HG.  It could have killed my beautiful Carrie.  But it didn't.

I love my Carrie for having the courage to survive HG again, for knowing what she faced and being willing to get pregnant again when we felt like there was one more princess waiting for us in heaven.

Someone asked me on my blog how my wife could put me through this.  The question shocked me, but only because this is something we decided together, this is something we wanted together, this is something we survived together and this is something that has brought us closer.  Closer to each other and closer to the incredible people around us.

We don't shy away from hard things just because they might be difficult.  We do them because we knew our lives will be changed for the better, forever.  Our baby Kate is living proof of that.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Confessions of a HG Husband: When Will This End?

I call every week to get Carrie's order from our favorite take-out place.  No, not chinese, pizza or anything else so tasty.  I get drinks delivered.  They come in 1 liter bags, 10 mL syringes and small vials filled with phenergram and vitamins.  The pharmacist knows me by voice.  She knows my bizarre sleeping schedule.  I don't even know my sleeping schedule.

 I go anywhere and do anything to help the love of my life feel better.  Target.  Walmart.  Cafe Rio.  Jamba Juice.  Kneaders.  Pizza.  Indian Food.  Make a shepherds pie.  Go to that other grocery store.  Pickles.  A specific kind of ice cream.  That store doesn't sell the yogurt she likes, go to the other store.  I'm not complaining, not at all, because as least she is eating, at least she is drinking, at least the retching is mostly over.

She's doing okay.  By okay I mean, she's not throwing up, she's not asking to be put out of her misery.  She talks, sometimes we even chat.  She had a rough week though.  There were a few days when she refused to eat, "I just want to feel better".

Sunday mornings have to be the worst part of the week.  I try to get my Carrie medicine, get the kids fed and dressed and myself at least decently dressed all before church starts.  There was this one Sunday the kids didn't fight, they didn't destroy their rooms in the few minutes it took to give Carrie her medicine and they didn't dump breakfast out all over the kitchen.  Tyler got himself dressed.  Lydia didn't argue about the cloths I put on her and I somehow had a clean, unwrinkled white shirt.  We were only 2 minutes late.  I was saying prayers of gratitude the rest of the day.

She wanted to be well by Thanksgiving.  She wasn't.  She wanted to go to Thanksgiving dinner with us.  She wasn't well enough.  Instead, I gave her medicine, I got the kids ready, and left my beautiful, pregnant wife home alone on Thanksgiving.  I bought a turkey.  I offered to make it for her.  She said no.  It is still sitting in the deep freezer.  I ditched her and brought her left-overs.  I'm a real prince aren't I?

Like I said, Carrie was hoping to be well by Thanksgiving, I was thinking more along the lines of Christmas or New Years.  The reality is, we have NO IDEA.  The only sure thing is that it will at least end sometime around May because that is when baby is due.

Seriously, when will this end?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bottoms Up: Confessions of an HG Husband

8:25 AM

Home from work.  I've been up since 5PM the day before.  I give my children hugs and kisses.  Tyler leaves for school minutes later.  Lydia goes with her Grandma.  I start Carrie's morning IV.  I mix phenergan with saline in a syringe.  Push 10 ml of saline solution through her PICC.  Now the phenergan for the next 5 minutes.  I go slow.  Careful.  It's over.  Time for 10 ml more of saline.  Then the IV.  I make her food.  I eat.  I wait.  

10:00 AM

I check her IV.  Half has drained into her body.  She's cold.  I cover her with more blankets and kiss her softly.  She closes her eyes.  I wait.  

10:30 AM

I check her IV.  Is it finished?  Almost.  I wait and watch.  She is sleeping now.  She's not in pain.  She's not nauseous.  She's peaceful.  It will come back when she wakes up.  The IV is finished.  I clamp her PICC and unscrew the IV tubing.  I wipe down the end of the PICC with alcohol.  I push more saline and heparin now.  I try not to wake her, to let her sleep, to let her be peaceful.  I fail.  She sits up.  She throws up.  She doesn't want me near.  She doesn't want me to hold her hair.  She doesn't want me to be grossed out.  I leave the room.  I try not to think about all the things I can't do.  I distract myself.  Food?  Cleaning up the IV and medicine?  Reading through material "try this if you have morning sickness".  She's finished.  I return to help her sleep.  I try to get her food.  I know she needs her energy.  I make plates, syran wrap them so they keep and save.  I ask if she needs anything.  She lays down.  I tuck her in.  I leave her alone so I can sleep.

10:45 AM

I lay down.  A couch, Tyler's bed, the floor.  It doesn't matter.  I sleep.

1:00 PM

I'm awake.  Carrie's still sleeping.  I get ready.  The kids are coming.  Tyler from school, Lydia from grandma's house.  

2:00 PM

The kids are home.  I give Carrie medicine.  I push more saline.  I push more phenergan.  Again I go slow, careful.  Push, 1.. 2... 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10... push.  Just a little at a time.  More saline and more heparin, more questions of "can I get you anything?"  The medicine makes her loopy.  The medicine makes her drowsy.  She sleeps.  

3:00 PM

I take the kids to the park.  They are happy to run around.  They are happy to get out.  I take my camera.  Carrie will want to see this.  Lydia runs.  She falls down.  She calls for me and I scoop her up.  I kiss it better.  She smiles.  She wants a drink.  Tyler runs straight for the merry-go-round.  He hops on.  It goes fast.  He lifts his legs up and starts to fly.  Lydia wants to swing.  "Higher Dada."  Tyler runs around.  His arms are out.  I know he is an airplane.  He runs so fast.  He goes back to the merry-go-round.  "Faster," he calls.  Lydia is done with the swing.  "Help me Dada". I lift her up so she can go down the slide.  Again.  Again.  Two more times.  She explores.  Tyler spins in circles.  I capture what I can with my camera.  Carrie will want to see this.  

4:30 PM

It's time to go.  I chase the kids.  I warn the kids.  I hug the kids.  They come.  Lydia holds my hand.  Tyler asks questions about everything.  I answer.  He asks more things.  We see a quinceanera party.  Lydia asks, "Dada, is she a princess?"  Yes.  I ask he if she knows who my princess is.  "Lydia is and mama is."  I smile and she squeezes me tight.  "You are a prince Dada!"  She says it with such excitement.  Tyler has a stick.  He swings it.  "It sounds like a whip Dada."  He's right.  "Do you know I like sticks Dada?"  I do but we have to leave the stick at the park so other kids can play with it.  I take them to Pace's and order them small slushes.  They both order Tiger's Blood.  Tyler because he likes it and Lydia because Tyler ordered it.  

5:00 PM

We're home.  Carrie is still asleep.  I make the kids PBJ's.  It's what they wanted.  I make them eat their sandwiches before they can drink their slushes.  We chat.  I learn about school.  I learn about recess.  "And Dada did you know I can run SO FAST?"  Wow Lydia.  They finish.  

6:00 PM

They're tired.  I bathe them.  I dry them off.  I brush Lydia's hair.  I help them brush their teeth.  I trim their fingernails.  I pray with them.  I read them stories.  They snuggle on my lap.  They love me.  I scoop up Lydia.  I rock her.  I sing to her.  I lay her down.  "Dada, did you know I love you SO much!"  I love you so much Lydia.  I turn on Dada's songs for her, close the door and leave.  "Wait Dada, blow me a kiss."  I do.  She catches it and rubs it in.  She blows me a kiss.  "Catch it."  "Rub it in."  I smile and obey.  I close the door.  I talk with Tyler.  He has a lot more to say.  I give him a hug.  I kiss his forehead.  I tuck him in.  I turn on "Tyler The Wizard Boy Stories".  I open the door just right.  I turn on the correct lights.  I tell him I love him.  He loves me too.  

6:30 PM

I check on Carrie.  She needs something to eat.  "What would you like?"  She makes a face.  I bring her food.  A creamie, yogurt, my mom's homemade mac'n'cheese.  She eats.  

7:00 PM

Both kids are asleep.  They were tired.  I leave to go shopping.  Milk.  Eggs.  Juice.  Where is the Unisom?  Carrie texts.  She wants a jamba juice.  Mango a go go.  I'm relieved.  She wants food.  I rent a redbox.  An action movie.  

8:30 PM

I'm home with her jamba juice.  I get her evening IV read.  Open the needled syringe, draw out the first mutli-vitamin.  Draw out the second multi-vitamin.  Push it into the IV bag.  Draw out the phenergan.  Shake.  Push saline.  Push phenergan.  Again I go slow.  Again I count.  Five minutes.  More saline.  I connect the IV bag.  I fold laundry.  I wait.

11:00 PM

The IV is finished.  I push more saline and more heparin into her PICC.  She sleeps.  I cook a frozen meal a neighbor brought over.  I eat.  I sit to watch my movie.  I blink.  I missed much of the movie.  I'll finish it some other time.  I blink again and fall asleep.  

12:30 AM

I wake up.  I crawl into bed.  Tyler's bed.  He is sleeping on the "little matress".  We're having a "sleep over".  He's still asleep.  I turn my phone up so I can hear if Carrie calls.  She calls if she needs me.  She doesn't call.

Sometime in the night

Tyler wakes me up.  He needs to go to the bathroom.  He goes to the bathroom.  I tuck him in.  I kiss his forehead.  We go back to sleep.

I Try.

I often fail.  I'm not perfect.  

"If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task. Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to “stand still” or “be still”—and wait.6 Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education."

"For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.7 Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.”8 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; … [it] beareth all things, … hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”9  

I Pray.  I Plead.  I Drink It Up.

"Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How am I doing? Confessions of a HG Husband

Simple Request

Read to the end, it's long, I know but just do.  In case you haven't heard Carrie is pregnant and she has hyperemesis gravidarum.  I explained what that is in a previous post.

How are you doing?

Short answer: I'm fine.

You Wanted the Long Answer?

It doesn't make sense to me.  All I have to do is work graves, give Carrie her medicine and take care of her as well as take care of the kids in the evening and put them into bed.  It shouldn't be that difficult.  So why is it? 

This Week

This week I would get home at about 8:20, see Tyler for a few minutes before he catches the bus, spend a few minutes with Lydia and then watch her leave with one of her two blessed grandmas.  I'd then get the AM IV going and try to sleep a bit before waking up a few hours later to finish the IV.  I'd then try to get some more sleep before 5PM.  The kids then come home and I feed them, spend a little time with them, bathe them and put them to bed.  Then I do the evening IV and try to get some sleep.  As soon as the evening IV is done, I leave for work.  The longest stretch I slept was for four sweet hours.  When I do sleep I'm not sleeping very well.  It is like I never fully get to sleep anymore.  Usually I can fall asleep in 5 seconds flat now it feels like 5 hours flat which isn't good considering how frequently I have to wake up.

Grateful and Guilty

It's hard dropping my kids off with my parents or my in-laws.  Not because they won't be loved and well taken care of, but because I should be able to take care of them.  I'm a grown man.  They're my kids.  I should be the one breaking up the fights, playing with them, doing homework with them, greeting them as they get home from school, taking them to dance and putting them down for naps.  But I'm not.  For that I feel so grateful and yet still so guilty.

Why am I so Overwhelmed?

I only have two kids.  I only have one job.  I only have one wife.  There's the cat and she can be a little much, always wanting me to pet her, smashing her face into my leg, wanting to be fed twice a day. 

I even withdrew from school for a little while so I don't have that to worry about.  The grandmas take the kids during the day and sometimes longer.  I've even gotten help from friends.  Even more friends are helping to feed our family.  Seriously we've had some wonderful meals delivered by even more wonderful people.  So why am I so overwhelmed?

My Flip Flops Don't Match

I was spending some time with Lydia when she kindly pointed out my flip flops didn't match.  It was painfully obvious even to a 3 year old and I only noticed when she pointed it out.  Sure enough I had on one bright blue one and one brown one. 

I did laundry.  Sort of.  I put it in the washer.  I put it in the dryer.  It is now sitting in the cloths bin.  I've been meaning to fold it since Tuesday (it is now technically Sunday).  I don't want anyone else to do it because I can do it.

People may see my house and think it is a disaster but I am doing the best I can and you know what, if cycling the laundry through and leaving it unfolded in a basket for the next month is how I do laundry, people are just going to have to get over it.

I vacuumed too.  You can't tell now because while I was doing a morning IV the kids decided they wanted to crumble frosted mini wheat all over the rug.

I washed down the table but only because Lydia spilled the flower vase and Tyler spilled a VERY full glass of milk. 

A Dark Place

I debated sharing this and only do it because maybe it will help someone.  There was a night when I was trying to get a major project done for a macro economics class.  I had to go to work in a few hours.  Carrie looked like she was dying and needed to go to the emergency room.  And did I mention my grandma had just died?  I needed to do it all.  I couldn't give up on my dream.  I couldn't leave my wife.  I had to go to work.  This project needed to get done and I wasn't understanding it and would need to spend several more hours before I did understand it.  I was so tired.  I had slept for about six hours total the previous two days.  I had to hyper focus, I had to compartmentalize.  I had to check the boxes but there were too many boxes.  I needed five minutes to just breathe but I didn't have five minutes.  I didn't have five seconds. 

I panicked.
I could not think.
I could not act.
I was shutting down in body and in mind.
I prayed.
I acted.
I made a decision.
I put my dream on hold.

I will not graduate as early as I had hoped but I will still earn an MBA.  For now all I can handle are Faith, Family and Work and I barely handle that.  It felt like I was giving up, like I was a quitter, like everyone would look at me and think "there's the guy that couldn't handle it just because his wife got sick".  Still I have made my decision.  I will finish school but for now the plan has changed.

Whispers of Thought

I was upstairs trying to sleep on my couch when I got the thought: check on Carrie.  So I did.  She needed me.  She needed my help.  I don't remember with what but that is because this is not a singular experience.  "Check on Carrie" has come into my mind on numerous occasions over the past several days.  Each time there is a reason.  Each time she had needed something.  I tell you that there is a God and he knows what we need.  There is no other explanation for it.

Help Me, Help Me

As I mentioned before, Carrie frequently says "help me, help me".  She's not necessarily talking to me.

Friday night at 7:00 I checked Carrie's phone (btw don't call her, call me).  There was a message from the pharmacist to call by 6pm if we needed more IV supplies.  We did.  It was too late.  The on call nurse called Saturday, I asked for more supplies which got a process rolling.  The pharmacist called me and said they tried to call Friday, now she has to pull in 3 people on a Saturday.  They left a message even.  I explained Carrie doesn't talk on the phone right now, I asked her to call my phone from now on.  The pharmacist asked me about what supplies I needed and as I talked with this woman she softened.  Have you tried this?  This?  This?  She spent half an hour on the phone with me.  That wonderful woman then called our doctor and arranged some changes.  She called and texted several more times.  "I just thought of this, you should try this..."  She was on call and went in to work, spending 4 hours getting Carrie's medicine ready.  She later texted me and wrote, "If she would have called yesterday none of this would have happened in the madness of Friday, so I am glad it worked out, and hope she feels better soon."  It hasn't been very long but already it seems to be helping a little. 

The Divinity Within Us

People have brought meals.  They've watched Lydia, made her feel like a princess, an artist and a super hero.  They've picked Tyler up from school, done homework with him.  There are so many people who have offered to help.  Who have asked for ways they can help, that it is impossible not to see the hand of God in this.  I pray He blesses you wonderful, beautiful people.  You are our angels.

Little Angels

Tyler and Lydia over the last few days have provided me a gift.  Tyler put Mr. Potato heads on a stuffed animal and brought it to me.  He made funny voices and so I scooped him up and snuggled him.  "There, now you can smile again Dada."  He has done this a few more times.  So had Lydia.  Same glasses, different stuffed animal and an incredible amount of love.  This is why we are doing this.

Lift up, With Wings of Eagles

In my moments of desperation I have turned to the Lord again and again.  He truly does hear me.  Not always does he solve the problems before me, sometimes he takes the burden away and sometimes he makes me stronger so I can more easily shoulder the weight.  To have my heart feel light, to feel the surge that it can be done, to have clarity of thought is a great gift that God gives to His children.  I have experienced that lifting up.  Critics of religion call faith a crutch that allows people to hobble through their adversity in life.  They have it wrong.  My faith is a set of wings that allows me to rise up and be better than I can be on my own.

I pray you may feel God's love for you as I have.

Long Answer Short 

Life is a trial, it was meant to be, but we have our family, we have our faith and we are so, so very blessed.