Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Checking Priorities

On Monday Jason called me at work to inform me that he was feeling dizzy and had “tunnel vision.” Since my only (young) dependent is a vocal but non-verbal dog, I’m pretty much clueless when it comes to interpreting such statements. Was he looking for my blessing in a bid to leave work early for a marathon Xbox session on the couch? Did he simply stand up too quickly? Did he eat some bad cheese? What do I tell him?

I decided that honesty was the best approach. “I don’t know what to tell you, hon.” I was stumped. “Put your head on your desk and close your eyes for a minute?”

I had an elementary school teacher who suggested that for almost every malady, so I thought that was a good place to start.

I instructed him to call me if he got worse. We hung up and I returned to whatever task I had been engaged in earlier, thinking this was a false alarm. In fact, he called back to tell me he’d gone for a walk and was feeling much better. So I was surprised when I received a call from his boss an hour later from the emergency room.

Apparently, the dizziness and kaleidoscope / tunnel vision had developed a new twist: numbness below the left elbow. (Although I wouldn’t know this until I arrived at the ER.)

As soon as Jason’s boss called, I assumed the worst. My mother lost an early boyfriend to one … my best friend recently lost her mother to one … and a friend’s brother was just diagnosed with one. So of course it had to be a brain tumor. A quick Google search (I know, I know) of “tunnel vision symptom” only bolstered my initial diagnosis.

And suddenly it was as if I’d put on the wrong glasses, getting a glimpse into what life might be like if my fears were confirmed. I couldn’t believe I had ever been so concerned about petty things like proper dish-washing and stacking technique, whose turn it was to take the dog out, toilet seats left in the upright position, etcetera ad nauseum. I wanted to be back in the world of such issues immediately. I wanted no part of the world of terminal illness and early loss of a spouse. I wanted to gripe good-naturedly about work, waffle over whether or not to have children, and find food delicious and irony amusing. I wanted my husband to never feel pain physically or emotionally. I wanted to stop focusing on what I wanted and be the person Jason needed. If it came to that.

How do widows and widowers carry on? How is it even possible? I didn’t want to know. The first four stages of grief cycled through me on the drive to the hospital—especially bargaining. I don’t really “talk” to God, as I’m not sure she exists. And if God did exist, why would he give a rat’s ass about my petty problems? There are entire families being murdered in Darfur. There is tragedy out there on a scale I can’t even comprehend—much of which is affecting more pious individuals.

But you can bet I was making all kinds of bargains with God on my way to the hospital. I used the word "Please" alot, as if excessive politeness would bump me up in a long line of prayers awaiting answers.

I arrived at the ER and promptly got lost in a maze of corridors. A kind nurse eventually led me to Jason’s room; he was reclined on a gurney, his chest pasted with EKG disks and wires. He looked exhausted. The sight of him in so vulnerable a position broke my heart. (Also, his boss was still sitting with him; is that a great employer or what?)

The prognosis? The EKG was normal—no heart attack. Brain scans revealed nothing—no masses, no bleeds, only a clear picture of the organ responsible for running the goofy man I love.

A very nice doctor with one hell of a lazy eye told us Jason’s symptoms stemmed from a certain kind of migraine, which can affect vision and even lead to bilateral numbness and paralysis. Then a male nurse came in to wrap things up, first racing to the heart monitor and shouting, “Oh my god! … Just kidding.”

J needs to make an appointment with a neurologist to make sure his mind is only as warped as it was last week, but it looks like he’ll be fine.

I was so relieved to walk out of that hospital with my husband. Odds are we’ll be back, sooner or later. It’s all part of being human. But I’m certainly hoping for “much later.”

38 comments:

  1. "As one who is also the bread-winner of the family, I know I will be returning to work shortly after my own future children are born (if I have any). So I could SOOO relate to this post! It's good to know things will work out in the end."

    Don't remove the idea of staying home when you procreate. This is serious stuff.

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  2. My vote is for much, MUCH later. Watch out for bad cheese anyway. You are in Wisconsin, after all.

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  3. I'm glad to hear your hubby is ok.

    I think putting your head on your desk should be the first response for everything!

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  4. Oh, God, I was with you every word of the way! Thank Her for the blessing, Jess, and I hope Jason doesn't experience a scare like that ever again. These are the times when those gray hairs appear...

    Love your honesty and, as always, your humor in this post!

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  5. I'm so glad that things ended well! After my whole big Nearly Dying thing last year, I'd wake up in the middle of the night to my husband staring at me. Boy, that was creepy.

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  6. Nothing like a possibly life altering situation to start your week off right. Sheesh. I'm so glad he's OK!

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  7. Thank. God.

    You had me really scared for a moment there, lady.

    So glad he's all right!

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  8. Thank God he's okay! Your post was heart wrenching; I can't even imagine what that day must have been like. I hope he is feeling better, and I am SO glad to hear that your pleas and pleases were heard!

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  9. Oh geez, so glad he's okay. Funny enough, (or not funny really) after dealing with migraines the last two days it was the first thing I thought of.

    Good reminder of what's important in life, thank you for this. Make sure to report back with all the myriad good news when you get it.

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  10. Scary stuff. When we closed on our current home, I had an "opthalmic" migraine- flashes of silver light- I seriously thought I was having a stroke. Stress plus exhaustion= strange migraine.
    Glad he's ok!

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  11. Scary stuff. When we closed on our current home, I had an "opthalmic" migraine- flashes of silver light- I seriously thought I was having a stroke. Stress plus exhaustion= strange migraine.
    Glad he's ok!

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  12. Holy Shit. I'm glad he's OK. You might want to tell him to lay off the XBOX for a while though.

    A great migraine med, God forbid he needs one, is MAXOLT MLT (they melt in your mouth, not in your hands!)

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  13. Wow. Now that would certainly shake my day up. I'm glad to hear he's okay. I hope it stays that way for you both. :)

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  14. Whew. I feel you Jess. As much as I try not to think about this stuff, it sneaks into my mind all the time. Especially now that we're having a child. Every time Jeff gets on a plane...
    I'm glad that everything seems to be allright and I totally understand where you're coming from.

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  15. Thank goodness it's just from a migrane. I think that would scare the any spouse!

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  16. I had something like this once. It was an allergic reaction, though. But it was scary for an hour or so. Glad things turned out okay.

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  17. about a year ago I had to take my hubby to the hospital because he was having pains in his chest. (he's ok, they kept him overnight for observation...luckily it wasn't anything serious)

    There's nothing like seeing the one you love in a situation like that to put everything in perspective.

    glad your hubby's ok!

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  18. I can't even read the initials ER without obsessing about it all day. It is the worst. Glad J is okay.

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  19. whew....

    glad he's OK!

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  20. Sweet...funny...thoughtful post. Humor makes good medicine, but how scary that all must have been at the time!

    Glad to know I'm not the only obsessive googler of symptoms. :-)

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  21. Yikes, Jess! Thank goodness everything turned out OK. It's all very scary stuff, but when it turns out well, it's a blessing in more ways than one.

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  22. I'm sorry you had such a scare; that sounds like no fun at all, for you or for Jason!

    And thank goodness that your initial diagnosis was a misdiagnosis.

    Cancer always comes to my mind first, too. Because everything else is better, so if you're thinking cancer, either you're prepared, or you're pleasantly surprised when it's a migraine. I don't like the unexpected, especially when it's bad and unexpected.

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  23. What a relief. My first thought was "stroke" - not exactly comforting either.

    A little perspective now and then is helpful. I'm glad you both are just fine.

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  24. Eileen8:53 PM

    Puts life into perspective doesn't it? I'm glad he's okay and you didn't have to bargain away anything.

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  25. So glad he's OK! How scary for you.

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  26. That would be scary. And I agree, "head on desk" is a good thing. That's why when I teach, I employ it... of course if there is no visible limbs missing...

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  27. I get that kind of migraine, too...so my first thought with the tunnel vision was...migraine...did he barf? I don't have a lot of pain, but boy, computer screens, movie screens, TV screens, any of that makes it much much worse, and I barf. Blech.

    I hope he's all better.

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  28. I'm a little late on this one, but still happy to hear things are okay with your husband. Having personally had a scary experience last year, I know it wasn't easy for my wife. Let's hope later for sure.

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  29. Thanks goodness...

    It's so true, Jess. There's really barely a thing in this constructed reality of ours that truly matters. And it can all change in a heartbeat, literally.

    I'm so glad that Jason is okay.

    And the "one hell of a lazy eye"? Thanks for the reprieve, made me laugh out loud.

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  30. I have two male friends who have had passing out episodes here recently. Heart and health check out fine. It's kind of mysterious. So glad your man is fine. Take care! It is a scary world to imagine life without them.

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  31. Oh my God! What a scare! I also vote for much later. Much, much later. I'm really glad he's okay.

    (oh yeah, and? for some reason your site stopped showing up in my bloglines. Whadup wit that, yo? I fixed that mistake, however, and now all is right with the world.)

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  32. I'm glad he's okay, Jess, and I hope by now he's feeling much better. It doesn't take much to make you realize that all of those annoying things they do are actually kind of endearing, and that you'd miss them if they were gone...

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  33. Jess, I am very happy he is ok. What did you promise God you would do if he kept his side of the bargain (as it would appear he has)?

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  34. surcie8:50 PM

    Whew! I'm so glad he's okay.

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  35. Ah, the migraine - those little PIAs.

    Glad to know that all's much better than you feared it would be. This is good news, for sure.

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  36. Glad everything turned out well. It can be scary when you go through all the possibilities in your head. You can actually make yourself get sick worrying about it.

    Take care of him and let him leave the toilet seat up once or twice.

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  37. If I was him, I'd try to get some oral sex out of the deal.

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