Sunday, August 23, 2020

August 23rd, 2020 Emotional Rollercoaster

August 23rd, 2020 Emotional Rollercoaster

Since our last edition: I've maintained the integrity of my food plan boundaries, I've remained refined sugar-free, I've met or exceeded my daily water goal, and I've also stayed well connected with exceptional support.

The nursing home called at 10pm Thursday night. Mom's respiratory distress and UTI had become bad enough to send her to the hospital ER. I arrived at the hospital not knowing what to expect. I was screened, masked up, sanitized---and allowed to go into mom's triage room.

I haven't been able to be within six feet of mom or touch her in any way since early March. Walking into her triage room, I realized, the restrictions obviously weren't in place here--and so, I did what any loving son would do, I kissed her forehead through the mask and I rubbed her hand. This nudged her awake and immediately into the biggest smile ever. With confusion created by the UTI, mom wasn't quite sure why she was in the ER, so I explained it to her and we visited in between mom's intermittent slumber. Just sitting beside her, rubbing her hand, was a wonderful thing.

The ER was very busy Thursday night into Friday morning. Mom was hooked up to vitals and stable, so naturally, she was lower on the priority list. It was just fine. It gave us extra time to enjoy one another's company. With mom sleeping, I eventually decided to go home, try to get some sleep--with the plan being to return first thing in the morning, or--in a few hours, as it were.

After a very short two hours, I made arrangements for a colleague to fill in for me on my show. I did my morning foundational routine, enjoyed my coffee, and headed back to the hospital. Not much had changed except the decision had been made to admit her to the hospital in an effort to help speed the process of clearing up the UTI and the severe effects it tends to create.

I'm not certain mom even knew I left, she didn't mention it--she was pretty out of it. As the nursing staff waited for the hospitalist to assign her a regular room, they came in to tell us mom needed a COVID-19 test before admission to her room. I asked if it was a rapid test--and indeed it was. Just then, mom needed to use the restroom--and that required help from this ER bed where she was connected to the things you're connected to in the ER. I offered to step out during this time. In the lobby, I was informed I couldn't hang around there and needed to go outside or to my car. I did go to the car where I connected with several support friends.

The rapid test was administered around 8am. I was told the results would take about 30 minutes. back in her room--and at almost 9am, we hadn't heard anything. Mom and I were visiting about random things when suddenly she remembered the test and asked me how long it would take. I told mom it should be done already and that I would go check and be right back to let her know.

The nurse at the desk checked and the results weren't showing on her computer screen. She called the lab directly for the results. When she hung up, I knew it wasn't good. "Who are you? Are you next of kin?" Oh boy, when they use the phrase "next of kin" you know it isn't going to be good.

"The test was positive. You've been exposed. You're not allowed to go back in her room. You need to go home immediately and quarantine for ten days."

I follow the rules, ya know? I do. I wear a mask, I follow the guidelines--but I can't go back in her room to say goodbye? I confirmed what she was saying to me: "You mean, I can't go back in there and at least say goodbye? I have to leave right this second? I can't do that. I just told her I'd be right back. I can't just not go back in there." The look on my face and the tone of my voice made it very clear, I was going back in there to tell her about the test and to comfort her before leaving the hospital. The nurse said, "okay, do what you need to do. Make it quick"

Mom has spent the last five months watching coverage of this virus on TV. One of her worst fears and mine was that she'd get it and here we are with a positive test.

Mom was wide awake. "What did they say?"

"Now mom, you're going to be okay." Right then mom's bottom lip started quivering. My heart started to break--and then I just said it. "Mom, your test was positive." Her reaction was immediate and dramatic, as you would expect. She went into uncontrollable sobbing--and at that point, it was to hell with staying six feet away from her. I wasn't making this quick. I rubbed her hand and kissed her forehead through the mask. I spoke softly with words of comfort and reassuring as tears streamed down my cheeks. "You're going to make it through this, momma." She cried and I just stood there silent, gently rubbing her hand. "They tell me I have to go home and quarantine. I can't visit you while you're here but we'll talk on the phone, okay?" I must have been in there twenty minutes--but the nursing staff didn't interrupt. As soon as mom calmed, I promised her she was going to be okay (even though I wasn't sure if that was true or not), and made my way out into the parking lot.

I got to the car and started praying. Then, I reached out to friends, family, colleagues--everyone. I spent a good hour in that parking lot, in my car, alone--but surrounded by the amazing support from so many people. I needed that support. Staying connected helps keep me well.

As a compulsive overeater/food addict in recovery one day at a time, it is circumstances like these when I have a monumental choice to make: I can lean into this daily practice of things or I can fall into the abyss of my disease. Just for those emotional moments, I leaned into my daily practice and the most beautiful support was there to help hold me up.

I kept thinking, I hope I didn't just lie to my momma when I told her she was going to make it through this.

I wasn't home two hours before the health department called for contact tracing. I was asked to quarantine for fourteen days, not ten like the hospital suggested. The plan was for me to be tested after 7 days or sooner if I started developing symptoms.

I made arrangements and plans to do my job 100% from home. I'm fortunate to now have the capability of broadcasting straight from my spare bedroom if needed. Now, it's needed.

I spoke to mom on the phone a little after 11am. She was settled into her room and sounded calm but scared. The health department informed me how mom would be tested again, this time with the PCR test, just to confirm the original result. The results of that test would take 24-48 hours.

I tried to keep conversations with mom very brief during the first 24 hours in her room. She gets winded fast if she's talking for too much longer than 5 minutes or so. But last night, when she opened the conversation with, "Son, I'm so scared," we settled in for a nice long, soft conversation about faith, hope, and the road ahead. It did her good and it did me good, too.

The prayers generated by the Facebook post I shared about mom's situation were absolutely beautiful and overflowing. If you were one of those beautiful people, thank you.

When I called the nurse today to get an update on how she was doing, I was hoping for a repeat of the report I received on Saturday; she was actually showing signs of improvement. Her vitals were good, her labs were looking better--and today's report was very similar. Then the nurse said, "the doctor has ordered another PCR test." I thought that was strange. She just had one and we were awaiting those results. She didn't see the results. It was confusing, so she offered to call me back upon clarification.

In the meantime, I spoke with mom again and told her how the nurse said she was improving instead of getting worse. Then the nurse called me back. I hung up with mom to take the call.

"Your mom's PCR test was negative. That's why they've ordered another PCR test to confirm." "Wait, what??? Really??? You mean the rapid test may have been a false positive??"  "That's right."

Wow. wow. wow. wow. Okay, that's the best news ever. Prayers answered!

Calling mom back to give her this wonderful news was so much fun. Her voice perked up and you could hear her smile and her relief over the phone.

The rapid test must be refined and made more reliable. For someone as vulnerable as my mom, to receive a positive COVID-19 test result feels like a death sentence--a false positive is like saying, oh sorry, Jk'ing, you're fine. Witnessing mom's reaction to the news of her positive test was easily the most heartbreaking thing I've ever experienced. But...

I'm immensely grateful. One more negative from this latest PCR test and mom is in the same situation she's been in many times before: Recovering from a horrible UTI. And she will be okay. She's already showing wonderful signs of improvement.

What a rollercoaster of emotions.

I've made my daily practice of intentional actions very important this weekend. I've stayed connected and by the grace of God, stayed food sober.

Three different colleagues have dropped things off at my door. Dinner on Saturday night, black pepper, and my grocery order--all delivered to my doorstep as I quarantine. I'm grateful!

I will call the health department tomorrow and find out if it's necessary for me to continue this quarantine. I don't think I have any real symptoms--although my brain has created some mild ones, I'm pretty sure. They may ask me to get a test early--and wait for the all-clear, or they may ask me to wait until the 28th. I don't know. I'll find out when I speak to the case manager.

In the meantime, this entire experience has reaffirmed spiritual, mental, and emotional things for me. It showed me the very real power of connections and how these help keep me well.

I've written and spoken about maintaining the fundamental elements of this daily practice "come what may" many many times. But trust, it isn't personal strength or willpower that makes that possible. I Can't rely on those things because I have very little of each. But I do have this practice of intentional actions each day and they help keep me okay. I hope and pray I never forget to lean into these things because if I ever lean away, I may not ever make it back. That's the truth.

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Practice, peace, and calm,


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