Since February, I’ve been dealing with status migraine. It’s a bitch. I’m not going to sugar coat this one – on top of fibromyalgia, this is one of the hardest illnesses to manage, mainly because like fibromyalgia I have zero control. Zero. It’s constant and painful and it can drive a saint mad.
My second of three recent visits to the ER for my migraines in the past weeks was a horrible ordeal…they put me on a gurney in the brightly lit hallway for hours without pain relief and I quietly sobbed and hid under the thin blanket they gave me and would pray I’d just pass out not to be in pain.
Between my sobs I’d hear an old woman in a room directly across from me. She’d say something inaudible from time to time, and no one was checking on her. I’d peek out from under my sheer blanket and look into her room out of curiosity and see her alone, lights on, stirring in her bed. I wondered where her family was, what was wrong and why no one was helping us.
My dear friend Ty was with me…he was fast asleep in a chair after many hours of being patient and kind. I was lucky to have him there. This poor woman had no one. I wanted to go in there and just hug her, but at the moment I had no energy and ever part of my body hurt.
Gurneys are not soft and I’d been on one for hours. I turned back around toward the wall gingerly, put the blanket back over my head and closed my eyes. I heard her from time to time over the clattering and conversations going on in the hallway. She stayed on my mind.
A few hours later I decided to sit up and move around thinking some movement would relieve my body pain. Ty was awake and I told him about the woman across from me in the room. I mentioned getting her a stuffed animal from the gift shop or something but as those words left my mouth I realized that wasn’t going to do it for me. I got off the gurney and walked into her room.
I introduced myself and said I just wanted to say hello and see how she was doing. She said her name was Marge and she saw how lovely my husband was with me and asked if I’d like to share. (Ty isn’t my husband but he was being a wonderful friend to me.) Marge had a sense of humor! I called out to Ty to come in because I felt he needed to hear that other people see how wonderful he is. He introduced himself and Marge asked him if he’d take care of her too! It was hilarious! Shortly after that, her speech started waning and she started not making much sense and started drifting off to sleep again. I was glad I went in there. We went back to the hallway.
Ty said he was surprised I did what I did. I said I was giving what I wasn’t getting (care wise, not from Ty). He paused and said that makes total sense and it was beautiful.
A few weeks later, I was back in the same hospital for my migraine and to have some work ups done for them.
I was graced with a private room on a Friday and Saturday night and was treated very well. There were only six rooms in the neurologist wing and only three beds were filled – me in one of them. Other than being well, I wanted for nothing, but began to feel very lonely and alone.
In my 3 1/2 day stay, my children reached out briefly (one called, one visited briefly) and no Ty this time. It felt like very different emotional support. No blame, just different.
On Sunday night, it was decided to close the wing and put me and the few other patients in ‘general population’ (lol). I was moved to one room at the end of a hallway by myself for a few hours, then to another room several rooms down, with a roommate. I was concerned about the noise and quality roommate, but I’d been so lucky I didn’t dare complain.
For the first hour or so, I didn’t know who was behind the curtain, closest to the window. A female of course…she was quiet and it sounded like she was sleeping. At one point I thought I heard faintly through the curtain to come on over and say hello, but then I heard sleeping noises again and I thought whomever it was had a great dream. A few hours later, a nurse’s aide came in to her side and said, “Marge! How are you feeling?”
That’s right. The very lady I was pulled to talk to and asked Ty to meet. Marge. She was right next to me.
I hadn’t caught more than two hours sleep in a row since that Friday, but that night , I listened over in Marge’s ‘room’ through the curtain and gave what I didn’t get…again.
When the nurse came in and asked how she was doing, I let her know how light or heavy she slept and for how long. When alarms went off and Marge couldn’t or didn’t know how to let the nurse know, I did. When an aide treated her so well with a bed bath with dignity and respect, I pulled her aside and personally thanked her and told her how much that means to people like me who will be old not too long from now.
That night I was NOT alone. That night I was a daughter. I was a daughter of a power higher than myself and Marge’s daughter, even if she or I didn’t know it. I was a daughter to life and a daughter of learning.
I was not alone. I had it all wrong.