Sometimes life is just scary

Richard was asleep next to me in our bed as I began this post; he’s slept most of the day. I hope with all my heart that it’s healing sleep, because he surely needs that right now. Today has been a really hard day in a string of difficult days, and I hope we’ll get a break of the good sort soon.

When my Mom died peacefully in her sleep at home a week ago Thursday, I felt relief and grace to lighten the grief. And then the worry set back in as Richard began showing signs of confusion of the sort that he had right after his surgery last August to remove his tumor-ridden right temporal lobe. Confusion about sequencing: Do I put the clothes in the dryer first or the washer? Confusion about time—which day it was—and space, which way to turn in the hall to get to my parent’s apartment. Short-term memory issues: Did I take my morning meds already? (We keep a chart for that, fortunately.) All of that is right-temporal lobe stuff, so I wasn’t surprised, but I was worried.

He also complained of a headache, with pain about four and sometimes five on the 0-10 pain scale we learned at the VA Hospital. It was behind his eyes, he said, so we figured it was a sinus infection. The decongestant and ibuprofen seemed to make him feel better, so instead of taking him to the VA Hospital a week ago Friday before we left Denver, I drove us home.

Which seemed to be a good idea. He was better for a few days, and then worse, and then better, and then worse, but on a general and very gradual upward trend through the week. (And when we went to the local VA telemedicine clinic last Tuesday, the nurse confirmed that he did indeed have a sinus infection.)

Still, there have been bad moments every day, when the headache and confusion spiked and I wondered if I should just bundle him in the car and drive over the mountains to Denver to the VA Hospital. No, he said, I’m getting better. And he did seem to be: the daily headaches topped out at three on the pain scale instead of four or five, and there were long periods of two or one or even–yesterday–none at all.

This morning he woke up himself again, no headache, no confusion, completely alert and engaged. It was still early, so he decided to go back to bed and snooze for a bit. I got out breakfast while he slept; and then I did yoga, taking a short break to photograph another one of this winter’s truly exceptional sunrises. (That’s the sunrise in the photo above.) And I cried a bit, relieved that he seemed to finally be better and this nightmare week of not knowing what was happening in his brain seemed to be over.

When he got up, the headache was back, but only a two on the scale. Richard functions pretty well at two, if a mite slowly. Then came two spikes of worse pain, neither lasting long. He had breakfast, helped me catch up on some long delayed housecleaning projects, and then drank his morning green tea with his daily dose of dark chocolate. All seemed well, if not perfect.

At noon, he went down for a nap. When I got him up at two to feed him a late lunch, he was disoriented enough that I began to get seriously worried (again). Before he could finish his lunch, he was ready to go back to bed. When I checked on him at five-thirty, he said his pain was a six. Pain meds cut that to a four, not enough. Which is why I’m finishing this post in the ER of our local hospital, waiting to talk to the doc.

Am I scared? Heck yes. Do I believe Richard will be okay? Yes, but I don’t know what it will take. All I know is I’m here with him for the duration. I may be scared, and I may be digging very deep for the faith that will carry me through, but I know that faith is there and will carry me through, just as I know that even the worst of days bring grace notes like this morning’s sunrise.

I’m with him. Always.

Thank you all for being there with us.