I got up very early on a Saturday morning. I let my dog out in the front yard, felt very dizzy, and proceeded to collapse in the front yard. In stood back up, wobbled to the house, and proceeded for vomit for the next twenty four hours. I assumed I had the flu.
My symptoms got worse throughout the day, to the point where Chiara and her newly minted driver's permit had to drive me to urgent care. "You've got vertigo. It should only last a few days, but there's nothing to worry about. But you can't get dehydrated. If the vomiting persists, get yourself to the ER." Ok, I can handle that. But what the heck is vertigo? I had only heard of it as the title of a popular Hitchcock movie.
noun:a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness.
Or, another of explaining is like having severe bed spins without the drinking that caused it. And giddiness? Yeah, there was nothing giddy about this.
I stayed in bed with my eyes closed, knowing that every time I opened them, the room would spin and I would have my head in a bucket again. My kids begged me to go to the hospital, and I fought them. It was now Saturday night; I didn't want to be sick in a local hospital surrounded by gun shot wounds and drunks with my kids. So I stayed in bed. I didn't make it through the night.
I asked the kids calmly to pack some snacks, some school work, and let the dog out. Then to call for the ambulance. They couldn't get the gurney through my bedroom door, so they strapped me into a wheelchair. In that sixty seconds it took to get to the flashing rig in my driveway, I remember joking with the kids between vomiting. They looked scared, and I wanted to assure them I'd be ok.
We checked in, and Chiara started texting everyone with the news. My mom. My friends. Her friends. Gia was documenting the emergency room on Snapchat. I began to get stressed out, in addition to sick. I am not very good at asking for help. To have someone else asking for help on my behalf almost put me over the edge.
Within an hour of arrival, things started happening. Tests were run, and IVs and medication were administered. The doctor suggested I had a fairly severe case of vertigo, as I wasn't responding to the medicine. She ordered an EKG, a CAT scan and an MRI. One concern was given my headache history paired with consistent vertigo (apparently it typically isn't constant - it comes and goes), there was concern I might have had a stroke. Hearing that, I began to worry.
One of my dearest friends showed up to take the kids and look after them. Her husband came later and sat with me while I got the MRI. Another friend offered to take the girls overnight and bring them to school the next day. Yet another special friend came to the hospital that night to sit with me until I was released. He filled my prescriptions, and tucked me into bed. And then I was alone again.
Here's what I learned in October. I've always had a hard time asking for help. It's not that I think it's a weak thing to do; it's that I never want to be a burden to people. "My people" all had other stuff going on that weekend that got altered because I was in need. I didn't want my parents worrying, or my friends interrupting their lives. And yet, if there was ever a time to do that, now was the time. And they were there for us. Just as I know I would be for them.
It is hard to be by myself sometimes. Had I still been married, I would have had my husband to rely on while I tended to my illness. And yet, that's not my reality anymore. When things go wrong, I have to ask for help. I am now grateful Chiara reached out to a broad group. Everyone she spoke to was happy to pitch in; and that allowed me to focus on getting better and not worry about how my kids would eat.
October was an incredibly humbling month. While I had started the month focused on something completely different for my "learning for the month," the biggest education came in the dramatic form of a trip to the hospital, and the days spent in bed afterwards recovering. I needed my friends, and I needed my team at work to get through it. They were happy to help. And I was blessed to have them all to rely on.
Sometimes, I supposed we need to be humbled into learning. I wish my journey to that conclusion hadn't come in the form of such pain, but I am truly grateful for it - and to everyone who helped us.