Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Black Parade

I swear I'm not a crazy hypochondriac or anything, but I did grow up Jewish, and as a result, tend to think I'm dying more than the average person might. It wasn't my Jewish over-the-top tendencies that sent me to the hospital last Saturday in the middle of the night, though. It wasn't even the chest pains that were bad enough to wake me up at 4:30 in the morning that did it, nor was it the pain bouncing around between my shoulder blades. The thing that finally made me get out of my bed, stop reading about heart attack symptoms on my phone, and drive myself to the hospital was how tired I'd been feeling. All three of the websites that I looked at mentioned extreme fatigue as one of the signs of a heart attack, and the last one I was on actually had stories told by female heart attack survivors, the majority of which mentioned that they'd felt more tired than they'd ever felt in their lives in the days leading up to their attacks.

It was the fatigue thing--on Thursday my coworker Shaaron said she'd never seen me look so tired in all my life and on Friday my sister said I looked so tired that my eyes were drooping downward--  coupled with my thirty-eight-year-old friend, Laurie, dying from a heart attack alone in her room in the middle of the night last month tripled with (tripled with; is that a thing?) the fear that if I died Griffin and Keifer would no longer have a mother, that made me brush my teeth, put on some sunscreen, and get out of the house. All I kept thinking was that, yes, a trip to the hospital and the copay that went along with it would sure suck, but how much more would it suck if I died because I was too lazy to go? Better to be safe, right?

Yeah. No.

Maybe you know this, but it sure was news to me: when someone goes to the hospital with chest pains, that someone is stuck at the hospital for just about a day. Yes, that's right; I said a day. And, no, that's not a daytime, as in sunrise to sunset or sundown to sunup; that's an entire twenty-four period. Twenty-four hours! Twenty-four!

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that when the doctor told me I'd be there for just about a day, I told him no. I told him that no matter what, as long as I wasn't dying, I'd have to leave by 4. The doctor said okay. He agreed. He said fine. He and I? We had a deal.

So I signed myself into the hospital, and immediately the poking began. Blood got drawn from the crook of my left arm, but thanks to my less-than-participatory veins, was flowing too slowly and had to be drawn from somewhere else. The nurse needled my other arm, and the blood flowed--five tubes worth, to be exact. Then, instead of extracting the needle from my skin like I expected, he left it in and connected an IV tube. Of course I wasn't thrilled about the IV development, but I'd already been stuck, so what was the difference? Anything potentially problematic had already passed, right?

Yeah. Wrong.

About an hour or so later, I needed to get a CAT scan, a test completely new to me. In case it's new to you, too, let me tell you how it works: the person being scanned (me) lies on a bed and is partially pushed through something round. The person on the bed who's been partially pushed through something round (me) is injected with iodine via the IV, lifts her arm (mine), something electronic happens, and the test is over. Simple, right?


Let me tell you something. I lifted my arm. There was blood. And I'm not talking a little bit of blood, here, I'm talking a bloodbath. Yes, a bloodbath. Down my arm, on my hospital gown, on my sheets, all over the floor. As far as the eye could see, blood. My blood. It didn't hurt, but still...not exactly pleasant, you know?

So the CAT scan tech called in a nurse, the nurse (who was on the side of cute and there I was bathing in my own blood. Yay) fixed my IV, kinda sorta wiped my arm and neck down, and went on his way. The CAT scan tech said it was time to do this again, rolled me into the little circle, told me to lift my arm, and guess what happened. (Can you guess? I'll bet you can.) Bloodbath. Second time.

By now, it was around 8 in the morning, but since I was in the emergency room and there were no windows, it felt like the middle of the night. Since I woke up at 4:30, I decided to try to get some sleep, which you'd think wouldn't be so difficult lying down in the semi-dark, totally exhausted, and it might not have been, if not for the child screaming no no no no no no no no no no no at the top of his lungs and the person of undetermined sex retching violently off and on. After about two hours of drifting in and out, I finally gave up. It's a damn good thing I brought a book, I thought to myself. How else would the next six hours pass?

Let's fast forward to around noon. I haven't mentioned this, but my phone battery was nearly on red, and so my communication with the outside world was limited. Since I didn't know how long my phone would last, at about 5:30 I sent Glenn a text telling him what was going on and Griffin a message on Facebook doing the same. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal not being able to further communicate with people on the outside because what else was there to say? I'd do my as promised until-4:00 stint, go home, and all would be fine. Right? (I know you know what I'm about to say.)


So at about noon, the nurse came in and asked me if I'd like some lunch. About half an hour later, she brought me what vegetarian food she could muster up and left. I was enjoying this seriously delicious creamy onion soup when she came back to draw blood. I mentioned the doctor telling me I could leave at 4:00, and you know the sound that happens in movies when everything comes to a screeching halt, maybe like a needle being pulled across a record? Imagine that. Because according to her, I wasn't going anywhere.

According to her, my sentence could not be reduced. The doctor would get to me when she got to me, but she probably wouldn't be down until about 6 or 7, and even then, who knows? Chest pain patients are there for twenty-four hours, and the doctor who admitted me never should have told me something else.

As soon as these words came out of her mouth, I started to panic. Two months prior to this little incident, I bought Wicked tickets for me and Keifer at his behest, and when the fuck do you think that show happened to be? Naturally, at 7:30 that night. Now, Wicked tickets might not seem like that big a deal to you, but you seriously have no idea what's been going on in my house, and the thought of letting Keifer down when he was as excited as he was about going was horrific.

With what was left of the power on my phone, I called my mom, crying, gave her my insurance info, and asked her to call and see what would happen if I left against medical advice. She called me back not long after and said what I'd feared: insurance wouldn't pay for anything. Not a cent.

I knew at this point that my hospital bill had to be in the ten thousands: CAT scan, chest x-ray, EKG, three heart enzyme blood tests, nitrous oxide, lunch. Leaving wasn't an option. With what was now left of the power on my phone, I called my sister to see if she could take Keifer to the show if I couldn't get out. Wouldn't you know it? She had to work. Because of the goings-on in this house, I knew I couldn't ask Glenn. I felt like I was fucked. And so was Keifer.

Right after Heather and I hung up, Glenn text me, asking if he should tell the kids where I was. I told him I'd already sent Griffin a message on Facebook and told him to tell his brother, and he immediately wrote back telling me next time just to send Griffin a message and not bother him, especially at 5 in the morning. In case you're wondering if that's the type of message one would like to get while trapped in the hospital after checking herself in for chest pains, let me tell you right now: it's not. I picked up my phone to text him back. Mid-message, it died.

So there I was, imprisoned in a hospital bed in a room with no windows, covered in dried blood with an already darkening bruise on the inside of my left arm, listening to people scream and gag, unable to communicate with the outside world, a son already in the midst of emotional turmoil at home about to be pushed into even more, and $130 worth of Wicked tickets ready to go into the garbage can. What's a woman in this situation to do? Why, get into a fetal position and sob loudly and uncontrollably until she can't breathe and the doctor finally comes in to see what the hell is going on.

The doctor was actually very nice. I explained my situation to her--bad divorce, son not taking it well, Wicked tickets, sure nothing was really wrong with me but a tremendous amount of stress--did I mention I was going through an awful divorce and the kids weren't taking it well and on top of that I teach six classes and sponsor two clubs?--panicked because my friend just died and I was afraid of what would happen to my kids, but really there was nothing wrong with me, I work out all the time, I even run 5Ks, just ran one last weekend, in fact, see? I'm fine. Everything is fine, please, please, please just let me out of here so I can see Wicked with my poor, about-to-be fatherless son.

Like I said, the doctor was very nice. She listened to me, she sympathized with me, she said I need to talk to someone about everything going on in my life, and because I'm a runner, she let me go home!

I've never been so happy to be a runner in all of my life.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Like Violence

I guess now that it's been three months, it's safe to publicly say that Glenn and I are separated. I've avoided doing it not only because I didn't know what was going to happen, but also because my blogging about our personal life is something that's come up in the past, and I didn't want to do anything to further damage our relationship, already so horribly broken. 

I'm not exactly what I (or anybody) would call an optimist or anything, but in all honesty, I've been hoping (and kind of thinking) our situation would change. I'd sit and listen to Angels and Airwaves and Blink-182, sit and really listen to the lyrics, to what in my mind is the story of Tom DeLonge and his wife, lyrics like

I'm not the one to admit it's helpless
I have a sense that we will be all right


I know that I can't tell you my mind is running circles.
My eyes have begun to swirl, like death, but it's not as sterile.
I ain't gonna' let you down. I ain't gonna' let you leave me.

and most of all

Nineteen as we roll across the bedroom floor
Your eyes they came alight as you’re dreaming of our future home
And the kids are growing up as you and I we are growing old
What a crazy world, pretty little girl

In the rain with a drink from the back of the bar
I’m raising my voice, you raise it up more
We forget that our lives have been apart it is hard
We thought we are close but it still feels far
And we learn to get by if we learn to have scars
We learn to forgive and accept who we are

You said if you break my heart then I’ll change your mind
And I’ll do it again
If you play the part then I will play mine
And I’ll do it again
If we miss the mark if we hold on tight
We’ll be there to do it again

and I'd think to myself that these songs aren't just Tom and his wife's--God, they're not even Tom and his wife's!--they're mine and Glenn's. They're us. This story, told over so many years and so many albums, is our story, our life. And they'd give me hope. If they could do it, we could do it. If they could accept, we could, too. After all, the question of whether or not Glenn and I love each other was never a question in my mind, and if we had love,
we could live
--despite the scars.

We could change things; I was sure of it.

I was wrong.

It's become pretty evident that the only change my marriage is undergoing is the opposite of the kind I wanted. This time, wonderful people who take the time to read my blog, I think I wouldn't be going too far out on a limb in declaring my marriage over. And it really, really--I mean, really--sucks.

Why am I writing this now? Why, after three months of nothing, have I finally decided to share?

Well, I guess this speaks an awful lot to what's come to be significant in 2013, but since Veterans Day weekend, when we separated, lots of things--things that I won't go into out of respect for Glenn--have been difficult, but I just did one of the most difficult things of all: I unfriended Glenn on Facebook.

I don't know why that's such a big deal, but it is. No, that's not true; I actually do.

With the click of my mouse, I just effectively took our once-intertwined lives and separated them
-a little