On December 31, 2019, I woke feeling as though an exhausted person with no desire, nor enthusiam for life, had crept into my body and mind and taken over - with no warning.
I managed to get myself to a doctor's office where I couldn't even manage to sit and wait to be seen. Feeling I was about to pass out after sitting for a couple of minutes, I dragged myself to the counter and asked if there was somewhere I could lie down. Of course, it was a clinic - not an emergency room - so they were not prepared for something serious.
After a few minutes had passed, I was diagnosed, from across the room, as having Influenza. I was prescribed anti-viral medication which gave me a ray of hope that I might feel better in a few days. After all, the reputation of that medication was that people who took it tended to feel better a day or two earlier than those who didn't take it. I surely hoped so, especially being on family vacation and having planned to do things with my family.
Well, that speedier recovery didn't turn out to be the case. The first day saw me getting out of bed intermittently, barely able to drink anything nor hold it in my stomach. I was feverish and slept off and on throughout the day. I forced myself to get out of bed to help gather the luggage so it could be packed into the minivan. Even then, I would get up for a minute or two, then lie back down for another while, then start all over again.
Not being one to throw money away, I had prepaid a hotel reservation for two nights at a hotel in Regina. I didn't want to lose the nearly $300 I had paid a couple of months earlier. When I booked the hotel stay, being that it was half way through my trip, I figured: what can go wrong? Weather conditions in the Arctic wouldn't delay my departure to the city by a week. Little did I know an unexpected monster would creep up and threaten every plan I had made.
We managed to get to Regina but my daughter, who had never driven on a highway, did half of the driving from Winnipeg, then half of the driving back. Sometimes I would have a little energy but the get up and go attitude I usually possessed had vanished. Instead of me waiting for the kids to get ready, they were waiting for me to get out of bed. So many hours were spent in that hotel room whereas, when I had planned the trip, I expected to have an early start so we could pack as much into a day as possible.
The moment we got back into Winnipeg and arrived at the hotel, I told the front desk clerk I needed to get to a hospital - that I needed to get there right away - then slumped into a chair. I was aware of everything going on around me but didn't have the energy to respond to much at all. Then came the waiting in the emergency room.
Hours later, it was determined that I had some fluid in both lungs. An ultrasound of my heart and lungs could not determine where the fluid was coming from. I was given a four day course of antibiotics and, afterward, sent home.
Getting the car rental to the airport the next day was interesting. I was told I shouldn't let anyone bring the vehicle for me since I was the only driver registered to use it during my rental period. I told the agent - gasp - that I was afraid to drive, afraid I might get into an accident - words I never thought would cross my lips because I would take any opportunity I reasonably could to drive. It wasn't too long afterward when I was awakened from a nap by my daughter and her boyfriend, telling me to get up, that we had to get the car back. Sad to admit but they had to wheel me out of the room and through a side entrance on a luggage cart; there was no way I could bear my weight.
That night, I ended up back in the emergency room, this time having gone by ambulance. The wait was almost as long as the previous night but, this time, I was lying down which enabled me to rest as much as a person could in a brightly lit hallway with people constantly talking or walking beside me.
I insisted on having an IV to get some fluids into me. I was given three bags of fluid and left the hospital feeling more alive than I had in days, but it didn't last more than a few minutes. I still had a hotel room to pack up for an early flight the next morning. I could barely do it. A lot of the stuff I needed, I shoved haphazardly into a suitcase, then rested for a while before getting up again. What a nightmare!
Not everything we had brought into the hotel room came out with us. Somehow, I managed to push one luggage cart to the lobby. I told the agent I did not want to check out of my room, that I would call and let them know because I feared I would not be able to get on the plane. Well, after I had miraculously gotten through security, I stretched out across a few seats. I tried calling the hotel but there was no answer. A second time I was put on hold. By that time I had to board the plane so I hung up.
I called the hotel early that evening and said I had made it home. The next morning a charge for an additional night showed up on my credit card. As it turned out, the housekeeper looked into the room and saw stuff we had left behind and reported that we had not vacated the room, thus the additional charge.
I arrived home on January 5th and was supposed to return to work January 10th; it wasn't to happen. Whatever I had been plagued with wasn't leaving me alone. The only good thing was I was home, that I could rest without having to worry about travelling. Still, as one hour rolled into another and one day into the next, the fever and occasional nausea would return. Thoughts would drift through my head that I was going to die, that as many dreams as I had fulfilled, there were as many more than I hadn't. How would my kids survive without me? Would my grandkids remember me as the years rolled by or would I become a blur, a whisper of a distant memory?
I had used five sick days from work by the time I was able to return. It felt good to feel like a human being again - and I haven't stopped from that day to this. I still remember what I felt like back then, the desperation I felt to get back to normal, the fear that I would not survive the ordeal.
My family and I relocated only six weeks after I recovered and that was an ordeal, in and of itself. There are a few challenges we face in our new home, too, but I feel happy to have advanced in my career, for new friends I've found, for the blessing of being surrounded by mountains and ice/water. I am thankful for new travel opportunities to come after the world settles down. Though I won't see my oldest daughter and her two kids as often as I would like, I am making new discoveries each day about my youngest granddaughter who still lives with me. She's an adventurous soul and amazes me in some way almost every day.
It has been a long journey - a long mountain to climb - over the past five and a half months but it feels wonderful to have come out on the other side. I can definitely feel the promise that tomorrow holds once again as I look back over the valley where it seemed all I could do was persevere. I look forward to more reading, and sharing those books with you here. I also look forward to more writing when life slows down a little.
Hang in there! I have no idea where you've been, what you've been through, nor where you're going. You may have been on top of the world, then it came crashing down in some way. I don't need to know the details. All that's important is that you persevere. Take things one breath, one minute, one hour or one day at a time. I did it; you can do it, too.
Norma Budden is an avid reader who enjoys sharing her thoughts about the stories she enjoys most right here at Budden Book Reviews.
However, she is also a Canadian author who makes her home in Arctic Canada. To take a look at her books, please visit her website at www.normasbooks.com.
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