Saturday, February 8, 2014

Paralyzing Fear

I find myself again, awake.  My mind whirls.  Visiting the "worst case" place.  Somewhere that I have no business being. 

In the waking hours it is easy to stay away. 

But here in the dark, in the night, listening to the rhythmic breathing of my love beside me...multiple monkeys between, I am drawn to the room full of what-if's.

This all started four days ago.  Perhaps I should back up.  It really started years before.  For me it was the moment that I met him.  I knew in a way that you feel in your bones that my life would never be the same.  That he would be my forever and we would be an always.

But back to this week.  The Monkey Maker called me on Tuesday morning at work.  His voice was tight and thin, "I think I'm dying...." followed by nervous laughter.  He had due reason to worry.  It seemed that his face had become partially paralyzed. 

I calmly suggested a call to our family physician.  His quick agreement made my stomach drop.  It generally requires an act of Congress to get him to go to the doctor.  He was scared.  I became brave.

I called the doctor and explained his symptoms which I believed, in my vast medical experience, were related to an ear infection that he had been treated for a week prior.  The doctor was not so sure. 

"He needs to go to the" 

Wait, what? 

They proceeded to tell me that his symptoms could be that of a stroke and they would not see him in the office.  He needed to go to the ER.

I called him to relay the message.  I was scared.  He became annoyed. 

He called himself to confirm this was true, and with no other recourse to assess the fact that only half of his face was moving he begrudgingly agreed to meet me at the ER.

I drove dangerously to Holy Spirit hospital, Googling "stroke signs and symptoms" and "causes of facial paralysis."  I frantically called my sister, who had Bells Palsy herself and asked for her assessment.  She assured me that it was 99% likely that he was not experiencing a stroke and as I walked into the waiting room and saw his face, I became calm, he stayed annoyed.

Over the next six hours his diagnosed changed like that of the latest snow forecast.  Stroke, bells palsy, Lymes disease and finally it settled in the neighborhood of aggressive inner ear infection that could attack his brain and require a medivac trip to Penn State Geisinger for emergency surgery.

Oh.  Sure.

He freaked out.  I became the boss. 

CT scans, IV antibiotics and multiple versions of "what could be happening"  -- I read reports and Googled terminology.  I called in my best boots on the ground who monitored his medications and recommended dosages from remote locations keeping me abreast of what I should be asking. 

A tumor, they said.  Deep in the inner structure of his ear.  Unrelated to the ear infection.  Could be nothing.  Probably benign,  Will likely be removed.  Need to get more information.  Proximity to brain is a concern. 

Days later.  Appointments scheduled, new tests ordered, many questions still left unanswered. 

He is sleeping.  I am terrified.