Tag Archives: illness

Coping with the Low Valleys of Being a Mama

Right now, I am one weary mama. My Fitbit tells me exactly how much sleep I’m not getting at night. And then it tells me I should sleep more. I want to sleep more than 6-7 hours, but my body will not let me. And I love sleep, especially naps, so this hurts me.

My allergies and asthma work together in concert to exhaust my lungs and body systems. This year’s pollen crop keeps up its attack without ceasing. My usually black car now has a yellowish-green tint to it. Going outside to play with my kids for an hour sets me back at least a day in terms of system recovery. And my boys live to play outside and run around. So we coop ourselves up in our house or indoor play areas, but they just aren’t the same as playing at a park.

My asthma got so bad this week, I breached proper theatre etiquette and walked out, mid-song, of The Color Purple, a musical I’ve been waiting all year to see. All because I couldn’t stop coughing and I knew it would be worse for those around me if I stayed. So I interrupted 16 people to escape the theatre, and didn’t go back inside due to fear of the same thing happening again.

I can’t exercise the way I want; I have to take breathing breaks because I’m sucking wind. Or I can’t even muster up the energy to take my regular classes because moving my body seems impossible.

These are all my coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety and life that make me a better mama to my boys. And I can’t do them right now. So we are all suffering.

I get angry over little things (and big ones, too). The house is more of a disaster than usual because we are in it more and I can’t stop coughing enough to fully clean it. I cry easily, and feel like I’m letting everyone down. I am not at peace with myself, and am struggling.

I tell myself it’s all right; it’s going to be all right. I pray and ask God to help me feel better. But it’s so hard when I can’t even breathe. I’m being carried away and cannot ground myself.

So I ask for help. I hate it; I want to do it myself, be strong and persevere. But I can’t. My husband is pretty fantastic at supporting me when I get like this. He’s positive, and affirming, and full of hugs. It’s difficult to float away when you are receiving a hug. My boys give full-body snuggles, too. Their empathy is outstanding and a great comfort to me. I feel like I don’t deserve it, but I’m working at accepting it. I am loved, and enough.

Cruise Fail

After returning from our New Hampshire vacation, we were all set to turn around and set sail on a Disney Dream cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary with my parents, brother’s family, and grandmother. We had a fantastic visit the night before with our good friends, Marcie and Bryan, at their home in Melbourne, and our friend Lisa joined us for a pizza dinner. Keith was having residual intense sinus pressure and pain leftover from our descent into NH, but he was functional and ready to cruise with my extended family.

  
Everything was going smoothly: we arrived to the port with plenty of time to unload our luggage, park the car, and board the ship. We signed the proper forms at guest relations so Henry could leave the ship with us since he was technically assigned to my grandma’s room. Most importantly, Henry was having a blast with his cousins – being silly and playing. 

   
   
Suddenly, my left eye started to get itchy, blurry, and light sensitive while we were eating lunch at Cabanas, one of the open seating buffets on the boat. I couldn’t wait for my luggage to be delivered to rip my contact out and put it in its case – it was starting to hurt that bad. Luckily, we saw the bag on our way to our stateroom and grabbed it, but by then it was too late. My eye was in excruciating pain. Not childbirth levels of pain, but unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.

I left Keith with Henry (who was refusing to nap and screaming his intentions to remain awake) for the silence of my parents’ stateroom. I lasted about two minutes before I told my mom I had to see the ship’s doctor and asked if she could come with me. I neglected to tell Keith what we were doing before we made our way from one end of the boat to the other. 

The sick bay consisted primarily of ill cruise ship employees, and then me with my severe eye pain. Yay for being able to bypass the line since I was the sick guest! Unfortunately, the doctor’s diagnosis of acute glaucoma coupled with my pregnancy meant I was leaving the cruise before it even left port. When the doctor says if you remain on board it is possible you will permanently lose vision entirely in your left eye, then you tend to listen because there is no real decision to make. Note for those being treated by Disney cruise ship doctors: they make you pay up front for the cost of services. I don’t know yet if my insurance will reimburse me any of my expenses (I’m in the process of submitting a claim), but the Disney non-affiliated doctors judged my cost to be $272. If the cruise doctor had been able to do anything I would be much more content about paying that amount, but since he did nothing and I had to disembark, it is frustrating to have it cost so much. 

Emergency medical services were called to transport me to Port Canaveral Hospital, and Disney staff arranged Keith and Henry, as well as my luggage, to be taken off the ship. Remember Keith had no idea what was happening when a Disney crew member knocked on the door and said he was being escorted off the boat. At first, he didn’t believe me when he talked to me on the phone about it either, but he realized the seriousness of the situation after a few minutes of me being a crying, hot mess on the phone.

They brought Henry to me (with a complimentary Buzz Lightyear stuffed toy) and we waited for Keith to pick us up since I declined the ambulance. We spent the majority of our wait in a little security booth outside the Disney boarding area. We had people with us for a little bit of time, but mostly it was just me and Henry. The only thing worse than being escorted off the cruise before it even leaves port is blurrily watching the boat sail away with its joyous music blasting. I cried a ridiculous amount of tears, and Henry comforted me as best he could, giving me hugs while saying, “It’s going to be okay, Mama.” Of course this made me cry harder. I was practically willing Keith to hurry up and get us.

After what felt like forever, Keith made it (with a long story of his own) and we drove to Cape Canaveral Hospital. This had to be the busiest ER ever for such a small hospital, and I’ve been in quite a few growing up with asthma. Henry did really well with a snack and cartoons for the first couple of hours, but he’s two so he only sits still for so long. Luckily, we were fortunate to have our friend, Marcie, on this coast, and she came over after work and took him home with her. 

We spent a total of five hours in the emergency room, only to be told I had conjunctivitis in my left eye and they were prescribing pregnancy-safe drops. My eye was feeling better at that point – not much pain, less blurry vision, and no light sensitivity, but still itchy and burning – so my devastation over missing the family vacation was on the rise. Also, my hunger was at an eleven on a scale of 1 to 10. We found a 24 hour Walgreens (with Marcie’s help), picked up my medicine, and drove through a Checker’s for dinner. Milkshakes and fries are the dinner of champions at 11pm on a Monday night. We totally crashed at Marcie’s house, and left for home (and Keith’s doctor’s appointment – he was a hot mess, too) late the next morning. 

Moral of the story: always purchase cruise insurance because you never know what can happen on a boat. We didn’t have any, and got off relatively easily, but if we had been at sea already and had to be escorted back by the Coast Guard or something it could have cost tens of thousands of dollars. I feel very fortunate that my eye is fine, and I’m able to wear my contacts again without issue. Keith is mostly healthy, too, and Henry thinks the cruise was fun. He played with his cousins, went on a big boat, and got a stuffed animal. I’m so happy he’s at the age where he doesn’t know what he missed out on, and hopefully someday we will be able to actually go on a Disney cruise.