I love how I threw that little "God-willing" clause into my last post when I said I was going to my mom's Atlanta conference next weekend. It became very clear to me 24 hours later that it was not God's will for me to go there.
Curtis started complaining about stomach pain two weekends ago. We thought it might be a hernia or something. It finally got bad enough for us to get concerned on Saturday afternoon. That day we had gone on a little family outing to BerryHill for fish tacos and then to a frozen yogurt place. Curtis wasn't very hungry and seemed quiet. I kept asking if he was okay.
We were expecting overnight company, but since Annabeth had been sick, our friend ended up not staying with us. I'm grateful for God's providence in this because my house was clean, the laundry was done, and the guest room was already prepared. Nothing was done in vain.
Curtis spent Saturday evening preparing his first Sunday school lesson for our class. From time to time he would complain about his stomach.
On Sunday morning we should have gone to the ER, but we foolishly opted to go to church for the Sunday school lesson he was supposed to teach. I wasn't sure Curtis wasn't going to drive off the road on the way there. We are idiots. He was as white as a sheet while he taught the lesson, but otherwise he did well at disguising that anything was wrong. As soon as it ended, we grabbed the kids out of their classes and headed to a hospital by our house. Curtis walked into the ER by himself, called me to confirm that he was good to go, and then I drove the kids home to feed them lunch. He was on his own until my mom could come over.
By the time I got home, he texted me that he was already in a bed and they were suspecting appendicitis. What?!?! That was definitely not on our radar. We'd just seen our friend Peter with appendicitis at camp and Curtis' symptoms were completely different. And really, what are the odds? (I've since realized they're pretty good odds.)
Mom was still at church, but I was blowing up her phone with text messages. About an hour later she walked in the door and I walked out with our hospital bags.
When I found my husband he was drinking a big cup of something red and I wondered how he managed to get himself a slushie. It turned out to be the stuff he had to drink before having a CT scan. He had the test and then we waited for a while to talk to a doctor. In the meantime, we had some great conversations because Curtis was on some pain killer that made him hilarious.
Soon we got the news that it was indeed appendicitis and a surgeon would come talk to us soon. We were honestly stunned. The surgeon came in and said he did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the surgery based on what the scan looked like. He mentioned something about "once a year" but I didn't quite get what he was saying. I did understand him to say that my husband would be going under the knife in 30 minutes.
Miraculously, our sweet babysitter and her mom texted us at that moment and offered help. She went straight to our house and my mom made it to the hospital to sit with me during the surgery.
Before the surgery began, it was so surreal being with Curtis in the pre-op room. I was having flashbacks to being with my mom in a similar room last December. My Bible was in my purse and Curtis asked me to open up to Psalm 121.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
I got a little choked up when I read verse 7. I told the doctors that this man was very important to two little kids back at home and I knew they would want to take great care of him. They all laughed and said, "That's all?" Each of them had 4 kids and the nurse had 6. They said we were way behind. I kissed Curtis' forehead and walked out to the waiting room.
This was really happening.
God was merciful to let it happen quickly. There was little time for worrying or vain imaginations. There was no 6 week period of agonizing over whether Curtis may have this or that. That was so hard to go through with my mom.
Soon the doctor came to see us. He explained that Curtis' appendix had exploded and that he couldn't even find it. That's why his scan was so fuzzy and why the doctor had had a weird feeling about it. His exact words were, "It looks like a grenade went off in there." There was nothing left of the appendix. Luckily, it was a contained rupture and hadn't spread all over the place. He said Curtis was the "once a year" case. Awesome. He couldn't believe how high his pain tolerance must have been. I couldn't believe I had let my husband teach Sunday school with a stinking burst appendix. Seriously!
It was a very long night after that. I slept - or tried to sleep - on the couch bed next to Curtis. At about 11:00 he started crying out in his sleep from the pain. It was awful. I remember being traumatized the first time I ever saw my dad cry and this gave me a very similar feeling.
We had a male nurse - Frank - and he was amazing. He kept saying that Curtis would be up and walking by midnight. He believed he would turn a corner and improve at that point. My man was trying to get himself up, but he felt like he was pinned to the bed and couldn't move. That may have had something to do with a nasty infection and several incisions in his midsection. Good grief!
I have never been more in awe of my husband's strength than at 1:00 AM when he bit the bullet and got up from that bed. Never in my life will I forget it. A few minutes later he was walking. Frank and another nurse came in our room and were cheering him on. Frank shook Curtis' hand in respect and it might have been one of my favorite moments of life.
If you cannot tell, I am more in love right now than I have ever been.
Since his first walk down the hallway, Curtis has continued to improve. We have had some setbacks with sudden 103 fevers and such that are prolonging the hospital experience, but I know it is better for him to be there if the infection is still raging. If he does well tonight, we hope that he will get to come home tomorrow.
For me, the most challenging part of this has been feeling torn between my husband and my children. Mom has taken AMAZING care of the kids this week. She moved in without hesitation and has given 100% to their well being. I have not needed to worry about them, but of course there is that ever-present mommy guilt. But when I have been with the kids, I've felt guilty for not being with Curtis. Pitiful.
Curtis and I have had some really great quality time in the hospital room. I almost feel bad for saying that when my mom has worked her hiney off with our kids. We found a new TV series to love on Netflix and have laughed till we've cried. It hurts his stomach to laugh, so to control it he makes the weirdest sound I've ever heard in my life. I'm not sure why the nurses haven't come in to see if he's dying or something. We've also taken lots of long walks up and down the hallways to peek out all the windows. We're on the sixth floor and we have a pretty good view of the 'burbs in all their splendor.
If it weren't for the twin-sized bed with rails, the IV pole, and the shabby hospital gowns, it might even feel like we had a little couples retreat. We haven't had this much quality time together since Jackson was 15 months old and we celebrated our 5th anniversary in Cancun. I've been begging God for another vacation like that. We could have taken a really nice one for the amount we paid to the hospital today. I definitely would not have picked a trip to the local suburban med center for our reconnection - and I'm pretty sure this is the last thing Curtis would ever have in mind - but it's been a tall glass of lemonade for the heart of our marriage. And I think God willed it.