Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Choose joy?

We are five minutes out of St. Cloud on Highway 15, at a stop light I contort my torso to reach back to put the oximeter probe on Dermot's tiny index finger. He sounds like an old fashioned coffee percolator...O2 78, yikes.

"Dermot, you have to cough for me buddy!" no response.

I'm on the highway, looking for the next turn off. One more mile, no coughs, the oximeter is beeping double time now. Finally, I turn off the highway and into the Walmart parking lot in Sartell. I keep the car running because of the heat, get out and enter through the sliding van door to the back.

I move around Cookie who is laying dutifully on her bed and reach for the deep suction catheter in his supply bag. Got it. Still panic beeping. I carefully thread the long, thin plastic tubing down Dermot's mouth and turn the suction machine on. Sucking, sucking, a moment of breath holding and up comes a giant glob of mucus all over his bib. That's what he needed. O2 level? 89. Really? Still something in there, I try again, thread the tube down his throat, this time he's more stubborn about coughing, the rest is further down in his lungs and will take some work to get it out. I'm sucking, he's struggling, then after a full minute, success with another giant blob of egg white consistency comes up, I wait a couple seconds, O2 is rising, 92, 94, 95.

Why are you so congested? What have I forgotten to do? Nebs are on time, atropine drops too. Wait, he's due for a new Scopolamine patch. I contort my body once again, climbing over my very comfortable Weimaraner who's taking up the entire back seat of the van, to get to the bin where his meds are. I search for the patches, got it. I apply a fresh patch, it doesn't stick, why isn't it sticking!!!? Fuck it, I get another one, (conscious of the fact that it will screw up his monthly prescription) this one sticks...O2 91.

Geez. Let me think. Okay we have an hour to go until we get to the cabin. I tap the fresh oxygen tank hanging from Dermot's wheelchair and set it to one liter. Carefully wrap the nasal cannula in his nostrils. That should do the trick.

Okay, I think I'm ready to get back on the road, except Dermot's shirt and bib are sopping wet. I tap on my 16 year old's shoulder who has been purposefully ignoring the current crisis by watching Gangs Of New York on his phone and his air-pods. Owen, I need to borrow one of your t-shirts for Dermot, He's all wet. Rolls his eyes, grabs a shirt out of his bag and hands it to me fully aware that it will get drenched in drool and mucus.

Okay, I'm back on the road...

Everyone in the car seems to be doing well. I seem to be doing well. I'm proud that I once again, conquered another crisis.

But as I drive I feel my breath getting shorter, my rib cage constricting and I am requiring multiple heavy sighs to stay calm. I'm pretty sure I'm good. I can handle this. I can get to the cabin.

Dermot is comfortably resting now, along with the dogs. Owen is struggling with how to view his Scorcese film while battling the bright sunshine coming through every window in the van...

Almost there. I realize, I'm holding my breath. Just get to the cabin.

We arrive, the dogs jump out with excitement, Owen peels himself from the passenger seat and I emerge immediately looking for my husband to take over. Where is he? My father-in-law greets us, but no one else. Where's Joe? I get Dermot into the cabin, my relatives are in their own states of relaxation. "Where's Joe?' I immediately ask. "out back working on the deck" my sister-in-law answers. My mother-in-law peppers me with questions about dinner and if she's made enough and what else should she do. I almost can't answer her because its taking all that I have to keep it together.

Joe comes out from the back, "Hi honey, How was the drive?" "Shitty" I reply. "What do you need from me?" "Take over, I need a quick break".

I run-walk into my room, close the door, lean my back up against the wall and slide down. Sitting for a moment in stunned silence, then it comes. The heavy uncontrollable breathing and the tears. The gut wrenching pain in my chest. I cry and cry. Ryan enters to say hi, I shoe him away. I cry a little more, Joe enters. "You okay?" "I am now, I been holding all that in for way too long". 

Acknowledging pain and traumatic events is crucial.
I had been "Choosing Joy" for so long, I forgot that feelings need to be felt. Sure, joy is great and the idea of choosing it sounds swell, but my body does not allow me to not feel my feelings for too long before it blows. So the idea of positive thinking, and choosing our feelings might be a clever marketing ploy to sell plaques and notepads.

I think "Feel your feelings" might be a more productive meme.

All of us are dealing with something and all of us have feelings about it. But not all of us think its okay to feel the way we do.

Afraid? Choose Joy! Angry? Choose Joy! Sad? Choose joy! Lonely? Choose Joy!

Now, don't you feel better? I didn't think so.

Afraid? Tell someone. Angry? Talk about it. Sad? Ask for a hug. Lonely? Call a friend.

Happy? Awesome, choose joy.