The next few weeks are filled with baby snuggles and baby puke. When the day comes to return to work, I begin dry heaving. I can’t tell if I’m sick or just terrified of leaving her so soon, but over the next two weeks, my health starts to decline. I don’t dare mention this at the office though. I’ve already missed enough work. Plus, I have the biggest meeting of my career coming up.
When the day of the meeting arrives, thirty minutes into the 2-hour drive, I begin experiencing an agonizing pain that could bring Goliath to his knees. Waves of heat and cold shoot through my body. Am I running a fever?
Placing my hand on my forehead, I realize that I am indeed, hot as balls. For a moment I think perhaps I’m about to pass out. As the waves of dizziness wash over me, I realize there is no way I’m making it through the meeting like this. I decide to pull over and call Dave.
I can hear the disappointment in his voice as I cancel the appointment, but I’m too sick to give a fuck. Shaking away his disappointment, I pull back into traffic and begin the drive home.
For the next two days, I don’t leave my bed. I’ve never felt this weak in my life.
When my mom knocks on my door two days later, I’m too weak to answer it. She lets herself in.
“Jess?” She calls.
“I’m in bed,” I call back. Even that took more strength than I expected it to.
She takes one look at me and begs me to go to the hospital. “Please, let me take you.”
“No, it’s ok. I can get up.”
Apparently, I must look rough as fuck. Who knew? Not me. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed to pee. Wait. I haven’t peed. Well, that’s weird.
Climbing out of bed I head to the bathroom to see what she sees. My eyes widen in surprise at the sight of my feet. Why are my feet so big? What’s wrong with them?
Habitually, I step on the scale as I enter the bathroom. I’ve gained twelve pounds in two days. I haven’t even eaten anything.
Looking down at my legs, they are obviously swollen too.
You think all of this would lead me to a hospital, but it doesn’t. I only (finally) head to the hospital because my family starts to beg. Their incessant pleas are only adding to my discomfort.
“Fine,” I tell them. “I’ll go.”
And away we went.
The wait in the waiting room is ten times as long as the drive there. Each second feels like its own version of eternity. Confident that they will set me up with antibiotics and send me on my way to be miserable at home, I eagerly wait for my name to be called.
A few tests later though, I discover that I’m wrong. They want to admit me. What? No!
“I don’t want to be here at some nasty hospital that smells weird. I want to go home. I just had a baby,” I explain to the nurse who doesn’t seem to be listening. She is feverishly jotting notes in my chart. I chuckle at the irony as the heat continues to emit from my body. Feverishly. Ha. Laughing to myself, I think perhaps I’m finally delirious.
As the nurse explains the need to keep me overnight, now I’m the one not listening. Instead, I beg to leave. “I want to be home with my baby.”
“Then you need to stay here for a bit.”
“Well, I’m leaving. I can treat this with antibiotics at home.” I assure her. The nurse throws me a skeptical look and hands me my scripts.
“Make sure you come back if your fever gets to 101.” She warns me.
Feeling confident the antibiotics will do their job, I promise her that I will. As soon as the words leave my lips, I already know that I have zero intentions of returning.
With a big fuck you from the universe, the very next day, my fever spikes to 103 degrees. When Jose arrives home, I am shivering and soaked in sweat. He takes one look at me and insists we get in the car instead.
I shake my head.
“You need to go. You are going.” He insists.
“The meds just take a couple of days to work is all. Everything is fine.”
Before I can object, he picks me up and starts carrying me to the car. I don’t even have the strength to fight him. With me sulking in the back seat, away we go to the hospital once again. It starts to feel more like I’m on my way to jail than the hospital.
“I was just waiting for the antibiotics to kick in. I just need to make it until then.” I explain from the backseat where he had thrown me.
When we get to the hospital, I limp inside. Everything hurts. As I approach the front desk, the nurse nods at me almost smugly as if to say, “Back again?”
I ignore her expression.
This time, they admit me quickly.
The stench of sterile fills my nose; I swallow to keep myself from vomiting. Once settled into the room, I lean my head back against the bed and pray for sleep, but the nurses keep waking me. Again and again. Blood test after blood test. By nightfall, they are drawing my blood every two hours, even if that means waking me from my sleep to do so. 3:00 am comes quickly. Too quickly.
When the nurse comes in to draw my blood for what feels like the thirteenth time, I scream at her to leave. When she refuses, I demand to know why they won’t let me sleep.
“What is so urgent that I can’t even get a five-hour window of sleep? How is this possibly necessary to keep doing this all hours of the night?”
She hesitates to answer me. “The infection has traveled into your bloodstream and you’ve turned septic. It’s crucial to check your blood every two hours so that you don’t die.” She says dryly.
For a moment, I think perhaps she is being sarcastic and giving me a taste of my own medicine. Her expression softens, and I realize that is not the case. My sass magically disappears.
Die? What does she mean? It’s just a little infection. I fight the urge to cry and offer her my arm once again. She takes my blood silently, but I can see a trace of pity in her eyes.
I thank her as she leaves. She smiles slowly back at me. Her face is filled with sympathy. Confused by the little bit of information she’s shared with me, I google sepsis. The survival rates flash across the screen. Wait. This is a mistake. I’m not really this sick, am I?
Alone and exhausted, I cry myself to sleep. When I awake the following morning, the phone is still in my hand. As my eyes adjust to the morning light, the nurse enters the room.
“Some good news,” she says. “We found the new stone, which will require emergency surgery this morning.”
An hour later, they wheel me into a different room and drug me with a substance that instantly slows my mind. The warmth fills my veins, and my eyes begin to close. Confusion sets in right before the room fades to black.
When I come to, Jose is staring at me.
“Hi,” he says, smiling at me.
“Hi. I guess I’m really sick.”
His expression is hard to read, but a faint glimpse of fear slips through. I try my best not to read into it. “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay,” he promises me, grabbing my hand.
I nod in agreement. “It’s just a little sepsis.”