At 1:45 a.m. exactly I woke up suddenly last night. There’s no particularly meaning to 1:45 a.m. It’s not like it was 3:15 in the Amityville Horror. But it was kind of horrific.
You see, I was awakened by sirens, but more disturbing, the chugging sound of a fire truck and paramedics heading up the hill. At first, I had that “where am I and who am I” feeling we get when awakened out of a deep sleep. Then my first thought was “Adam, where is he? Is he OK? They’re here for him, finally. It will be OK now.”
I thought maybe, just maybe, this trauma had passed. After all, it’s been more than two months since the last time the paramedics came to our door. It’s stupid, I know. Two months is hardly any time at all. So I was awake, reliving every moment of both 911 calls.
After the first 911 call, I was so relieved and thankful that the system worked the way it did. Adam had a seizure. For a long time, I couldn’t get the sound of the “seizure breath exhalation scream” out of my head. It mostly has faded now unless I think too hard. I remember the woman on the phone, how incredible she was to calm me down and make sure I was doing the right thing. He was out of the seizure by the time the paramedics arrived.
I was so stupid then. I knew it was a withdrawal seizure; I had stayed home that day from work because I had caught him drinking the day before. For the first time in my life I felt like I had handled it correctly. He was scared I would leave him. I held him and told him it was OK; we would work through it and keep trying. But he was fragile, and I wanted to stay with him that day so we could talk about next steps.
I thought it was just the first step on a withdrawal process again. That’s it. I thought “damn, I haven’t showered today and these firefighters in my house are hot.” Because I’m still 16.
I got Adam to agree to go to the hospital. As he was being packed in to the ambulance, our neighbor came out. I just gushed out, “Adam is an alcoholic. He had a withdrawal seizure.” I’ve never even gone over there to tell them he’s dead now. They were always so nice to our dogs; so patient with our lack of yard work. I think they had a son who was figure skater, so we had a connection. I should tell them. I can’t. I don’t want to cry like that.
I called Kathy to pick me up because I didn’t think I could drive. At the hospital, the ER doctor said “Why are you here? We have people who have seizures all the time and don’t come to the hospital.” I wanted to say “fuck you, asshole, if it was your wife, what would you do?”
The second and third times he went to the ER I didn’t call 911, and just took him in. Let me tell you this … call. Use the ambulance and the fast track into the doctor. It’s less stressful than seeing your husband collapse at the ER door.
The fourth time was in October. I couldn’t wake him up. When I did, he only talked to me in gibberish. I knew it was a severe H.E. episode. I didn’t know what to do. Give him his meds and wait it out? No, I called 911.
I had to leave him in bed to open the door when I heard the lumbering sound of the trucks. Suddenly, there were five people in my bedroom with clothes and bras strewn across the floor. Watching them go through the motions with Adam. Later, he told me it was so frustrating. He understood what was being asked and responded, and couldn’t get it when we didn’t understand.
Words again jumbled out as I spoke to a female paramedic. “We have end stage liver disease (yes, I used ‘we’), this is hepatic encephalopathy. I know it is. We’re going to be evaluated for a transplant next week. It’s going to be OK. This happens. This is normal. But I didn’t know if I should give him his medicine or he should go to the hospital.”
This woman knew what questions to ask me. She had some familiarity. I wish I knew who she was to say thank you.
Is this what PTSD is? To have a sound send you spiraling back downward?
I think everyone thinks I’m better now. I engage more. I argue at work. I laugh every once in awhile. I tell morbid jokes (which is the right of every widow). But it’s not that I’m better. I have “better” moments. I have “better” days. I made breakfast this morning. I am going to try to clean the house again today. No, really. At least I’m thinking about it. The Bix and I will go get cold and muddy at the park.
I have never been lonely in my entire life until now. I have certainly been alone but never lonely, but I sort of get loneliness now. I lived with Adam for 14 years. We spent lots of time apart because we had our own lives, but in the end, we were always there for each other. God, I hate saying I’m lonely. I feel so fucking pathetic. The one thing I never have been.
But what are you supposed to do when the worst things happens, and the person you always talk to about the worst things actually was the worst thing that happened. Try that on for a brilliant sentence, eh.
Anyway. It’s Saturday. Is there football on?