I stayed with him the first night and no one said anything. The second night, I expected to stay with him again. It did not occur to me to leave him. I could not leave him there all alone. My fatigue numbed mind conjured up the idea that I was useful, that my presence could mean the difference in seconds if he stopped breathing or something. While the nurses took exceptional care of him, they were not with him every second. I was there though. However, now that I have had rest and am thinking clearly, I know that the Lord had it all in His hand—whether Ash lives or dies is not up to me, but up to Him.
Anyway, at some point she came in that second night and pulled the curtain between me and the window to the nurse’s station…
“Could you do me a favor?” she asked.
“Could you move back into that corner? “ I realized that she was trying to hide me. They were going to try to make me go home.
“Is someone upset that I am here?” I ask. I am sorrowed both that someone is upset with me, and that I might have to leave.
“Yeah, but don’t worry about it. We will just put you here—out of sight, out of mind.” She said cheerfully. It was not so easy for me though, I am very much a rule follower and she had been so nice, I did not want to get her in trouble.
“I do not want to get you in trouble! I can leave if you need me to.”
“Oh no, you stay. The charge nurse is just being grouchy. He gets that way. Don’t worry about it.”. I miserably pulled my chair to the corner as she left. I could not handle this, and prayed. At least I think I prayed. To be honest, I cannot remember, but I am sure I must have. I was out of strength, out of resources and He was the only link I had to lean on. I had nothing left.
She came in a little while later and talked to me about it. I told her again that I could leave. She said “No, in fact I made a husband stay with another patient. I moonlight at xyz hospital and I like the way they do it. They call it family care, and they bring beds in for the family to stay, and kids can come in and everything. I do not agree with the policy here.”.
While I was relieved that there was another rule breaking spouse in the ward, I was a bit worried. What if I needed to go to the bathroom? I would have to go past the nurse’s station, then be buzzed back in.
“Do I need to just hide here til morning?” I asked
“Oh no! “ she said “Come and go as you please. Do not feel that you have to not go to the bathroom or something. I talked to him and told him that you were staying. He knows. I asked him if it was his time of the month.” She chuckled a bit there, but not unkindly. Then she continued “He said to me “Who do you think you are breaking the rules?” and I said “I’M FAMILY CARE!”. She laughed again. “And then I gave him some chocolate. No problems. He just gets this way sometimes.”.
So I stayed that night. I sat in the chair by Ash's bed with a pair of heavy hunting socks and sandals, trying to keep warm and getting snatches of sleep, but terrified that I would be asleep and Ash would stop breathing or something.
However, early the next morning, the past three days started catching up with me. I had only slept about 5 hours of the past 72, if that. My last food of substance had been one scarfed down piece of pizza at home before the flight on Monday, and this was Thursday morning. I noticed that my ears sounded hollow and I was slightly dizzy...I just felt unwell as I roused from sleep.
Jolene came into the room, and I started to become more awake. I also started struggling mightily in my spirit.
Sometimes it seems like there are two "me's". One was the "me" who really loved and depended on the Lord, and the other was a bad, cold, disbelieving "me" who rejected Him or something. I cannot explain it well. It was a spiritual attack, a continuation of what had plagued me Monday morning before Ash had gone for the CT scan. I prayed hard, felt alone, felt cold, felt close to Him, felt a million miles away. I struggled and prayed. I had no strength for this. I realized that I was feeling faint and sick. I was not sure what to do. I did not want to tell anyone that I was feeling so bad—I wanted to seem neither weak nor whiney nor take attention from Ashton. I just felt ill. I was utterly spent.
“We are going to give you a bath” Jolene told Ashton. “you can help” she said to me. I honestly could not manage any stimulation at that point, but thankfully she was busy doing something.
“I’ll be right back. I am just going to run to the bathroom,” I said in as calm and upbeat a voice as I could muster. My thoughts were not logical or reasonable, I was afraid that I would be sick. I was afraid that I would pass out in the bathroom and no one would come in to find me for hours. I also did NOT want the attention of someone who falls out on the floor. I did not want to hear myself mutter “No, really, I’m ok” as they take my blood pressure and give me IV fluids. I would be mortified, embarrassed. They would make me go home, and maybe not come back to be with Ashton. I was afraid to leave the bathroom, as it was a place of quiet and safety, but I also needed to get back to Ash and help.
“Lord, please. I feel so bad. Please, please do not let me be sick. Please let me feel better. I cannot do this with You.”. I said as I made my way to the bathroom. I noticed that the bathroom had been recently cleaned, and I was grateful for that. Public bathrooms are not my favorite thing.
I started feeling slightly better after using the restroom, however, I knew that my strength was totally gone. I did not even have enough mental or emotional energy to will myself to press on. I was dull of mind and weak in body. As I walked back to the ICU, I googled “Severe exhaustion”. I wanted to see if I was reaching a dangerous level of exhaustion, if there was such a thing. Is there a time where your exhaustion is so bad that your body starts to shut down? I was not sure. I was afraid that I would snap mentally or collapse physically. I thought about how my immune resistance must be gone. I was afraid that I would pick up some terrible germ through the cut on my toe that I had gotten before Ash went to surgery (I read way too much about resistant bacteria).
Please understand that I did not dwell on me for me! I just did not want to be weak, be a casualty. I wanted to be strong. The Lord had allowed me to be strong so far, and people thought I was. I did not want to fail.
The only things I found on severe exhaustion were either mentioning adrenal problems or were quasi medical sites talking about wholeness and wellness. I realized that it did not matter anyway--what would I do even if I found out that I was severely exhausted? I would not leave Ash, and I would not tell the nurse “I googled severe exhaustion and found that I have many of the symptoms”. Yeah, right.
So I walked into the room, and again the Lord provided me strength I did not have. I helped Jolene bathe Ashton, and was no longer nauseated or faint. I forgot that I had even felt that way! The Lord had provided supernaturally the strength I needed. I now understand what Paul meant when he said “When I am weak, then I am strong”. That spiritual battle was over. I was ready to help my husband. The Lord made me capable when I was not. He sustained me.