April 15, 2013
Welcome to anyone who is just joining my story. By now, some of you have been sent my friend requests. I created this blog for several reasons. One is purely selfish. Writing helps me make sense of things. My old journals used to be 10+ pages per entry. I have destroyed most of them. There are parts of who I was that just don't need to be acknowledged anymore!
The second reason is because there are wonderful people in my life who care about how I'm doing and want to know where I'm at. I need that. I need you. But it gets exhausting explaining the same thing over and over. I don't know if any of you read that link on my first post to the spoon theory, but I don't have a lot of spoons right now, so I'm holding the ones I've got pretty carefully.
Last, I am hoping that if I can ever make this blog public, it might bring encouragement and support to other people who are dealing with life. At first I was gonna say "sickness". But that's too narrow. Like saying, "tornado survivors" or "flood victims". It just feels like it leaves people out. And since storms aren't selective, I don't feel like I should be either.
So let's get everyone caught up. In November, my husband Jared started coughing. So badly that he lost his job at TMobile, because he couldn't be on the phones. The cough got worse and worse, and nothing the doctor gave him would help. Then he started getting other weird stuff, like thrush, and a rash that only babies and old people get. Our doctor, who is an amazing woman, decided to do some tests on his immune system. On March 11, 2013, the skies broke open. He is HIV+.
Our doctor told me later that she struggled with how to give him the news. She didn't want to call him into the office or tell him over the phone because she didn't know if he would be able to contact me, and she hated the idea of him having to be alone with the news. But one of the amazing "God things" about all this is that he and I were working for the same company, even though we were contracted through different agencies. So when she called him, all he had to do was sign off the phone and come over to my office.
I don't remember very much about the conversation we had. I remember hugging him and telling him, "We'll get through this." We didn't talk very long. I work with business taxes, and March 15 is their deadline. We had to get back on the phones. Like I said in my first blog, life has to go on.
I DO remember how I felt, for that day and the week following. Fear like I had never experienced soaked me to the bone. Not for myself. I immediately took it without saying that a positive Jared meant a positive me. But the baby! What about the baby? If I was infected when I carried him, he was positive too, right? That's how it works. And my other kids! Had they been exposed? Oh My God! My daughter had helped mop up my blood the week before when I sliced open my hand with a kitchen knife! She. Touched. My Blood! What did that mean?
In situations like that, time becomes surreal. Every heartbeat is a prayer. I don't know anything about those next 5 days. I woke up. I did the dishes. I went to work and told people that they can't file MI business returns if they don't have any fancy credits. I functioned. But I'm not sure how, because I know I didn't breathe.
On Thursday, the baby and I went in and had labwork. The lab people at the pediatrician told me I could get the baby's results in about 24 hours. I was also receiving a follow-up exam to see if I still was at risk for cancer. The doctor asked me how I was doing, and told me how she had worried about telling Jared. I thanked her for her concern. I assured her I wasn't mad at him. That I would support him through anything that was coming. She commented on how strong I was, but she didn't know-couldn't know-that I wasn't strong. I just hadn't been lashed by the wind yet. I was waiting to break.
She informed me the bloodwork wouldn't come back for a few days. She told me with that head-tilt-sympathetic look that told me she was already confident of the results for me. I think she expected more response than she got. I'm pretty sure she hugged me, and I know I thanked her for everything. The baby went to daycare, and I went to work. I smiled at my coworkers, and joked with my clients. I did a good job. No one but me heard the second hand ticking so loudly as those 24 hours passed.
Friday was March 15. I recall giving myself a pep talk as I prepared for work that morning. Something along the lines of, "Everyone on the phones today is going to be rushed and stressed. Don't take it personally. Don't get intimidated. They don't hate you, they hate their jobs. Just focus on one call at a time and you can do this!'
The lines were flooded, as I expected. So I was on the phone with a client when Jared came up to my desk. He stood there for a minute, and then grabbed a sticky note and started writing. He did this pretty often, when he has a question about efiling. When he set the pad in front of me, I glanced down at it, but the message didn't compute. NEG? What??? What kind of efile question was THAT? He must have seen my confusion because he grabbed the pad back and scrawled, "Negative!" oh. OH!!! The baby was negative!! They had called Jared instead of me!
Tears flooded my eyes as a thousand lb. weight lifted from my chest. The client on the phone continued rambling about his bonus depreciation adjustments, and I continued responding. But inwardly I was floating out of my chair with fireworks exploding around me and the entire host of heaven singing "hallelujah!" Yes, the storm still raged. Yes, there were still some very hard things to come. But at that moment, I felt warm for the first time since the storm broke. And I breathed.