It’s been an eventful week consisting of two emergency room visits and a three-day hospital stay for my dear husband Jae. They say you don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only option, and in this case it was true. As one half of my heart walked past the emergency room doors, the other half, EJ, was in my arms. I wished for the super power of being able to be in two places at once but it never came. Jae was released a few hours later only to have to drive himself to the hospital at 5 am after being jolted awake by his severe abdominal pain. He was admitted later that day. I beat myself up all day for not having a village yet because my soul mate was alone in a hospital bed while I had to stay home with EJ.
It was a very long day but at around 5 pm I finally had an opportunity to leave EJ with my sister-in-law and go see Jae. I was completely unprepared to leave EJ, he hadn’t eaten dinner yet, his diaper bag was in our one and only car that was parked in the hospital parking lot, and as I rushed out the door I forgot to bring his favorite DVD that has magical meltdown-ending abilities. Needless to say it was a less than ideal situation, but I finally got to see my hubby! Seeing him didn’t really put me any more at ease once I realized that he was in one of the worst hospitals around! He was stuck in the ER for over 24 hours until they found an available room and the nurses seemed to be preprogrammed zombies whose one and only response to questions was “uh-huh, I’ll check” and then never return with a concrete answer. No one there gave me the vibe that they genuinely cared for my husband’s well-being and all too soon I had to leave him again to put EJ to bed.
Luckily my mom (whom EJ absolutely adores and almost prefers over me!) came to save the day so I picked her up from the bus station and rushed to pick EJ up after a call that he was inconsolably crying. When I finally get there my sister-in-law informs me that EJ’s dinner consisted of McDonald’s and Apple Jacks (cue stomach drop). Now I don’t judge others based on what they feed their children so my following statement isn’t meant to offend anyone but, hearing the word “McDonald’s” gives me the heebie jeebies and knowing my child ate it was NOT a fun feeling. I don’t believe McDonald’s is real food and while I do admit to eating Apple Jacks in the not so distant past, I don’t choose to feed either of those things to my kid because his body is still developing and crucially sensitive to harmful toxins and the artificial contents of processed foods. I try to go out of my way to provide him with whole and real quality food and to give him the nutrients he needs . I didn’t mention anything to my sister-in-law at the time, but I kicked myself repeatedly on the drive home knowing that my unpreparedness was to blame.
Fast forwarding to the next day, I got to be by my soul mate’s side since EJ was in my mom’s care. I still was less than pleased with the hospital but at least Jae was in an actual room by now. He was even feeling better and they concluded that it was just a nasty stomach bug that was now being treated with antibiotics. The only issue was that he was
hungry starving since it had been almost a full two days since he was able to keep anything down. I kept inquiring with the nurses and the techs but everyone gave me that preprogrammed response “uh-huh, we’ll check”. I just wanted to know when he could eat and what he could eat. At 5pm dinner came and it just wasn’t going to cut it! My husband was starving and all they wanted to feed him was a half a serving of disgusting soup. I marched out to ask if he could get a second serving or if there was something else I could get him. That’s when I realized they misled me. He was allowed to eat anything that was liquid and he didn’t have to wait a specific time to eat. All that time I spent asking about food and at 5pm ( over 36 hours since his last meal) is when they felt like telling me that he was able to eat other things. Bah humbug! As I type this I realize that it may sound minute to someone else but something about the situation really bugged me! My husband was ill and I was not happy about him having to experience more discomfort than necessary.
After giving it much thought and writing it all out I noticed a pattern in all of this madness. Before you can understand why this is an important lesson to me you must first know something about me, I am like a turtle , I have a shell and sometimes I hide completely inside of it and other times I am just a giant naked turtle dancing on top of my shell (I know turtles don’t actually come out of their shells but they’re cuter than hermit crabs!). So I find myself in this storyline where my husband lies in a hospital bed and my child is in someone else’s care and they both need one thing from me, to lose the shell and let my voice be heard. Being in charge is a lot of responsibility and it can feel scary but if I don’t speak up for my loved ones, no one will! Especially my little, I gave birth to him, I am his advocate! Right now he does not speak so its more important than ever that I do on his behalf. I’ve already taken the first step by talking to my sister-in-law. I explained to her that I don’t normally feed EJ certain types of food and that I will try to be more clear and prepared in the future regarding EJ’s routines and meals. As for Jae, he is now home and able to speak for himself again (thankfully!), however him being gone made me realize I put a lot of pressure on him by expecting him to be the voice of this family. It’s time for me to start doing what he’s always encouraged me to do and become more assertive. We are a pair but I am also my own person. I can’t expect him to always speak for me and he won’t always be there to do so. No matter how anxious it makes me or how silly I feel, I’m resolving to lose the shell and finding my voice.