For my readers here who don't follow me on Facebook, let me explain. My husband was battling a gruesome case of stomach flu over the weekend. Honestly, I could not tell if it was food poisoning or stomach flu when it began.
At the end of his shift on Friday, he called complaining of migraine headache type symptoms: an overwhelming pain on the top of his head, excessive thirst and simultaneously overwhelming nausea. With the help of a friend, we got him home and I helped him prepare for bed.
For the unaware, my husband is a stroke survivor with extreme weakness on his right side that makes dressing difficult when he is additionally impaired. It took about 30 minutes to get him changed from his work clothes to bedclothes. I kept checking his eyes for the tell-tale-fluttering-pupil-symptom that would warn if the shunt in his head had shifted or that he was going into a seizure. I couldn't remember which and I wondered if it was safe to leave him. I prayed a brief prayer and felt a sense of peace. I rose and stepped away from the bed. He seemed to be dozing when I left the room.
I had been giving him an electrolyte replacement drink throughout our trip home from work and within half an hour he began yelling about needing to throw up - RIGHT NOW.
I ran back to the bedroom and grabbed the trashcan. If you've never witnessed projectile vomiting I can only compare it to a sporadic power washer propelled from deep within the gut. I was amazed at my reaction. Normally I would be prompted to lose my stomach at times like this, but I was not even inclined to queasiness. (Praise God for sparing me that experience.) My husband continued for at least five minutes. Thankfully he never did progress to the dry heaves.
I will spare you the details of the clean-up effort required. I did not call for Haz-mat but I was tempted. My husband finally was able to lie down again. Unfortunately, he had expelled his sleeping pills and was unable to fall back to sleep. I waited about half an hour for his stomach to settle and I gave him his evening seizure medication, naproxen and over-the counter sleeping pills again.
I settled into an evening of waiting and listening. I could not bring myself to prepare dinner. I knew he wouldn't eat and I was hungry for his least favorite food of all times. I was afraid that the mere aroma would turn his stomach again. I waited until nearly 8:30 to get something to eat. He was up and down a few times before I finally went into bed.
The rest of the weekend is a blur. He rested most of the day on Saturday while I ran necessary errands. He even conceded that he was too ill to go out for dinner with our birthday-friend but let me go without him. Sunday morning he got up and dressed for church as if he had never been ill and then collapsed back into bed before ever leaving the house. I remember keeping him fed on the blandest food acceptable and stocked with plenty of liquids.
I do clearly remember one very important detail. I spent a great deal of time battling within myself about my own behavior through all of this. Every stereotypical response a wife would make to a sick husband played in my mind. It seemed at every turn I struggled to silence the voice in my head and the urge to belittle him.
"Grow up, Bruce."
"You whine like a little baby."
"You'd think you'd never been sick before."
"Good thing men don't give birth - mankind would be extinct."
"Buck up - take it like a man."
I kept returning to Ephesians 5:33b.
"This is the time that God meant to address when He inspired those words!" I was talking to myself a lot this weekend. ". . . and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
There were moments this weekend when that scripture taunted, haunted and teased me to do what was right. When Monday morning arrived I had not yet begun to evaluate what I had experienced and how I had handled it when the phone rang.
It was Bruce; calling to tell me he had arrived safely at work, as he always does. Then he would normally wish me a good day and promise that he would call again on his lunch break. This morning, things were different.
"I just wanted to tell you that I feel better and it's mostly because you took such good care of me."
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