dealing with the serious illness of a spouse

Feeling deja vu all over again and not in a good way.

I had this dream last weekend. Rob and I were making love on the living room floor of a house that was apparently ours though judging from the packing boxes and piles of stuff everywhere, we were preparing to move out.

So you took time out to have sex? Yeah, well, all work – no play – dullness ensues, so not us.

In the middle of all this stress relief, I look up and see this shadowy figure drifting towards us. All shades of grey though clearly the outline of a woman with short hair and ruffley bangs and she comes to a stop right over top us. In fact she is standing in the middle of Rob’s back but looking up and off into space.

In the dream I am too freaked out to continue and Rob is a bit annoyed because the ghost standing dead center of us didn’t bother him a bit, and then our older girls show up and the dream moves off into a completely unrelated scene as dreams have a tendency to do.

The dream occurred while we were camping at Garner Lake. It was a Saturday night and Rob came to bed complaining of flu-like symptoms which after his casual announcement of chest pains during our rather weeny-ish hike that afternoon had all my spidey-bells ringing.

But Sunday he was “fine”.

“I am fine,” he said as we drove home, even though hooking up the trailer left him clammy and grey looking. “It’s flu. Going around at work.”

Monday, he slept in. I had to wake him at nine when I got Dee up for swimming. He was dressed and eating breakfast when we left at nine-thirty. He was still sitting at the table, conducting business via his computer when we arrived home shortly after noon,

“I called in sick,” he said.

He was nauseous and winded, but dragged himself in for a 2PM meeting and stayed til after five trying to coax concessions out of various factions who’ve been holding up one of the plants major projects with what amounted to shortsightedness for weeks.

And the pattern played out again and again all week, mimicking the rainy weather – wet and muggy in the morning, sunny-ish mid-day, and cloudy wet or stormy evenings and nights.

Yesterday morning I dragged myself down for tea and a quiet breakfast before waking Dee for her last day of swim lessons to find him pensive at the table, still in his towel and frowning at the computer.

“I think I should go to the ER,” he said.

This was not a firm decision. He was waiting for me to weigh in and possibly concur with his week-long denial that something serious was afoot.

“Yes,” I said. “You should.”

Sharp chest pains in his left upper shoulder region woke him and hadn’t really subsided. Normally I would have agreed with his muscle spasm/flu assessment but not after a week and my growing sense that he was not telling me the whole truth about how he felt.

I probably should’ve driven him.

Retrospect. An interesting way to distract oneself from the bigger picture.

At around eleven, Dee and I were at the Dairy Queen and I planned to stop next at the hospital just a block of so away because I hadn’t heard from Rob yet. My cell rang and he asked where we were and remarked that he was just on his way for an x-ray.

“I was planning to make the hospital our next stop,” I told him.

Fort Saskatchewan Hospital is typical of small communities and would likely scare anyone whose never dealt with health care centers outside larger metro areas to death.

Rob had given me the number of his ER room and I breezed right by admissions, ER triage and into the thick of the emergency room with Dee in tow and not a second look from anyone but other patients in queue. I am not someone one stops and queries when I am in game mode.

“They’re treating this like I had a heart attack,” Rob told me.

The nurse, a very nice and seemingly knowledgable person – which is not standard for the Fort ER, was hooking him back up to the ecg monitor.

“You did have a heart attack then,” I said. Because he had. I was not surprised.

But he was still in denial and wouldn’t concede.

I won’t bore you with details. There are blood tests and suspect enzymes (which according to my Med Tech sister, DNOS, indicate level of damage to the muscle) and x-rays and then a battery of leveled tests that one proceeds through according to severity or emergency.

“What did the doctor say?” I asked him last night before the older girls arrived from the city. He wouldn’t let me call them until late in the afternoon.

“I asked him about the second blood test and he said there was still evidence of the enzyme and when I asked how much he said ‘if a burglar breaks into your house, does it matter whether he took $100 or $1000’,” Rob said. “Which I thought was a terrible analogy.”

I have yet to encounter the Doctor, which is lucky for him. My late husband’s doctors are probably still recovering from dealing with me and that was over five years ago now.

The Dali Lama for a doctor will not do at all.

People keep asking me how I am when I tell them that Rob has had a heart attack. Their eyes explode and their tones imply that I  don’t look the part of the wife of a man who is potentially quite ill.

I’ve been here and there is a definite sense that I shouldn’t be again. Didn’t I pass this grade? Why the remediation?

But there is no “why”, there is only “why not”, and the fact that I remember this is calming because I was not a model of grace under pressure the last time I found myself here.