Hi, I haven’t done a weekend open thread in a while, but I wanted to share a quick personal story and invite you to share anything that might be on your mind. This was a wild week in my family – probably the most harrowing of my life. On Monday morning, after we got the kids off the school, Drew suddenly experienced some pain in his abdomen that intensified so quickly, I had him in the back of an ambulance within thirty minutes. During the ride, the pain continued to increase, and I worried that if whatever was causing him the pain didn’t kill him, he might have a fatal heart attack instead. It was like a scene from a movie – Drew told me his good-byes and that he loved me and the kids and all of that. I felt myself sort of split into two – there was the part that was terrified, which I boxed up and put on a shelf, and the part that knew if he was going to make it through this I had to remain calm, take charge, and make sure he got the urgent care he needed.
Let me say, an emergency room in NYC at the height of a Covid surge and a bunch of other respiratory illnesses knocking people down is not for the faint of heart. The staff who wade through the illness and emergencies on a daily basis have my utmost respect and gratitude. One nurse in particular – Jeffrey – was an angel in the midst of chaos. When I asked him what the timeline was for a doctor to see Drew and he told me several hours, I looked him in the eyes and said, “I don’t think my husband has that long,” and he believed me. He asked what his symptoms were, and he said, “It sounds like he may have an incarcerated hernia,” which, miraculously, is something he himself had survived years earlier and so he immediately understood the gravity of the situation.
An incarcerated hernia isn’t just a regular hernia; if you are or someone you love is ever unlucky enough to be in this situation, you have about six hours to get into emergency surgery or you risk losing your intestine and potentially your life. “Your husband is the sickest person here right now. I’ll move him to the top of the priority list,” Nurse Jeffrey said. Even so, we were there for almost six hours before Drew was wheeled into surgery. One more hour and his surgeon said Drew might not be here now.
But he’s here. He’s here, and we have so much to be grateful for. After a few days in the hospital, Drew is back home recovering. He will need another surgery in three months to finish the job (things were too delicate to do a full repair on Monday and he needs to heal a bit before more surgery), but he is going to be ok. I am processing the feelings I had to suppress on Monday – like, “How am I going to tell the kids their father has died?” I was told that sharing the story helps lessen its power, so I am sharing here with you. And also explaining why there wasn’t a new column this week. Between shuttling the kids to school and visiting the hospital and running the household without the help I am used to from Drew, I haven’t had much energy left. But I am optimistic things will settle down after a restful long weekend and we can get back to semi-normal next week.
I hope all of you have had less dramatic starts to 2024, and if you want to share, I’ll be happy to hear what you’ve been up to lately, what you’re looking forward to this year, or if you, too, have experienced a similar medical emergency to what Drew (and I) went through and what comforted you as you recovered.