By Julie Caissie, PHEc
Sometimes, as a married couple, you face hardships in life. I want to share a story about a challenge my husband and I endured. In 2003, my husband was diagnosed with meningitis. This traumatic experience tested our resolve as a married couple. Here is our story.
He arrived a few hours later drenched in sweat, white as a sheet. He walked in the door and laid down on the couch. I said: ‘‘I think we should go to the hospital right away.’’He didn`t say a word. I drove him to the hospital, and they checked him out. They gave him some medications and they told us that it wasn`t serious. I left the hospital thinking….‘‘I am not a doctor, but something is wrong here.’’
Always trust your instincts.
I remember looking up the word meningitis on the internet and found the following information: ‘‘Meningitis is a medical emergency.” “Untreated, meningitis can be fatal in a few hours. Even survivors can have severe consequences including varying degrees of blindness, deafness, paralysis and mental retardation. Suspected cases of meningitis require immediate medical attention.’’ I remember thinking…I have to call somebody. I called my mom first and then my mother-in-law. My mom didn’t say much but I could clearly hear the fear in her voice. My mother in-law was very worried and kept asking questions that I couldn’t answer.
A few hours later, a nurse came to see me and said: ‘‘We are transferring your husband to another hospital ….it is urgent.’’ I said: ‘‘Why are you transferring him?’’ She replied: ‘‘Well this is a teaching hospital and your husband needs specialized care…the other hospital will be able to better accommodate him.’’ I asked if I could ride with him in the ambulance but was told that wouldn’t be possible. Then, the nurse began to walk away but I halted her retreat and asked ‘‘wait a minute…what hospital and where is it located…the least you can do is give me directions.’’ I grew more frustrated with her lack of help. Eventually, I managed to get the information I needed and drove to the hospital where my husband was being transferred. I cried during the entire drive there. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have driven at all.
The recovery period was difficult. He was in the hospital for several weeks. At first, he was weak and slept most of the time. After a few days, he decided to get up and walk around the hospital. Some days, he didn’t have the energy to get up. I would say ‘‘Well you have to do it if you want to get stronger…do it for me please’’. The next day, I remember him trying to do crossword puzzles and couldn’t write. He was so frustrated and upset. Every day I would say: ‘‘It’s going to take some time but you will get stronger.’’ He did.
Throughout this journey, my husband and I found ways to constantly be emotionally connected to each other. For example, even when he was unconscious, I would hold his hand and talk to him. During his recovery process, we would make it a priority to go for a walk every day and to talk to each other. In this way, we shared our worries and expectations and it brought us closer together. Since then, my husband has fully recovered and he is doing very well. We are so blessed!