On Circling the Wagons

I have often used writing to help myself sort through things, and this piece is no exception. After ending my last post with the happy postscript that Dan was safely home with me after a surprise appendectomy, our happy ending turned sour; hours after bringing him home he began to have severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and uncontrollable chills. Dan felt like he was fading fast, so back to the ER we raced, this time much more panicked than our first trip two days before.

Once again I was not allowed to be with Dan because of the new COVID-19 protocols the hospital has put in place. I sat in the parking lot for an hour and a half, messaging family and close friends, tears coming in waves. I felt incredibly helpless and frustrated, unable to be with Dan to get information, to comfort him and advocate for him. I finally heard from Dan and he told me to head home to wait there, as we live just two minutes up the hill from UAB Highlands…obviously a strategically wise thing for we Gaineys.

I have always shared a lot about my life, probably too much at times. However, I’ve done it in the spirit that if someone could be encouraged or uplifted by hearing about my struggles and my joys, then it’s a positive and worthwhile thing to do. I shared every step of the way through Dan’s first trip to the ER, his surgery, and his return home, as I very much believe in the power of positive energy coming from a group of people during challenging times. I was deeply touched that so many people took the time to reach out with encouragement and love.

However, as I sat in the car yesterday with the darkness encroaching, something shifted in me. I felt emotionally bankrupt, scared, and so very worried about Dan. I decided that it was time to circle the wagons and save my focus and energies for doing everything I could to help my husband. I stayed away from social media, messaging only with family and my closest tribe of friends. They gave me space to answer questions when and how I could, which helped to reduce the pressure I was feeling to respond to everyone. I wanted to wait until I had real answers before sharing our situation.

Fireside comfort dog…

This has been a very long day with not a lot of information forthcoming or a plan forward for Dan. I have let myself feel what I needed to feel, cry when I needed to release the pent up emotions. Dan is in the Cardiac Care Unit with respiratory issues, and- as UAB does with all current patients who have any respiratory symptoms, they tested him for COVID-19 on top of all of the other testing they’ve done. We are still waiting on the results that were supposed to have come in several hours ago. They will shape the next steps.

When Shiva ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…

I’ll be honest; waiting for news about Dan is not easy. I am frightened. I’m not thinking clearly as my brain is fogged over with stress, and all of this takes me back to caring for my Mom and puts me in a dark place. I’m doing my best to stay busy with schoolwork (difficult to do because I have zero focus right now), housework, yard work, and exercising with Marley. Everywhere I look around me I see Dan and the beauty he has brought to my life. Even Marley and Shiva have circled around me, following me everywhere and settling right by me when I finally sit down, instinctively comforting me. I keep my phone by me at all times, its normally silent ringer now on and pinging away as people check in. The sound is stressing me out, but I can’t risk missing a call from a doctor or a nurse until we get Dan through this.

I am deeply grateful for the many wonderful people who have cared enough to reach out with good thoughts, encouragement, and prayers. I’m also grateful for their patience as I continue to circle my tightly knit wagons to help me ride this wave with my sweet husband. Dan is my heart and my world, and I have to be able to give him my full attention. And so I wait, exhausted, I pray, I check incessantly for phone messages from Dan or his doctors, and live for a glimpse of my sweet husband on FaceTime. I will do my best to stay strong for him and for our home. Tomorrow is another day; hopefully one filled with joy and good health…and with a plan to get Dan well and back home with me. That is my mission right now; my heart needs to come home.


13 thoughts on “On Circling the Wagons

  1. Praying for you, Denise, and sending loving, and healing, thoughts, to you both. 💑
    I will pray that you get good news, very soon……..
    Love, Catherine 💝

  2. Remember you can take leave, including FMLA, to care for yourself and Dan, so when you need a break from teaching, there will be ways to be able to do so. Remember, too, that all who know you are on your side, pulling for you and Dan. And it’s our shared humanity that connects us all, across the globe and across history, during crises like this. Sending so much love and prayers.

  3. Denise, you and Dan are in our thoughts and prayers. May God be with you during this time of trial. I know He will be. Take care.

  4. You are wonderful. One off my favorite people in the whole world and Dan is another. My voice is added to the world of other voices that will pray to get him well and home. Much love.

  5. I do not know Dan but I know you. I see you and I see how happy and at peace you have been for some long. I am praying for peace amidst chaos for you. I cannot imagine how hard this is. You are so loved by so many and I hope you can feel all the love and prayers being sent you me way. 💖💖

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