I am sitting in the guest room, numb with fatigue, just on the other side of the wall from my sweet Dan who is quarantined in our bedroom. After this eight-day ordeal of ERs, an appendectomy, hospital stays, a COVID-19 diagnosis, and a myriad other awful experiences, Dan and I are both quietly overjoyed to be together again. I say ‘quietly’ as we are both shell shocked from this experience. There is so much to process, especially for Dan who had to face it all alone as no visitors are allowed in any UAB hospital for the foreseeable future.
We knew that Dan wouldn’t be released until later in the day, as the doctor’s stipulation was that he had to keep lunch down and make sure that the hiccups that had plagued him for three days were gone. I had a busy teaching day (online, as we all are right now), and it was such an uplifting exercise to work with my wonderful students and keep my mind busy while the time passed. It felt like I was waiting for Christmas to come. I have felt so separate from my teacher/musician self over the past couple of weeks with all that has happened; reconnecting felt so right.
Dan sent me a list of what his system could handle food-wise, and during my lunch break I raced to the grocery store to see what I could find. Such a strange new world; only small groups of people are allowed in the store at any given time. Social distancing is enforced, and there are now arrows on the floor that direct traffic to keep things moving with the least amount of contact. While I was there I received a call from the clinic; my own COVID-19 test came back negative. I sighed deeply at the news. I was grateful to be negative, but it would make caring for Dan so much more challenging as I would have to be extra careful to protect myself.
I finally heard from Dan that they were releasing him and I did a final check of the house and yard. I worked so hard to make sure that I could focus on Dan during his recovery and not have to worry about anything else. I worked maniacally over the past week to stay sane; otherwise the worry and stress would have done me in. Now I can focus on what and who really matters.
Finally the word came- it was time! I hopped in Dan’s Roadster and headed down the hill. It feels like Mad Max at Thunderdome in Birmingham right now, with distracted drivers veering into oncoming traffic, running stop signs, and generally being giant menaces to society. All worth it to pick up my precious cargo.
Dan is in rough shape physically and beaten down emotionally. It will take us time to process it all and understand everything that we are supposed to take from this experience. We feel like we have been through a kind of war, one that will leave its mark on our psyches. Once we got Dan settled into our bedroom, I sat across the room from him, mask on, to talk through some of it all. It physically pained me to hear more of the details of his experiences, things he kept from me so as not to worry me. I told him some of the experiences I’d had over the week, all which seemed so minuscule in comparison. No matter what, we are together. I will do my absolute best to care from him, one day at a time.
We have a silly thing that we do making heart hands at each other. During FaceTime chats, we would end by each of us making half of the heart. Today we were able to stitch our two hearts back into one. I feel like the Universe has given me the most precious gift, and I know Dan feels the same. Another opportunity to be together, something we’ve never taken for granted. From our hearts, from our beloved Chez Gainey, Dan and I want to thank all of you who sent good thoughts and prayers our way, who sent messages of love and support, who shared supplies to keep us safe, and who followed along on this rocky road with us. We still have a hill to climb, but this time we do it together. As it should be. Next goal? A healthy Dan and the ability to belatedly hug each other in welcome. For now, sleep.
Thank you. Truly.