Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bit of a Rough Patch

I don't remember the last time my blog was silent for an entire week.

Sorry about that. This post may shed a little light on what has created the dearth of posts.

We've had a bit of a rough patch around here lately.

It began with Eve and a fever that would not break.

When the ibuprofen was working, she would do puzzles
or watch TV
 or read stories.

But most of the time, she looked like this:
 or like this
 or like this.
It was a really rough five days. She spiked a fever so high that it burned your lips to kiss her forehead (my favorite thermometer). Her eyes were bloodshot and raw. She slept fitfully, ending up on our bedroom floor most nights in a pile of pillows and blankets and crying that she felt sick. She hardly ate anything and would complain that her stomach hurt (because it was empty) and beg for cool water.

On the morning of the sixth day, she wandered downstairs for scriptures, half dressed and handing me a wrong-side-out shirt to right for her. When I asked her to raise her hands over her head so I could help her, Lily let out a gasp. "She looks like a Holocaust victim!" I sent her upstairs to weigh herself, and she had lost 10% of her body weight in five days (four pounds). It stunk.

But it got worse from there.

This is what an emergency room looks like at 3:30 am when it's not flu/RSV season.
 3 am on Wednesday morning, Brad nudged me awake and said that he needed to go to the emergency room, and that he could drive himself.


A few years ago, he was in a motorcycle accident where he landed on his head. He walked away with a crumpled bike, a sore neck, and not much more thought about it. A few months ago, his neck had begun to bother him, and an MRI revealed a lot more about that accident than he knew at the time of the crash. His C5-C6 vertebrae had crushed together, and the doctor reading his MRI (Dr. P, a family friend) seriously explained that he could have/should have been paralyzed from that accident, but his vertebrae had served their purpose and cushioned the impact as much as possible. However, he bears injuries that will never heal. Dr. P explained that if he ever felt extreme nerve pain or numbness in his hand, he needed to drive to Barrow's emergency room in Phoenix immediately.

When he awakened me, he had been feeling the pain and numbness for over an hour, and it was time to go to the hospital. And there was no way I was letting him drive himself.
The 30-minute drive to Phoenix was deserted. So was the parking lot. And the hospital. Brad has never been one to complain when he's sick, but this was different. I've never seen him like this. He described his pain level as "If ten is boiling in a pot of oil--then I'm a nine," and it never dipped below a five no matter what the ER staff tried.

After twelve hours in the ER, we were no closer to answers than we were when we arrived. Two X-rays, an MRI, two EKGs, two shots, and one oral dose of Percocet later, we drove home. I still had mom responsibilities--carpool, dinner, tutoring, piano practicing--but I threw in a quick trip to Walgreen's to fill his five prescriptions.
By this time, I was bone tired. I could barely think, and I was worried.

I've always been grateful to count these two men as our family friends and neighbors as well as our family physicians who stitch kids and diagnose croup and prescribe for pink eye at odd hours of the day and night, but never have I been more grateful than I did that Wednesday night when they both showed up at our house.
They read the test results and listened to the events of the night and day. They offered advice, comfort, and a much needed priesthood blessing. I will never forget them that evening.

Wednesday was a fitful night's sleep, with Hyrum waking up Thursday morning feeling ill. I gave him some ibuprofen, sat him in front of PBS when the other three left for school, and I headed back to bed to sleep a little. Somewhere in the fog of my late-morning nap, I recall Hyrum tapping my arm and saying, "I'm good, headed to school. Bye, Mom." I couldn't tell if it was real or imagined, but when I woke up 20 minutes later he was gone. (We live within sight of the school, and he had decided to head out the door just after the tardy bell rang.)

His whole world was different when he got home.
The characteristic blistering fever and bloodshot eyes from Eve's virus were evident now in Hyrum's face.

 Poor guy. I kept telling him that the best way to feel better was to eat healthy food and drink water to flush out the bugs.
So . . . that was Thursday. All he wanted that night was to sleep on our bedroom floor.

And I had to tell him no.

Months ago, I scheduled an appointment to take the GRE on Friday, October 2. I hired a tutor to reteach me math that I hadn't used since 1986. I spent countless hours doing problems and consulting answer keys. I did batch after batch of flash cards and dissected text passages for hours. I couldn't reschedule on such late notice.

So what did I do?

I got up at 5 am Friday morning, showered and ate, practiced a few problems, then headed out the door to ASU to take my test with sick Hyrum and sick Brad at home.

Much to no one's surprise, I bombed it.

And when I say I bombed it, I mean it.

The verbal section was fine, and I was happy with the score that immediately flashed on the screen when I clicked the final "submit" button. The math section, however, was not so good. Really bad, as a matter of fact. I think a monkey could have done better. My brain was just too tired and too emotionally taxed to apply all the math I had just relearned. I guess I'm slightly cheered when I remember that I wouldn't have been able to complete more than 4 or 5 problems before I'd begun studying, but I was disappointed. Still am. I'm waiting for the writing prompt grades, but I'm less than hopeful. My brain froze on the first section, and I couldn't pull words out of my brain that made cogent sentences of any kind. Writing? Really? That's what I do. And I couldn't do it that day. The second prompt was better, but I don't hold any hope for a good score on that section either.

It's taken me some time to get my bearings again after such a difficult few days. The kids all seem to be better for now, and I'm grateful. But Brad is still in much pain, with no answers or possible solutions. We are hoping he can get into a pain management specialist and a neurosurgeon soon.

As for me, I guess it's time to fill out that grad school application and see what the ramifications of that devastating score will be. I just don't know. I did find a slight ray of joy when I could use the word prescient correctly in a text to a friend. That made the whole GRE worth it, right?

Thanks for listening. Here's hoping things get back to normal around here soon.


  1. Hi Jenny. I have been reading your blog for years because I love seeing the beautiful photos of your family and reading the compelling stories you tell. I have never commented before but your post moved me to comment to let you know that I am wishing you and all the members of your family well.

  2. Oh my friend, I am sorry you and your family have had a really rough week, indeed. I hope you're all doing better this week and your mind is calm. I do believe that most things happen for a reason, and that our Father in Heaven is always aware of us. May you feel His love for you.

  3. Hoping your kiddos are all on the mend by now....and all the germs are gone! Saying a prayer for your husband....please keep us posted.