Thursday, March 9, 2017

Challenges, trials & 2017

The year started with an extremely unpleasant surprise for us. Hubster woke up with a 105.4 fever Sunday a month back and we haven't slept, eaten or practically done anything properly since then.

Turns out it is indeed the Dengue nuisance. 7 days in the hospital out of which 4 days were in the ICU - days sped by in perpetual chaos, confusion, sadness, anxiety, pure terror and heart ache. A few more comparatively less hectic weeks tending to the sick. But strangely enough, deep, deep down inside, I always knew that everything was going to be okay. And everything is.

I actually estimated myself to be dead at this point, but here I am, alive albeit hardly but making it through one day at a time. All that matters is that the Hubster is better. The universe is alright again.

We are however, still in the process of getting our lives back in order. There are bags still packed all over the place from the days when we had to be ready to dash out of the door to the hospital in seconds if needed, there are things missing which keep turning up at the oddest places possible, there are bags of unwashed clothes hiding in corners, there are piles of washed laundry that need folding. Really, there's just so much to do.

However, I just can't seem to get over the fact that somehow or the other, it's the women who take charge and juggle the responsibilities at any given time of crisis. The men folk in the family take a backseat and participate only when they are asked to. The amount of time I've had to run to the supermarket, to the pharmacy, from work to the hospital to home and to the hospital back again, cooking and preparing, several things at any given time is mind-numbing. The amount of time myself or my mother have been running up and down within the hospital itself - we must have run kilometers within any given day. This is an interesting phenomenon - especially in a patriarchal society such as ours where the man is generally considered to be the doer while the woman is regarded as the passive companion. Are the gender roles changing or has it always been like this? It is rather a curious thing.

It's been a trying time and yet, everybody learns something out of everything. So today, the day after the International Women's day, here I am collecting the lessons learnt during the whole ordeal in this post.

1. First name basis at the hospital
When the security guard salutes when he sees you after a few weeks and inquires after the husband, you know you've been around a place way too much. The receptionists wave as you pass by, you cannot get into an elevator without saying 'hi' to at least 5 different people and even before you speak a word, the people at the hospital canteen has your order all packed and ready to go. I am simply not comfortable with this level of familiarity. Especially in a hospital.

2. Marriage is hard. Sickness is harder.
For the loner in me, the hardest part of marriage was adjusting to the life in two. But just as I was getting there (one year now and I am SO immensely proud of myself), just as I was settling in all smug and content into marriage bliss, life throws a curve ball. No fair. Being sick is hard, adjusting to married life is hard, but a spouse being sick definitely takes the cake, especially within the first year of marriage. This needs no explanations, you can take my word for it.

3. Life without waxing IS possible!
I've been walking about with the Sinharaja growing off of my legs and the Amazon on my eyebrows and hey, nobody died! (ok, except maybe for that dude who happened to catch a glimpse of me in shorts that one time inside the hospital room whose I think, soul smoldered from the inside). On an ordinary day I would have died, but at that point I was just like meh! I kept telling myself 'you go rock those hairy legs in butt shorts gurrrrlll, and take over the world in all your hairy splendor and you know what, I didn't give a damn. I was the Queen of one track mind (for a change). Eyebrows so overgrown that you can braid them, don't care! Nurse, please change his IV and take his temperature or I will strangle you with all this excess hair!

4. Keeping appearances
Don't ever let people tell you that your appearance doesn't matter. This is true even to hospitals. Go to a nurses' station in disheveled clothes and no one will take you seriously - even if you said that your patient is dying. Go to one well dressed and everyone will spring into action - tried and tested. So every morning got me masking my tired, puffy eyes with some face powder, dabbing on some lipstick and a loud, bright smile and carrying it right throughout the day. By God, this 24 hour cheery performance when all you want to do is break down and cry for mommy was SO exhausting! But it was necessary. Things a woman wouldn't do for her husband I tell you.

5. You become the Mistress of the Eyeliner Wand and Breaker of Makeup Norms
Want to look wide awake and fully alert even if you are drooping asleep standing and feeling like you're dying from exhaustion half the time? I am the woman you should talk to.
I went into the hospital barefaced and bleary eyed and makeup was the last thing on my mind. What came out of the hospital is not a creature that you would want to cross paths with in the Eyeliner Realm. Just another proof that our survival instincts work in the most weirdest ways.

6. Perfume helps
Trudging up and down to the hospital, spending nights on end on a cramped up hospital couch with hardly no sleep because you have to wake up every hour or so when a nurse or a doctor comes or to give him measured liquid or to measure his output, you stop caring what you look like and eventually end up feeling like a toerag. This won't do if everybody around you looks to you for strength, courage and solace. A whiff of perfume works wonders. In my case, it was Daisy by Marc Jacobs that saved me during those trying days. I love how the violet leaf makes me feel like a delicate, yet wild and elegant forest queen with violets in my hair :)  

7. Even foodies can get tired of the kitchen
If you follow my food blog, you probably know how much of a foodie I am. But right now, I wouldn't really mind not seeing a kitchen for another half a century or so.

For the past couple of weeks, I come home from work, go straight into the kitchen and start cooking. I wake up in the morning and start cooking. When I'm not cooking, I am thinking of what to cook or how to pull it off with minimum effort. The cloths I put on at 5.30 am only comes off at 9pm in the night. Every moment when I am not at work or I am not sleeping, I am in the kitchen, cooking. It's like somebody just picked me up and threw me into an unintelligible chaos. Also, try feeding a recovering dengue patient. I believe opening up your own restaurant is easier.

8. You start wondering how other women do it
Do all women cook for all three meals? Do all women cook rice and curry for that matter, for all 3 meals? How do they manage the cooking, the cleaning and also, work? Am I a bad person for finding it hard to manage? There's all these questions left unanswered still. How do YOU do it?

9. Everybody loves Raymond.
In this case, the hubster. Everybody is concerned, I get it, I really do. But when it comes to family decisions such as choosing a doctor, a hospital and etc, others just need to LAY OFF. He maybe your friend, he maybe your cousin/nephew/son, etc but he married me and I AM his family now. Everybody needs to understand and accept that whatever I do, I do in his best interest and back the HELL down. I have a sick husband at hand to take care of and have NO time for additional drama. Want to transfer him to a "better" hospital under the care of a "better" doctor and move the patient who mustn't be moved? Do so at your own risk. Oh you have no idea how insensitive people can be at times like this.

10. I must be a tea bag
 It's true what they say about women being like teabags. We only realize our true strength when we land ourselves in hot water and land myself in hot water I did this time. I was amazed at what seeped out, what a storm I brewed.

I guess it is this protective nurturing quality in us women. When it comes to taking care of those we love, a supernatural strength takes us over. Things just happen, unconsciously, what needs to be done gets done and at the end of the day you don't even ask yourself why you are so exhausted. I've lost 8 kilos since the incident and am only now slowly gaining what was lost. I've done it all, battling with low blood pressure and the wooziness, the nausea and the migraine that comes with it while catering to every whim and fancy of a recovering dengue patient. And God knows how demanding they can be! My body was frail and ailing and there I was begging for my body to not give up on me yet, managing to drag myself to work, to the kitchen, to the stores, to the hospital over and over again. Thinking back, it simply amazes me. Did I do all that? Like hell I did! Damn!

11. Your parents will never let you down
You can be 50, married with grandchildren and your parents will always be there by your side. Their unselfish, giving, self-sacrifice is amazing and you realize how indebted you are to them, for all that they are, all that they do. I know - for every child, their parents are the most perfect parents in the world, but when I say that my parents are amazing, they REALLY really are.

When everybody else just broke down and cried their eyes out becoming completely helpless, or panicked and went bull-in-the-china-shop mode, upturning everything in sight, I am grateful for my parents who took matters into their own hands and sprang into action. Things moved because of them. They love and accept my husband as their own - for them he is their own child. This is what I aim to be for my children some day.

12. You realize how much you love a person
Sickness makes you realize so many things. It jolts you to the core and makes you ask the most important questions. So you "love" somebody, but what are you prepared to do for them? When a loved one falls sick, everything just falls into place and you know. You just know. How much is that person worth for you? What will you do for them and what won't you? The answers will come easily, they will flood your senses and suddenly you will be filled with light. You have no time to worry, you have no time to break down and cry. You will know what to do and get busy doing what needs to be done. I found myself faced with the same question and found myself ready to sell my soul and a kidney to the devil just to have him alright again. If you believed that your body can only be pushed to a certain point, you prove yourself wrong all over again, pushing yourself beyond superhuman capabilities. Weeks without proper sleep? Exhaustion from running up and down? Cooking, cleaning and looking after the sick while having dangerously low blood pressure? No problem. Physical limitations don't exist in this plain and it seems like extra energy simply courses through your veins eager to protect and care. What are you prepared to sacrifice for the well being of your loved ones? Everything, your body and mind says.

So there we are. The toughest and the most important type of growing is done during trying times. And I believe I've learned and grown. Now all I need is some peace and quiet and a place to crash and sleep for oh, like 10 years. *Snore*