One day my biggest worry is what’s for dinner. The next day I’m faced with the kind of worry I have never known before. My husband’s third spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) means surgery this time, a pleurodesis. ER visits and chest tubes are happening. The second visit I have to leave the room, close my eyes, cover my ears, and visualize that I’m somewhere else because I can’t bear to hear him cry out in pain again as they stick the tube through his ribs.
Right before the surgery I take a picture of him FaceTiming with the boys and we manage to fake some smiles for a pre-op selfie before he is wheeled back to the operating room. Secretly I’m really scared. The thought looms in my head that these could possibly be the last photos I have of him.
Thankfully surgery goes well. He’s in a lot of pain though because that’s what happens when you have the inside of your chest cavity scraped off in order for your lung to scar and adhere to it. His lung still has a leak in it. The sound of bubbling water in the machine that the chest tubes are hooked to confirms it and so do the daily Xrays. Days pass and turn into weeks as I sit in his room, sick to my stomach and consumed with fear, listening to the bubbling.
By now all the nurses know our family and we know them by name. Normal conversations these days are about collapsed veins, IVs, blood clots, internal bleeding, incisions, chest tube drainage, pain, and the possibility of another surgery.
Two birthdays pass in the hospital and so does Father’s Day.
I stop expecting good news and just hope for news that isn’t bad. People tell me to be strong because I’m the rock of the family now, but I don’t feel like a rock. I feel like an egg who’s happy, positive, hard outer shell has been cracked open and all my soft, sensitive insides are exposed to the harsh reality of what is happening. Towards the end, I can barely hold back the tears to function and my head is dizzy with worry.
Then finally one day, his lung slowly starts healing and over four weeks after the whole ordeal started, he’s finally released from captivity.
And slowly, very slowly his healing continues and our lives are getting back to normal. We are forever changed by these events, still letting go of the worries and the fear, and never taking our togetherness for granted.
These boots were made for walking! He was not interested in standing still for a photo while I focused my Lensbaby.