In the midst of the emotional and physical drainage of the past fortnight, I sat at my husband’s bedside following the second of the two seizures that he has suffered, holding his hand as he slept and staring intently at the sight of his football-battered feet protruding from the very unhospitally-cornered bedding. The sight of them, such a familiar sight in such an alien environment, was painful in its stark and scalding vulnerability. It made me think of when our girls were born; tiny infant skulls, bathed in wisps of hair, exuding fragility and needing of infinite care. You could cradle those little heads in one hand, running your palm warm across the softness of new hair and quivering fontanelle, wondering at this life that you had made between you, buckling a tad at the realisation of your responsibility and unfathomable love for your child. As I saw my husband’s feet, not usually one of the parts of him that make me go weak at the knees, I was knocked sideways by love and sadness. My husband, kind and hard-working, clean-living and previously healthy and strong, now lying poorly and scared, breathing oxygen through a mask and being pumped full of drugs and fluids. I have never known fear nor love like it.
Following his second seizure he had asked the nurses to ring for me. I came immediately, driving through the dark back to the hospital that I had left only two hours earlier, whilst he awaited his lumbar puncture. The sight of him in that bed and the shock of the seizures was another punch with which we had to roll. The conversation that followed, as he gripped my hand and told me that he would die that night, was beyond any physical or emotional blow that I could previously have imagined. I cry as I type. He asked me to look after our little girls, and I reassured him and I grasped that hand and I stroked his hair and I wondered how on earth it had come to this: minor day surgery, kidney failure, seizures, biopsies and lumbar punctures and MRIs and poking and prodding – and no diagnosis, not a thing, except a random new one of epilepsy, yet here we were, and here we are, for the still the hospital have no answers.
My darling feels a little better now in himself, a week on. He is far more alert and less drowsy, his appetite is returning. He is still sick at least once a day, but his kidneys are improving ‘hand over fist’, as the consultant likes to say. This is the same consultant who assured my husband that he would not suffer another seizure following the first, the erroneousness of which (and therefore false reassurance) rather makes me wish to pummel his chops ‘hand over fist’, but unless I find a step-ladder in order to reach the tall bugger and am prepared to be escorted from the hospital grounds by the security guards then I shall of course refrain.
And either way of course, it does not change the status of my husband from ‘poorly’ to ‘well’. He is not well. We need to know why. The fear of which punch will be issued next, and in which direction we must prepare to roll, is constant. Fear and love. They are inextricably linked.