Last Monday was predictable and routine: I spent the day taking my mom to a doctor's appointment, shopping with her, and making dinner for her and my dad, while my husband did some handyman jobs at his family's home on Lake Champlain. But that evening, there was a hint that things were about to change--when some of my husband's siblings and I saw that my husband had developed what looked like a weird rash on his feet and legs. (An allergic reaction, we wondered? But why didn't it itch?) Those red spots looked exactly like the ones that appeared on my face the day my fourth son was born. He weighed in at almost eleven pounds (yes, I said eleven), and apparently the strain of pushing him out into the world broke every blood vessel in my face.
Okay, so broken blood vessels sometimes have an obvious cause, and when they do, they don't warrant a lot of concern. But what kind of strain could possibly do that to my husband's legs? What kind of exertion would have caused that? Especially when we're talking about an extremely fit guy who does strenuous P90X routines on a daily basis and is in better shape in his 50's than he was in his 30's!
We went to bed Monday night a bit perplexed but not overly worried. I got up early Tuesday morning and blogged (something that I don't always get around to doing when I'm visiting with family).
Then my husband got up. And I took one look at the bruise on his shin and knew something wasn't right. Because now it looked like this.
That did it. We were on our way to the ER.
After check-in and initial questions from the nurse, a PA came in to ask my husband what was going on. It's never a really comforting thing when a medical professional says, "Huh. I've never seen anything like this before. I'm going to go get Mike and have him take a look."
After assessing the situation, it didn't take long for Mike, who was the young doctor on call, to order blood tests. And when the blood work came back, we found out that the reason for the broken capillaries on his feet and legs and the easy bruising was a rather serious one: my husband's platelet count was extremely low, and he had a condition called ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), which causes the immune system to malfunction and go into platelet-attacking mode. They think this condition is sometimes triggered by a viral infection, so we couldn't help but believe that it was a direct result of a nasty viral illness that had laid him pretty low and sent him to the ER just a couple of days before.
It wasn't long before my husband was visited by a hematologist, who told him that he would be admitted and more tests would be ordered. After ten hours in the ER, hooked up to an IV treatment and waiting for a bed to become available, he moved upstairs and had more blood drawn.
Through all of this, my indomitable husband appeared hale and hearty, per usual. His color was good, he felt fine, and he looked less like a bedraggled patient than I did. I mean, he was...well, see for yourself.
On Wednesday, my husband received a second IV treatment. He had to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights in the hospital (where I slept in a reclining chair, because I couldn't bear to leave him), and he was finally discharged on Friday morning, when his platelets had climbed to a safe enough level.
A priest came in to see my husband on Wednesday, and he gave him a blessing and Holy Eucharist. The entire time he was in the hospital, my husband was unfailingly optimistic and calm; he was the best possible patient and I'm sure his cheerfulness and kindness made a huge impression on the nursing staff who took such beautiful care of him during his hospital stay. But his eyes did fill with tears in the aftermath of receiving Our Lord. It pained me to see his tears, but didn't surprise me at all. He is always, always close to God; but I'm sure, with all the uncertainty and fear created by this strange episode, he felt His presence more acutely than ever.
Although he's on the mend, my husband could still use lots of prayers as he continues to get better. I know many of you who read this blog are fierce prayer warriors, so I'm counting on you. In the meantime, I'm going to storm the heavens, too...and I'm going to cherish every minute I have with my extraordinary husband.