So, it’s been a long time since I’ve written here! During my last post, I wrote about my Christmas miracle and how I was really starting to look forward to the holidays. This Christmas was supposed to be a good one after spending the holiday the year before in the hospital. We planned things carefully so that I’d be able to participate in all of our festivities accessibility and energy level wise and I made sure to take it easy leading up to the holidays. Unfortunately, the best laid plans often go astray and this wasn’t an exception to the rule.
The days leading up to Christmas, I was feeling a bit under the weather but I kept my spirits up. I made sure to reserve my energy for the family events I wanted to attend with the hopes that they were just a couple bad days. However time and rest wasn’t the solution to fixing my feeling worse than normal. Soon enough, Christmas Eve approached and I wasn’t yet feeling any better, I was feeling even worse than I was before. Despite that, I went to our Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents house and enjoyed myself but, by the end of the evening, boy was I wiped! I could tell whatever was going on was taking a toll on my body.
When I got home that night, I took my temperature and I had a fever. That was a red flag that something was up. Having a PICC line, having a fever is always something to watch out for since it could be a sign of a line infection. However, my fever was pretty low so I took some Tylenol and went to bed hoping it’d be gone the next day. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I woke up with a higher temperature and pain around my where my line goes into my arm but it was Christmas day! There was no time for infection! I powered through most of the day until it became evident I needed to have my line checked.
While everyone was eating supper, I went to lay down in my room to relax some as it had been a busy day. My mom came into my room and accidentally touched my arm which lead into me bursting into tears from the pain. When I pulled up my sleeve, my PICC line site was a mess. It was very clearly infected. But I mean, who wants to go to the hospital on Christmas? It took some time but I was finally convinced to go to the Emergency room later in the evening on Christmas day, where I was diagnosed with a line infection that we later found out had spread to my bloodstream.
In order to treat the infection and make sure it didn’t spread to any organs, I spent three weeks on heavy duty IV antibiotics given every 4 hours luckily in my own home thanks to extramural care. From the time I got sick before Christmas to the end of my antibiotic treatment, I spent most of my time in bed sleepy and, when I was awake, I was miserable: exhausted and feeling overall unwell. This period of time just flew by with the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, it was days into the month of February and the Christmas season was long gone.
I could hardly believe it. It had seemed like just yesterday that I was finishing up all my Christmas crocheting for gifts and decorating my room and suddenly the tree was down, the colourful lights were taken off the roofs of houses, and there was not a Christmas decoration to be found. That is one of the things so hard about living with a chronic illness, especially when you’re someone who likes to plan for the future like me; despite my best efforts of trying to have an enjoyable, healthier holiday this year, my illness doesn’t ever take a vacation, no matter how much I wish it would. That’s just the reality of a lifelong illness; needing to live with unpredictability.
This unpredictability can be something that is hard to deal with. I was so upset and frustrated over the fact that I spending Christmas night in the hospital once again for a second year in a row. I was annoyed that my body would choose this time for me to get an infection and that I had to go to the emergency room to deal with it. I was angry. But then something magical happened. The anger passed and I no longer felt resentful to my infection for ruining my holiday. Why? Because I no longer felt my holiday was ruined. Sure, I might of spent part of it at the hospital but the rest of it was great; it was a good time spent together with my family.
I didn’t have the Christmas of my dreams. They probably won’t be making a Hallmark Christmas movie based on it anytime soon. But all the most important components were there: the fun I had decorating, our beautiful Christmas tree and lights, and most importantly, my family. Perfection doesn’t exist and not only is chronic illness unpredictable, so is life. Had it not been my illness that interrupted my plans, something else could’ve anyways so the best we can do is just go with the flow.
Even though things were tough at that time, I was able to make the best of it and appreciate the holiday for what it was, quality family time, rather than resenting it for what it wasn’t: hospital-free. Unpredictability in my life isn’t going away anytime soon. I can’t stop unexpected things from happening but I can choose to learn to ride the waves of life.