Sixteen Days Ago

My roommate, Mary Beth, and I were planning on moving into a new apartment the first Saturday of 2014. In preparation for it, we started packing mid-December. During this packing phase, Mary Beth ended up with some muscle pain; we figured she had pulled something. The muscle pain got worse (and moved places) over the Christmas holidays, and by the time I came back from visiting family, she had also developed a cough. She hadn’t gotten all of her packing done by the Friday night before our move, but she promised she would get up early Saturday morning so everything would be ready when our families and the U-Haul arrived.

I heard Mary Beth get up a little before eight. And then I heard a clatter and her groaning in pain. I found her curled up on the floor in front of the bathroom. This is not so uncommon an occurrence that I was unduly alarmed, but I helped her to sit up and got her some water.

I figured she might have the flu. I knew she was probably going to be useless re: packing and moving for the next couple of hours, so I started plotting how to handle this wrench in our schedule.

And then Mary Beth asked, “Is my foot swollen?”

It was.

That is not the flu or a pulled muscle, I thought. “Let’s get you to the urgent care,” I said.

The nearest urgent care that accepted her insurance wasn’t open until ten, so after Mary Beth spoke to her mom on the phone, we decided to go to a clinic about half an hour away. We both got dressed enough to appear in public; I shoved a muffin and a book in my purse, and then I drove to the urgent care.

(It had snowed a little that morning. There was one scary sliding-in-a-turn-moment, but we survived. I never did eat that muffin or read that book, though.)

By the time we got to the urgent care, Mary Beth was in so much pain she couldn’t do her I’m-in-agony shuffle anymore. The lady at the registration desk got her a wheelchair, and I pushed her to the exam room. The nurse and the doctor were both very professional and very kind to Mary Beth while they took her vitals and asked her questions. The doctor said she had a couple of ideas of what the swelling and pain could be. She thought it might be a herniated disc, but Mary Beth’s pain didn’t increase when the doctor prodded her spine.

“The next possibility is blood clots,” the doctor said. She went to see if they had any staff on site who could run the Doppler test to confirm the diagnosis, but no one was available. When she came back, she said that we had two options: I could drive Mary Beth to a nearby ER, or we could call for an ambulance to take her.

Cuz, here’s the thing about blood clots—if they end up in your heart or lungs or brain, they can kill you.

Mary Beth wasn’t short of breath, and the ER was only a couple of minutes away, so I drove her there. The doctor called ahead to let the hospital know we were coming. After another wheelchair and lots of questions, Mary Beth got moved into a room at the ER. I helped her change into a hospital gown.

And that’s when I became a goddess of logistics. I used my phone and Mary Beth’s phone to call/text parents, siblings, and friends to keep them up to date on what was going on with Mary Beth and our scheduled move. Because we were going to move, goshdarnitall. I had reserved the U-Haul. We had been counting down to this day. I wasn’t going to let a trip to the ER stop this move from happening, especially since Mary Beth kept apologizing about causing trouble.

“This isn’t your fault,” I told her. “It’s not like you went out and did some stupid stunt and had to go to the ER. I would have been mad then.”

While Elise (one of Mary Beth’s sisters) and Paxton (Elise’s husband) drove to the ER, I held Mary Beth’s hand. The pain was so bad she kept tearing up. (Mary Beth is not a crier. I have seen her cry more in these last two weeks than I have the entire almost-decade I’ve known her.) I tried to distract her with random chatter about kdramas (how we were looking forward to I Need Romance 3, why she ought to give You Who Came From the Stars another chance) and our plans for the new apartment. Once Elise and Paxton arrived, Elise took my place as designated hand-holder and Mary-Beth-news-relayer, and I took Mary Beth’s keys and Paxton.

I picked up the ten-foot truck from the U-Haul place and let Paxton drive my car back to the old apartment. My sister Mandy; her husband, Trever; my brother Beto; my sister Cassie; and her fiancé, Joe, all arrived shortly afterwards. I put Beto and Paxton on bed-taking-apart duty, Trever volunteered to play Manual Labor Tetris in the U-Haul, and everyone else hauled furniture and boxes while I directed everything.

…and had a mini panic attack when I realized I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to pay both my and Mary Beth’s portion of the rent that was due that day. I also couldn’t find Mary Beth’s checkbook to forge a check for her (is it forgery if I have her drugged permission?). I could transfer money from my savings account, but there was a risk it wouldn’t clear before the check bounced.

So I pulled Mandy aside and said, “I’ve got a really personal and awkward question for you. Do you have [x amount of dollars] that I can borrow right now?”

And she did. Neither she nor Trever had brought their checkbooks, but I gave her directions to the nearest bank, and she went and got a money order.

In the midst of taking furniture apart, loading the U-Haul, and packing—because there was still packing to be done—Elise texted to give us the news: Mary Beth did indeed have blood clots. Lots of them. All up and down her leg. The doctors were still evaluating her, but chances were good she’d be able to go home instead of being hospitalized.

We eventually got the U-Haul filled with all of the furniture and whatever boxes we could stuff into the empty spaces. We filled Mandy and Trever’s car with boxes, and Paxton carpooled with them so he could direct them to the new apartment. Beto rode with me in the U-Haul, and I left Cassie and Joe behind with the keys to my car and strict orders to pack up everything Mary Beth’s room that didn’t look like trash and to drop off our boxes of donations at the local DI.

Ruth (Mary Beth’s sister), Jordan (Ruth’s husband), and Evelyn (their daughter) met us at the new apartment. After we emptied the U-Haul, Ruth volunteered to start unpacking the kitchen, and I put Paxton and Jordan on bed assembly duty. I also called Elise to get Mary Beth’s permission for Beto to drive her car (which she gave) before my side of the help headed back. We dropped off the U-Haul and then shoved as much as we could in my car, Mary Beth’s car, and Mandy and Trever’s car. There was still random stuff everywhere in the apartment, but I estimated it could be handled in a single car later, and it wasn’t worth going back for it right then.

By the time we returned to the new apartment, Elise and Mary Beth were there. Mary Beth sat in a corner chair with her leg propped up and kept thanking and apologizing to everyone. She was wrung out, but she still participated in the conversations that went on. (Somehow. I would’ve been curled up in my newly made bed and hating the world at that point.)

Mary Beth and I had decided previously to buy dinner for everyone who came to help, so I took everyone’s orders and called them in (along with a surprise order for dessert). Mary Beth decided to pay for it all, which was very sweet of her, and Cassie, Joe, and I went to pick it up. (And picked up some magnificent cinnamon chip bread along the way, because why not?)

People left, eventually, after dinner. Mary Beth and I tried to go to the pharmacy, but Mary Beth was shaking hard before we were five steps out the door, so I took her insurance card and debit card and went by myself to pick up her medication. I ended the day by leaving two long, rambling messages: one for our new bishop asking for help and one for my boss asking to take Monday off as a sick day.

(I cringed all the way through the latter one because I kept sounding like…well, everything except intelligent and professional. When my boss called back, one of the first things she told me was “you sounded really stressed.” Yes. Yes I was.)

I got the sick day, and I spent Sunday and Monday hovering over Mary Beth and driving her to a doctor’s appointment, a medical supply store, and a pharmacy. (I also had to get a new tire on Monday, which I did while Mary Beth was napping.) I also attempted to set the apartment more to rights—still trying to do that, honestly.

Things have gotten better since then. Mary Beth’s family made a couple meals for us, and her mom finally escaped the polar vortex on Wednesday and has been taking care of Mary Beth since then. (She also paid for a cleaning crew to handle our old apartment, which was a godsend. I couldn’t have taken care of that all on my own.) The Relief Society presidency helped deal with Mary Beth’s room and brought her dinner once.

Mary Beth is on the (very slow) mend. We have been pretty successful at figuring out how to make her comfortable, much of which hinges on how to prop up her (still swollen) leg. She can use her crutches to move to the couch, which she does on occasion, but otherwise she’s basically on bed rest. We have been watching a lot of Running Man together. She claims it’s perfect for convalescence: it’s funny, it’s easy to follow, and she can start and stop an episode at any time. Her work has been pretty awesome about her taking sick leave. We still aren’t sure yet how soon she’ll be able to work (it’s kind of hard to be a lawyer when you’re legally high on painkillers), but things will work out.

In summary: scary stuff happened, and then family swept in and saved the day, and we’re in a pretty apartment, and we’re grateful everyone survived and that people love us. I’m still trying to get caught up on everything, and I have a nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten important things, but whatever.

Also? Fuzzy blankets, hot chocolate/tea, and boterkoek are amazing.

2 thoughts on “Sixteen Days Ago

  1. Holy smokes! That is insane! You always have been amazing — just one more evidence (actually, it sounds like maybe more like fifty more evidences). I hope Mary Beth feels better soon! How wonderful to have supportive family nearby.

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