This is the s tory of how Chuck and I met and fell in love. If you have missed any installments, be sure and get caught up here: Love on a Mission.
But first I need to shake this darn sickness…
My parents have come to visit so we can go wedding dress shopping. I am one of those women who always dreamed of being a mother. As a little girl, I would gather all of my dolls and stuffed animals around me as I fed them and changed their diapers and tucked them in for naps. I spent countless hours dreaming of being a mother. In contrast to my sister-in-law who had bags filled with bridal magazines as she looked forward to her wedding day, I haven’t dreamed about being a bride since I was six. I want to get married to Chuck and have a house (hut?) filled with fat, laughing babies. That dream requires a wedding and a wedding requires a dress.
I am filled with dread as we enter the bridal shop. Everything so fluffy and puffy and lacey. I hate it all. I hate the wedding dresses, the bridesmaid dresses, the fake pearls, the flowers the sickly pastel colors. I find myself extremely jealous of Chuck who has only to don a (rented) tuxedo for our wedding. I want to cry when I see the wedding dresses. I finally see one that I don’t hate, that I don’t envision making me look like a prom queen from the 80’s…the price? Five thousand dollars.
I want to vomit and not from my current illness. Five thousand dollars on a dress I simply “don’t hate”? I can’t do it and we leave. In bed I begin to sketch a dress I think I can wear. Something simple, something with an empire waist and minimal lace. I send the sketch to my mom who shows it to a friend who agrees to sew the dress for me. In the end, my wedding dress cost one hundred twenty-five dollars.
I have been sick for weeks and nothing seems to help. I have been to the doctor twice and am on my second round of antibiotics. My parents urge me to visit for the weekend so they can take care of me, and have me visit their doctor. The flight is only about thirty-five minutes, but to me it feels like hours. No messages from stewardesses about Chuck loving me, no nibbling on brownies or even reading a book. I am so tired all of the time that I doze the entire flight.
I haven’t been truly fever-free in more than a week. My parents are really concerned about my health. I can barely eat and have lost weight. I am not coughing or sneezing or stuffed up. My main symptom seems to be fever, extremely painful joints and burning. I feel like my veins are flowing with fire, not blood.
My parents’ doctor draws blood and informs me my white blood cell count is extremely elevated (you think?) He prescribes stronger antibiotics, insisting I will get better with these. The weekend draws to an end and I head back home. I am still struggling through work (the doctors insist I am not contagious due to the antibiotics) and school. I come home, do my homework and fall into bed. This is all I do: work, school, bed.
My fevers are getting worse. My temperature is creeping up to 104 and 105 at night, dropping to a more reasonable 101 during the day. A week goes by and my temperature hasn’t dropped below 101 degrees once. I have been to the doctor three times in the past three weeks. They have no idea what is wrong with me and I am way beyond the point of caring. My life has become: fever, try to eat, sleep, drag to work, drag to school, pop antibiotics, try not to throw them up, go to bed.
My love letters to Chuck have slowed and he is extremely worried about me. We are just over a month away from our wedding. I need to select and order a wedding cake. There are so many details to attend to and I can’t do a single one.
I find myself on my grandma’s couch one night, determined to get some liquid into my body. I have a can of 7Up next to me. I take a minuscule sip and decide to wait ten minutes and take another. Long before the ten minutes is up I have thrown up. I wait ten minutes and try again, more vomiting. At this point my grandma calls my parents and says, “I think you need to come up here and take care of Renee, she’s getting worse”.
My parents arrive, take my temperature (it’s 105) and load me up for a trip to the emergency room. In my feverish haze, I wonder how high a fever can get before it causes brain damage. Things don’t look good at the hospital. My temperature is 106.7 and my blood pressure is registered at 80/37. The nurse quickly attempts to place an IV. In her haste she stabs me; drawing blood. I watch as two drops of blood land on the floor. Through my burning pain, I stare at those crimson drops that no one but me seems to notice. The doctors draw blood and have me give a urine sample. I haven’t kept anything down for more than a day and I am very dehydrated which makes urination difficult.
I stare at the blood. I drift in and out of a restless sleep. The doctor comes in.
“We found out what is making you so sick,” he says.
To be continued…