It turned out to be less ominous than it felt, but it was sufficiently troubling that it disrupted my routines. Assuming I have routines these days; I am not sure I do.
Tuesday night, at around 9 pm, less than an hour after I spent half an hour on the telephone with my wife, I got a call from the rehab center where she temporarily resides. The call was from a nurse, who informed me that my wife’s blood work revealed a critical shortage of a necessary element in her bloodstream. The shortage was so critical that it was necessary for her to be sent, by ambulance, to the nearest hospital emergency room. I spoke to my wife after speaking with the nurse, telling her not to worry, that this was something they needed to do to ensure she remained healthy.
And then I waited. My wife called me sometime after midnight to tell me she had arrived at the ER; all was well. The rest of the night, until about 4:45 this morning, I spent in my recliner; never far from wakefulness, always distant from sleep. Finally, sometime before 5, I got up and decided I would try to go to bed. Around 5:20, my sister-in-law texted me, inquiring what I knew. Nothing new, I told her. Then, ten minutes later, my wife called me. She had just arrived back at the rehab center, after a night at the hospital.
A few hours later, I spoke to the nurse practitioner who oversees my wife’s care. She was impressed that my wife was doing so well. She smiled, the nurse told me, happy at the change in my wife’s behavior. I did not speak to my wife until several hours later, when I went to visit her during one of the “Window Talk” visits, where we see one another through the window and talk to one another via microphone. My wife did, indeed, look wonderful. And she sounded like her old self. I was almost delirious with happiness. But our visit ended after 30 minutes and I have not spoken to her since. My guess is that she has been sleeping, trying to make up for an entire night of sleeplessness. Regardless, though, I feel her absence like it is a knife in my chest. Not knowing whether she is experiencing depression or sleep deprivation or displeasure with me for some reason is painful. I have no reason to think any of the above, but I feel those sensations anyway.
My pain, though, is nothing in comparison to what she must be feeling after more than two months of isolation in a tiny hospital room. I would trade places with her if I could. But I would not want her to feel the angst I feel at this moment, if we could trade experiences. I miss her so very, very much. Her experience, though, must be a thousand times worse. I am not sure whether this joint horror is worth the potential benefit of separation. I just do not know.