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A few months ago, my husband got sick. We don’t know with what, and although he was never tested, we suspect it was some strain of Covid.
Three years ago, he got sick and tested negative for Covid, but something the doctors could only surmise was a virus affected his previously healthy heart.
This more recent bout of illness affected him differently. He lost his sense of taste and his appetite. He generally felt awful, plagued with so many symptoms they are too numerous to go into here. He lost 30 pounds in a matter of weeks.
His cardiologist and internist were of minimal help. When we broached the subject of Covid being the reason, neither were interested in making that determination since he hadn’t been tested. Nor did they suggest he should be.
Eventually the internist ordered a contrast CT scan of his abdomen. Hubs took one look at the two 16-ounce bottles of barium solution and said, “I don’t think I can drink that.” It seems ludicrous now that the doctor would have expected him to after we explained hubs was barely eating anything and had trouble swallowing. The scan was cancelled.
I began getting his affairs in order.
Panicked at the idea that he’d be hospitalized and unable to express his wishes, I scrambled to get healthcare directives filled out, witnessed, and signed. Finding a notary for the healthcare power of attorney wasn’t easy. Notaries in our banks won’t do that anymore. It’s against their policy to notarize legal documents for their customers.
Once that was done, there was nothing to do but wait and try to entice hubs to eat while watching him get thinner and thinner. I stopped cooking dinner because it made him feel worse when he couldn’t eat any of it.
He bought pants and shorts in the next smaller waist size. When they became too big, he dropped to the next smaller size.
Due to the weight loss, he lost his wedding ring which may have bothered him more than anything else.
I became convinced that this was “it.” He was going to just waste away and die. I began to contemplate my life as a widow. I also began to appreciate even more all the things my husband does to make my life easier. Many of which are things I hate to do. Cleaning gutters. Managing money. Paying bills. Washing dishes. So. Many. Things.
Where would I go? What would I do? How would it be?
And who’s going to make me coffee the way he does?
I asked him point blank, “Is this it? Do you think you’re going to die?”
How long can one go without food? Without nutrients? He managed to swallow one bottle of Ensure, found it disgusting, and refused to drink it again.
There was a lot of prayer for his healing. It seemed impossible that he would recover since we didn’t know what was wrong with him and were unlikely to find out, because he resisted all the other tests his doctor wanted to do.
Everyone wanted to know what was wrong. We catalogued his many symptoms, googled for likely causes, but the bottom line is, “We don’t know.”
Everything is not known about all the various Covid strains. If it can affect someone’s heart, couldn’t it affect other organs as well?
This was our summer after 43 years together. Him losing weight. Me contemplating widowhood. Telling the kids if they had anything to say to him, they’d better say it now.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, hubs started eating more, but his sense of taste was still off. Things “don’t taste like they’re supposed to” he said. Still, instead of tidbits, he’d sometimes manage to eat the whole thing, whatever the whole thing was.
Eventually, he began to seek out food on his own. Small quantities, to be sure, but his interest was encouraging.
I began to cook meals again and offer him toddler size portions. The first time he asked for another spoonful was a milestone.
Once he started eating, he slowly worked his way back to what had been a normal appetite level. With me watching to see what foods he liked most and making sure they were available.
At his most recent appointment, his doctor said, “Well, you’re getting better.”
Such a statement surprised us but was based on his bloodwork results and the fact that he hadn’t lost any more weight. Which, in retrospect, was encouraging.
Instead of him stepping off the scale and reporting the drop of another pound or two, one day he said, “I’ve gained five pounds. I don’t know how.”
“You’ve been eating, that’s why.”
After relaying the even more dire health situation of a friend’s husband, I told him, “There’s nothing like contemplating widowhood to make me appreciate you.”
Too bad it comes to that sometimes. That saying, “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone” or in this case, almost gone, is one hundred percent true.
My widowed friends often told me how lucky I was to still have hubs around, and I used to think, yeah, well, you haven’t had to put up with him for 43 years.
But now I see what they mean. Were their marriages happier than mine? I don’t know. But what I do know is they’d give anything to have their husbands back.
I don’t know for how long I have mine back. But I’ll do my best to appreciate that time, to appreciate him, however long it is.