We needed this trip.
Before we left Derek was drowning in exams while I was drowning in the California rain and my own tears.
My grandmother had been slipping away from us and I wanted nothing more than to be with her and my family.
It was good timing for a two week honeymoon in Maui. My bikini was ready with bells on.
We arrived a week ago, picked up a rental Jeep at the airport, filled it with food from Costco, and made our way to our sweet little abode on the water. We took it easy our first night, went out for fancy Mai Tais at the Ritz, then cuddled up with dinner and a movie.
The next day I booked us some couples massages to help us relax into the trip.
On our way into town, we stopped at a little health cafe where I ordered an acai bowl topped with lilikoi, bee pollen, and paleo granola.
I took about ten pictures of my beautiful bowl then smiled and swooned the whole way through while feeling virtuous and pretending that I was an island girl, stopping for my post surf snack. Soon I would be tanned and surfing and eating these every day, right? Hang loose baby.
As we left the cafe I casually mentioned to Derek, "I feel like my mouth is swelling a little...it's probably not a big deal but keep checking on me, ok?"
We decided it must be the bee pollen. I wasn't too worried.
By the time we arrived in town a small rash was starting to spread over my body.
Derek asked me to sit on a bench while he ran to find some Benadryl. As soon as he left my whole stomach was starting to swell and I felt nauseous and emotional. I lay down on the bench and could hear tourists around me laughing. The sun felt heavy.
By the time Derek returned I had tears rolling out of my eyes under my sunglasses. We popped back into the store together where I took two Benadryl and I sat on the floor in pain.
"I think I need a bathroom."
I felt like I either needed to throw up or go to the bathroom but I couldn't tell. The rash was spreading all over my body like a hot itch and it was becoming harder to breath.
When we got closer to the bathroom in the park I lay down outside on the hot pavement in pain. Sharp pains were starting to cut through my lower abdomen.
As the Benadryl kicked in I was starting to breath more normally, but my speech was getting groggier and the pain was intense.
I made Derek come into the bathroom for me where I threw up a little and then lay flat on the floor wriggling, barely able to speak.
I have never known pain like this before.
Strangers watched over me while Derek called the ambulance.
The paramedics arrived and strapped me into a gurney and rolled me into the ambulance.
They hooked me up to a water IV and gave me some anti nausea medication to take the edge off. It was a long 30 minutes to the hospital. The paramedic kept asking me questions, and spelling out my name felt like the most challenging thing in the world. I took a deep breath "G"...sharp pain, body swelling, throat tight, "I"...
We got there.
I have never wanted drugs so badly.
By the time we arrived at the hospital I was shaking and shivering violently while still squirming. When I could talk I just looked at Derek and said "I just want this to stop."
I kept thinking of my grandmother. She'd been in the hospital with a lot of pain and had just started morphine.
A sweet nurse hooked me up to an IV with a drug stronger than morphine, steroids, and some other concoction to bring down the inflammation. I joked that the steroids would make me buff, and he said "No, not that kind." Somewhere he mentioned he liked spear fishing and I remember thinking he had a gentle smile.
I fell in and out of sleep for what might have been an hour or two while a doctor took blood samples and I told Derek a story about siamese twins making sushi.
Eventually the nurse gave me a shot of potassium and the doctor returned to tell me that my white blood cell count was really high in my stomach (I kept asking what a "Y" blood cell was). He said he was a little concerned and if the pain continued I should return.
We got a prescription, signed a hefty hospital bill (welcome to America) and made our way home.
I had ice cream for dinner and we watched a movie. I felt incredibly at peace and grateful. When you think of all the reasons people are in a hospital, and for how long, I was getting away lucky. On top of that I was alive and no longer in pain.
The next day we went back into town and made new memories.
When we got home my mom called in tears... my grandmother had died.
I couldn't help but feel I had felt her going in the hospital. I don't know. But it gave me some calm. Some way of feeling connected to her.
And so was the start to our honeymoon.
We are enjoying our time together. Taking mini adventures. Soaking in the quiet. Spending hours reading. Splurging on fancy wine. Counting blessings.
I stopped my prescription from the steroids and am feeling tired and swollen, but it makes it easier to slow down, to breathe and grieve. Overall I am just very grateful and very much in love with this man who is taking excellent care of me.
It's been quite the year hasn't it?
Life is a big wild ocean and the waves sure do make it scary but also so damn beautiful.
RIP Kay Wetherall, Dec 26 1928-Dec 23, 2016