Since I’m sitting in the hospital, I feel obligated to write a blog post. One, so I can update everyone who wants to know how Fulton is doing, and two, it gives me something to do between trips to the cafeteria. Not that I’m bored! But, typing out a post is usually easier to do here than at home. Especially since home life remains unceasingly overwhelming. I know my life must always seem “busy” to those who read my blog, and I know I often use words like “overwhelmed”, “harried”, “crazy”, and the like, but I really, really mean it this time. We’re at peak crazy go nuts.
So why am I at CHOP with Fulton? It started with a runny nose late last week, and by Saturday, we knew it was developing into something more serious. He tested negative for COVID, and we tried doing all the methods of breathing support we can do at home. By Monday, he was not improving and after speaking with a pulmonary doctor, Tony brought him to the Emergency Room. He was admitted and since then has been under the watchful eye of the staff at CHOP. I came into the hospital on Wednesday.
Fulton has a “typical” rhinovirus. Just like the “typical” stomch bug brought Teddy to the ER in February, a common cold (which our foster son Todd also has and it hasn’t slowed him down a bit) has once again landed Fulton in the hospital. He thankfully doesn’t have pnemonia, but it’s still a risk so he’s getting constant breathing support and monitoring. He just needs to ride out the bug, which is of the persistant variety. Fulton is still spiking fevers, producing tons of mucus, and struggling to keep his heartrate and oxygen levels in normal range. He’s comfortable, in good spirits, and his numbers aren’t terrible, but we need to get him back to his baseline.
There’s never a good time for a hospital admission. It’s somewhat easier when they’re planned in advance (like for back surgery), but right now we would much rather be enjoying the warm spring weather which has finally arrived, spending time together with Addie who just came home from college, and planning for upcoming family events.
May is always a crazy month; I know I write similar proclamations every May. So it’s tough to squeeze illness into an otherwise packed calendar. April is historically our month for spring hospitilzations and so when we entered May, I rejoiced at dodging that bullet once again. What a fool I was!!! Let me bring everyone up to speed on everything we’ve managed to do in the last few weeks.
I started the month by speaking at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. If you Google the prison, you’ll see it’s gotten some pretty bad national press. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in but I’m so happy I agreed to speak. It was an ecumenical spiritual retreat for any of the women in minimum security that wanted to attend. I was the Catholic speaker, and there was a female rabbi, a Buddhist, a Muslim, and three Protestant ministers. It was hard to match the energy and enthusiasm of the Protestant ministers, but my talk was well received and afterwards the organizer of the event told the ladies in attendance they would all receive a copy of my book, which was a nice surprise! I spoke with some of the attendees afterwards. It was a diverse group of women. There were some who, I would say, looked like what I envisioned a stereotypical “female prisoner” to look like, but then there was one young woman who looked the same age as Addie and another who looked like a librarian from my local library. I don’t know what anyone’s story was, but even though they were minimum security women, I knew some would still be there in seven years. One women got up and led everyone in soulful spiritual so heartfelt you wondered how she made her way from the church choir into the prison system. And while I wondered about the inmates’ stories, I was so impressed with the organizers, who all worked for the prison in various capacities. All were so devoted to helping these women, but none of them coddled the attendees. The focus of the event was very much about inspiring and empowering women to make the changes in their life, spiritually, mentally, and physically, that would help them succeed outside Edna Mahan. I can see now how prison ministry is really a special calling, and why it’s also a necessary corporal work of mercy. Unless you know someone in the system, it can be hard to know how to reach out to the prison population, and I think the unfamiliarity can make us resort to our stereotypes when thinking of these men and women rather than viewing them as individuals with very unique stories.
On Thursday, May 5, Fulton was confirmed. Newsletter subscribers got the early photo and my reflections on the special occasion. (You can read it HERE, and sign up for my newsletter HERE so you don’t miss future editions.) We had a small reception afterwards in our church hall. All we had to do was bring water and chip in for the food and, honestly, it felt like an extra blessing to not need to plan an event on my own, even though normally hosting parties is my love language.
Two days later, I was sick in bed. I tested negative for COVID, but was laid up for days. The nights were the worst as I woke up coughing constantly and couldn’t sleep. I tried moving to the basement so I wouldn’t wake up everyone else. We’ve been short on nursing, so it was a lot on Tony to manage. I tried to medicate myself enough to get some school done, get an online grocery order placed and picked up, and otherwise help out in ways that didn’t require me to interact with Fulton and Teddy too much. I had to reschedule approximately 3,429 appointments. Byron finished up his classes for the year and is now a high school graduate! He did great with his community college classes with a B in Biology and A in Public Speaking this spring; both credits will hopefully transfer to Kutztown.
On Friday, I drove to Cleveland to pick up Addie from college. I wasn’t feeling great, but driving alone for 8 hours seemed easier than staying home and trying to run the house and care for everyone. Addie and I spent a couple hours together before I went to bed. We were up early and packed up the van by 10 a.m. It was an uneventful drive home but upon arriving at the house I learned that Fulton’s drippy nose had become a full on cold with a wet cough, and elevated heart rate. He and I both tested negative for COVID that night, and we started him on our usual every four hour breathing treatment schedule.
That brings us back to where this post started. Also going on in the background is planning for an upcoming baby shower, Byron recovering from getting his wisdom teeth removed on Monday, and trying to get our old house ready to rent again after our tenants managed to leave it in a bigger mess than I thought possible for four adults who only lived there for three years. And Edie got a boat. I also got those Accepting the Gift projects done –check them out!
Thank you for all your prayers everyone. I will try to give more updates on Fulton via social media, and in future posts. Please pray especially that Teddy does not get sick as we don’t want to wind up right back here at CHOP once Fulton is discharged.