Monday, July 7, 2014

Alone With Two Little Girls Part 1: Blood Poisoning

(Today is Day 8 in 40 Days of Blogging and the theme is "You Are Not Alone." The prompt is to write about a time you felt alone. Since I've been working on a memoir, I decided to use a portion of it to show a time I felt alone. This is the first of three posts about what happened when I was left alone for a week with two little girls in a house that needed much work.)

In the fall of 1981, our little family of four moved into a fixer upper of a house in Plainfield, NJ. 

The house sat on a double lot so there was a good sized yard where our girls could play. Next to the porch was a crabapple tree, and within the porch roof was honey. I guess the bees had made a home there while the house was vacant. We didn't think it would be good for us so we just cleaned it out and got rid of it. 

It had been owned by a woman in her nineties who had recently died. Being over 100 years old, the house had that old fashioned charm to it. Instead of light switches like we have today, there was the old push button to turn on the lights.

A tree in the back yard had initials carved into it from years ago, probably when the woman and her husband first lived in the house. She must have loved flowers because there were hydrangeas, peonies, miniature roses and forsythia growing around the yard. 

There was a front porch with a few steps leading down to the sidewalk. When you walked in the front door you were in the living room and there was a set of steps on the left leading up to the second floor, where there were two bedrooms and and a bathroom. 

A third floor attic housed some old furniture and a collection of Life magazines. The living room opened into the dining room in an L shape. At the back of the kitchen to the right was a pantry which reminded me of my grandmother's and I loved it.

(I don't really have a good picture of the house, but here is a view from the back before we added a small porch.)

We actually moved in before all the work was done so it was quite messy for awhile. 

The living/dining area was not usable. Since we needed to use the kitchen, we put up plastic to separate it from the rest of the house where we were tearing down plaster walls and replacing with sheet rock.

Shortly after we moved in, Steve had to be rushed to the hospital late one afternoon with blood poisoning.

Earlier in the day the finger on which he wore his wedding ring began to swell. We didn't know what could have caused it, but it was giving him a lot of pain as the ring began to tighten around his finger. We went to a jeweler to have them remove the ring. Once that was done, though, the swelling started spreading and I was worried.

I called a friend to get a recommendation for a doctor. When I called the office and described the situation, I was told to give him an aspirin and have him rest. When I put the aspirin in his hand, it just slipped out of his fingers.

I knew something was not right and it scared me.

Shortly after that the doctor himself called me and told me to bring Steve in even though they were about to close. When he examined him he told me Steve needed to get to the hospital right away, and he called an ambulance to take him. 

I, in the meantime, needed to get to the hospital but didn't know where it was. 

I called Mrs. Barker, the friend who gave me the name of the doctor. She was a dear older lady and she came to take care of our girls and give me directions to the hospital.

This was all very nerve wracking for me. 

I was around 28 years old with two small girls ages 5 and almost 3. I didn't even have our car available because it was out of gas and had been left at the home of Jack and Shirley Kraus with whom we had been staying. We were using a big van owned by the Christian school, and I was not used to driving something that large. Jack later got gas to put in the car, at least enough so I could take it to fill up.

Steve had to have surgery on that finger and was put in isolation at the hospital. 

I had to put on a gown and gloves to go see him. The doctor told me that if we had not brought Steve to him that day, he probably would not have lasted through the night. 

That was a very sobering thought.

He had to stay in the hospital for a whole week, and I was left alone with two little girls in a house that was really not ready to be lived in.

But that was not all that happened that day...

Be sure to read Part 2 and Part 3 for the conclusion.

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