July 29

Excused Absence

When I last posted at the end of May I had, what I thought was, a garden-variety respiratory infection. I thought I would work my way through it in a week or so and be back at the gym in 10 days. No biggie.

Then the night after I published my last post, I was helping our daughter finish up her graduation dress and knew that something was really wrong. Long story short I ended up in the hospital with what turned out to be a serious virus. It took two weeks just to get a conclusive diagnosis and the treatment for it just ended a couple of days ago. I got out of the hospital two hours before our daughter’s graduation from middle school and had to wear a mask to the ceremony to prevent giving the virus to everyone else there. I missed giving the keynote address at Quilt Canada and a two-week teaching tour in Australia. Missing those events was devastating. Heroically, Bill was able to step in at the last minute and teach all of my classes and give the lectures I was supposed to give in both Canada and Australia. I stayed at home with our former foster Godzilla, cried a lot that I was missing out on these wonderful experiences, did what the doctors told me to do, did painful breathing treatments every four hours, took massive amounts of medications and underwent a seemingly endless battery of medical procedures and tests. Wanting the people who signed up for my classes to know that I REALLY was sick and was genuinely sorry to miss being there, Bill and I decided to have him start the keynote address with the picture above.

The medications I had to take for this virus prevented me from being productive for the first six weeks, made it impossible to sleep more than two hours a day (for 10 weeks) and, oh yeah, typically cause massive weight gain. I’ve read of people gaining anywhere from 35-100 lbs on this drug. I was able (with a LOT of meditation and prayer) keep my gain down to 10 but it is a huge downer. I am slowly working it off now. At one point the medical team had to stick a camera and diagnostic tools into my lungs (I’ll pause while you gasp at that thought), which damaged my vocal chords a bit more so I’m a bit more hoarse than I was before this mess. Seriously. I wouldn’t have wished these past 10 weeks on my worst enemy.

Between the drugs and the medical procedures, I found it impossible to read contracts, reconcile our accounting software, respond to emails promptly and do my job. Unfortunately in our position, there are no paid sick days and no one is able to do a lot of my job. Bill and our staff did everything they could but some things just had to wait for me. So I fell behind for awhile and am just now digging my way out of the piles of unanswered emails and unsigned contracts. Needless to say, I was too overwhelmed to post here nor did I know what to say. My doctor wasn’t sure how long this would last so we had to just wait it out.

Last week, I was able to travel with my family for two days of vacation prior to teaching at Maine Quilts, my first time teaching since I contracted the virus. I’m still regaining my strength but was able to exercise each morning and make it through my classes. I finished my final dose of medication right before we boarded the plane to come home.

It’s been a really rough summer. I’m trying to tell myself that I’ll catch up and that deadlines will just have to wait. I have taken so much inspiration from Nancy Zieman who, like me, is someone whose body has not been able to keep up at times with her aspirations. Seriously, that woman is my hero. Honestly, one of the hardest parts of this has been trying to figure out how much to talk about it publicly. Some would say that if I told people that I had been sick it might hurt our business. I worried about that A LOT. But I’ve just gotten to the point in my life that I can’t be concerned about that anymore. I just need to tell people what’s going on and deal with the fallout, come what may.

I know someone will inevitably ask “How did you get this virus?” I will quote a doctor who I once heard respond to that question, “Standing next to the wrong person on the bus.” Stuff happens. We deal with it and move on but I sure do wish people would stay home when they are sick. I was at spin class feeling great the day before all of this happened.

So as I catch up I’ll post here when I am able. It probably won’t be every day but I have a huge backlog of posts in my head and will get to them in time. In the meantime, I’ll just be taking it a day at a time and being grateful for health insurance, a great medical team and a husband who is able to do my job when I can’t.

Onward.