I was awakened by my friend Kristen calling me at 5:30 am. Joe usually watched Jacob while I was at work, and I was supposed to have conferences with all the parents in my class on Monday, so I scrambled to find back up child care. Kristen had said she could do it, but was calling to say that her own daughter was too sick to make the trip.
I decided that I had to call in sick to school and stay home with Jacob. I called Joe on his cell phone at about 8:00, and actually tried to make him feel guilty that I had to call in sick. He sounded so distant, and it was pissing me off.
I went on a walk with Mel (who was home on maternity leave) and our kids, and I remember complaining about how depressed Joe sounded. I thought that he could at least try to sound upbeat when speaking to me.
I took Jacob to music class with Mel and her girls, but felt anxious through the whole thing.
I went home, called Joe, and told him I was coming to see him. He told me not to come in. When I asked him why, he told me that his rash had spread, and he didn't want me to see him looking the way he was. I told him that I didn't care how he looked, I just wanted to see him. He firmly told me not to come in.
I called him again about an hour later. I asked him for an update. He told me the doctors still didn't know what was wrong with him, but that he was really sick. Again I pleaded with him to let me visit, and again he told me not to come.
I called my friend Nikki, crying. I told her that I just wanted to know what was going on. She suggested that I call Joe's physician.
I called his primary care physician, and the receptionist picked up.
R: Hello, Dr. O's office
me: Hi, my name is b, and
R: Hold on one minute, the Dr. wants to talk to you
This exchange was my first inkling that something was really wrong. The Dr. got on the phone, and quickly informed me that Joe was really sick. I asked what exactly was wrong with him, and he told me that they were still unsure, but people from the Center for Disease Control were trying to determine that.
I asked if Joe could die from whatever it was, and the Dr.'s words sent chills through my spine. "He could. If I were you I would come in as soon as possible."
I told the Dr. that Joe was telling me not to come in.
"How is your marriage?" he asked.
"Our marriage is great!" I responded.
"He probably is worried about you seeing him in the state he's in. But I would come in."
I hung up the phone and called Nikki back, crying hysterically. I told her that the news wasn't good, that he could die. I think she, like most people I spoke to at that time, thought I was exaggerating. How could he die from this unknown illness?
I packed a bag to bring to Joe. I put fresh clothes, magazines, and pictures in it. I was so naive, thinking he'd be changing clothes, or reading.
I called him one more time to tell him that I was coming in. He said that he was glad, that he wanted to see me.
Right before I left the house the phone rang. It was Joe, asking me if Jacob's friends had the chicken pox recently.
"Is that what you have?" I asked.
"Yes," he answered.
"Oh thank god!" I said.
I felt almost giddy as Mel got in my car.
"It's just the chicken pox!" I told her excitedly.
We got to the hospital, took the elevator up to Joe's floor, and walked out of the elevator. I saw a large group of doctors huddled together, talking. I told Mel that I was sure they were discussing Joe.
Here's my second regret. I should have just walked to Joe's room. Instead I walked over to the doctors, and told them my name. They looked at me with such pity. They told me that they were moving Joe to ICU because he was so uncomfortable. He needed a full time nurse, and he could only get that in ICU.
I told them I was going to see him, and they informed me that I couldn't. They knew that he had the chicken pox, but they couldn't rule out other things as well. Since I was 7 months pregnant, they couldn't risk the baby catching something.
I begged them to let me go in for just a minute. The answer was no. I asked if I could just stand in his doorway. No. I couldn't believe it. Joe was so close, yet so far. I went to the waiting room where Melanie was. I started crying, as I told her the doctors wouldn't let me see Joe.
We left feeling defeated. Joe called me soon after I got home.
"What happened?" he asked.
"They wouldn't let me see you. I came, but they wouldn't;t let me go in." "I'm so sorry, Joe. I'm so sorry."
"I need sleep," he said.
"I love you," I told him.