On Illness

I have never been sick before.

I mean, I get colds and flus and whatnot, and they're annoying but those things take a day, two tops, and then you're done.

I'm talking sick-sick.  I'm talking can't walk, emergency room, hospital admittance sick.

And that is exactly the type of sick I am.

I will try to make this part brief because the last thing I need now is to destroy my computer by crying all over it, but I am supposed to be at summer camp right now.  The camp that I co-direct.  The camp that we work for and plan for and talk about all year.  The camp that is probably my favorite place on the earth.  Instead?  My week has consisted of two trips to two separate emergency rooms, a full day hospital stay, a blood-drawing fluid-pumping IV, three inflamed internal organs, doctor's orders of full bedrest (no stairs, no carrying things, no preparing my own food, no cleaning, no ANYTHING), and a lovely set of full-body hives to tie it all together.

I should be at camp right now.

Today is the day of the final show for the parents and I should be there.  I want to be there.

These kids, young adult CITs, and the staff that work with them are sensational performers and incredible human beings.  They are funny and kind and supportive and fierce.  And today, in just a few hours, they are having a performance to celebrate all that.  And I can't be there.

And the worst part is that I get it - I couldn't even walk to the car without help right now, never mind get around a summer camp campground and then sit up by myself (sounds stupid, but I spend my life horizontal or strategically propped up nowadays) for two and a half hours.  That just isn't feasible, even if you don't take the head-to-toe hives into account.

But you know what?

It.  Sucks.

At least once in the middle of every day I will just start crying.  Christopher has stopped asking what's wrong when I burst into tears and say "I'm just so sad" because he knows what my answer will be.

"I wanna be at camp.  I just wanna be at camp."

Listen, I'd say that I'm sorry to make this post such a Debbie Downer Delight, but I'm not.  This is really where I'm at right now and, pardon my french, but I'm in no mood to bullshit.

But I do acknowledge that pity parties can only take you so far and historically for me that's about as far as sitting in a room by myself crying and watching videos of other people having fun, so I do feel that I need to take some time to talk gratitude here.

There are tons of people who have been kind and taken care of me and helped me so far, but this isn't a Grammy speech so I'm not gonna name everyone.  I'm just picking a few people for now, so I can at least have some kind of positivity in this post.

-First of all I am grateful for the camp nurse, Nurse Maria, for insisting that I go home.  I know this seems contradictory because I didn't want to go, but the thing is...I wouldn't have.  I know I wouldn't have on my own.  I would've pushed and pushed myself even beyond what I was already doing and, quite honestly, I would've still had to leave camp early, but it probably would've been with serious and potentially permanent damage.  So I really am grateful that she was able to say "Hey, you're not taking care of yourself here and I'm not going to let it continue."  It's not an ideal circumstance, but it definitely was what needed to be done and I'm grateful she was able to make me do it.

-Miles (my beyond talented, kind-hearted, phenomenal co-director), and Becky, and Heidy, and all of the other counselors and staff at camp.  They have been texting and calling and sending me well wishes and - the part I cherish the most - keeping me connected with the kids.  I have been sent videos and photos and voicemails and I have been called and FaceTimed, both from just staff members and campers.  The kids called me and sang me a song in their grove meeting.  I have gotten phone calls recapping CIT Meetings (which I usually lead) so I can stay in the know.  At the banquet, staff videoed the whole camp saying that they loved me and missed me.  I will always be infinitely thankful to have been able to keep that connection even though I'm not physically present.

-My family.  Okay, so I have always known that my family is astounding.  My parents and my brothers (and my brand new sister-in-law!) they are just... there at a moment's notice.  In this case, it was especially true.  They came to see me at the hospital, they got me my first taste of food in 24 hours (I wasn't allowed to eat anything because of all the tests at the hospital and by the time I was finally permitted to, I was DYING for something delicious), they've been texting and facebook messaging me daily just to check in.  My mother, while I was still at the hospital, went and got me just a TON of food so that Christopher wouldn't have to make a special trip to get the foods I am allowed to eat.  And then, when she came to visit the next day, she completely prepared a meal for Christopher, Jess, and me so that all that had to be done was throw it in the oven.  She also cleaned, washed all of our sheets, drove me to (yet another) doctor's appointment, and filled my prescription for me.  My family is truly the best.

-And, of course, Christopher.  He has been unbelievable.  He has been an emotional support, a physical support, a spiritual support... it's just unreal.  He came and picked me up (crying, of course) from camp, packed all of my things, drove me right to the emergency room and then stayed with me through the whole night (ten hours) until I was admitted and comfortably asleep in my hospital room.  He then proceeded to go to work for the day, leave work EARLY to come pick me up when I was discharged, get me comfortably settled at home, and then unpack my things from the car by himself.  He has cooked me every meal, helped me with everything I've needed help with (no matter how minute), and all while still taking care of and making sure to spend time with his daughter.  He picked up medicine at Walgreens at 2am when I couldn't sleep because the hives were itching so bad, and he has still called me beautiful every day, even though I am pretty sure yellow-tinted eyes, jaundice and pink polka-dotted skin are really not cute.  And, probably most importantly, he lets me cry.  He knows that I am devastated about camp and he knows that I hate how helpless I feel and he knows that I want to do everything myself, and when I have a hard time with all that, he just lets me be sad for a little while.  And that's something I didn't know I needed, but I really do.

So anyway, I know this post wasn't really in my normal wheelhouse, but I have been laying here for days and I've been thinking a lot, so I felt it needed to be said.  Trying to keep some semblance of positivity through all this.

And don't worry: if you need me, I promise I'll be here resting. Doctor's orders.


  1. Oh Grady...I'm sorry you've been so sick! It's hard when our bodies suddenly just stop responding the way they always have, and kind of shut down on us, and doubly hard when they do so in the middle of something we love so much (the way you love your camp). I'm sending you lots of love and hugs from out west, and wish I were closer to bring you food and Kleenex. Glad that you have loved ones watching out for and caring for you as you heal.

  2. Sweetie, I'm so sorry to hear you're ill!! And so glad you have Chris and Jess to help you through it...

    Worst of all of course is camp. There's no words that will comfort you so I won't try, but I'm so, so sorry.

  3. Love you Grady! I hope you start to feel better and I'm sure you'll overcome this quickly. Thank you so much for making camp so great for all of us. It really is the best place on Earth, but it wouldn't be able to even occur without you, Grady. So thank you so much. Feel better soon :)
    Sending prayers and well wishes,
    -Jack Kenney

  4. PS I just read through this again...and I realized that since during the six years Chris&I were married, I had six operations (basically one a year--wrist, knee, ovarian tumors, ovary itself, uterectomy) plus having increasingly worsening problems w/my neck&back after I had J, PLUS being asthmatic and allergic to a myriad of things...being with someone who's "never sick ever" is probably a HUGE relief to him!!

  5. PS and that didn't include a pregnancy in which I was pretty much ordered to stay off my feet the whole time.