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What happened next

He was sure it was the stomach flu, or food poisoning. He spent that Friday upstairs with the door closed, only leaving the bed to grope his way to the bathroom, where he would surprise himself with the intensity of his heaving.

His belly hurt. It was an unfamiliar, unrelenting pain.

The next day wasn’t much better. Still vomiting, still in pain. Over the counter indigestion medication was tried, heartburn tablets were tried. All to no avail.

Water and Gatorade were forced down in small spurts, as there was fear of dehydration. Food was out of the question.

There were small periods of relief, but they didn’t last long. Restful sleep seemed to always be just beyond his reach.

“Do you think you ought to go to Urgent Care?” he was asked, repeatedly. His response was always a curt “No. I’ll be fine.”

He was convinced it would pass. Didn’t these things always pass?


Time went on that day, and I became increasingly alarmed about Jack’s state. Somehow he convinced me to go to our friend’s birthday dinner. We’d still have the sitter come, even though Jack would not be joining me.

I had a great time, and I would later feel both guilty and relieved for having had a relaxing evening out that Saturday.

I would sleep on the couch that night, for the second night in a row. I couldn’t risk catching whatever it was he had. Not after having gone through the migraine-from hell just a few days prior. After returning from the party, before settling in, I went upstairs to refill his water.

“I can call our next-door neighbors right now to come sit in the house and be here for the kids so I can take you to the emergency room,” I said. “You know they’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Jack, having been sick for well over twenty-four hours, and convinced that whatever this was had surely reached its worst, felt he had to be on the mend already. He snapped at me to “stop talking about the emergency room, I’m FINE.”

I googled his symptoms. I sent them in a message to my sister and brother-in-law (who is a doctor). I started convincing myself it was his gallbladder.

“PLEASE let me take you to the emergency room, Jack!”

“Stop. It. Abi.”

So I resignedly descended the stairs, and headed to my couch-bed, setting my alarm for 4:15 in the morning in order to check on him.


It was just before 4 AM when I got his text from upstairs.

I am doing so much better!

So I didn’t check in on him until the kids woke up at seven, when I poked my head in the door and blew him a kiss.

“Happy Father’s Day, my love!”

He smiled, but weakly.

Later that morning I made him one scrambled egg, which he managed to keep down. He sort of was doing better. No more vomiting, at least. But his belly was now distended and painful most of the time. He couldn’t shift without ripples of pain.

Throughout the day, I had been in contact with my sister and brother-in-law (who were in Mexico) via instant messenger on my phone.

Please take him to the local emergency department now. This sounds like it may be more than simple gastroenteritis. We will call you now to try to convince you of what I have just advised.

I told them they didn’t need to call — I wasn’t the one who needed convincing.

It was midday. “I can take you to Urgent Care,” I said to Jack. “The stroller is in the car, and I can have the kids in their seats within ten minutes.”

“No. I’ll be fine. I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow.”

Men are such stubborn patients sometimes, aren’t they?


At 4:30 PM he texted me.

What time does urgent care close tonight?

My reply:

An hour and a half ago.


So I started scrambling. And I was ticked as all get-out. Why-oh-why couldn’t this man have listened to me and let me take him to the ER the day before? It was now 4:30 PM on Father’s Day, and how likely was I going to be to find someone to come take care of the kids?

I was fuming. And I was scared.

I called my uncle, who lives about an hour away, and almost immediately burst into tears. I told him I was going to try to reach some local people, but would he come at 9 PM if I couldn’t find anyone else? The little ones would hopefully be asleep by then, and Ethan would require only snuggling. He didn’t hesitate.

“Of course,” he said.

I love my family.


At 5:45 PM my sister sent me an IM, asking how things were going. By then I had arranged for Amy, Christine’s sister, to come after her other babysitting job (Christine was at home with her family still, for Father’s Day). My sister asked me how he was, and I told her, and then she started campaigning for me to find someone who could come to my house sooner. No, I replied, it’s Father’s Day and my children are animals when it comes to bedtime.

YOUR HUSBAND NEEDS TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL, she messaged. Caps intentional.

I called Christine. Her family celebration for Father’s Day was over. She came through for us, again. She’d stay until her sister arrived. Amy would stay as long as necessary, and Christine would come back in the morning.

We’ll be able to leave in 30 minutes, I messaged my sister.


I spent the next half hour simultaneously tending to my kids and gathering together the things I thought we would need in the hospital. Jack’s blood pressure and back pain medications, check. Insurance card and Jack’s license, check, check. Jackets in case it was overly air conditioned, check. Cellphone chargers, check. An extra undershirt for Jack, check. Water bottles, snack for me, my migraine medication, check, check, check.

Christine arrived just as I was stuffing the last item into my bag. I ran up to get Jack, who was struggling to put on his sweatpants.

As we headed out the door, I shot Christine a look of sheer gratitude. Her look back said holy-crap-he-looks-awful-good-luck.

And with that, knowing my children would be in safe hands for as long as it was going to take, I drove my husband to the emergency room.

(And then…)

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