A Family is Only as Well as the Mama – Part 2

Whew! After Part 1, you probably thought I died, didn’t you?

Well, I didn’t, praise the Lord! I rose from my death bed to get things in order for the launch of my book, “Everything I Need to Know About Motherhood I Learned from Animal House.” My first reading and book signing is TOMORROW! I’m pretty doggone nervous about it, too!

If you don’t happen to be in the vicinity of Chelan, Washington tomorrow, and can’t attend my book signing, you can watch the trailer and pretend like you’re there! (I do have to give the trailer a PG rating, due to one brief, colloquial phrase… but if you’ve ever used the term “LMAO,” you probably won’t be offended.)

If you want a signed book of your very own, just click on over to TheGonzoMama.com and order one by PayPal! Use the “leave instructions to seller” feature to tell me who to inscribe the book to.

But enough about that happy news… You really came here to hear about my duel with death, right? Let’s get on with it, then…


I wasn’t better. In fact, I actually felt worse. I tried to drink as much water as I could, but promptly threw it back up.

Wednesday, the brakes on both our rigs needed to be changed. Mr. Wright got Curlytop off to school, then jacked the cars up and went to work, leaving Snugglebug in bed with me.

Upon waking, my thoughtful Snugglebug, not wanting to wake her poor, sick mama (who, at this point, was beginning to resemble a mass of butterscotch pudding; yellow, quivering and completely incapable of rational thought), helped herself to breakfast and set about her planned activities for the day. Snugglebug is three years old. What she considers acceptable creative activities and those her parents consider acceptable are not exactly on the same page. In fact, they’re not found in the same book.

The first car’s brakes installed, Mr. Wright came inside, pulled me out of bed, and carried me outside. “I need you to help me bleed the brakes,” he said. With my head propped up on the steering wheel, I dutifully pumped the brakes when he instructed. “Okay, this car is done. You can go get Curlytop at the bus stop now.” He had to be kidding. Curlytop’s school bus stops a mile up the hill.

“Look,” I said, teeth chattering. “I have a fever of 104, tunnel vision, and I’ve been hallucinating.”

He considered my condition for a moment, then said, “You’re right. You’d better drive slowly. You should probably leave now, so you aren’t late.”

Parenting from one’s deathbed is as difficult as it sounds, and I do not recommend it to anyone. If you see light, just go through the tunnel. I mean, really… it may be a bright light or a keychain flashlight. See the light? GO FOR IT. Run. If you have more than one toddler and you’ve been extremely ill, you know what I’m talking about.

My mother took pity on me and picked up the toddlers.

I regained consciousness long enough Wednesday night to tell Mr. Wright I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it to the gala, three hours away, we’d purchased tickets for on Thursday. I added that it would mean a lot to me if he’d stay home with me.

“You don’t want me to go because you’re sick?” he asked.

“No, I don’t want you to want to go.”

What is it with men? Don’t they get it?

My fever was continuing to spike. It would come down to a reasonable 99.1, then shoot up to 103.6, 103.9, 104.1… Thursday morning, Mr. Wright said, “If your fever doesn’t stay down today, maybe you should go to the doctor.”


I opened one eye, grabbed my digital thermometer, and put it under my tongue. Mr. Wright was packing an overnight bag. “Whur ur oo o-ing?” I asked, trying not to gag on the thermometer.

“To the gala. I have a house to show, an offer to write, some errands to run, and then I’m heading over.”


I looked at the thermometer. 99.5. That was encouraging, and the pain in my ribs had greatly subsided. Maybe it was a 48-hour flu, and I was through the worst of it.

Mr. Wright really was planning to go to the gala without me. I couldn’t believe it. “Look! I’m under 100 degrees! I can go! I’ll just get up, get in the shower, and…” I stood, swayed, and collapsed to the floor. “Maybe a little more rest, then. I’ll rest a little more, and I’ll be fine by the afternoon.” With great effort, I crawled to the side of the bed, not quite ready to pull myself onto it. “Just lay out my gown, will you? I’ll be fine…”

By afternoon, I was back up to 104. I lay in a growing pool of sweat while the room spun. I called Mr. Wright at his office to give him the update, and informed him I’d decided to take his advice and see the doctor.

“Good idea,” he said. “Drive carefully, okay?”

“No, you don’t understand,” I moaned. “I can’t drive. In fact, I can’t even get up. I have a large bowl by the side of the bed because I can’t make the three steps to the bathroom. I really need you to come get me.”

I have a theory about husbands; one I have to believe for the sake of my own sanity. I have to believe that the reason some husbands are so cavalier about their wives’ illnesses is that the men are so terrified of the prospect of losing their mates that they simply refuse to acknowledge any threat to their wives’ health.

I have to believe, for the sake of my own sanity – and in order to keep Mr. Wright’s hard-earned money out of the pocket of a divorce attorney – that he just couldn’t bring himself to believe that I was really, truly, very seriously ill.

He sighed. He whined. He complained, and he shouted his annoyance that I was ruining his plans for the evening. He came home from the office, yelled some more, picked me up and put me in the car, and yelled some more.

It’s twenty-five minutes to the clinic. That’s a lot of yelling.

The receptionist took one look at me and went in the back to tell the on-call nurse practitioner to drop everything – there was a woman on the brink of death in the waiting room.

My temperature read 105 degrees. Medical people were scurrying in and out of the room, talking about scary things like “potential for brain seizure” and whatnot. I was curled into a ball on the floor because I couldn’t make it onto the exam table, or even a chair.

I got a shot. And a pill. And a couple more pills. They were trying to bring my temperature down as quickly as possible, but they really wanted to load me into the ambulance and take me to the hospital.

“I don’t have time for that,” I protested. “You’re going to have to fix me here, because I just don’t have time for a hospital. I have seven kids, you see, and…”

Mr. Wright was beginning to look a little bit scared, even though he was saying things like, “Calm down. You’re not going to have a brain seizure,” and “Hey, I dropped a quarter. Since you’re down there on the floor, could you look under the exam table?”

My lungs sounded clear. I didn’t have any abdominal pain. I just had that sharp pain in my ribs, and that was a mystery.

An x-ray solved the mystery. Even thought I didn’t have a cough, and even though my lungs sounded clear, I had collapsed lung tissue in my left lung, caused by bacterial pneumonia. The doctor sent me home with some extra-high-powered antibiotics and promised I’d feel better in a couple days.

You know what? He was right.

Mr. Wright broke down a little bit later and apologized for all that yelling business and the whole “you’re doing this on purpose to ruin my plans” thing. Through tears, he told me he doesn’t know what he’d do if I died… which only cemented my theory about husbands and the reason for their refusal to acknowledge severe illness in their wives.

Just goes to show – I’m always right. Mr. Wright shouldn’t forget that.

I won’t let him.

When I got out of bed the next day, I actually GOT OUT OF BED! I didn’t crawl out. I didn’t roll out. I actually sat up, and got out of bed like a quasi-healthy person. Four-year-old Curlytop said, “Mommy, you’re not sick anymore?” I answered, “I’m feeling better, but I still need rest.”

“Okay, Mommy,” she said. “I’ll be gentle with you.”

The day after that, I felt almost normal. I made it all the way down the stairs, and noticed the pain in my side was gone. I even managed a cup of coffee. While I waited for the magic machine to brew my caffeine, I poked around in the kitchen, noticing that all the dishes were put away in the wrong cabinets… but they were put away. Evidence of pre-teens preparing meals (a jar of peanut butter left on the counter, an empty mac ‘n’ cheese box on the stove) littered the kitchen, but I knew my kids had been fed.

The older kids all needed something… money for an after-school activity, help with a project, a ride somewhere… “Why did you all wait until the last minute to ask me?” I cried.

“Well, you were sick all last week, and we talked to Dad, but…”

“But what?”

“…but he’s not you.

That, my friends, is reason enough not to run through the tunnel to the keychain flashlight. For all that Mr. Wright is – handyman, provider, spiritual leader, dad, and husband – he just isn’t the mama, and our family needs both of us.

We’re like gears. Together, we mesh, and as long as we’re turning in the right direction, we make things happen.

I’m so grateful for the lessons I received during my illness:

1. If I need help, I need to ask for it. If I don’t get it right away, I need to keep asking.

2. Fear and stress come out in different ways in different people. Sometimes, waiting until a high-stress situation has subsided to react to another’s behavior can save everyone a lot of sorrow.

3. Things that can hurt or destroy us aren’t always obvious. Sometimes, we don’t take notice of them until they become impossible to live with.

4. My husband and children love and value me; even when it doesn’t feel like they do!

5. The Lord is faithful, and He is good. Even when I feel like I’m dying and my husband is yelling at me and my kids are running wild… He is good.

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3 Responses to A Family is Only as Well as the Mama – Part 2

  1. Micah says:

    I’m glad you pulled through! While reading part I and part II you certainly described what I thought was bacterial pneumonia, which I came down with a couple years ago after 5 days of the flu (I was down for 9 days straight) and was weak for another two weeks after that (great diet program BTW, lost 15 pounds! LMAO!). I recall gaining some new appreciation for health and life after my bout with pneumonia. Probably about as close to death as I’ve ever been. Thanks for sharing your story. Gotta keep mama healthy and happy! (papa has his influences too and is better off for the sake of family to be healthy and happy also)

  2. thegonzomama says:

    Oh, gosh, NINE days?! I was down a full six days, and I lost ten pounds. 🙂

  3. C I did think you died, great to have you back!

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