It’s been ten days that you have been in a coma. Ten days that I haven’t heard your voice, that we haven’t slept together in our bed. Ten days that I have had a broken heart with so many unanswered questions. The doctors keep telling me YOU won’t remember this. I am glad for that, there has been so much suffering. However, I will not ever forget this and it has changed me permanently and forever.
Let me start from the beginning. I knew since you got laid off, you have been drinking more. I know you gave yourself permission to do so and I really tried to understand how hard it was for you. I also knew the problems you have had with alcohol that have affected our relationship were going on far before you lost your job. I gave you time. I tried to give you space. Finally, it became too much for me. I never knew what I was coming home to…would you be drunk? sleeping all day? going to a meeting? I was scared to come home, anxious all the time.
Once I told you I couldn’t do it anymore, you made more promises. I asked you about rehab. You said no. You could do it on your own. I told you that you couldn’t. You said you would go to more meetings. I know you wanted to stop, I believed you, I believed IN you. You did start going to more meetings. I encouraged them and the relationships you created there. I felt the more sober people in your network, the better. You had met Mary and she became your unofficial sponsor. You would pick her up and take her to meetings. I thought that was a good thing- it gave you someone else to be responsible for getting to them.
I know you were drunk Tuesday, but I do believe you that you stopped on Wednesday. But you started acting so strangely- you were disoriented, shaking. I told you it was withdrawal. You said no, something else had to be wrong. You had a physical appointment on Friday. I was so relieved you were finally going to the doctor for a check up.
Friday, 8th period. I got a call from the doctor’s office. I stepped out of my classroom to answer it. They said you were VERY ill and that they tried to convince you to go to the emergency room in an ambulance. You pushed the doctor out of the way and ran out of the office barefoot. I panicked. I called you and you answered as if nothing was wrong. I told you if you didn’t go to the emergency room, we were finished forever. You finally agreed, reluctantly.
When we got to the ER, you were confused, sweating, couldn’t follow directions. They right away knew it was withdrawal. You told the doctor you drank up to two pints of vodka a day. You told him you would try to drink in the morning and vomit. How did I not know how bad it was? Was I in denial? Did I not want to know? Were you just that good of a liar? You started to become incoherent. You began hallucinating. I was so scared.
They got you admitted into a room. They said it would be a couple of days and they would help you go through withdrawal safely. At first you did not want to stay, thank god you did. Within an hour, you were trying to pull out the IVs they put in your arms. You were talking and making no sense. An alarm would go off in the hospital and you thought you were at a high school sports game. Once in a while you would seem normal, but then the hallucinations would begin again. They tried to get you to stop touching your IVs, you started to shake uncontrollably and the nurse yelled you were having a seizure. The rapid response team was called and within minutes 15 nurses and doctors were crammed into your small hospital room. In the hall, I watched with disbelief that this was happening. I was so terrified.
They rushed you to ICU, just down the hall. I ran after you, but the doctor said to wait in the waiting room. Thankfully, your best friend was there and my sister was about to arrive. I felt so helpless. The doctor finally called me out into the hall. He said they gauge alcohol withdrawal on a scale called CIWA. 6 is uncomfortable, 12 needs medical attention, 20 can be life threatening. You were a 45. The doctor looked at me and said that I saved your life. I broke down. He said you would have most likely had a major seizure if they didn’t start you on the medications when they did. Then, we heard security being paged and guards running to your room. You had to be strapped down, restrained so they could put the IVs in to save your life. The doctor said he would be back to talk to us.
He did. He said they put you in a medically induced coma. No other patient had ever needed more sedatives before. The inserted a breathing tube and you were on a ventilator. Life support one doctor called it. The first time I saw you strapped down with all of those machines, my heart broke into 100 pieces. I couldn’t stop crying, we called your parents. At first it didn’t seem like they were going to come. I wanted to scream, “YOUR SON IS IN A COMA”. I let your friend talk to them. They said they would “decide” in the morning.
I sat next to you and cried and cried. How could it have gotten this bad? We were supposed to go to the mall and get dinner. How could you be in a coma? Finally, after being at the hospital for nine hours, the nurses told us to all go home. You were sedated and I had to come home and take care of the dog. You had accidentally left her outside. You’ve never done that before.
At 1 am, I got into the guest room bed. I couldn’t sleep without you in our bed. I still haven’t. I took your phone to look up some phone numbers of people to contact in the morning. The first person I though of was Mary. You two had become so close and she was such a support system for you, almost like a mother figure, considering she was almost 20 years older than you.
NOTHING could have prepared me for the texts I saw. I read them over and over. I felt like vomiting. I was shaking so hard, I could hardly hold the phone. I called my sister and read them all to her. She said she was going to be sick. I kept saying, “how could he do this to me? how could he do this to me?” I never ever suspected you of being unfaithful. I never doubted you. I trusted you with every fiber of my being. I thought we were in love, even with the problems we have been having. I devoted almost 10 years of my life to our relationship. Besides all of the very sexually explicit texts, you told her SHE was the reason you were staying sober (which you weren’t), that SHE was the most interesting person you ever met, that HER support was helping you, that you thought about her A LOT. I felt my already broken heart splinter into 1,000 more pieces. I felt like a fool. I encouraged you to see her, thinking she was helping you. You told me Wednesday night you would go to a meeting with her and then come get in bed with me. You never did- you slept in the basement. How could I have been so blind. I was texting you that I loved you and believed in you and on the same day you were texting her about wanting to fuck her. I will never know if you did. It doesn’t even matter.
The next morning I went to see you in the hospital with my sister. I kissed you 20 times. I held your hand for an hour. I told you I loved you over and over and over. I cried and cried and cried. I left the hospital and went directly to a storage unit and rented one. By the end of the day Saturday, all of your belongings were in it. While taking your furniture out of the basement, we found 21 pints of vodka. I told your parents the truth. That regardless of what happened to you in the hospital, you no longer lived with me. Part of that was pure betrayal and if you were not sick, our relationship would have ended anyway due to your infidelity. The other, bigger, part was that I could not have you come back here and act like you didn’t almost die and just continue drinking. I did it for me, but for you too. Rehab had to be the only option.
For the past ten days, I have woken up and gone to the hospital. I have kissed your face next to your breathing tube. I have held your hand, still bound to the bed. When you have opened your eyes, I have reassured you I am there and I love you. I hung up a collage of pictures of the dog and our nieces and nephew. I made a playlist on my phone of your favorite songs and I sit next to you and play them. When your parents arrived, I still was the one who had to tell the doctors everything about you. In some ways, I know you inside and out. In other ways, I feel like you have lied about everything. I spoke with your therapist and meeting facilitator, both of whom thought you were maintaining sobriety with “occasional” relapses. You even lied to them. You must have been lying to yourself. I did your unemployment paperwork, your COBRA, paid your bills. You will probably never even know these things. I have done everything I can to help you and support you and love you and take care of you during this time.
I get home late at night and I get in bed and I read, over and over, the text messages you sent to her. I cry myself to sleep, wiping my eyes on your sweatshirt. I sleep with your deodorant open on the pillow next to me to smell you. I feel so alone.
But then the next day I wake up, and I go to the hospital and do it all again. The nurses tell me I am strong. They are shocked at your parent’s disconnect. You will most likely never know, or believe, how truly and deeply I love you. You are still in a coma, there have been a lot of setbacks. Your kidneys weren’t working, to the point they were talking about dialysis. You had a 103 fever for 60 hours. You have pneumonia and two other infections. I thought at one point you would die. I agonize over the last thing I said to you. Did we sleep together on Thursday night? Did I kiss you goodbye when I left for work on Friday?
I took FMLA at work- I have missed more day of school in these two weeks than I did the whole school year last year. Your dad introduced me at first as your girlfriend to each new doctor who came in to see you. I was the only one who could answer their questions about your history and your health. By midweek, he casually nodded towards me and said we “live together”…I was downgraded to just being your roommate. Today, he didn’t even bother to even introduce me. I sat on the couch by myself, huddled in the corner, feeling like I didn’t belong there. But I refuse to leave. I don’t care how awkward it is. While you are in the coma, you still feel like mine. Once you wake up, everything is going to change. I don’t know how you will react. I don’t know if you will agree to rehab or if you will refuse. Your parents want you to go down by them. My body physically aches when I think of what you will go through and knowing I will most likely not be a part of it.
I feel like I have lost so much. Sometimes I am so angry, other times I feel so sad it’s overwhelming. I have lost weight because I can’t eat. I do laundry and organize closets at 3 am because I can’t sleep. My friends and family and coworkers and students have all been so incredibly supportive. I appreciate it more than I will ever be able to express to them.
But right now, all I want is you,
and I will always love you,
and you may never know any of this.