For those who missed Rae's story, read it here.
Some stories aren't over when they're over. New chapters sneak up on you, sometimes with a sudden phone call seemingly out of nowhere. Had you asked me this morning how Rae was doing, I'd have said she was fine. I've seen her twice in the last couple weeks, once getting together for an activity we both enjoy, and once at a family celebration I was invited to.
But I did get that phone call.
Her first bad news was that the MRSA has returned, this time in the other foot, and she's undergoing emergency surgery as I type. She's upset, of course, wondering how long and how often she's going to have to fight this bug and how much damage it's going to ultimately do. But that's not the end of her story today, not by a long shot.
She filled me in on a bit more of her personal history this afternoon. When they were both teenagers, her sister got into a terrible accident which left her with severe disabilities. Rae wanted to fly out to the coast to visit her, and Rae's father was willing to pay for her ticket. However, Rae's mother vetoed that, because Rae was still using at the time. Her mother informed her that if she could stay sober for a couple days, she'd be happy to have Rae come visit her sister. However, if she was using, she'd be worse than no help to her sister.
Rae didn't get sober. Her addiction was still stronger than anything else in her life back then. Rae's never let herself forget that.
The reason that's important today is that her sister is in the ICU, and it's touch-and-go whether she'll survive. Part of the result of that accident years ago is her sister needs a stomach pump in order to process her food. It quit working for a while. While it wasn't functioning, she was still taking her medications on a regular basis, but they remained undigested in her stomach. Once the problem was discovered and corrected, all that leftover medication got sent through her system at once and she overdosed.
Rae wants to be there for her sister this time, now that she's a responsible adult and a "respectable member of the family." It eats at her that she messed up so badly last time, and she's dealing with all the guilt and shame and everything else leftover from the earlier experience all over again because she can't go this time either. She has to stay here and work on saving her own life. It's hitting her doubly hard, this feeling of letting her sister down again when she needs her.
You might think that's enough for life to throw at anybody at one time, but there's more. Rae's mother is also dying, although I gather in a more prolonged fashion. We had other things to talk about besides bogging down in details.
Rae's doing the right things, reaching out to friends, family, and her fellow supporters in recovery. She's clinging to her sobriety, but she's fearful of not "keeping it together." Staying numb might keep her going, she thinks.
I told her the only thing she needs to keep together right now is getting herself to the hospital and getting herself taken care of. She won't be able to be there for anybody else until that's done. If she needs to cry, scream, yell, whine, complain, curse, or anything else in the process, just let 'er rip! She did cry. And curse. And ask, "Why?" as if there's an answer. But she also got childcare taken care of and got to the hospital, a ride provided by her sponsor's sponsor, somebody who can help bolster her through this.
And her support network is working to raise the funds for a plane ticket, just as soon as Rae can fly.
I'm sitting, waiting for word. How much did they have to remove this time? Will they admit her or send her home like last time, something she has no faith in as far as promoting her long-term recovery from the bug? Will it keep recurring or can they finally knock it out of her system? There must be a reservoir of it somewhere, hiding from the antibiotics, biding its time. How will she deal with the pain this time, after the Vicodin started giving her problems last go-round?
Will she be able to find a way to forgive herself if she can't make it to her sister in time?
There is a reason that the flight attendants tell you if the oxygen masks drop, to secure your own first before you help the person next to you. It makes perfect sense. But will it allow forgiveness?