Leaving Alabama

At the end of February life took a complete 180 degree turn. My husband suddenly lost his job and therefore we lost our health insurance. With the frequent hospitalizations I required we knew we couldn’t be without insurance. Plus, we needed income from somewhere to pay our bills.

Will looked for jobs in Alabama, but the market had little to offer. We also were wrestling with the fact that we didn’t have family left in Alabama to help us through difficult times. I was frequently facing hospital trips alone, while Will tried to carry the weight of everything else by himself. This all required us to take a hard look at our options and make a big decision.

My family encouraged us to move back to California to receive familial support, greater job opportunities, and a social safety net that offered health insurance.

Moving across the country seemed daunting, so we decided to visit for one week and decide from there. We put on masks and gloves (before it was required for COVID) and traveled to San Diego. It was frightening to travel that far while I was so fragile, but it was important to figure out what our options were.

Within a few days of arriving in San Diego I required a trip to the emergency room. My heart rate was uncontrolled and I was emptying my bag 12+ times a day. It was apparent my dehydration had gotten worse. Upon arrival to the ER, my blood pressure dropped to 75/40. I was admitted to the step-down ICU and monitored closely.

During that admission the attending physician decided to run basic blood work and stool study tests – something she assumed had been done many times before it Alabama, but was standard practice for these symptoms. To her shock (and mine!) the stool studies came back irregular. I was positive for C. Diff. For more information on this admission and C. Diff read “Wasting Away.” Within two weeks of receiving this diagnosis and being treated with the proper antibiotic, my output was solid again, I was able to eat regularly, and I felt strong.

Through this experience, it became apparent moving to California would be the right decision. So we flew back to Alabama, packed up our house, sold it, and drove across the country with two U-Hauls, three pets, and nothing but new possibilities.

The drive was long, but beautiful. And with my increased stamina and health I was able to do it without any medical issues! We ran into minor inconveniences due to COVID (like all the restaurants being closed.) But it was a terrific experience to see the country with Will.

Within two weeks of moving to California Will got employed at an HVAC company that truly values its employees. He feels supported, appreciated, and valued already. We are beyond thankful for his company and the opportunity they’ve given him.

With the improvement in my ostomy output, I was able to get the mediport removed from my chest wall. I cannot express how grateful I am to no longer require maintenance fluids to sustain hydration. Having the port was scary and dangerous. While the obvious benefits outweighed the possible side effects, I suffered multiple rounds of sepsis while my port was in place. It feels great to no longer have that risk looming over me. Soon I will be back in the work force, with the physical stamina and mental capacity to handle anything.

We will always be fond of our time in Alabama, and of the friends who became our family there. But we truly believe this was the best decision for our health, happiness, and future security.

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