Where I’ve been

To anyone who hasn’t given up on this blog, it probably seems like I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. And right now, that’s close to what it feels like. I spend my days in a windowless room in an intensive care unit, by my husband’s bedside. He’s been in the hospital for nearly two months and in the ICU for over three weeks.

My husband suffers multiple complications from diabetes. He’s already lost most of his eyesight. He’s been in and out of hospitals since September. Last winter, an infected wound in his foot sent him to the emergency room and a hospital stay that stretched to three weeks. We were told he’d need to have his leg amputated below the knee. Devastating news, especially when diabetes had already taken so much. He came home for a month on IV antibiotics while we got second opinions and considered his options. During this time, I became his round-the-clock nurse. I was happy to take care of him but often feared I was in over my head. I don’t have any medical training, and suddenly (other than a weekly visit from a real nurse) I was the one responsible for holding him steady.

For a while, we thought that he’d be able to have a less drastic surgery, but for various reasons that didn’t work out. He opted for the amputation. That surgery went well, but he developed pneumonia and, on the day we were supposed to start talking about his discharge, he went into sudden cardiac arrest.

We were lucky. I was in his room and realized he was in distress. I got a nurse, who called in a crisis team. They were with him when his heart stopped, so he got immediate CPR until the doctor was able to get his heart beating on its own again. They moved him to the ICU, and for more than a week we waited to see if he’d regain consciousness. Day after day, things looked grim. He had another close call. Staff gently warned me that each day that slipped away took another sliver of hope with it. Counselors appeared to talk to me about the possibility that he wouldn’t wake up. Someone even asked me about organ donation. My husband had signed a living will; I knew what his wishes were. Still, I kept asking them to wait one more day, do one more test…

On the twelfth day after the cardiac arrest, I was with him alone in his room. Standing by his bed and holding his hand, tears running down my face, I asked him one last time to open his eyes. I didn’t expect anything, but he did–wide. He relaxed a little, and I asked again. He opened them again. I asked him to close them and he scrunched them shut. By this time I was yelling to anyone who’d listen, “He’s waking up! He’s waking up!” I don’t even know how to describe the abrupt switch from profound despair to absolute joy that I felt just by seeing him open his eyes. Since then, he’s continued to wake up–slowly, but we have hope. He’s got a long road ahead and I’m not even sure where it leads, but I’ll be walking it with him.

During these weeks and months of crisis, I missed some work deadlines, which means that HELLHOUND’s release had to be pushed back to the fall. I regret that, but I couldn’t help it. No matter how much I love Deadtown’s world, it’s hard to focus on made-up characters in your head when someone you love is in crisis. Now that my husband is more stable, I’m working on Deadtown 6, which will be the final book in the series. I’m excited to bring together the plot lines and character arcs in a grand finale! It feels good to get back to work.

Thanks for your patience. I expect to be around more in the coming weeks, and I look forward to getting back in touch with online friends and readers.


About nancyholzner

25 responses to “Where I’ve been

  • Keith Pyeatt

    I’ve never wanted to hug someone I’ve never met face-to-face more than now. Best thoughts to you both.

  • jrturner

    I cannot imagine what you’re going through. I would be completely lost without my husband. Big (((HUGS))) to you for everything you’re going through. Please take care.

  • twimom227

    Such joyous news! Thank you for sharing it with us. I am sending you warm thoughts and prayers – may this be the start of good news ahead. *HUGS*

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks, Jen! Today they took the ventilator out of his room, so he’s officially OFF the vent. I’m hopeful he’ll continue to improve. *hugs back*

  • katelaity

    I am sending big whoops and hugs from Scotland. Wish I could be there to give them in person. So glad.

  • deborahblake

    I have been thinking about you every day throughout this whole thing. I can’t even imagine how hard this has been, dealing with it non-stop for so long. I hope the worst is behind you, and that soon you will be home and working again. Lots of love to both you and your husband. That image of you standing by his bed when he woke up..wow.

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks, Deb. I hope the worst is behind us, too. He’s got a long road to recovery, both physically and mentally, but as long as there’s a reason to hope I’ll take it!

  • The Book Nympho (@TheBookNympho)

    I’m so glad that things are looking up for you and your husband!

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks so much! A couple of weeks ago I thought I was going to lose him, so I’m thrilled at each small step. As a staff member told me recently, in the ICU “small steps are big steps!”

  • Tez Miller

    Wishing you and your husband all the best. Hugs to you both.

  • MelanieL

    Reading this brought me to tears and I too wish I could give a big hug. My husband was hospitalized back in November with multiple blood clots in both legs. He was able to come home in a week, but was bed bound for months and still isn’t able to handle much time out of bed each day. I too was his nurse with in home nurse, physical therapy and occupational therapy in home.

    My heart goes out to you.

    • nancyholzner

      Thank you so much, Melanie. Caregiving can be both scary and exhausting. I found a lot of support at the Well Spouse Association (www.wellspouse.org), which is a place where caregiving spouses can go to ask questions, let off steam, and get lots of hugs. Really great people there who “get it.”

      I hope your husband continues to get better!

  • Tamsen

    Love you!!!!

  • GlamKitty (@TheLiterateKitty)

    So very sorry to hear all that you and your husband have been going through. Sending positive energies and warm thoughts out into the universe, in the hopes that better health and some normalcy return for you both, soon.

  • jacabur1

    Nancy you are a true trooper and your husband is a lucky man, my thoughts and prayers and virtual hugs go out to you with the hope that those small steps turn into larger ones every day and you two have many more years together! All my best and Deadtown will be bitter sweet to revisit since the finale is at hand but maybe those make believe characters will help you take your mind off some of real life stress sooner than later, after all you and your husband have been through you both deserve a little break.

  • nancyholzner

    Thanks, Jackie, you’re very kind. I’m enjoying getting back into Deadtown’s world and looking forward to tying it all together in book 6. After that, who knows? Maybe a prequel…

  • Jenny

    Wow. I was just trolling around for a summer read, for a series I’ve enjoyed. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. Diabetes is a horrible disease. Stay strong.

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks, Jenny. It’s been rough, and we’ve still got a long road ahead. (He’s still in the ICU–eight weeks and counting.) But he’s improving, and I’m grateful for that. Thanks also for letting me know you enjoy the series! I hope you’ll like Hellhound when it’s out in October.

  • Emmy

    Hey Nancy! I’m huge fan and i feel terrible for your husband. I wish all the best and i hope you keep writing other books after the end of deadtown. You are an amazing writer and i bet your husband loves your work to. You’ve always got my support. Good luck with everything!

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