Meningitis, Mistaken Gender, and Orange Pee…Our Week in Review



It was one of those weeks. One of those that by the time it’s over, you feel as if you’ve been in a time warp and wondering what the heck happened.  As crazy and weird as it was, the week was a learning experience, a wake up call and in some ways, pretty joyful:

~Early Monday morning, I took my husband to the emergency room;  his headache had returned with a vengeance, with a fever, chills and a stiff neck.  He was admitted to the hospital for meningitis and then given every available IV drug the pharmacy had to offer.  Friends came out of the woodwork to help:  my kids had someone to hang with and eat with, meals were delivered to our door, and I could divide my time between walking the hospital halls with my antsy husband (small hospital room + steroids is a tough combination) and being “Mom.”

~Tuesday night after my kids and I returned home from a pizza party and the hospital (respectively), my daughter discovered blood in our hamster’s cage. (We got a new critter after our first one died.) Alarmed, we went to investigate and my older son said,

Judah just bit me…and there are babies in there (the cage)!

So Judah is a “Judy.”  Or rather, a Jaida, as my kids have decided.

~Oh, yes.  The orange pee.  Well, since Dad had meningitis, the four of us had to be on a short course of antibiotics in case his infection was bacterial.  My kids got to take something called Rifampin, a capsule containing rusty-red powder that causes a fun party trick called “turning urine orange.”  My kids were super-psyched about that and motivated to chug a suspension of rusty powder in water (none of my kids can swallow pills) because they could not wait to pee and see what appeared to be Orange Fanta in the toilet.

So it’s been an interesting few days.

Until this week, understanding the inherent toll of having a sick family member was academic.  When I worked in healthcare I spent time encouraging patients’ families to take a break but really didn’t understand what families were going through.  However, I now know from personal experience that it is exhausting when a loved one is ill.   As in, your brain goes kinda numb.  As in, you shouldn’t be driving a car.  As in, you blow up at your kids even though you know this is as hard on them as it is on you.  Thank God my husband and I had help, wonderful help.  I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to friends who came to our aid because I shudder to think what it would have been like without them.  And we are lucky…my husband was only in the hospital two days and will fully recover; the patient and his family a couple rooms down from my husband are in for the long haul.  The toll is much, much greater on them.

So this week was a true example of personal growth, and growth as a couple, for my husband and me.  We were given an interesting 23rd wedding anniversary present.

And last night I broke my favorite coffee mug, darn it all.  My parents bought the mug for me in Switzerland, at a “Heidi” museum.  On it is a scene depicting the Heidi from the book of the same name, dancing in a meadow with the Alm Uncle and Peter and a herd of goats.  I accidentally hit the handle on the kitchen counter and the handle broke into several pieces.  Any other week, I would have been really broken up about it, and yes, I am disappointed, but I surprised myself by thinking:

Ok, it’s only a mug.

Perspective is a powerful thing.  Add a little laser glue and the perfect spot on a display shelf and all is good.

And it’s really good to have Dad home, with his family, expanded by five hamster pups.


  • Awww Hiedi, this makes me want to cry. I’m so glad Chuck is doing better, and even more thankful for your amazing support system you have found in Durango CO. Sending lots of love from your former home in Sheboygan WI. Miss you guys! ❤️

    • Melissa, so happy to hear your kind words! To hear from so many of our friends back in Sheboygan means a lot to us…we much you all so much! Hope your school year has started off well!

  • So glad to hear husband is recovering. Wherever something like that happens it creates a new sense for me of of we convey medicine to our patients. Imagine all you went through without the benefit of a medical education. It’s no wonder more people don’t get “lost in the system.”

    • Hey, Shannon!
      Great to hear from you. He will be the first to say he got “schooled” in being on the other side of things. To know what it’s truly like to be an inpatient was eye-opening. It’s much different to say “The hospital is a terrible place to get better.” than to experience it firsthand. You go home to recover from the recovery!

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