In early March, Bear and I decided now was the time to start the process of moving house. We’ve been in this hellhole for more than nine years and finally the house prices had started to rise, so we could finally afford to get out and find something new in a much better neighbourhood. So he called around a few local estate agents and made appointments for them to call in and give us their best quote on what they thought we could sell our house for, bearing in mind our obnoxious shithead neighbours.
The first agent didn’t like dogs and gave us a lower than expected re-sale price. We crossed him off our list. The second agent loved dogs, was bouncy, smiley and personable and told us he could easily sell our house and gave us a pretty satisfying price. I hate bouncy people, but held off crossing him off the list because he loved my fur baby and had no problem being jumped on, sniffed and licked. The third agent liked the dog, but stank of cigarettes and the dog gave him a wide berth.
He gave us a similar value as the second agent, and mentioned that he’d already got a client in mind, an investor in houses in our area. We gave that some thought, but decided against it and waited for number 4. Who was late, very late and then despite liking my dog (yes, I do make life decisions based on peoples’ attitudes towards my dog) gave us a low re-sale price. I crossed him off the list. The following weekend the children stayed and as per, the girl child was riddled with germs and decided as is her wont, to spread them around.
Thankfully, I didn’t get ill, but Bear did. Oh, how he got ill… within a day he was coughing and wheezing, by the Sunday he had huge, red sores on his lower legs and felt exhausted. He took the children home on Sunday evening then collapsed on the sofa and slept until I woke him up to go to bed. Over the next three days he got steadily worse. The lesions on his lower legs spread and got bigger and more painful, he was feverish and coughed all the time and felt like death. He could barely stand up because his legs and feet were agonising if he wasn’t horizontal. He called the second estate agent back and secured his services and then called the doctor.
At first the doctor thought it was erysipelas, so she prescribed antibiotics and sent Bear to the hospital dermatologist, who said it looked a lot like Erysipelas, but it wasn’t, it was something else and worse. Back to the doctor, who hearing Bear’s breathing, referred him to a lung specialist and pulmonologist. Where he had a battery of tests as they tried to confirm what they suspected it to be, Lofgren’s syndrome, the acute form of Sarcoidosis. X-rays showed he had lesions on his lungs, heart and liver, as well as on his legs, arms and left hand.
The antibiotics had no effect because all this had been caused by a virus so Bear was left to suffer and struggle until his second appointment a week later with the lung specialist. Meanwhile, the second estate agent had come back, taken measurements and informed us that we had two weeks to get the house all bar emptied for the brochure photos, and then our house would be put on the market. Two weeks to sort through nine years of dumping stuff in the cellar we no longer used and getting rid of it and cleaning the house to the point of spotlessness.
Two weeks. I rose to the challenge, because I had no choice, Bear could do nothing but sit up on the sofa and rest, he had no energy, was grey and couldn’t stop coughing, so I did it all myself. In two weeks, I went through the cellar like a whirlwind, sorting through every box and bag, dumping 80% of it in a huge pile outside the back door to go in a skip and cleaned every room until it shone, hiding our personal possessions away in stylish boxes so the place looked like something from a magazine. The house hadn’t been so minimalistic since just before we’d moved in.
During that first week, the hospital phoned. They wanted to prep me for my hip replacement surgery three days later. I said no. I wasn’t leaving Bear alone when he was so ill. I needed to be there and I needed to get that house sorted out or we wouldn’t be going anywhere and I sure as hell wasn’t staying after getting Bear this far. I asked if I could postpone until we had moved and were settled and Bear was better and was told I could. They’d try to fit me in whenever I was ready. That is another reason I love Dutch healthcare.
The last weekend, Bear’s friends rallied round, one, an ex-military man and his son came to help me dump everything in a skip we’d hired, boxes of stuff that hadn’t seen the light of day in almost 30 years, boxes of rubble from the downstairs toilet project that had never been completed and the upstairs project that only just had. Another friend plastered the downstairs toilet walls so it looked at least like it was supposed to be something, and another came to take the dog out for a long walk. The poor little fella hadn’t had a walk in almost three weeks and couldn’t believe his luck.
By the time the photographer turned up to do the photos, the house was all but bare. She was in and out in 10 minutes and two days later, our house hit the market with a pretty healthy selling price. Now we had to keep the house clean and bare for the viewings. Which was not easy when it rained all the next week and the dog gave not one fuck about cleanliness. In the first week we had 17 viewings and took the dog over to The Mommy’s, to be spoiled rotten and filled with treats.
It was the first time she’d seen her son since he got ill and she was shocked. He was still grey, barely able to move and struggled to breathe after walking only 20 feet, he looked like a waif, having lost a lot of muscle mass and while he hadn’t lost weight, he looked like he’d dropped 50 lbs. He had no appetite, which definitely wasn’t him, and he could only eat bland food and drink water. He still had lesions but some were starting to fade. The coughing was now a major problem. On Friday of that week, we went back to the lung specialist.
He prescribed the highest strength anti-inflammatory painkillers to try to quash the infection and stomach lining pills. He took down every detail of what Bear had been going through from onset of symptoms to that day. He was convinced it was Lofgren’s syndrome and told Bear it would start to ease and should be gone within the next 5 weeks. Five weeks is a bloody long time when each day stretches before you lying on the sofa, with no energy, no appetite and coughing yourself hoarse all day.
Appointments with the pulmonologist, rheumatologist and repeated blood tests and lung capacity tests followed. They all knew it was what they’d thought it was but the pulmonologist wanted Bear to undergo a lung biopsy. He refused. He had enough trouble breathing as it was. Slowly with the help of the anti-inflammatory painkillers Bear started to get better, some days were a small step forward and some days were a huge step back. It took seven weeks for Bear to be free of the lesions on his skin and for the coughing to finally ease.
It’s been 13 weeks since Bear first got ill and he’s still not better. He still coughs in the mornings, tires easily and has limited energy. He can’t do very much to help with the house move, but at least he’s been able to view a house a day. We found a house in the same area his Mom lives, that has a similar configuration as this one. We move in four weeks.