Sometimes life throws us unexpected curves.
Some of you may be wondering where I have been for the past three or four weeks. Well, I've been dealing with a very challenging medical diagnosis for my husband. We've learned some lessons - and we are still learning more. I'll be back blogging - sharing on "lessons learned in illness" - in the near future. We have been the recipients of major amounts of love, concern, and help from friends and relatives. I am a person who prefers to be in the position of being a "giver" and not a "receiver". But, God put me suddenly in the position of being on the receiving end - receiving help from others. I have learned much about being gracious and thankful.
So, here's what happened:
My husband had been recently plagued by shortness of breath. We associated it with side-effects from this bout with the flu in January. He headed off to a local Promptcare and came home with a diagnosis of acute bronchitis and a prescription for an antibiotic. However, after seven days he was no better. At my insistence, he saw our primary care physician. When a chest x-ray revealed an enlarged heart, the doctor scheduled an echocardiogram.
This final test revealed a very scary diagnosis of "end stage heart failure with a 1.3 cm blood clot in his left heart chamber". Basically, in the course of eight weeks the flu virus had attacked his heart, leaving it barely beating. I was stunned! He was a perfectly healthy 60 year old man, who had taken great care of himself. We eat a whole foods diet, exercise, and do nothing to excess! He had NONE of the markers that suggest that he would be susceptible to heart failure!
What followed felt like a nightmare from which I could not awaken! He spent a week in the hospital, had a minor stroke, and left with a list of daily medications and appointments with a host of medical professionals. He is on several medications to lessen the load on his heart, hopefully allowing it to heal over the next six to twelve months.
A Wake-Up Call!
This illness has forced us to reevaluate our priorities in some very important ways.
1. The massive amounts of overtime which he has worked for the past three years are history. This is VERY challenging for our monthly budget, but very good for our family and marriage. In future weeks, I'll be writing more on changing your budget when life throws you a huge (and expensive) curve.
2. His cardiologist says that daily exercise will strengthen his heart muscle. So, we are taking daily walks together again! We haven't had time to do this for a long time! In the busyness of life, we had forgotten how good it felt just to be "in the moment" together.
3. We cut out all unnecessary obligations. With the amount of overtime that he was working and our other church and community obligations we were literally running from commitment to commitment every day of the week! We took a long hard look at each one and chose to keep those which gave us energy and life. We took sabbaticals from others - like playing piano and being on the worship team at church. Our church is VERY important to us! They graciously accepted our resignation for an undetermined amount of time, knowing that we will be back when we can. These decisions, although hard to make, gave us emotional freedom to focus on what we need to focus on right now.
You can't always choose the path that your life will take. But, I am grateful for each and every new day with my love of over 30 years.
Here is a photo of us taken on Easter - just days after he left the hospital.
Now that life has slowed down and we are learning to embrace a "new normal", I am processing the events of the past few weeks. I find my thoughts turning to you, my readers. As I have time, I will be "downloading" my observations (and revelations - LOL) in the form of future blog posts.
I leave you today with best wishes for you and your loved ones. Enjoy each and every day that you have together. Keep "short accounts" on your conflicts and disagreements. I have a friend who signs her photos of her husband and children with "find your tribe and love them hard". I love that advice.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not end with the fact that my faith in Jesus Christ has been my rock through this terrible time. Life on earth is hard, if not impossible, without the hope and assurance of life eternal. Life is short. Eternity is forever! John 3:16 is more than a sign that people hold up at sporting events. It is the story of a God who created us, loves us, and wants us to spend forever with Him. Find a local church. Get a Bible and begin reading it. Give it some thought. 😊
Do all to the glory of God,