I am not in control.
Right now I feel this more than ever. I am a control freak by nature and there is nothing I want more than to be the one calling the shots.
The last time I felt this way was almost 7 years ago when my sweet and incredibly stubborn husband wasn’t feeling well and yet didn’t go to the doctor. By the end of the week he finally agreed he wasn’t getting any better and he finally went in. From the walk in doctors office, he went straight to the hospital where he stayed for 7 days. He called me from the ER and said I think you need to call my parents to watch the kids so you can come to the hospital.
He had appendicitis and during the course of the week, his appendix had ruptured. They weren’t even able to do surgery right away because his body was completely poisoned. I was terrified. It was surreal. I felt like I was watching a scene unfold in a movie. That first day, as the ER doctor was explaining what was happening it seemed like life just stood still. Time simply stopped. The day before I was convinced he had a bad case of the flu. Maybe he was dehydrated and needed rest. As words like surgeries, MRI’s and septic filled the air I felt like I could barely breathe. See, my husband is not someone that gets sick. He’s a personal trainer that is in really great shape. He exercises, plays tons of sports and is a super active hands-on Dad. How could this be happening? How did I not see it? Why didn’t I push harder for him to go to the doctor sooner? Every question and feeling bubbled to the surface. Guilt, fear, and more fear.
Then I went into action mode.
What do we do next? What procedures? Next steps? I took copious notes, practically interrogated the doctors and knew the nurses by first name. I quickly realized that I was going to be the glue to keep everyone on the same page. Doctors had questions, nurses had questions and I had answers. When Justin was so out of it, he couldn’t speak, I spoke for him.
I’ll never forget the day he had his PIC-line put in. I was in the hallway, holding back tears and all of a sudden I felt peace. I’d like to think it was God giving me a warm hug. In that moment, I knew I would be ok. I didn’t know what ok was going to look like going forward, but I felt comfort for the first time since this nightmare had started.
One more piece to the story, prior to that moment, my greatest fear was that I was going to walk out of the hospital a 30 year old widow. At the time our girls were three and one. My precious preschooler was suddenly asking about colonoscopies and IV’s and during that time my one year old became very sick with a double ear infection and incredibly high fever. My guilt soared because I was living at the hospital and couldn’t be there to help my baby. It was definitely one of the most stressful times in my life. All I wanted was control. To have certainty that we would walk out of all of this stronger instead of destroyed.
Fast forward a year.
By the grace of God, Justin survived. Later, doctors told me that there was absolutely no medical reason for him to still be alive. People that come in, in that condition, die. After countless surgeries, infusions, medications, sleepless nights, ER visits, prayers, tears and full on scream sessions, we all made it through. I didn’t see or know how we would, but we did. I’m very grateful for the brave nurses and the incredible doctors we had. The battle scars on my heart remain as reminders, but just like how our bodies heal and become stronger, so did my heart. The blessing of our youngest daughter, Paisley, is truly evidence of our healing.
As I write this and reflect on that time in life, I’m reminded again how helpless I felt. How badly I wanted to go back to the week prior, back to “normal” life. It feels very similar now. It definitely makes normal feel precious and something to be treasured.
For me, I can’t let the fear creep in for too long. The whispers want to pull me in, but I can’t go there. It’s a rabbit hole of “what if’s” I’m not willing to acknowledge. I don’t have the answers, I have no control. But I do have my faith. God is my rest when the world feels like it is falling apart.
Right now my Dad is 72 years old and has cancer. I have three babies ages 9, 7 and 3. I have a husband that has an immune system that was compromised when he was sick and although he is much better now, I still fear the possible lasting effects and implications.
We all have stories, we all have fears and I so badly wish I could flip a few pages in God’s playbook, see what the future holds and tell you all about it. But what I can tell you is that when I focus my mind on what I’m grateful for, it makes the moment feel a little easier. 7 years ago some of those images included gratefulness for Starbucks coffee in the cafeteria, for many of Justin’s clients who came to the hospital and gave him checks even though he wasn’t able to train them (remember, he’s my fitness personal trainer and at that point, our sole source of income), for dinners that family and friends dropped off so I wouldn’t have to cook, for the kindness of our families in watching the girls so I could take Justin to get infusions, for sweet texts from friends reminding me of life on the outside.
Typing this now, I am so grateful for technology. My kids are able to go to school on Zoom, Justin is building an online training business and I am blessed to work from the comfort of my kitchen table. I’m grateful for our incredible medical community, for all our pharmacists, grocers, delivery personnel. For all the people making our take out food and for our community leaders. I’m also grateful for the sun shining through the window as I type this, for my kids’ laughter as they climb on my sweet husband’s back for “one more pony ride” and for this hot cup of tea.
Be well, my friends.