17 Days… Chapter 14

fb_img_1461121487737Back to life…back to reality. (This about sums up how we felt about it all 🙂 )

We are now back from vacation and trying to get back to normal…well OUR normal. And, there is a pesky question eating away at us that needs to be addressed.

Before we went on vacation, Hubby was presented with a huge decision to make by his cardiologist… do I get a defibrillator implanted in my chest??? For those of you who are not familiar with what this is, it is literally bionic man type stuff. It is a little unit about the size of a business card with little probes that go to your heart. If needed it can send an electric current to the heart to re-regulate the heart beat. The heart is continuously monitored and if anything goes wrong it notifies the bigger programmed unit (sits next to his bed) and then notifies the company. At anytime they can check all his hearts functions and how it has been beating. See? I told you… bionic man.. so crazy.

At first, Hubby was very against this. When we left for vacation he was pretty convinced it was a no. They told him that out of 10 patients like him only 2 or 3 may ever need the defibrillator to save their life.. but that there is no way of knowing which patient or when. It acts as a sort of insurance policy just-in-case anything ever goes wrong.

I, of course, was totally for it and the doctor said Hubby couldn’t be intimate with his wife or step up his exercise if he didn’t have it done. I’m like… WHAT!!!! Ahhhhhhh.. Hubby! You are gettin this thing!!! And after he thought about it, he came to the same conclusion. And even though he hated the thought of this little machine being in his chest and causing even MORE limitations in his life, he knew it was the best thing to do.

So…we made the appointment and then the doc scheduled the surgery. Yes… SURGERY. Guess how much WE were looking forward to THAT! More lovely hospital, more lovely probing, prodding, and recovery. Remember when we were in the hospital in Florida and I was having that awful feeling of wow, my life is now going to be in and out of hospitals from now on? It was coming back. I am always so ashamed when I say these things. There are so many people so much worse off than we and I need to zip it and stop with the pity party! And thankfully I do. I come back, probably because General Char won’t stand for the whoa is me malarkey, and I suck it up and do what I need to do. It is so easy to forget that you are NEVER alone and God is there. He WILL take care of you. I really believe that God sent me the General to remind me of this and to keep me on the right track. And to give me strength when Everyday Char gets wimpy and loses faith.preview-23

Believe-it-or-not, the surgery was scheduled right on Hubby’s birthday! 😦 We had to have a Friday so Hubby didn’t miss much work and that happened to be the Friday that was open. So… Happy Birthday Dear!! Poor guy. But, he seemed to be okay with it all. He just wanted it to be over with. This is not an easy procedure. You bounce back in about a week or two but it is VERY painful and you have to wear this crazy contraption wrapped around you to hold your arm still while you sleep. You can’t lift or twist your arm for quite a while until the scar tissue builds around the unit. You can’t take the chance of the unit moving or tearing anything or you will be back in surgery. img_20160819_075057430-1

The surgery went well. We stayed in the hospital for a night and 2 days…so in our usual hospital world…not too bad! As expected, Hubby WAS in a lot of pain but Tylenol took the edge off. We had fun every night wrapping him in that crazy mummy wrap thing. We still laugh about it. But, we were very diligent and followed all of doctors orders and he was recovering well. He went back to work early that week and was very careful. We later that week figured out that Hubby could no longer use his cell phone on the side the unit was on, nor wear his Fitbit on that arm. He also had to watch certain electronic waves like his work walkie talkies and if he were to fly he has to carry an ID card so they know he is now bionic and will set off the security alarms!! Like I said…just MORE limitations. But, we got used to the others and we will work to get used to these. 🙂

So as Hubby recovered he got the ok to become more “physically active”… and Everyday Char was having a party!! The General just took a backseat and had a good giggle at my excitement! You just don’t realize how much you miss one another until things settle down. I wrote about this in a previous chapter so you know my struggles with all of this, but it truly is the last thing you think about when you are in survival mode. You just think of having more time and how much you love each other. As Hubby became stronger and stronger, Wifey was sending out the signals…like, ok buddy! It’s time! And…. we will just leave it at that 🙂 419

As time goes on the doctors keep confirming that Hubby has defied all the odds with his recovery. When we left the hospital the first time, as I told you, they didn’t have much positive to say about his prognosis. They would have never dreamed he would be where he is today. When Hubby had his second V02 test the nurses were flipping out over his results!!! They said they had NEVER seen a patient go from the number he had on the first test to the number he scored on the second. It was such a huge jump! This test measures oxygen levels from the heart and lungs when you are pushed to your limit on physical activity. It’s done on a treadmill.

So along with that blessing, he was also recently able to completely go off his insulin shots and just take a pill. They also diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes instead of type one. Hubby is convinced that soon he will be able to go off the insulin pill as well.  And I believe him. He is so strict on his diet and exercise that I truly think he is right.

He works out just as hard as normal non-heart patients and maybe even harder. He still has limitations concerning how much weight he can lift and with running, but he is making it all work and I couldn’t be prouder of him.   img_20150205_114659987

I still see little moments when he silently struggles with his new self and I see a sense of mourning for his old life come thru… but I really think that aside from the limitations he now has, he is really in a sense, better than he was. I like seeing him take pride in himself and his health, and in turn it makes us as a family healthier and happier. He has become more independent and self sufficient and I think has a new appreciation for me. Looks at me in a different way that he really couldn’t until all this happened to him. And, I as well can look at him in a way I never did before.

The funny thing is, if you didn’t know Hubby before you wouldn’t look at him and think he had ever gone thru any of this. He looks like a wonderfully fit 52 yr old. But those of you who knew him when, he looks totally different than his old self.. and when you first see him you almost don’t recognize him.

Our goal now is to continue to improve his heart and his health and to hopefully get off some more medication. No one wants to take all those pills everyday if they don’t have to. IMG_20160324_205924314_HDR

I want to thank ALL of you as I finish this final chapter of our story. I want to sincerely thank you for reading this and taking interest in a time in our lives that changed us all. I felt lead to write this story and to work on recipes and this blog not only by God, but by all of the outpouring of concern and love we received from all of you. I felt I needed to share all of this with you because you deserved to have me take the time to write it for all you did for us. The prayer, love, donations, and concern will NEVER be forgotten and was a big part of why we made it thru. Please know that those things you do, no matter how small, when people are suffering, even if they don’t tell you at first, MATTER…and make the BIGGEST difference. Every word all of you wrote on Facebook or in a card, or words that were spoken, then and now, filled and fills us with joy and hope, and has blessed us beyond words. We appreciate and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts now and always. resized_20161225_140908

And please don’t leave me, lol, Char has much more to say and share and more recipes to create! So stay tuned on creationsbychar for a lot more to come! Especially as we embark on our last and final move… (gosh we are getting too old for this!) to go back home and bring our family back together. Do I smell a reality show? Ya never know.. and man…it sure would be a GOOD one!!! 🙂img_20160121_101050-1ohio-state(We’re comin back baby!!!!)

Until next time.. be a blessing…share a blessing…be blessed.. xoxo

Written by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

17 Days… Chapter 12

img_20161107_123525As I followed behind the nurse pushing Hubby down the very long hall in a wheelchair my mind wandered to a new place. No General Char, no mama bear, all new. I will call it, “self preservation Char”. As I told you I am going to be very honest with you as I write this story and some things that happened I am embarrassed of… but it IS how it happened.

As we were walking to the hospital part of the huge complex of buildings…all connected and pretty cool actually… all the smells and familiarity of the hospital came back. I am sure for Hubby as well. Didn’t put us in a very good place mentally. All the worry came back along with all the unknown. Losing your health puts such a heavy burden on every part of you even if its not you. If it’s a spouse or a child or even a parent its almost debilitating. It’s very hard to live day to day and function normally… because it never leaves your mind.

So as we get admitted to the hospital room I begin to feel resentment. This is a little new and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. I could NEVER tell Hubby this. How selfish. How SELFISH am I to even feel this way. Most of me still looks at Hubby with all the love that’s always been there but now this little part has reared its ugly head and I am beginning to feel anger. Anger towards him and this whole horrible situation. Anger that every single thing in my life is on hold…anger that I can’t exercise or sleep.. anger that I never see my daughter and I am basically ignoring her..anger that we may lose everything…anger that I am way too young for all this…anger that he didn’t take care of himself.. anger that I am falling apart and MY health is now going downhill so that I can take care of him 24 hrs a day…. just plain ANGER!!! Then along with this anger comes guilt for feeling it, but I imagine I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. I do quickly realize that I need to get a grip. I can’t let this part of me grow or take over. That would most certainly not help our situation. And I don’t want Hubby to know this. So try as she may, General Char battled her way out and candy-coated the situation and saved me for the moment. Although she couldn’t stop me from breaking down. I had to release that build up of anger somehow. Luckily, I found another war room bathroom down the hall from Hubby’s room and I got comfy and dealt with it all, and had another needed talk with God.

I walked back to the room with a much better attitude and walked in there trying to be as positive as I could. Some of the nurses recognized us and chatted with us a bit. They informed us to be ready! Hubby would be peeing til he couldn’t pee no more! 🙂 This drug they will now give him intravenously, (he was taking the pill form) will VERY quickly flush all the fluids from his body. And by golly, it sure did!!!! Long story short, he lost 30 lbs in 5 days!!! And, yes, I have NEVER seen someone fill little pee buckets so fast!!! It was like a job! And the funny part, well at least I thought so, was that all the urine had to be measured, so Hubby would fill’em, I would hang ’em in the bathroom, and the poor nurses would measure and dump “em!! It was quite an assembly line! And I would ask myself as I hung up the umpteenth pee bucket..” How did my life come to this?” :}

This hospital stay seemed so much longer than 5 days. It just seemed to drag…especially because we silently feared a long, long hospital stay. Hubby of course wouldn’t let me leave, so I had to sleep on the ever so comfy and accommodating couch… or as I like to call it.. a big brick with legs and a pillow.

Our daughter was now home from college and I was relieved. She could help us out with our younger daughter and take some shifts at the hospital.

My war room was right next to these big beautiful windows that had the most spectacular view. We were on the 7th floor and it looked down on the city and the mountains were in the background. No one ever seemed to be in that waiting room area so I would often sit there and stare out those big windows and seemed to feel closer to God and we had some good talks there. Hubby loved taking his walks to those windows and sitting there and absorbing the view as well. It drove him CRAZY to have to drag all that equipment around just to walk, but he was doing so well, I knew he would get to go home soon.

Once they felt his lungs were clear and his swelling was subsided they finally let us go home. Of course, it took forever. Discharging from a hospital takes sooooo much longer than being admitted..it’s very frustrating.

We couldn’t believe how much his swelling went down. He looked like a new man! I wish we would have taken before and after shots. Could have been a cool Instagram split shot post! LOL!

So we returned home with a whole new set of directions and medication schedule. We had to do everything in our power to keep that fluid from coming back. He had to continue his strict fluid restriction and continue to take his diuretics. He also had to weigh himself every morning because any weight gain could mean the fluid was coming back. So as if our lives hadn’t already become strict and regimented enough, it now went to a whole other level. Our entire existence revolved around his needs and restrictions. And we had to quickly figure out how we were going manage all this as he would return to work.

This is where I began to panic. His job was part of the reason he got sick. He never wanted to stop to eat and would literally go all day, every day without eating. NOT GOOD. He also was not a breakfast eater which I always yelled at him about. So we had to COMPLETELY change his entire mental outlook. And teaching an “old Hubby” new tricks is one tall order! He is a pretty stubborn guy, but now sees he has to let all that go a little to stay on a continued road to good health.

So he would have to get up earlier than he is used to in order to have time to weigh himself, test his blood sugar, take his insulin, eat his breakfast, and get ready for work. A little different than the 15 minutes he USED to give himself every morning. Plus we had to send him to work armed with all he would need for the day. He would now have to pack all his meds, his very planned and restricted lunch, his blood sugar meter and his insulin. UGH! It completely overwhelmed us at first. I would say it was a good month before we even got into any kind of groove. But, when all this happened to us we had some good friends assure us that it would all BECOME normal…that it would become OUR new normal. And I have to say they were right. We often still feel very odd and isolated in even the most normal circumstances. We always have to watch the time and stop whatever we are doing to check his blood sugar and give him his insulin and make sure he eats and eats properly. And that is one tall order in this busy way of life we all lead. I always think of how it must be for parents of diabetic children. How hard it has to be for them to allow their children to attempt to lead normal lives. Because even when you get used to it, it still reminds you often, that you are living a very challenged lifestyle. And there is no loosey goosey… no, I will worry about it later, or tomorrow. It is the here and now, everyday, ALL day. And it is a very long journey to get to the point of acceptance, and a point of relaxing in the new skin you have been handed.

This is also where I struggle as a spouse. I will admit, again, that at times I have felt and sometimes still feel resentful. Resentful towards Hubby and resentful towards this disease. Pretty much resentful at the entire world for destroying our food supply with sugar, artificial ingredients, and sodium.

I struggle daily with this and I wish I didn’t. I wish at times I didn’t feel like “Hey, I didn’t do anything to deserve this! I took care of myself, I ate well, I exercised, I took vitamins why does MY life have to turn into this???” I feel this way a lot less than I used to, thankfully. But, I will tell you that when you are put into this situation your beliefs are sorely tested. You KNOW deep down that whole, for better or for worse vow you took, and you will strive and push to honor that because if the tables were turned you would want him to do the same. But, the times when you realize what you have lost and what challenges you have to face each day, it is so difficult not to feel sorry for yourself. Not to mourn the normalcy you have lost. Not to be sooooo angry because it all stole marriage as you knew it. Stole intimacy, stole your social life, robbed you of all you worked up to as a couple married for 32 years. You become a lonely, angry, mean and resentful person who says whoa is me way too often. And like I said, I am mostly embarrassed that I feel this way, but I also try to give myself a break and I continue to pray about it and work to make it better. Crying pretty much on an hourly basis everyday really isn’t going to help anyone and I think General Char had run out of power for a while and needed a vacation! While she was on a beach somewhere, I really started to worry about myself. I felt as if my strength was lessoning everyday and I just didn’t know how to stop it. All I could think about was the reality of our new life. As time went by it really started to hit me hard. The thought of our new future scared me and just kicked me in the gut. As I stated earlier our cardiologist was very straight forward, and every time he would talk about “mortality” and “life expectancy” it just twisted the knife deeper. It made me feel trapped and mad and sad and just a general mourning. I don’t know how else to describe it. fb_img_1478543918140**Photo creds to Erin Renfro Stancell

I know that things could be worse and you better believe I say that to myself ALL the time. I am very blessed my husband and the Father of my children is still here. But as the spouse, you just don’t know where YOU fit in to this whole scenario. The kids still have their Dad. He can’t do all of the physical things he used to do, but he’s there for them. He can thankfully still work and provide for us. He can still be a friend and a companion and the leader of our family. But, I will tell you, he can’t be the same Husband and I can’t be the same Wife, and the stress, awkwardness and the fear and uncertainty this causes is scary. I almost feel like he looks at me totally differently than he used to. Not like a “wife” but as a caregiver. What scares me the most is that we will not be able to go back. Like our whole marriage is now permanently redefined and we need to accept it. The emotions I feel over this are all over the place. I can’t speak for him. He may be fine with it. Let’s face it, his new personal focus is his health. And that’s the way it has to be. He is in survival mode and something had to give. What makes it so hard is that we are still young…well, young enough, and, I still look at him the way I always have and I am still so very attracted to him in everyway. I still have needs and I still need my husband. So….what do you do? I feel frustration and I feel selfish for feeling any of it. I keep telling myself to continue being a martyr… it’s what I do best, but boy as the months go by it becomes harder and harder. I had come to the conclusion that anyone in my position needs to be taken care of TOO. And if we don’t acknowledge that and make our spouse SEE that, than you are just playing a waiting game of… when will this all implode?

I have since, with the help of prayer, decided to make it my mission to get back control of our newly defined marriage. I need to make him SEE me again. This will slowly happen with the help of the confidence he is beginning to develop in his new self. I see it starting to happen everyday. I see a “new” man being born…him looking at himself in a new light of acceptance. Accepting his new life and realizing it is what it is, and knowing he needs to make the best of it or he may as well throw in the towel. As he gains more and more strength, I see MY MAN coming back. I see him working harder and harder to be the best HE can be and understanding the OLD HE is gone. I have also realized I need to continue being patient. “Good things come to those who wait” As hard as it is, I have to have confidence and faith that God will give him the vision to see me again. To help him not be afraid to let go of his stronghold on his survival and to let me in. To let me in as his WIFE and his partner and that even as redefined as we now are, we can STILL be us. fullsizerender_6

I pray for patience and for God to help me accept Hubby has to come to these realizations in his own time. I will say that being here with no family and only one of my children makes it hard. Our finances now make it difficult to take on new hobbies or to shop etc. etc. but I try to find ways to occupy my mind so I don’t think too much…which can be scary anyway! 🙂

I decided to revisit my blog I started before Hubby got sick. God started to work through me giving me inspiration and creativity..leading me to create healthy recipes and to write. I have always loved writing and I firmly believe you have to have a passion to write about and something you really believe in before your writing can even be plausible or appealing. Well, I have found my passion and something I believe in, and, as long as I keep being lead, I will continue to write and create. img_20160905_095528706

I do believe God worked on me to write this story and to do this blog to help me fulfill what is now missing in me since Hubby’s illness. Even though I have full confidence my Hubby will be my Hubby again, this has helped me. Helped me on a personal level. It has slowly began to fill an empty spot in me as a woman that I feared could not be filled again. And the satisfaction I get from knowing I might be helping, inspiring, motivating, or even amusing people 🙂 makes it just that much more rewarding.

And just when we thought we had this whole thing down pat… we found out we were sadly mistaken! 🙂

We will now hear the story of our first “post heart attacks” family trip… Ooooooo boy…

Until next time.. be a blessing… share a blessing… be blessed… xoxo

17 Days.. Chapter 11

img_20161014_125928Oooooo to be young again… you walk down that isle ready to begin your life with the man you love. You have all these plans and you swear it will all be PERFECT. You will have the perfect children and the perfect house and the perfect marriage. You WILL live a storybook life!

Yeah.. okay.. how long did it take YOU to figure out that it doesn’t work that way? Didn’t take me long. In fact, I regularly give this advice to any young person who is willing to listen. NO marriage is perfect…NO life is perfect, and NO child or adult is perfect. If you go into your new marriage realizing that, you have won half the battle. I think that is the biggest issue that contributes to divorce these days…that everyone wants instant gratification and perfection and if they don’t get it they want out. MARRIAGE TAKES WORK. And if you put the work in, the good times out weigh the bad and the good is REALLY good. And you are much better equipped to handle the bad. Because… THE BAD WILL HAPPEN. But, if you have the love and the commitment to stick it out, no matter what, it will always get better. But, it has to be on both sides and divorce cannot be an option. I truly believe God has a soul mate picked for all of us. He creates the fate that brings you together. And when you just give up on that union without trying you are telling God, “No thanks..I will look for something better.” Now I realize there are extenuating circumstances like infidelity, abuse, etc. and that’s a different story. The Bible speaks of this and there are legitimate reasons to leave a marriage. But I will tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than looking back on a 32 year marriage, ( YES! 32 YEARS!) and seeing the fruits of your labor, and feeling so fulfilled that you worked at it even when it was hard. And I really think that having that history with the good and the bad makes your love grow stronger. You are INVESTED and you WANT to stay. And with that investment comes a bond that you can only achieve through time, trials and tribulations.. joy and heartache and accomplishments… miracles of childbirth.. raising your children… loss…supporting each other even when you don’t agree.. swearing you hate this person then realizing you don’t and feeling guilty because you did…sickness and health…richer and poorer.. it all adds up. And like any investment, you don’t walk away. Because we all know sometimes investments are stable, sometimes they grow and sometimes they lose, but you don’t give up, you just change your investment plan until it works. I hate to compare marriage to investments but it really makes the point.

And, let me tell you, you better have a really good foundation and investment in your marriage when a spouse falls ill. Because it will be the BIGGEST test of your marriage. I had seen many others go through it in my life and I often marveled at their strength and wondered if I could be that strong if it ever happened to me.

And when you are faced with that situation it doesn’t hit you until way later… when the nurses and doctors go away and the reality sinks in. When YOU realize that this person SOLEY depends on you and life will never be the same. Your MARRIAGE will never be the same. In fact, it takes on a whole new definition and meaning.wedding 1984-3

When you suffer with heart failure and diabetes, the lower extremities can have all kinds of issues. Poor circulation and water retention become a real challenge. And that paired with side effects from way too many medications makes you wonder what is worse…side effects or the actual illness?

Hubby began to suffer from horrible severe water retention and lovely constipation. We laugh now at how swollen his feet and legs were. They were huge!! And it made it very difficult for him to walk which was crucial to his recovery. He was also dealing with a pesky cough that wouldn’t go away and made it very hard for him to sleep. So he wasn’t walking well and wasn’t getting enough sleep.

The cardiologist had him on the max of diuretics and Hubby peed more than anyone I have ever seen! LOL! It also made his skin SO dry and it peeled off him like snakeskin. I literally had to vacuum our bed and sweep the floor twice a day to keep up with his skin flakes! Not very fun for him. There were just no moisturizers that would work. We tried everything. My Arbonne oil probably worked the best, which doesn’t surprise me.

He also could not get a handle on the constipation. Stool softeners, fiber, laxatives, we were trying it all. This was at a time his Mom was staying with us and she would insist that an enema was the only solution. We shied away from that concept as long as we could. Because with Hubby’s condition guess who was going to have to administer this enema? The loving, invested, for better or for worse, no matter what.. wife. Okay.. I had already been helping him daily with his “bathroom hygiene” which was humiliating enough for him (it didn’t bother me, I raised 4 kids!!) but now I was going to have to tell him to bend over buddy and take a deep breath! Here might be a good time to reiterate the whole commitment and investment in your marriage thing. There is NO way a spouse could have the guts to do these things without a VERY deep commitment..no pun intended :).. or no way a spouse could withstand ALLOWING their significant other to do such things without being sick with embarrassment, without that long built investment in each other.

I won’t go into gory details of our marital bathroom adventures of constipation relief.. but I will tell you it is now a great go-to joke in this family and after 32 years of marriage I can now say that I am officially familiar with EVERY square inch of my husband. And that was an anatomy lesson I am quite sure he could have done without! 🙂 I tell him it just made us closer, but no way never EVER never EVER on this God’s green earth will I allow HIM to take care of me in a constipated state! Ain’t happenin! I guess I will just have to explode! 🙂

It was becoming closer to the date Hubby was going to try and go back to work, but we both felt he wasn’t quite ready. The swelling was just not subsiding and his doctor was getting concerned. The reason the swelling is such an issue is because it means that the heart is not doing its job and the damage to it is significant. So we went to see his doc and he wasn’t very positive about the whole situation. He simply said, his heart is obviously unable to pump hard enough to keep everything from swelling and now it is affecting the lungs (the cough) and it has to be addressed. So we looked at each other and knew full well what was coming… another hospital stay. img_20161014_131932

*** Please note the gray hair, reading glasses, and happy wrinkles…all rewards of an invested, committed, long and happy marriage hee hee 🙂 This was us on a LONG awaited little date (selfie!!) at our favorite restaurant in OHIO. First one since he was sick 🙂

Hubby already hated hospitals before this even happened and now is being told he has to go back after that long 17 days we already experienced. Turns out they needed to put him on a Lasix drip, which is the diuretic he is on in a pill form, to really combat the fluid. Having fluid in the lungs is dangerous and we had to get that under control. And his fluid in his legs and feet was becoming worse and very painful and walking was just not easy for him.

We didn’t even go home, they just admitted him right from there. I could see in his eyes he was defeated. It broke my heart. I think he felt very hopeless at that moment…like it was never going to get better and this was now what his life would be like. And I know he was worried about if he would ever be able to go back to work, and I was too. As much as you are worried about your Husband’s health and well being you can’t help but worry about your future and supporting your family. Especially for him, when you are the man of the family, and all of a sudden you feel helpless and not much like a breadwinner. And you don’t feel like the strength that has always bonded the family together and you are petrified about what will happen. I felt in my heart the fear he was feeling. Another thing that happens when you have that invested bond, you can always feel what the other is feeling.

Now hubby had to make the call to work that it would be another couple weeks before he could come back, and get to begin the mounds of disability paperwork that goes along with it 😦

And now we begin Day 1 of “5 Days”….

Until next time.. be a blessing… share a blessing… be blessed xoxo

** The pic at the top (the computer screen doesn’t do it justice) was sketched by my very talented son who is an Artist/ Art teacher and recently surprised us with this beautiful keepsake. Please notice his signature of the swirling heart and intertwining swirls between us… Love that talented boy! 🙂

 

 

17 Days…Chapter 10

tempA friend and I were talking the other day and got on the subject of “If you could go back..”. And most would expect me to say either before Hubby’s illness or maybe High School, but I honestly would rather go back to when I was 20 and ready to have my first child. I wouldn’t change the fact I got married so young (you couldn’t have stopped me) I wouldn’t change having kids so young, and I wouldn’t have wanted fame or fortune. I would love to go back to that young Mom who didn’t have a clue and tell her to do a lot of things differently. Ya know.. If I knew then what I know now…but how would you? Living life and making mistakes is what puts us here with that knowledge and that maturity that makes us older and wiser. With that said, I would have liked to have lived healthier and been an even better Mom. I would have loved to have had the information I have now about health and nutrition and have kept my family away from fast and processed food. No one really knew that many years ago. I wish I would have appreciated the simple things more and not felt I needed to conquer the world and have the best most amazing birthday parties, shoes and clothes for my kids. Here’s the funny thing, just as I was, I now get the same reaction from the new parents I speak with, who pretty much don’t want to hear my advice because they have it all figured out. My heart aches for these young people because they really have no clue and could benefit from our wisdom and save themselves a lot of heartache. But as generations go, each will do the same. We tortured our parents and grandparents and didn’t listen to them either. I know they have to learn as we did but it would be nice to be able to prevent it. But, I have learned that it molds us into the people we will become and prepares us for what God has planned. I oddly now see that the challenging life I lead throughout my childhood and as a young parent was God’s way of getting me ready for where my road in life would lead. And believe-it-or-not I thank Him for that because if it wasn’t for General Char or my Scarlett O’Hara personality I would have been toast the last 6 months. Which takes me to the day we came home and were released from those 17 days…fb_img_1456083434628-1 ** My beautiful late Grandma 🙂

As I said, our release from the hospital took forever and with Hubby’s new time sensitive health schedule we were running out of time. It was almost time for him to take his insulin and we still had to drive home and pick up all his meds from the pharmacy. But I thought no biggie.. yes we have an hour drive home but all the prescriptions have been called in and all we have to do is pick them up right? So I thought…

I let him stay in the car while I went in to grab all the meds. It was a hot day but I left him the keys and we parked in the shade.

I at this point was so exhausted and really wasn’t strong enough for things to go wrong. Ha! I guess that was just too bad. It was happening anyway!

To try and make a long story short, I was in that pharmacy for almost 2 hours!! They had everything wrong and had to call doctors and insurance companies. I had to keep going to the parking lot to check on Hubby in the hopes he would survive THIS now along with everything else. I couldn’t bring him in there he was just too weak and I couldn’t leave without his meds. And, let’s not forget time is just ticking away! I actually felt sorry for the pharmacist because I ended up in tears and he was doing the best he could. Remember, Hubby was now on 14 medications and needed all kinds of equipment for his diabetes. We were starting from square 1! And neither of us had a CLUE what we were doing.

This was when I REALLY missed our family. I had no one to help me with him or stay with him. We felt so alone. And yes, we had the whole community come together and help us in many ways.. but this was so personal and a time when all you want is your kids and your family.

When we FINALLY left the pharmacy we were way off schedule and I was beginning to panic. Yes, I had his meds and equipment now but had NO idea how to use it. The nurses try to educate you before you leave but trust me, it’s not enough.

When we finally got in the door we didn’t have that same feeling you get..ya know..oooo it’s so good to be home..that feeling of relief and comfort. Nope, we felt like life was a mess and we had to dig our way through it.

A Mom of one of our daughter’s friends had her quite a bit during all of this and somewhat adopted her during this whole thing. She was an angel from God. She made it so our daughter was one last thing we had to worry about during all this craziness. Got her to all the school events and school and made sure she was safe and fed and showered lol! A blessing to us without having family to depend on.

We had many “Angel Moms” step up as surrogate Moms for me thru all of this. Easter came and went during our 17 days and even though it wasn’t pressing to me at the time we had many coaches and Mom’s concerned our daughter wouldn’t get an Easter basket. So many little “Easter bunnies” worked very hard and made a point of leaving baskets on our front porch for our daughter and our other big kids to enjoy while their parents weren’t around. That meant so much to us, along with all the other precious care packages we received that were blessings and helped so much.

Shortly after we got in the door our daughter came home and the Mom who had her was taking time to talk to me and explain everything that was going on and that I needed to know. I heard about 10% of it. It took everything I had to not have a nervous breakdown right in front of her. I was trying to figure out what to make Hubby to eat and trying to figure out this STUPID blood sugar meter and insulin…all-the-while knowing he was way off schedule.

After she left I tried my hardest to bring out the General but it wasn’t happening. I looked at him, I looked at the kitchen table full of papers, instructions, bottles, needles, and equipment and I COMPLETELY lost it. This was BY FAR my worst moment yet. Luckily our daughter was outside. The feeling of hopelessness overcame me and I froze and just cried uncontrollably. I literally was ON THE FLOOR. I was so scared and clueless. I knew the nurse wasn’t coming for 24 hours and we were on our own. I can still feel in my gut how I felt at that moment. Everything was so overwhelming and confusing and someone’s LIFE depended on it! HOW was I going to do this? After about 5 minutes and looking up at God begging him for strength and wisdom I pulled my butt up off the floor and took a deep breath and got those instructions. Wiped my eyes so I could see and I started reading. I cried the whole time but I kept my wits about me enough to absorb the information.

As I think of that hopelessness I felt that day and the weeks to come, I couldn’t imagine how much harder it would be on a spouse who didn’t have the knowledge of food and nutrition I had. When you come home with a cardiac and diabetic patient their diet is almost impossible and takes serious planning and education and doesn’t happen overnight. But, their needs are immediate and you feel like you couldn’t possibly do this right or fast enough. I actually had to leave Hubby with our daughter while I made a mad dash to the grocery store that night to get enough of what he needed to make it through the week. I think that was by far the fastest I ever shopped. The people in the store probably thought I was crazy!! This is what eventually inspired me to take my blog, which I was already developing before hubby got sick, in the direction I have. I have been lead thru all this to try and help those who might be going thru the same or similar situations… or maybe those who just want to make their life a little better and healthier.IMG_20160801_094241

Hubby needed 24 hour care for a long time. I don’t think I slept a wink for months. He was scared to sleep and had a lot of anxiety and I was scared to take my eyes off him. I will tell you, we did a lot of binge watching during those months 🙂

After that first night home the visiting nurse came the next day and saw that we had survived. 🙂 She was GREAT and I was so thankful for her. I remember she was SHOCKED when she looked at Hubby’s chart. She said, “Boy, you are one lucky guy! How did you make it thru all this?” And we continued to hear that from every medical professional we dealt with. All of them amazed he lived thru it all. Our home nurse was kind enough to give us her cell phone number and I sure did use it!! She was a constant source of information and a safety net for me which honestly got me thru a lot. So grateful to her. She was special 🙂

Then to put the icing on the post heart attack cake, brainy me decided in our stressed financial situation I would go back to my nanny job just a few days after we came home. I wanted to help the Mom because she was having a hard time finding back-ups and I was very nervous about money coming in. Bills don’t stop because you get sick. Creditors could care less. So, I was like, no problem, I got this. Mmmmmmm…

This little munchkin was the type who had no interest in a schedule or sleep at all for that matter and did not want to share her time with the Hubby heart patient. Needless to say after a month or so we all came to the realization that it was not a good idea for me to continue to work. We had a couple close calls that required me to run hubby quickly to his doc or to the hospital and I HATED calling baby mom to leave work and come get her. We all decided it would be best to move on. But, it broke my heart and I still miss her. I always get so attached to my babies but this time, my heart and mind was overflowing with stress and worry in this overwhelming situation, and our home was no place for a beautiful thriving baby.img_20160317_114840491

Eventually, my mother-in-law was able to fly in and stay for a couple weeks and help. It was so hard on her to be away from home but she didn’t complain. She luckily had a rental car so she could get out and about and get away from our “hospital house” from time to time. I am sure the whole time she couldn’t believe what was happening and that her baby boy was sick and in this horrible situation.

Even though my total focus was on Hubby’s needs and his health I worried about a LOT. I worried about our youngest and how she is now stuck in the middle of all of this. I worried about our future and if hubby would be able to work of if we would be able to keep our house. I worried about what we would do if he couldn’t go back to work. He has always been the breadwinner… how would I support us? My whole life was about this family… THAT was my career. We all know what that pays! Fills your soul, but doesn’t pay the bills. I firmly believe that husbands who have wives who don’t pursue a career, and are in the background handling all the blood sweat and tears while they pursue theirs, have gone way further in life and in those careers because of them. It’s a one woman support group for the aspiring career building husband, and a recipe for his success. Just my opinion 🙂

So with all the worry in the back of my mind at pretty much every moment, I tried to keep turning to God. I tried to give Him all that worry. I prayed for the faith to do so. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not so much.

If he can no longer work how will we get back to the kids? How will we pay for college? Will our oldest daughter have to drop out? Will our youngest get to go at all? All these questions spun thru my mind on a regular basis and I prayed it would stop because it started to consume me.

All the while I kept posting updates on Facebook on hubby’s progress. There were and ARE so many people worried about him and rooting for his recovery. Feels so amazing to have so many people far and wide who care about you. Once Hubby was able he finally started to read all the comments and well wishes. I really believe it helped him in his recovery. All the love and positivity.. it’s inspiring.

As Hubby started to make progress we would have never guessed that the bumpy road was not ready to end. Little did we know we had many more trials in store for us.

When people suggest to you to live one day at a time.. LISTEN.  It is literally all you can do in these situations and as the weeks and months went by we would learn just how true that is…

Until next time.. be a blessing… share a blessing… be blessed  xoxo

 

 

 

17 Days… Chapter 9

419It still amazes me how “at home” I ended up feeling during our 17 days in the hospital. You start to make friends and get to know the staff and memorize faces.

I have many little stories about my interaction with people and employees during that time but two of them stand out. Towards the beginning of our illustrious stay, I kept noticing a baby grand piano in the lobby by the chapel. I thought.. hmmmmmm.. why is that beautiful piano in this hospital? Possibly for when they host events? Maybe free concerts for patients? It just seemed a little odd to me. Then one day my grandson and I were walking back from our umpteenth visit to the cafeteria (this is when Hubby was still sedated) and we heard the beautiful sound of that piano floating thru the hospital halls like butterflies in a field of wildflowers. We had to take a look at who was playing that heavenly music. We turn the corner and to my amazement it was the Chaplain of the hospital and he was playing old gospel music! I was soooo excited! We had to have a seat and enjoy this unexpected pleasure. Surprisingly, we were the only audience but he didn’t mind because he was playing for the love of the music and what it represented. Then he started to play “The Old Rugged Cross” and something strange happened to me. I instantly became overcome with emotion and here it came! My rusty vocal chords ( I am a singer who does not sing enough) just opened up and I went full force into the lyrics of that beautiful song and I really didn’t care who was around, who heard me or if my voice was pitch perfect. God stepped in and that Chaplain and I were having a “moment”. Now, as for what my grandson thought… bless his heart.. he sat there and held my hand and just listened.. and was probably REALLY glad none of his friends were around to hear his weird Grandma embarrass him! But, honestly, that will go down as one of the most amazing moments of my life. It was as if the whole hospital disappeared and it was just the 3 of us and God in that room. His fingers rolled up and down that keyboard and my voice sailed with a volume I forgot I had, and we all just connected. And I must say it was pretty darned good! Would have been nice if some person with the usual up and ready cell phone would have recorded it.. but I think that’s the point.. It was meant to be a “moment in time” and the feeling of that will stay with us forever and doesn’t need to be on Facebook or Instagram. I believe we are becoming a society that forgets that, and we are too busy recording everything and not truly living in the moment and letting our eyes absorb it into our memories. Soon we won’t have to remember ANYTHING we will only have to pull out our phone and look it up… and this saddens me.

I never saw that Chaplain again during our stay and we never spoke a word. We smiled at each other after our musical experience and went our separate ways. And sometimes I wonder… was he an angel who showed up at that moment? I know, sounds a little crazy, but there were no witnesses (it was very late at night and visiting hours were over for hours)  and I never saw him again. I will always feel in my heart that no matter where that Chaplain came from, he was sent to me that day…because after that moment I felt hope and I felt a lot of burden lifted..at least for that day. So, I am thankful for that… and thankful he walked into my life for that moment on that day. He was an angel TO ME. walgreenhd1449611147617

My other favorite little story is about this amazing man who has worked at the hospital for many many years. You can’t miss him. They have done stories about him on the news, I found out later…as I saw him on TV and I was like..”Hey! I remember him! There he is!”

He’s an older African-American man with a slight hunch and a little limp..probably from all the manual labor he has done his entire life. I am guessing his job was janitorial. He walked around with a broom or a mop. So you are asking..OK..whats the catch? What’s so special about this guy? Well, he’s SO special it oozed out of him all over that hospital. If I remember the story correctly, he lost a loved one in that hospital that he worked and knew all too well what it felt like to go thru that tragedy. He felt a strong calling to spread joy to all that have to be in that hospital with a loved one. You can’t walk through the halls of St. Thomas West hospital without feeling this man’s presence. He is one of those people God shined upon with a beautiful gift.. a gift He wanted him to share and light his little world with. This man is an amazing example of what a true Christian is supposed to be. He shines his light upon the people of the world and spreads joy and happiness to all who are lucky enough to cross his path. This man walks the halls, broom in hand, and is a singing, humming, greeter. And, I’m not talking WalMart here.. this man has a voice like an angel and a presence that pours over you like Heaven and makes you feel like all is good in the world. I got to the point where I hoped every time I walked the halls I would see him…he just made you feel THAT good. You felt like his best friend when he spoke to you. He would sing the most beautiful songs and say the nicest things. And most would think.. “Isn’t this a little unprofessional?” It could be.. but once you feel his presence you don’t care. He is a rare person and I feel lucky to have experienced his true love for people. I think everyone could learn from him.. learn to spread joy even through your own tragedies. This man has helped countless people like me in that hospital, everyday of every year. When you meet him, you can instantly see why he has become somewhat of a local celebrity. And I feel if he won the lottery and didn’t need to work, he would still be right there singing and spreading love and loving every minute of it. And I truly believe he has used his gift of touching others to fill the void he feels from his loss. What an inspiration. We all need to keep our eyes open everyday and not miss these people when they cross our paths. And we all need to aspire to be more like them.

We were getting closer and closer to day 17. Hubby was getting stronger and the docs started talking about releasing him… but were still being cautious.

Out of the blue, we hear a little knock at the door. We both looked at each other like.. who could that be? And to my surprise.. it was the stylish, awesome, male nurse from ICU!!! He made time before the beginning of his shift to come and see us. He was just SHOCKED to see Hubby awake and talking! The last he cared for him, hubby was till under sedation. He just couldn’t stop saying how happy he was to see Hubby talking and acting ALIVE! You can just imagine how that is for them to see. They care for these patients every need for days and never get to see their real self or even hear them talk. Then, they walk in the room a week and a half later and they are moving and thriving and a REAL person! It was such a cool moment. I apologized for the fact that Hubby’s Mad Men hair was no longer, and how much I missed it. And I just kept thinking how awesome it was of him to take the time to make this visit. He pretty much said in so many words that when he left Hubby, (nurses work 3-4, 12 hr days in a row then are off 3-4 days, so you get close to them then you usually don’t see them again) he didn’t think he would make it. And to his joy and thankfulness Hubby did!!! And he couldn’t have truly been more thankful and you felt his genuineness. He was a very special guy and we will always remember him. Hubby says after he leaves, with a macho tone.. “That’s the guy who fixed my hair?” And I laughed..and I said.. “Don’t worry honey I won’t let him fix it again while you are sleeping.”  (But, as much as I liked it, it sure was tempting :0 🙂 )

I believe we are still at day 13. Now, the reference to 17 days is a reference to our FIRST hospital stay. You will read later of our other lovely visits to the hospital hotels.

Our main cardiologist comes in to discuss the latest news…( I actually meant to tell you this part earlier. This was right before we convinced our boys to go home. Our daughter already had.. I told you, it has been difficult to remember specific timelines 😦 ) This doctor is very talented and knowledgeable and one of the best in the area… but a little frank, up front and almost emotionless. But, who could blame him? How would you like to give people horrible news day in and day out? He wanted to discuss discharging Hubby and the stipulations. He recommended moving him to a rehab facility in Murfreesboro. He said he just didn’t feel comfortable with him going home yet. I could understand that. So with much discussion and Hubby arguing with me..(he just wanted to go home)… we decided upon this rehab place. They had a full time medical staff and rehab equipment and hubby would be continuously monitored 24/7…or so we thought. The next day when we left the hospital we went straight to the facility. They met us at the door and took hubby in with a wheel chair and got him set up while I filled out paperwork.  The place was very nice and seemed professional. We were late getting there because the discharge from the hospital took forever then we got a little lost on the way there. So a lot of the day staff had left for the day. I eventually get back to his room and was shocked at how big and nice it was. It actually had a twin pullout bed for me and a very large bathroom with a shower! Wahoo!! The Ritz!! So far so good. Then eventually the doc on staff comes in and looks like she is on her way to a golf outing..that should have been my first red flag. The boys and my mother-in-law came to check it out and to say goodbye. They thought it seemed a little weird but figured the doc knew best. I would be with Hubby for the night so General Char would be on the case…that relieved them. That was a very hard goodbye but they were already making plans to come back as soon as they could. Hubby cried and hugged them tight which broke my heart. But, I assured them I would take the best care of him and constantly keep them updated.

It started to get late and we were trying to get situated. The plan was for hubby to stay there at least a week and then they would discuss him going home. Now, at this point, I didn’t have his meds memorized..there were tons of them…but I knew he HAD to take them on a schedule..especially his heart meds and his insulin. Our room was at the very end of the hallway which we will find out later means you are at the end of the “someone might pay attention to you” list. It is now 10:00 pm and we have not seen a nurse. General Char is ready to go in for the kill. And to make it all that much more fun, we felt like we were in an insane asylum. Even with the door closed we could hear moaning and screaming and noises I can’t describe. Needless to say, Hubby is at his wits end. This is a man who hates hospitals already. And at this point I’m thinking.. I will never get to sneak home! Hubby will never want me to leave him alone in this crazy place! Nor would I want to. He kept saying, “I’m going to die in this place.” That’s how unnerving it was.

By 10:30 I am out the door trying to find a nurse. He was already an hour behind on his insulin and 2 hours behind on his meds. When I finally find one I explain the situation and I am told she is the only nurse on staff who can administer meds and she is doing her best to move down the hall. Like I said..we were last in line. They sent another nurse to take his BP and other vitals which was a small relief because I was getting worried about his numbers. By 11:15 I am at my wits end! I am pacing but trying not to upset Hubby. After everything I’ve been through this place may end up being the recipient of weeks of built up anger and frustration. And for those of you who know me.. you know I am cool most of the time..but when I am passionate about something or it involves protecting my family you know Mama Bear comes out and joins General Char and they have a butt whooping party!!!! I just kept praying to God for patience because I was getting more than fired up.

FINALLY, here she came. Now, I realize it was not her fault. This facility PUT her in this position of having too many patients for one nurse so I tried to empathize. But, I still had to make it CLEAR that he is VERY sick and CANNOT miss his meds. Later we find out the hard way Hubby was a little too sick for this facility.

Hubby was scheduled for a full day of rehab the next day and there was more of a full staff for the day shift. I felt comfortable enough to go home for a few hours and shower and get a few things done. I wasn’t home more than 2 hours when I got a phone call. ” Your husband is being prepped to be taken back to St. Thomas. He had a very irregular heart beat and his blood pressure went very low so we would feel better if he went back there.” I’m like.. WHAT??? So, I got back in the car, with our daughter, and high tailed it back to the rehab. I made it just in time to see him before they put him in the ambulance. And he gave me a look like.. “I’M GONNA KILL YOU FOR LEAVING ME ALONE IN THIS PLACE!” My daughter and I were like… Mmmmm ok, we will see you at the hospital.. I figured he would calm down on the way there..LOL. img_20160404_210609449

So we are now at day 15 and back at the big hospital. Hubby’s mental state is not good. We talked to the doc and he was very upset with the facility. We told him everything that happened and let’s just say he probably wont be sending anymore patients there.

So the doc came up with another plan. He said if in the next couple days I like your numbers we can send you home set up with in home care. He really thought it would be better for him to be home but he still needed daily checks and needed to get going on his rehab. We were all for this plan. We were sooooo ready to get home. Secretly I was petrified though. I knew I would no longer have the hospital staff at my disposal and everything would fall on me. Was I ready for this? Was I strong enough? Then during the conversation he made a very enlightening statement that shocked us. “I am just trying to help you live longer.” Help him LIVE LONGER????? We both looked at each other and could feel our hearts sink. What does he mean? He almost sounds like this is a death sentence and he is trying to extend what he has left. When the doc left we were both kind of silent. This was one of those moments of reality… and not an easy one to swallow. At this point of Hubby’s illness there really wasn’t a lot of certainty. We had no way of knowing what his heart would do or how it would recover. The more I read the more scared I got. I kept it from Hubby for the most part. I would never hide anything from him, but I wanted him to stay positive. We just knew that only time would tell. And I also knew that if the heart DIDN’T recover we would be talking heart transplant so I did my best to tuck that away with General Char and get to work praying and getting this man back to health!

Sooo.. by day 17 we got the go ahead and we were going home. It took ALL day to discharge us. Between all the instructions, restrictions, and medications it was quite a job to get us out the door. This will astonish most of you, but part of me didn’t want to go. I felt secure in that hospital. Other people took care of Hubby and I was terrified of being responsible for him. I can nurture anything and everything but this was a little more than that. I have taken care of sick babies, nannied 10 kids at once, raised 4 kids, and ran a very active home while working FROM home for 30 years and THIS really scared me. I kept pep talking myself like I always do.. here came the voices.. but it wasn’t working too well.

I pulled up to the discharge lane and there he was waiting for me in the wheelchair and looking so helpless. Then it hit me… I felt as if I just gave birth to my first child and they are handing me that baby and I am going home with him for the first time and having no idea what I’m doing. Except there is no excitement. No feeling of new life and wonder and that exhilaration of being responsible for that little life. There is all the fear of the unknown but paired with, if I make a mistake this person could die. Any mistake I make is life threatening.. not just that he may end up with a diaper rash or an upset stomach. I couldn’t have taken enough deep breaths..but I didn’t want Hubby to feel my fear. He had way to much mental mess already and didn’t need to deal with babysitting MY feelings.

First stop.. Walgreens.. and the story of our homecoming begins…

Until next time.. be a blessing.. share a blessing… be blessed xoxo

 

17 Days… Chapter 8

fb_img_1469577080612During the time Hubby was under sedation we had some VERY interesting nurse stories occur that I have had fun spinning to him over time. I honestly think he doesn’t believe half of them but they really are true.

Obviously, when a patient is incapable of caring for themselves the nurses and loved ones have to keep up their care and grooming. I always said my Hubby no matter what is ALWAYS attractive. He comes from a family full of them! They could be run through a pig pen.. not shower for a week and not even pick up a hair brush and still come out looking gorgeous! All they have to do is turn..smile..CHEESE!.. and perfect selfie..EVERY TIME!  Nauseating, and has never been fair. I, on-the-other-hand, take much much maintenance and grooming before I can even go out in public. I will need an entire beauty staff if I ever end up in the hospital! And Hubby is under strict instructions to provide this if I am ever so unfortunate as to be in a hospital bed. So obviously I am very high maintenance AND shallow..

One day a group of nurses came in for various reasons and I swear Nashville has the most attractive nurses! It’s like an epidemic! I would literally be a dish rag slouched up in the old rickety recliner, using all my strength to hold up my head and to muster up a smile and a hello… and they would just bee bop in that room smiling from ear to ear.. rainbows and unicorns circling around them.. fresh moisturized skin and sparkling makeup.. not a bag under their eyes.. and say.. “How are we doing today?” Now, don’t get me wrong.. their positive way was on point and part of their job and what a blessing they are to this world and all the sick people they help… BUT OMG! How DO they do it? Must be some kind of magic beauty that comes from caring for the sick.

The one nurse..she was a little older than me..says..” OOOOO my! Look at this one! He looks much too young to be here..and that hair! I love his “Swoopy” hair! Mmmmmm.. Mmmmm.”  Now in a normal situation, I may have to be a bit jealous.. but my husband was in no shape to flirt back. So I just giggled and thought to myself.. GEESE..even in this state he is wooing the ladies! GRRRRRRRRRR.. I should have married a troll…

And this continued on and on through the entire 17 days. A doctor or a nurse was always commenting about just how attractive he was and how he didn’t look like he belonged there.  You would think I would be used to it. My mother-in-law and I over the years would always compare notes on this frustrating family trait. Her late husband was the same way. Although she could hold her own with no problem..like  I said.. the family is oozing with natural beauty and perfection all over the place.. she would always have to listen to how handsome he was and have to deal with all the young ladies secretly wishing he was single. The funny thing was my father-in-law never had to do a thing..he just had to “BE” and he got noticed. He just had that “thing”. He was a man of God, a man of faith and a REALLY AWESOME preacher, and boy o boy could he enter a room! Gosh do we miss him.. so you see..the apple doesn’t fall far from the overly attractive tree… 🙂 😉 393

At one point right after the second heart attack they assigned Hubby 2 male nurses. They were awesome! We had them at least 3 days so I got pretty close with them. They were young enough to be my sons so I think I had that kind of relationship with them for that little bit of time.

One of the days I came in the room and looked over and noticed that Hubby’s hair had been fixed…and boy do I mean fixed!!! The male nurse that had fixed it was very stylish in a very modern way. I would have loved to have seen him in his street clothes. He was very chic and with the times. It was amazing how he coiffed Hubby’s hair! I wish now I would have taken a pic of it. It was VERY Mad Men and I was amazed at how good it looked on him. My husband has always been very traditional, sporty, and NON-CHIC. So when I came in and he had his hair parted on the side and somewhat slicked I was like whoa! I think I LIKE this! But no matter how hard I have tried since we have been home, he won’t budge in the coiffed dept. Ya know..old dog..new tricks…ain’t happenin!img_20151004_133314870-1

As each day went by, Hubby kept improving. It came time to have the catheter and the balloon pump removed. He can tell you all about how much fun that was. He tells us that was the most painful part of the whole ordeal. I made sure I was out of the room. I can’t even imagine how awful it was. The pump had to be pulled out of his leg and well, we all know about that lovely catheter!  All of this brought us to I believe day 12, and he was ready to be moved into a regular room.  We finally convinced the kids to drive back home and get back to their lives. They are adults and they do have them. Our daughter still had to finish her semester and her softball season…and o boy Dad wanted her there and not missing school and games for him. The boys have jobs and needed to get back to them. I know none of them wanted to leave. It was very hard for them..it was hard for us. But that is one of those horrible sacrifices we made to move away. This whole situation as I have stated, had brought so much guilt and regret to the surface in regards to our move. Sometimes you are lead to make a decision.. you make it.. and you live with the consequences. Knowing God put you there for a reason… and you try to accept it. I still feel strongly that God will put us where we are supposed to be and I continue to try my best to have faith and trust in that.

I will say that the ICU had its perks…wow I guess that sounds terrible LOL… but, what I mean is in comparison to a regular room. The regular rooms are VERY small and you just don’t get the attention you got in the ICU. I found myself constantly trying to find a nurse and I eventually just learned to take care of Hubby myself. Which probably wasn’t a bad thing considering what I was going to face when I came home.

By day 13 I had finally run home a couple times. I actually had to make an emergency visit to the dentist because my tooth broke and I had to have it fixed. I also snuck home for a shower and to do a load of laundry. Every time I walked into our house I felt a weight of sadness like never before. I felt awful leaving the hospital for one, and I could also feel the reality of what we lost and what was to come. At this point I truly had no real idea what I would be in store for in the weeks to come.

I also felt a constant battle between my own needs and the needs of Hubby. I am a very nurturing person and I don’t think I go a minute without thinking of what others need. It can be a good thing and sometimes not so much. I would often be jealous of women and Mom’s who could put themselves first when they needed to. I have always struggled with that..and in turn my well being mentally and physically has suffered from it. I always feel this huge guilt if I do something for myself…I feel like it’s selfish when I should be taking care of something or someone. Now, I REALIZE that isn’t really true..but it is the way my mind always goes. I sometimes wonder if I feel this way due to the fact that I had such a NON nurturing childhood. When I had kids I SWORE I would never let them feel all the hurt and loneliness I experienced as a child. My main goal as a Mother was to make sure in every minute of everyday my kids felt loved..safe..secure..and that someone had their back..ALWAYS. Not spoil them materialistically.. but with the security of knowing that NO MATTER WHAT Mommy is there and is your biggest fan…and nothing will ever change that. I viewed it like a safety net of love, comfort, and security. I went without sleep for decades to accomplish this and I wouldn’t change it.  And, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the mom’s who don’t do this aren’t good mom’s, not at all, I am just explaining how my mind works.

So, with this nurturing issue of mine, I truly almost destroyed myself over this period of months. It all started with those first 17 days and has continued. It could have easily taken an army to handle what we came home with and it was me, myself, and I. And it all made me an even stronger Christian because it had to be the super human strength God gave me or I would have NEVER made it.

And when you go through a situation like this you WANT to complain…you WANT to whine..you WANT to say HEY!!! WHAT ABOUT ME???!!!  And guess what? You DON”T. At least not out loud. HOW could you possibly think about yourself when you have a critically ill husband who has suffered horribly? What kind of person ARE you? I will tell you by this point in time I was so severely exhausted. People told me all the time to take care of myself and get rest… but you just DON’T. I honestly don’t see how its possible. Hubby DID NOT like for me to even leave the room. (We may have to address that issue of separation anxiety in some type of therapy LOL) And along with my guilt complex I rarely did. I was starting to become a very scary version of myself and I had no idea how to change it. I got to the point where I avoided the mirror. I could see myself physically self-destructing. And when I would catch a vision of myself it destroyed me even further emotionally.. so I tried my hardest not to look.

And if I’m being honest.. people may not say it but you feel it. You feel the judgement from others.. the feeling of no freedom to feel sorry for YOURSELF. All anyone wants to talk about is the person who is sick..they want to know how he is..they want updates…they want to help and ask questions.. and all I wanted to do is RUN AWAY. SEE???? Terrible right? What kind of person thinks that way? Well.. I will tell you.. I bet every person who has ever been in my shoes who is willing to admit it. It hits you after a while.. after a long time of being so strong every minute for every-one.. And it doesn’t stop. I STILL feel that way at times. I hate this illness and I hate what it has done to us. I feel so much anger towards it at times. Like it has it’s own existence. If I could grab a hold of it I would strangle it!  So basically you are being pulled in so many different directions and you just don’t know what personality to take on. Then there is the guilt with God…yes with God. We are taught that things happen for a reason and there is a plan. And to no matter what see and be thankful for your blessings… not always so easy even for the best Christians.

The anger has been one of the hardest things for me. Angry at God, Hubby, myself, and pretty much the whole world! I can speak for Hubby on the anger towards other people. We will both see very unhealthy, very overweight, smoking, drinking people walking around scot-free and not in a hospital bed! And yes, Hubby was not a good boy when it came to eating habits but it is just amazing how his body could COMPLETELY explode like it did. And that is not an exaggeration. He really shouldn’t have survived. So, what helps us sometimes is.. THAT… the fact that he has been given a second chance…with challenges of course.. but a second chance at life. And I realize it is normal to feel this way and just scratch your head and say..WHY? Why us? And I don’t think we will ever truly stop asking that but as time goes by we ask less and less.

Later I will get into the day we came home from the hospital. It was by far the hardest day I experienced through this whole ordeal. You would think it would have been the day Hubby got sick.. but I was in too much shock then to feel..this day is when ALL the reality kicked in.

As I write this story I write it with honesty and I will continue to. I hope of course I don’t offend anyone or shed a bad light on myself. But as I have stated I am being led to write this story and I feel like it is meant to help someone in some way.

I just took a look at the time and I have to pick my daughter up in an hour which means I have to go out in public.. an hour of prep time will have to do. Luckily Halloween is getting closer and scaring small children will be acceptable at least thru the month of October. Until then I will do my best to make myself presentable before I face the world and before my stunning Hubby gets home 🙂 316

Until next time.. be a blessing.. share a blessing.. be blessed xoxo

 

 

17 Days… Chapter 7

wedding 1984           It was the summer of 1980.. (wow.. I can’t believe it was that long ago).. and I was working at the local summer fair waiting tables. One of my very best friends convinced me to do it because you got really good tips and I was totally up for that. Being only 12, almost 13, it was the only work besides mowing lawns or babysitting I could get. Money sure didn’t come easily to me or my family. I was a child of 2 divorces and living with a single mother who wasn’t very available and had issues of her own to contend with, so we scraped for everything we had. I had 2 younger brothers that I was hugely responsible for so it was very hard for me to get away to work or to even BE a child myself. I remember wanting Gloria Vanderbilt jeans soooo bad and we NEVER had the money for them and I have not forgotten how hard it was to go to school and never have the “IN” clothes.. but luckily I had really good friends who would occasionally let me borrow theirs and I had my moments of “cool” here and there. 🙂

So.. needless to say, I wasn’t the coolest most popular girl at this point. I was very social and happy and friendly, no matter what, and I LOVED school. I actually loved learning so I was also a bit of a “geek”… straight A student, even with my home situation the way it was. Being at the local fair where anyone and everyone in my teenage world hung out, I had a pretty good chance of hobnobbing with the local ever so cool of my home town.

It was time for a break from our little job so my friend and I went outside of the building to hang out and check out who was around and what was going on. At the time, she was dating a guy in high school who was a whopping 16! Whoa…she was REALLY cool. She was dating a guy who drove! 🙂 And according to what my kids think we had no form of communication besides smoke signals in my youth, but somehow my friend had contacted her boyfriend, probably on some weird device you had to put a dime in and dial numbers on, to come up to the fair and see her on her break. But, he didn’t come alone. He happened to bring his best friend…AKA “Hubby”.

I was not very impressed. I had not met this boy before but I did know he was dating a girl I knew from 7th grade when she was in 8th and I got this distinct feeling from him and I could smell a rat! The boys asked us to get them some water, of course so the cheapo teenagers wouldn’t have to buy a drink. So we happily complied. The boys had a very very goofy relationship..to say the least… and, to this day they STILL DO :). So they kept goofing around and Hubby didn’t talk to me too much but in my mind creepily stared at me a little too much…. especially when I knew he had a girlfriend AND she was a friend of mine.

They eventually left and we got back to work. I remember my friend saying, ” I think he likes you.” And I was like… “I would NEVER!! He has a girlfriend!” So, after that, about a month later it was time for the first high school football game. And, the big thing to do then was not to ACTUALLY watch the game it was to walk around the track and chat with all your friends…huge hangout. So.. that’s what we did. Next thing I know.. there HE is. STARING at me again!! I’m like, what is his problem?? Then another friend comes up and says, “You know he likes you. He wanted me to tell you.” I responded with the same answer, “HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND!” Well, she wasn’t there (how convenient) and he was a typical teenage boy with a wandering eye. I was very clear that there was NO chance and.. have a nice day!! So the message was relayed and I got another message from another little birdie later that night that he would break up with her. I STILL was not interested.

Then the school year started. He was a junior and I was in 8th grade. I continued to be pursued by him thru many channels then I heard they broke up. For some odd reason he all of a sudden became more appealing…and HE DROVE..an obvious plus!  I never wanted to admit it along the way, but he was ADORABLE. Word on the “high school street” was that he was the most popular, cutest guy in school. For that reason alone, he became more and more enticing to me. Especially since at that point, I desperately needed help climbing the adolescent popularity ladder. So I remember stewing on it for a while then I finally agreed to go out with him. YES.. I was allowed to date at 13!! I can tell you, no daughter of ours ever did or ever will!!

And I may eventually write another story about our high school years.. it was somethin! But, we will make a long dramatic story short and say that eventually with many many ups and downs we got married right out of school…oooooo so young and 32 years later here we are. And to this day we always celebrate and remember that day we met at that local fair every year that good old Ox Roast rolls around :).

I took all the family aside and explained to them what to expect when they went into his room. “Dad is under sedation and has a breathing tube and he can’t talk. I am going to act like he hears us. So please talk to him normally in case he can. Be happy and talk about everyday things.”

Everyone did surprisingly well and kept things positive. Hubby told me he doesn’t remember hearing us but I don’t think that means he didn’t. Why would you take the chance? If he was aware I didn’t want him hearing depressing conversations and all of us crying. How would that have helped him…especially when he wouldn’t be able to respond.

Day 3 of 17 Days…

I left my Mother-in-Law alone with Hubby as much as I could even though it wasn’t easy for me to leave. But, she needed her time with her son as well. At one point I came back in the room and she said to me in quiet tears, “I told God to please let me take his place. I have lived enough I am ready. He is just too young.” And, I struggled with how to respond. Because, on one hand I wanted to tell her not to say that.. but I can guarantee I would or any Mother would say the same thing. We would easily, gladly give our life for our child..at any age anytime. So I just tried to console her then I changed the subject. There was just no way to candy coat the situation we were in.. you just made it thru moment by moment and day by day..with bated breath.

And I remember anxiously waiting everyday for the doctor to arrive. Just hoping they would have better news. I would personally see no change in him but they always felt positive and looking back I think for that first week the docs were happy for everyday he made it thru because that’s just how critical he was.

By this time, other family members had come in to town. Uncles, lots of Uncles :), nieces, and Hubby’s sister. It never got easier…seeing everyone’s reaction to seeing him for the first time. I don’t think anyone expected what they saw. Like I said, to see a man like that, who was a total goofball, always crazy and full of life, lying there in that state, it’s rough and it stays with you.

I’m not completely positive how long he was intubated. Like I said, the days all ran together but I’m guessing it was a good week. They had to get the fluid completely out of his lungs then SLOWLY take away his sedation. I think that was the worst part for me was when he was waking up. He started to become aware of the breathing tube and he would try to grab it and gagged and gagged. Then they always had to clean the tube and that just made him gag more. It totally killed me every time. I am claustrophobic and I always told Hubby it would probably kill me if I ever had to have a tube down my throat and that’s what I kept thinking about. How it must feel to wake up and have NO idea what is going on and having this tube choking you. It was heartbreaking for all of us to see. I honestly don’t know how people do this long term with their loved ones who are critically ill. I have a new empathy for them I never thought about or realized.

Eventually, Hubby was pretty awake and it had become time to extubate him. As excited as I was for this to happen they explained to me that it isn’t pretty and they suggested I be out of the room. As bad as that sounded, this was all good. It meant he was improving and that’s all I cared about.

Back to the lovely waiting room. This time I decided to make a trip to the cafeteria for more coffee. It truly was overkill at this point. Caffeine was useless. I had become immune to it and I am assuming it had something to do with the 1-2 hours of sleep I got daily. I was the walking dead but still very much alive.

By now the kids and family were going home more which was a good thing. Our youngest had school, school activities and games and we wanted her to keep her schedule up. I think for her age that was the best way to handle it…keep her as busy as possible. So, they all attended to her and the house and the pets. Which was a relief to me for many reasons.

The outpouring of prayers and love and donations and volunteers was still blowing my mind. We could never PROPERLY thank everyone who was there for us and helped. It really hits you deep and restores your faith in this crazy world. People are mostly good and we need to remember that. I don’t know how we would have made it thru this without all the help. We are so grateful and so blessed.

I am guessing we are now at about day 9 of 17 days and I have not been home. The kids kept bringing me clothes and other necessities and I think I got in one whole shower when my Mother-in-law was able to rent a room for just one night at the hospital. They have some actual hotel rooms there but they are primarily for people going in for surgery so they are very rarely available and there is a waiting list.

When you spend this much time in a hospital you start to explore the place and you get to know it pretty well. I started to find myself helping people find certain floors and rooms. Ya know, the people who are like I was the first day I came.. helplessly wandering the halls with that sad lost look on their face with no idea where they are going or what they will find when they get there. It really made me feel better to help them. Of course, I always had to stop and talk to any child I saw. If you know me at all you know I ALWAYS gravitate to the children. I was always so happy to see a child hoping I didn’t seem creepy to the parents.. but, it just helped bring me joy at that moment and diverted my thoughts temporarily.

I got really tired of the waiting room bathroom. It was a single bathroom and had way too much traffic. You could never get any peace. Along my many journey’s thru the hospital I found a bathroom that for some reason was very rarely used. After I figured this out it quickly became my haven, my quiet place… my war room. Many times a day I retreated to my new hiding place. Most of my conversations with Jesus took place here. Sometimes for longer than any person should spend in a bathroom..well except for most men who think it takes a vacation to go #2 in there! I used it to change, cleanup, wash my hair, brush my teeth and think. All of you may be happy to know that most of my Facebook updates were created and posted from that bathroom. Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do 🙂

After a little while in the cafeteria I decided I would go back and see if the doctors were done yet. When you take up residence in a hospital the cafeteria workers begin to recognize you and they all treat you like a friend. That was always nice and there were some pretty cool people working there who really knew how to make you feel better every time they saw you.

When I got back he was done and looked exhausted. They explained to me that he did well and would still be groggy for a while until it all wears off. At this point he was able to converse and he was aware. I know the family was anxious to see him and they were on their way. Of course, he said getting that tube out was horrible but he was so glad it was gone. His voice was hoarse so he couldn’t talk much and rest would be his best friend for days to come.

As I held his hand he asked for a sip of water. As I handed him the cup..of course I had to help him with it.. I was out of the blue taken back to the memory of handing him that cup of water at the local fair that day we met. It made me smile. I didn’t tell him. He had enough to think about but it secretly amazed me how we come full circle in this life. How we begin is how we often end or how we see things yesterday or today isn’t how we will see them tomorrow. As those thoughts ran thru my mind I looked at him and I didn’t see the sick Hubby, I saw that egotistical young man who was naughty and stared at me and was as adorable as he could be at that football game. And I realized that my young self wasn’t able to see what was in front of me but my old self now can. And God saw it all along and wouldn’t let that vain young man give up.. because that’s how He works folks. God has it all planned out and we have to learn to play along. Good or bad it’s His plan..and we have to have faith and trust Him through it all. I myself have come “full circle” in realizing that.

Until next time… be a blessing.. share a blessing… be blessed xoxo wedding 1984-2