I've been trying to write this post all day. I'm trying to tell you all about why I've been away...why it's been over a year since I've visited with you here. But I can't seem to find the words. Things keep getting in the way. Emotions keep getting in the way. Even the words are getting in the way.
Crazy how life can derail you, sending you on a completely different journey than you had planned. To some unknown destination. And all you can do, is hold on tight and ride.
Last year this time, my family's faith, strength and courage were tested.
On March 9th, one year ago today, I placed a call to 9-1-1.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
"My husband is either having a heart attack, a stroke or both. We need an ambulance right away!"
I remember that moment in time so vividly. The sound my husband made as he groaned in agony, clutching his left arm. The way he stumbled to and from the bathroom, bouncing from the dresser to the foot of the bed, like a pinball. The way he began to slur his speech, as the left side of his face drooped, motionless. The look of panic and confusion in his eyes as I gripped the phone and colorfully described his every symptom. The picture I painted for the operator seemed unfathomable to him.
Those bizarre symptoms subsided almost as quickly as they began. But in their place, they left anxiety, worry and fear. That call marked the beginning of what became the most difficult time in our family. Things began to unravel and our new normal became one of chaos and uncertainty. After five days of testing, my otherwise young, healthy husband was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening blood disorder. Thrombic Thrombocytopenic Pupura.
What the hell is that?! That's all I could think as I examined the expression on the physician's face. I could see there was something he wasn't saying. I could see he was trying to ease me along one step at a time.
So when he left the room, I googled it. All my eyes could focus on were the words "mortality rate." Mortality rate. MORTALITY RATE?!
I got my act together. The last thing my husband needed was for me to fall apart. The look in his eyes...it was clear he was depending on me. For encouragement. For support. For anything I could muster up that would convince him that the rollercoaster ride we were boarding wouldn't be that bad.
He was admitted to the hospital where doctors immediately began plasmapheresis, the only treatment option available to save his life.
The hospital would be his new home for the next month-and-a-half. And every single day, most times twice a day, he would be hooked up to a machine that would pull the blood from his body, separate what was good from what was bad, replace the bad with fresh plasma, and place it back into his body. A process that took a few hours.
And, without warning, the free sample of what life with 8 children would be like without him was shoved in my face. Kind of like walking through the food court in the mall, or shopping in Costco on a Saturday morning. I didn't want the sample. It was forced on me.
It was lonely. It was hard. It was scary and stressful. And it hurt. It hurt deeply.
We were blessed to have a tribe of supporters rally around us. The trips to and from the hospital mixed in with our already insane everyday life was an unbelievable task. My tribe knew how hard that was on me. So they signed up to bring us meals to lighten my load. They prayed, donated, checked in and loved on us. They allowed me to share my emotions with no judgment.
Like in this video where I just couldn't be strong not one minute longer.
Their prayers, well wishes and gifts of love are truly what got me through.
I think I'm still learning lessons from that awful time. But there were a few profound lessons that settled in right away.
I learned to see my family through the eyes of others. It's so easy to allow the difficulties of family life and marriage to get the best of you. The incredible outpouring of love and support we received showed me how special my family is to others. It reminded me of why I created this blog in the first place...to see the message in the mayhem, the beauty in all this bedlam.
I learned that courage is the most important character trait of them all. Without courage, you are incapable of doing anything well. You need courage to love, to support, to believe, to trust, to give...everything.
And I learned how important it is to depend on others. I had always been accustomed to being the giver. I wasn't used to receiving. But when I just let go of trying to be strong and in control, I realized I received so much more than food, money, gift cards and gas. I received love, inner strength and a fresh appreciation for those in my circle.
I look back and I'm just so thankful to have my husband, here with us and doing well. So much has happened and his journey to complete healing continues. But we are so blessed.
This post may seem all over the place. And rightfully so...I feel all over the place. My mind is jumping from one emotion to the next. Walking down memory lane has a way of doing that to you. That's probably why I initially struggled to find the words.
And now that I'm nearing the end of this post, I find myself feeling thankful, yet fragile and teary-eyed, and still trying to find the words...
May God bless you all.