Sorry, I have been preoccupied and felt like writing and sharing nothing and everything all at once.
Have you ever gotten a phone call that changed your life? A phone call that made you struggle for breath, made your knees buckle and your heart lurch in your chest?
A few weeks ago I received just such a phone call. My dear Aussie had been away 5 days on a Boy Scout 50 mile hike. Somehow I had kept myself busy for 5 days trying not to worry about him and the rest of the crew. I tend to be a bit of worrier but I have been working hard the last few years on letting go and learning to find joy in the journey. I get lots of practice because he is always off on some hike or scout activity, unable to be reached at least a few times a month.
I feel like I should separate this day into BC "before call" and AC "after call". BC I was home from work, feeling a little under the weather and napping
I was awaken around noon by the shrill trill of the telephone. I struggled to get off the couch and answer it and to sound like I hadn't been sleeping. It was my father. He told me he needed me to make a decision. My husband was sick and they had hiked out almost 20 miles to get to a pack station to get him help. He had hiked out on his own but now Search and Rescue was there and wanted to take him by ambulance to the nearest hospital. The Aussie does not have medical insurance through his job and by a simple twist of fate we make just the right amount to disqualify him for any Obamacare discounts but still too little to buy insurance and still put food on our table. My father thought he was improving and the decision was made to drive him to the hospital and forgo the ambulance. After I hung up I tore around the house trying to find shoes and my purse and keys, knowing I had an hour long drive to get to the mountain hospital.
A minute later the phone rang again. It was search and rescue this time. They said they had my husband and were taking him to the hospital and I needed to meet them there as soon as I could. They hung up promptly and I called our bishop and put out a facebook request for everyone to pray for my husband. I was just about out the door when the phone rang again. It was search and rescue. They said my husband wanted to talk to me.
It was a bad connection and he sounded weak but I did clearly hear him say he loved me before the phone disconnected.
At this point I had no idea what was wrong with him, but the way search and rescue spoke it left me with a feeling of impending doom. I went to my room and knelt down asking Heavenly Father to protect him and to help me get to him in time. A friend came and took our dog home with her. Another friend drove me to the hospital.
The whole time we drove I just kept picturing his smiling face in my mind, like a flip book of our life. All those precious moments that made him smile..our first date to a soccer game, bowling, our wedding day, on the beach in Miami, sledding together, college graduation, singing on stage with the symphony, his smiles went on and on, mile after mile. I tried not to think about if he didn't make it but it was hard to keep those thoughts from edging their way in. I tried to be faithful and not cry. I tried to believe that he would be okay when we got there. I often had to bow my head and offer a silent, tearful plea to an all-knowing Heavenly Father for help.
There had never been a time in our life together that I thought I might lose him. In fact I had never really contemplated life without him.
We made it to the hospital ahead of the ambulance and when I saw it arrive I ran to the back, like in the movies, as they were pulling him out. He looked tired but was smiling, always smiling. I breathed for the first time in an hour. They took him to the ER and I had to wait in the waiting room to see him. FINALLY, they had finished assessing him and let me go back.
The ER doctor said he had rhabdomlyosis, something they saw often at this hospital from hikers and high Sierra fire fighters. He had gotten altitude sickness and couldn't keep down food or water. She said he was so dehydrated his organs were shutting down and he was being moved to the ICU for observation. They were afraid of kidney failure from the rhabdo. He was still smiling as they hooked up his IV and carted him away to the third floor ICU. I followed behind, watching him go.
The first night in the ICU was long and lonely. They had him in a private room and the nurses took special care to keep him comfortable. He was in good spirits but was exhausted and slept. I sat on my cot in the corner, by the toilet, still in my skirt and sequin top and watched his monitors. Heart rate, oxygen level, pulse, respiratory rate...the lines of proof that meant he was alive. With every beep and every breath I said a prayer of thanks.
Sometime during the night I dozed off only be awakened by screaming monitors and bustling nurses. It turned out that the leads for his heart monitor were not functioning properly. He smiled in his sleep.
By the next day, after umpteenth lab draws that showed good improvement, an abdominal ultrasound, a CT scan of his organs and an EKG that all came back normal they downgraded him to a regular floor, a regular room, a regular bed for another night of observation.
By this time the rest of the scouts had finished the hike and had come by the hospital to see the Aussie, as well as some other friends and family members.
This room had no room for a cot so I reluctantly left him to stay with my cousin in the next little town over. The 15 minute drive seemed like it was hours and I lay awake the entire night, in my room, wondering if he needed me, hoping he was sleeping.
The next morning, after proving to the Dr. that he could walk on his own (leaping from the bed and repeatedly cruising by the nurses station while waving at the doctor), taking a shower for the first time since he left on the 50 mile hike days ago and putting on regular clothes and one final check of labs, he was released with strict instructions to take it easy and follow up in a few days with his pcp and repeat labs in 1 week to make sure all levels had returned to normal. His smile was like balm of Gilead to my worry weary soul.
I can't tell you how grateful I am, we are, for all of the well wishes, the phone calls, the visits and the heartfelt prayers offered on the Aussie's behalf. We are thankful for bishoprics and relief society presidencies who took minutes out of their busy schedules to connect with us and give words of encouragement, and bring food. I am so thankful for the young men who came on the Sunday he was released from the hospital to kneel in our living room and utter the words of the sacramental prayers and offer us the bread and water that we might be able to renew our covenants. Never have we had the opportunity to be served by so many and it has meant so much. So thank you, again.
You will be happy to know that the Aussie is making a "miraculous" recovery and has astounded doctor's by his body's ability to heal.
We had some good laughs as he tried to walk around the grocery store, me verbally encouraging him, while wearing my scrubs, as he shuffled along at a snails pace and when I had to drive him to sign the semester contracts at the University.
He started the semester with purpose in his stride and, as always, a smile on his handsome face. His attitude has been one of praise and thanksgiving to his Heavenly Father, ever grateful for the blessing that have come his way. He has been an amazing example to me of steadfast faith and determination. And although this is one "Adventure" I wish we could have avoided we would be hard pressed to turn away the outpouring of love and blessings that have come from this situation.
It has brought home the realization that the joy in this life comes from the journey we take together, hand in hand, step by step, making our way and if and when we part may we have the memories to keep us going and the smiles to remember and bring hope to our hearts. I have always been grateful to be sealed to my husband in the Temple of the Lord for time and all eternity and it is times like these that have made that promise's meaning fill my heart with joy.
It reminds me of a song from Laura Story called Blessings. It goes a little something like this...
*Laughter is the best medicine right? Why not laugh at my infertility?! I do not mean to offend with any of these posts, it is just a way to let go a little and see the humor in our situation. Please laugh with me!