No Regrets.

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It’s amazing how the meaningless things fade away when you’re sitting in a hospital room with your dying husband. The trash he didn’t take out last week? Who cares? The parenting argument you had? Doesn’t matter. The money is in the bank? It can’t help you now.

All that matters is right now.

This. Moment. In. Time.

You are staring death in the face.

***

A few years ago, life threw my husband, Ian, and I a curve ball. Out of the blue, he was critically ill, and within hours of arriving at the hospital, approaching death. It was incredible. I had to pinch myself to be sure it wasn’t a nightmare.

Instead, it was like a sad movie. The kind of movie where you can’t help but cry for the poor wife sobbing over her dying husband’s body as the doctors tell her her there’s nothing more they can do. Say your goodbyes, they tell her. Get your preparations in order. Your heart breaks for her.

That poor wife, you think. How is she going to tell her three kids their father died? They’re all under the age of five! How is she going to make a living when he was the only provider in their family? God help her.

Then the movie’s over and you forget all about her. You’re glad it wasn’t you. Your life goes on.

Well, that wife was me. My husband was the one dying. My kids would be the ones told their father died. I was the one who had never worked worked a day since having our children. I was the poor wife from the sad movie.

Let me take you back to that hospital room for a minute. My husband is asleep with a breathing tube down his throat. The machines plugged into him are beeping constantly signaling his vital signs are not right.

Thoughts flood my mind. I wish I’d been nicer to him. Why didn’t I show him how much I love him? I should have been more interested in him. We should have spent more time together. I should have placed him above my kids. I wish he’d worked less. 

As I sat in that room next to him, I envisioned what my life would look like after his death. All I could think about were the regrets I had. I’d wasted so much of our time together worrying about petty things, and not enjoying the moments. I’d criticized him for his mistakes. It was so hard for him to please me. You didn’t help me with that, I’d say. Why do you have to work tonight? I wish you were more like so-and-so’s husband.  Ouch. Poor Ian. I was heartless.

I knew he strived for my acceptance. He probably felt like he couldn’t do anything right in my eyes.  My expectations of him were high. And yet, when he reached the mark, I raised it over and over again. He felt like he couldn’t ever reach it. I’m so sorry, Ian. You were so good. I should have told you that. Please forgive me. 

***

A wonderful unexpected turn of events happened. God answered the desperate prayers of a wife for her husband and graciously performed a miracle in Ian’s sick body! The doctors that prepared me for the worst were more stunned than I was with Ian’s miraculous recovery. (But, that’s another story for another day, friends.)

I’m so grateful my husband is still with me and our kids. Our scare a few years ago has been the best thing that’s happened to us. We don’t take one another for granted, and we definitely know where our priorities lie. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. No more regrets for me.

We tend to be hard on our husbands.. Are our expectations realistic? Can they ever make us happy? Give your husband some slack. He’s probably doing the best he can.

And don’t wait until it’s too late to care. Tell him you love him and how much he means to you. Tell him you appreciate what he does for you and your family. Show him with your kindness and gestures as often as you can. Every day is a gift. If something unforeseen happens like it did to us, you’ll never have to worry about the what-ifs or should-haves.

No regrets.

 

(this post first appeared at lifeaswelearnit.com)

8. What happened to Ian anyway? Pt 2

 

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Read part 1 of this post here.

Ian had a long road ahead of him after waking up. He stayed in the hospital an additional two weeks. Then, he went to a rehab inpatient hospital for four weeks. The kids and I tried to visit as much as possible. Ian was a warrior. He never once complained. He worked hard to get strong and come home to us.

We prayed for the black fingers and feet. We prayed for God to make them pink again. We had others praying, too. After the month of rehab, Ian came home, with the black fingers and feet. They were just there. Around our kids at home. In public when we took Emma to her soccer games. When we went to church on Sundays. In my bed when I rolled over in the middle of the night. There was no way to get rid of them. We believed God would heal them. We believed God COULD heal them.

After the four weeks in rehab Ian did six weeks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Five days a week, for two hours each day, he laid in a glass chamber hoping to restore the dead tissue and black skin we saw each day. For months, we lived with the black fingers and feet. Our loving hand surgeon told us one day, “Watch out. Those black fingers can just snap off, you know.” Needless to say, we were careful. Part of my job was to help Ian take care of the blacks. Each day, twice a day, the blacks had to be cleaned. And rewrapped in gauze. AND wrapped in plastic trash bags for his shower. We were so so so careful.

God taught us patience. He taught us we weren’t in control. He taught us to trust Him. He would take care of us.. no matter what.

Six months after he first got sick, Ian had his fingers and feet amputated. Not because God couldn’t heal them, but because it wasn’t God’s will to heal them. It was Ian who said to me one day, “Maybe God will heal me through the amputations.” And God did heal him.

The months that followed were full of pain medication, shrinkers, a wheelchair, transfer boards, potty seats, and lots of healing. For all five of us. Our new normal was finally beginning. After living in limbo not knowing what would happen, God graciously guided us to his new normal for us. Ian learned to do things without fingers. He learned to walk with prosthetic legs. He drove again. He traveled alone again, a test he had set for himself, and succeeded.

Today, two and a half years later, life is TOTALLY BACK TO NORMAL. We don’t even notice Ian’s disability. It is so normal to us. There is NOTHING Ian can’t do. Nothing. Everything he could do before he got sick, he can still do. (Maybe he does it a little differently, but so what?) We’ve been to the beach, skiing, and he’s even been up to the attic to get stuff down for me. He is even running on special legs called blades. The man is truly amazing. I’m in awe of him.

 

 

 

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So, that’s it. In a nutshell, that is how our lives went from Ian having two legs and ten fingers to having two fake legs and no fingers. And life is still good. One night, early on, I said to Ian, “You know, it’s never gonna be like before.”

He replied, “I know. It’s gonna be BETTER than before.” And it is. 🙂

God is good, friends! I believe God wants me to encourage others in light of our experiences. I’d LOVE to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to write. AND if you have a question, ask away! We love to answer questions and are not shy at all about what we’ve been through. 🙂 Oh, and subscribe to my blog on the right hand column so I can share more with you!

love, denisse

 

This is part of a series called 31 Days of Living the Good Life.

7. What happened to Ian anyway? pt 1

ian & me

You think it will never happen to you. All the terrible things you hear about.. cancer, tragic sudden accidents, natural disasters. You feel bad for those who experience it, but you think to yourself, gosh, that stinks for them, but it will never happen to me. That’s what I thought, too, but then something DID happen.

After a few days of feeling like he had a cold, my husband, Ian, woke up and saw blood in his urine in the middle of the night. Too tired and disoriented, thinking he was probably just seeing things, he went back to bed and decided to go to the doctor in the morning. That morning when he woke up, he was sick to his stomach and there was blood in his vomit, too. Oh, snap! This can’t be good.

Panicked, I got everyone in our car that morning. Our two boys had preschool luckily, but our daughter had been sick so she came with Ian and me to the ER. The hours that followed were like a nightmare. Ian looked like death, pale skin and distant, weary eyes. His shaking body was visibly not okay. After numerous tests, we were told he had pneumonia and was in septic shock. We knew what pneumonia was, but had never heard of septic shock. By the looks of faces on the doctors and nurses, it couldn’t be good.

In fact, it was so NOT good that Ian had to be transferred to a larger hospital that was better equipped to care for him. The ER doctor put in a central line (a catheter type of line to administer fluids and medicines) in his groin and said he was ready to be transferred. Ian told me later he thought he passed out because it hurt so much when they put that in. I was unaware that central lines were used with critically ill patients at the time. I didn’t know how sick Ian really was.

He was transferred, and let’s just say that, twelve hours later, he was sedated and on a ventilator fighting for his life. It was that fast. He had extremely low blood pressure and even worse oxygenation. He was also in multi-organ failure. Every single system in his body was shutting down. His heart, kidneys, liver, everything… Darn that septic shock. We didn’t know what it was capable of doing.

I found myself at the foot of my dying husband’s hospital bed, begging God for his life. Begging God for a father for my three children, for a husband for me.. “I’m not ready to be a single mom!” I cried aloud on his sickest night. God gave me strength and courage beyond what I’d ever known. He was preparing me for the couple of years that would follow.

To make a very long story short, and to spare you the heartbreaking details, I will tell you what ultimately happened. Ian remained intubated and sedated for eight days. EIGHT days. I stayed with him in the ICU each of those days, while my three young children who were five, two, and 10 months were taken care of by others. It was the hardest eight days of my life. Yet, somehow, we made it.

Ian survived! The medications and procedures worked. My fear that his brain had been affected was proved otherwise when he woke up and acted just like his funny old self. I mistakenly thought we’d be able to go home and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen as soon as he woke up. The truth is, he COULD NOT MOVE when he woke up. He was like a newborn unable to lift his head, move his neck from side to side, or move any other part of his body for that matter. That, the “not being able to move” part, however, paled in comparison to our more urgent problem now. Ian had black fingers and feet. And when I say black, I mean BLACK. Like the color of the tires on your car. Or the sky at night. That black. His blood pressure had been terrible. It required him to be given medications to help keep blood to his vital organs, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc, the organs that really mattered. The result: no blood to his extremities, and thus, black fingers and feet.

We were so grateful Ian was alive and well. God saved his life. Our kids would have a daddy to see them grow up after all. I’d have a husband to grow old with. All was well in the world again. But, was it? What would we do about the black fingers and feet? It turns out that the black fingers and feet would be the biggest challenge of our lives. God would teach us more than we ever thought we’d know through those fingers and feet.

Since this post is getting quite long, I’ll share the rest of what happened tomorrow. Stay tuned.

love,

denisse

 

This is part of a series called 31 Days of Living the Good Life.