One Year Ago..

Connecting with Jen’s sisterhood this week (on Tuesday):  

One year ago this week…

I was minding my own business, getting up and out of the house to hear the third in a series of three lectures from one of my favorite theologians (John Weborg, retired professor of theology from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago).

And I realized I was out of breath – taking a shower! Then I talked to my daughter on the phone while walking through the house to my car and got breathless again.

Weird.

Drove across town to attend the lecture, got out of my car, walked up the same hill I’d walked up the previous two mornings, and WHAM, I could not breathe, and my heart began to pound nearly out of my chest.

So I turned around, got back in my car, and drove myself to the emergency room, which happened to be less than a mile from the lecture site.

Our hospital is in the long process of being completely rebuilt, so there is valet parking for the ER.  Sort of strange to hand over the keys to your car and have them ask, “Who are you here to see?”  Well…just me…I guess.

They hooked me up to heart machines, tested my blood oxygen, which was a little low, so I got one of those ugly tubes in the nose.
And thus I began the great adventure of the last 12 months.

I thought for sure I was having some sort of panic attack and I would be sent home with kind smiles and knowing looks. Now, mind you, I’ve never had a panic attack that I know of – but still…once I got quiet, with not much to do,the heart stopped pounding, the breath normalized and I wondered, “What the heck am I doing here?” I had an EKG, tons of blood work, a chest x-ray, and then I sat in that cubicle for about 5 hours.
Taking phone pictures of my feet?  You know I had to be bored out of my skull.

I did say the Jesus prayer a lot, and, as usual, found it to be a source of peace and comfort while I waited.  The nurse who tended me was just terrific, and she was the one who pegged it – “Don’t like that low oxygen sat with the shortness of breath. Don’t like it at all.  They should do a chest CT scan.”

Well, after a particular blood test was sky high, that’s exactly what they did. And I was admitted to the hospital with multiple pulmonary emboli (blood clots) in both lobes of both lungs.

My pulmonary tree lit up like fireworks. And…I started the wonderful experience of taking blood thinning medication. Which always begins with…oh, joy… shots to the belly twice a day, shots of a nasty and very expensive substance called heparin.  This stuff keeps your blood thin while the oral meds kick in, so I’m grateful for its effect, but really came to dread its application.

This is what just one side of my mid-section looked like about 3 days into the 6 days of shot-giving. And every one of those bruises (which multiplied like rabbits over the course of this treatment), every one of them had a large, hard knot underneath it.
By now, I’m a bit of an expert on all things related to this condition and the medication which is required to prevent it from happening again.  That’s because my husband had the exact same thing happen to him six years before!

Once they know you have blood clots, then they really run the tests, trying to figure out the source.  Neither one of us turned up with cancer or visible clots in our arms or legs, so we’re on this med for life – ‘unknown etiology requires prophylactic treatment…’

Compounding things was the fact that my boss was leaving in a matter of days for his hard-earned six week break and I would become point person in his absence.  I was scheduled to preach 10 days after this event and that did not happen, but I did lead in worship that week and each of the next 5, worked more hours than I probably should have and realized that I was exhausted through and through.

This is a hard thing for a perfectionistic, anxious to please, bred-to-the-bone caretaker personality to deal with: I couldn’t do what I was used to doing.  And my body let me know that, big-time.

It was a very difficult year on many levels: medication reaction, vertigo, palpitations, severe anxiety attacks, dental work (!!!), trying to finish well as retirement drew near – all of these experiences new to me and waded through with prayer and patience and loving support from my husband and family.  
But as has been true for all the difficult years I’ve lived through in my long life, I have discovered again that God’s redemptive power is never shackled, there are good and important lessons to be learned about life and how to live it.  The transforming power of God’s grace can slowly make its sweet and winsome way into the darkness and confusion of any difficult situation, and this long year has been no exception.  

So I stand at this end of the year just past, and offer grateful thanks for health restored, for lessons learned (and being learned!), and for the presence of a loving God all along the way.  I truly love my life and I am so glad to still be living it.

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Comments

  1. Wow Diana! We never know what an ordinary day will turn into, but thanks be to GOD that none of it ever surprises our Great and Merciful Savior. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. I’m so thankful that you are on this side of your trauma. And still here blessing me!

    Pamela

  3. Such a sweet story of God being with you during a hard year. Thanks for telling it so well.

    fondly,
    Glenda

  4. This is a powerful story. So glad I clicked over from SDG! And, so glad you drove yourself to the hospital when you did. My grandfather died from an unknown PE in his lungs. The treatment sounds awful, but how wonderful that you are giving glory to God through such difficult circumstances.

  5. First, my MIL is on blood thinners — shots to the stomach are so awful. I feel your pain, as I have watched her walk through this life-long thing (for her).

    Second, I’m at that point of pure exhaustion and looking forward to laying down my job in many respects (less stress!) and I see that if God did not catch me now, I probably would have a heart-attack by age 40 because I simply don’t know how to stop. Thank goodness He is teaching me and that you are rebuilding and resting. Loved your story.

  6. Beautiful, encouraging post! My favorite line: “God’s redemptive power is never shackled…”
    I’m glad you are pacing yourself, friend!

  7. Visiting from SDG. I think it’s great you can look back on the year and see how much God has taught you :).

  8. Thank you for sharing. I, too, praise God for the past year of your life, even the really, really painful parts. I can relate – it’s been a year of tough medical stuff at my house as well.

    I don’t know much about your condition, so this may be totally off-base, but I can tell you that, after every specialist known to man told me they couldn’t get to the bottom of my condition, I decided to see a naturopath. So far, seeing both the naturopath and the MD’s has helped me have a two-prong approach to health and healing. With the ND’s help, I’m not just managing care, I’m also restoring my body. Maybe someone like that in your area could help you and your husband dig a little deeper into what’s going on? Into why you have the clots in the first place?

  9. I’ve had some humbling slow down lessons through my health, too. They can be tough. This is such a beautiful, heartfelt post, but what I really need to say is a bit shallow. If you are going to take pictures of your feet for five hours, how absolutely wonderful that you had a beautiful pedicure.

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