On Tuesday evening, my husband finally came home from hospital. I fancy that the man who walked slowly and carefully out of those doors, was not quite the same person who went in, doubled over in agony and wondering if he was about to die.
Perhaps I am not the same person, either.
All the endless waiting that goes on in hospital does give a person a lot of time to think....
I'd been feeling trapped by my circumstances, and probably a bit resentful too. But I forgot to remember that I always had a choice. No matter what happens in life, I always have a choice, even if it's choosing my attitude.
I see now that I lost some of my positive spirit along the way. Because I was looking at things back-to-front.
I choose not to fight against all that is wrong with the world. Instead, I choose to encourage all that is right with the world.
This won't be easy, because I am, by nature, stubborn. A fighter. I'm good at fighting!! But it doesn't make me happy. It brings me no peace. It fires me up, and drains me at the same time. I do not want to magnify darkness by giving to it my precious time and energy.
I've also begun to realise that just when you think life can't get any more difficult. It does.
And just when you think you can't take any more. You do.
My best, most important insights have come not from joyous times when all seemed right with the world. They came in the depths of grief and despair, when I thought the world would end. But it didn't. Tomorrow dawned. And after that, another tomorrow. And then another. Raw wounds became scars became powerful reminders of lessons learnt.
I choose not to be defeated by difficulties. Instead I choose to learn from them, and be grateful that God saw fit to teach me things that will ultimately make me stronger, and better, and more understanding of others.
In the beginning, my husband just slept and slept. He was groggy from painkillers and medications, and couldn't really take in what was happening.
As the days passed, and he became more alert, and the full extent of his situation started to be revealed to us, we talked. Just like I asked God for the chance to do.
He told me - with tears in his eyes - that he can't stop imagining the day his sons are grown, and someone asks them about their dad, and they would say "Oh. He died when I was two. I don't remember him...."
The feeling in our family is different. Even my sons seem to have grown closer, more protective of each other. I am more understanding of my husband. He is more appreciative of my efforts.
I choose not to see this experience as an inconvenience, a nightmare or a bump in the road. Instead, I choose to see it as the best thing that could have happened to us...
*** My husband was diagnosed with a Type 2 aortic dissection. A serious, potentially fatal condition where the inside wall of the aorta tears, and blood starts leaking down between the layers of the wall, creating a new channel of blood, and compromising bloodflow to the rest of the body. The real danger is the tear becoming a hole, and blood pumping into the chest and abdomen, which is usually fatal.
An aortic dissection is quite uncommon, only a few hundred cases per year in Australia. He will need to take it easy for 6 weeks, and take care of himself for the rest of his life.
While in hospital, they noticed he had severe sleep apnoea and began to treat him for that. I knew he had it, but I never realised how completely it can affect someone's life. Basically someone who has sleep apnoea never gets into a deep sleep during the night, and their oxygen levels are so low, it's like they're drowning. They wake up feeling just as tired as the night before, and they have to drag themselves through the day, feeling exhausted. They are so tired, they cannot help falling asleep, even in inappropriate places.
He is now using a CPAP machine at night, to keep his airways open. It's taking a bit of getting used to, but oh...the lack of snoring is heavenly!! In time, it will hopefully translate into a more active, more energetic husband :-)
I can't help but feel that this is indeed a new chapter, a fresh page. I'm excited by the possibilities. Life, for all it's imperfectness, is a beautiful thing...