Here we are. June 16, 2016. I left the house early to attend a legal seminar, leaving my husband to enjoy his day of work and perhaps a jaunt to the driving range.
June 16, 2015 was a different story.
Six months prior, my husband had displayed symptoms of a common cold, yet it lingered. His longtime physician had retired so he dropped into a “doc in a box” where he was told it was the common cold that couldn’t be treated and he would have to wait it out. By March, it was clear that it wasn’t going away. As he coughed, struggled with his breath and became increasingly lethargic, I made an appointment with a physician accepting new patients. He grudgingly went to the appointment. From that day on, we encountered one seemingly endless medical test and procedure after another.
Since that day in March 2015, our lives have been focused upon returning my husband back to health. This is a man who had never been in a hospital other than to visit someone else. He had never endured x-rays, CT scans, IVs or any other serious medical test. Nor had he been prescribed anything other than a run of the mill antibiotic. Now we were forced to deal with life-altering drugs, little to no activity of any kind and a strict diet.
By the time we made our way to Cleveland Clinic in June, we were informed that my husband’s heart function was 15% due to a cold virus that had attacked his heart. He underwent surgery, recovered in ICU and eventually we returned home to a new existence.
After that June surgery, we were encouraged to return to some form of normalcy. How do you return to normalcy when you aren’t certain if your heart function will ever recover to a level that will allow you to engage in your regular activities? How do you return to normalcy when you don’t feel like getting out of the bed? How do you return to normalcy when your life is built around a schedule involving medication after medication all the while taking your pulse and blood pressure on your at home monitors?
You just do.
I watched everything he ate. I watched him walk up and down the stairs to make certain he didn’t fall. I bought Boost to make certain he was getting enough nutrients when he didn’t have an appetite. I encouraged him to walk out to the mailbox when he could. I kept track of his heart rate. I tried to keep all stress out of our home. And he worked his ass off to follow every instruction given to him while he researched and learned what he could do to improve his heart function. And we prayed.
Then we waited.
By the fall, his heart function had returned to a near normal level. We began to relax a little. We took a couple of short driving trips to see how well his body reacted. Seeing his color return, his appetite return, his energy levels elevate, were milestones. And every milestone was a gift. We even made the decision to book a spring vacation; a faith-filled outlook for certain.
On May 4, 2016 my husband and I embarked upon a nearly three-week vacation. What a celebration! A year of fear and anxiety took a sharp turn to a renewal of a zest for life.
We know that not all families share such a remarkable outcome. We owe a big thank you to those who helped, offered to help, prayed or just shared a kind word or smile over the course of the past year. We also are immensely grateful that we have been able to return to the lives we enjoyed before this health emergency. That is due in large part to the medical professionals that we were fortunate enough to have on our side. We were a team throughout this process and continue to fight the good fight. If there is a takeaway from our story, it is this: be proactive about your health. It’s important to get involved, learn your options and make the best choices for you and your family.
Here’s to a happy, healthy remainder of 2016!