How Do You Choose to Look at It?

Posted on January 4, 2020


It feels like we have actually turned a corner this time.  Yesterday felt like a first day of normalcy.  Apart from my hearing aid not working properly, we had no health crises.  As a result of the aforementioned hearing aid problem, I can’t say it was a day when we didn’t go to any health care facility, but at least it was a day without a doctor’s appointment.  Carol’s health or lack thereof was not the central focus of the day.  Praise God.

We went to see the new Star Wars film at the early matinee.  It wasn’t their best effort.  But, hey, it’s Star Wars.  We enjoyed it well enough.  We went to lunch at The Crazy Chicken (i.e. El Pollo Loco).  We took a walk.  We had leftovers for dinner.  Normal stuff.  It was great.

Clearly, this vacation did not go as planned.  As the dog said in The Adventures of Lewis and Clark[1], “It was rough.”  The medical treatment has been sort of like The King, The Mice, and the Cheese, if any of you remember that children’s book.  The king loves cheese, but he has a mouse problem.  So he gets cats to chase away the mice.  Now he has a problem living with the cats.  He gets dogs to chase away the cats, lions to get chase away the dogs, elephants to chase away the lions, and brings back the mice to get rid of the elephants.  Carol has a heart problem so they give her meds to help with that.  Then she has a drug eruption as a result of those meds.  So she gets another med to deal with the drug eruption.  But that med sends her blood sugar all whacky.

We never did make it to Kauai.  Our kids did (this was the first Christmas that we were not with our children).  My sister and her husband did.  We kept postponing thinking we were still going to salvage that vacation.  I had been in countdown for a long time leading up to that trip.  I finally recognized that if I say, “only two more days” to Carol, she has a heart attack.  I recognize that correlation does not equal causation, but there is quite the correlation there.  I don’t say that to her anymore.

Then there are all the stressors that are just the way life is.  The broken phone… The lost contacts… The ordeals of changing travel plans and reservations…. My hearing aid deciding malfunctioning on me… A power outage… And probably a bunch of other things that are all fading from memory.  None of these are monumental in and of themselves.  It’s just tough when everything starts to feel like one more thing.


About 20 years ago, there was a time when I took a two week vacation in December.  At the start of vacation, Carol tore a calf muscle.  Now Carol and I have different expectations when we are infirmed.  When I’m not feeling well, I just want to be left alone to die.  She wants to be taken care of.  By the end of that two weeks of taking care of Carol, I was thinking, “Wow.  She is really milking this.”  Thinking it was probably okay.  Where I got into trouble is when those words actually left my lips.  Carol turned to me and said, “Well, I guess it’s a good thing nothing serious happened to me.”  I decided she was right and I committed to myself that I would do better in the future.

About 15 years ago, Carol had ankle surgery.  While recovering from that, she was, of course, wanting a lot of care.  When she summoned me to adjust her pillows, my daughter said, “Wow.  She’s really milking this.”  I said, “shhh…” and went to adjust Carol’s pillows.

This outing was a slightly bigger test of my limited caregiving skills.  So far, on the whole, I have managed to not make this about me.  My poor “J” has had a tough go of it though.  For those of you familiar with the Myers Briggs personality inventory, I am an ISTJ.  On the first three of those, I am pretty close to the middle.  But I am a massive J.  I like plans.  I like having things settled.  I can be spontaneous as long as you give me three week notice.  The past few weeks have required a constant adjustment on a moment’s notice.

When Carol has expressed appreciation, I have pointed out that this is what I promised Father Steve when he asked if I would have her in sickness and in health.  It’s the gig I signed up for.


So where am I going with this?  I was wondering that myself.

There is an old joke in Christian circles that went something like this.  A man is caught in a flood and is praying for deliverance.  A rescue vehicle comes by and offers him a ride.  He refuses insisting that “God will save me.”  As the flood waters rise, a boat comes by and offers to take him.  He again refuses with “God will save me.”  The flood waters continue to rise and he is on the roof of his house when a helicopter comes to offer him rescue.  Again, he refuses.  “God will save me.”  Eventually, the man drowns.  He meets the Lord and says, “My whole life I have believed in you.  Why didn’t you save me?”  The Lord says, “I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter.  What more did you want?”

On the one hand, we’ve been knocked around a lot the last few weeks.  It has at times been scary, discouraging, stressful, and disappointing.  So where are the blessings in this?  First, had the original heart attack happened 2 days later, we would have been in a plane over the Pacific Ocean when Carol had her heart attack.  The outcome could have been much more dyer.  Second, if the second surgery had not happened, we would have traveled on Christmas.  If we had traveled on Christmas, we would have been on Kauai when Carol experienced the drug eruption.  Getting care for that would have been much more difficult there.  It also would have been miserable for Carol to be in that condition away from home.  Third, if we had traveled when we planned to the third time, we would have been away from home and Carol’s docs when the meds for the drug eruption started wreaking havoc on her blood sugar.

We have had incredible support from family and friends throughout this ordeal.  Like so many things in life, this is certainly not anything we would have chosen, but we have been blessed through it.  We have been where we needed to be.  We have had the benefit of quality modern medicine.  We are thankful for those things.

It looks like I will end up with three days of normalcy to rest up before going back to work.  (Please, Lord).

Wishing you a blessed new year.


[1] The reference would be obvious within our family, not so much beyond that.  When my daughters were in elementary school, the 5th grade class put on a musical every year.  The school had three different musicals that they used on a three year rotation.  My girls were three years apart in school.  Consequently, they were in the same play which was “The Adventures of Lewis and Clark.”  My daughters are now 34 and 31.  I still remember the musical well having gone through it twice.

Posted in: Marriage, Resilience