Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lookin' for Wood

I’m not a superstitious guy.  But, just to hedge my bets; I never walk under a ladder, which seems pretty prudent regardless of superstition.  I also will occasionally spit when a black cat crosses my path and I immediately seek some wood to knock on when talking about good things happening in my life.

With that being said you will understand why I’m knocking because I want to report that in the grand scheme of things Marty has really been “healthy” lately; hear the knocking on wood? 

She has not been in the hospital for almost 18 months.  We haven’t seen the inside of an emergency room in almost a year and we only went to see Great and Wise a couple of weeks ago so I could brag in person about beating him in scrabble.  Rap, rap, rap on real wood.

Over the last six years we have seen more of doctor’s offices and various hospitals than many see in a life time.  There are a lot of people in this world who have never been hospitalized.  For us, the nurses on 3rd floor south at Providence Hospital knew Marty by name.  For a while we had personal relationships with most of the ER doctors at our favorite emergency room and the nurses would come in and ask about our kids.  I liked them all but would have preferred to have met and known them from the Cryin’ Shame bar down the street.

Marty has survived so much.  She has lived through so many things so many times it’s a bit mind numbing.  From seizures to pneumonia to urinary tract infections to broken limbs, she has done it all, multiple times.  At one point in time, at least in my mind, I just knew she would ultimately lose her battle for life to some rare infection with an obscure Latin name.

As days have moved to weeks, months and years things have gradually changed, we have learned, we have grown, we have gotten better at dealing with illness and the illnesses have become more sporadic. We have not conquered the most difficult part of stroke recovery, chronic and constant illness,  but we have fought it to a draw. 

The disability part of the strokes is hard but it’s never been the hardest part, the wheelchair has never been the most frightening part of the strokes.  The frailty, the constant illnesses and need to be on constant guard for a new sickness has been the most difficult, stressful part of our new normal.  It has been the only prayer I have prayed, to give us some relief from the constant infections, the repeated trips to the hospital.  I’ve not prayed for a cure, I’ve not petitioned for Marty to walk or talk, I have simply prayed for Marty to feel better longer.

For the last months instead of sitting in Great and Wise’s waiting room, instead of taking antibiotics, instead of getting Marty stuck in the arm to get blood we have been enjoying the peace and comfort of being infection free.  I’m not watching her blood pressure or her oxygen levels like an old maid, I’m not trying to shoe horn a doctor’s appointment into our day, I’m not waking up in the morning with a surge of adrenalin wondering what bug has crept into Marty’s bloodstream threatening her life.

Marty clearly feels better.  Antibiotics have saved her life, but she simply doesn’t feel as good, as sharp when taking the medicine.  The length of time between bouts of upper respiratory infections or pneumonia have allowed her lungs to heal, to get stronger, to better support her in every way.  The very simple blessing of being well feels good and has a cumulative effect on her demeanor and her quality of life.

It is such a relief to not have to constantly be watching Marty for the next sign, it is freeing to be able to leave the house and not worry about what is happening at home.   It feels great to not sweat out a medical report.  I know Marty feels a sense of relief that I am not constantly watching her every breath, cough or wobble.  It is so much better to go see Great and Wise and not worry about test results but to talk about the scrabble words he uses that I don’t recognize, he’s a good scrabble player.

There are times in our lives where we want to celebrate but we are afraid because the celebration might somehow jinx the cause of the celebration.  That kind of thinking tends to limit celebrating the bright spots in a sometimes dark life.  Not being the superstitious kind of guy I’m thinking I’m going to do the happy dance to celebrate the past few weeks, while knocking on some real wood just to be safe.

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