When Adversity Strikes, Your Go-To Response is...
OUR CALL OF THE HEART
And just like that, our lives changed. How many times have you heard that phrase? I like it best when associated with something positive, like the birth of a baby or a wedding, but not for an unexpected medical crisis.
For us, THAT moment came the day after Thanksgiving. David had been complaining of shortness-of-breath which he has had many times before, associated with asthma and bronchitis. After days of worry and discomfort, he headed off to the walk-in-clinic for a check on Friday, and the next thing I got was a call that he was in the hospital emergency room.
Eight days later, after many tests and would-be diagnoses, we are dealing with new terminology and frightening issues—but a clear treatment path.
The heart, we’ve learned, can have a mind of its own, not only when impacted by the usual clogged arteries or dysfunctional valves. Sometimes, for reasons that can’t be explained, the electric goes haywire and it simply beats off. A virus can do it. Genetics can do it. And all that’s left to you is to manage it.
As David underwent tests and spent days in the hospital, what struck me was his positive attitude, and we both concurred on a list of reasons to be grateful.
· Could have been worse.
· We had extra family in town for support over Thanksgiving.
· We had access to good medical care and treatment options.
· We have each other.
· Our daughter is coming to town for a treat visit.
· Our son and family could go on their long awaited trip because this happened the week before, and not right at their departure time.
I do confess that one night before David returned home, I had some sobering dark hours when I consulted Dr. Google. I placed panicked calls to our kids and then dipped into tears for the night. I surfaced the next morning with questions for the doctor. She told me I should avoid Dr. Google, and that there were options, treatment, and plans for health to be made to live with our new situation.
This new changed lifestyle will help drive greater longevity and life quality, but requires a rigorous review of our menu choices and oh-so-many food labels. Salt is our enemy. Exercise and weight loss are our new best friends. I’m sure we will kick ourselves with how good we feel from our newfound habits.
Our son once noted that David and I could get truly bent out of shape about the daily minutia, little issues that plague normal home arrangements from day to day; but then when the serious stuff happens, we team up and rally. THAT concept, I’d like to think, is our #1 adversity story. When the S!&%*t really hits we get it together and focus in on what is important.
GOOD OLD ADVERSITY
Who doesn’t want things to chug along nicely without any unplanned blips of trouble? In that state of nothing’s-wrong-right-now, I’ve been lulled into looking outside, thinking I’m protected and that I have control over things. Living in a bubble. The deal that comes with that so-called predictability is that the brain becomes sedentary. I take it all for granted. If you can relate, then read on as I riff about good old adversity.
Just when I’m truly satiated in my life vacuum, the unexpected happens, something frightening. BOOM! In an instant I’m aware of the present with heightened acuteness. Everything tastes and feels and looks different as a world of easy expectations falls away. The brain is “all-hands-on-deck” in processing changes, and of course fear is involved, too.
Unpleasant disruption is an awful state, especially when accompanied with the message that nothing is ever going to be the same again. But in that fear-filled, adrenaline-pumping reality, there is an overarching sense of feeling very alive, too. Life has kicked my butt, reminding me NOT to take anything for granted!
WE ARE PART OF A CONTINUUM, OUR STORY PART OF A WHOLE
In times of adversity, I muster up the sense that I am a part of a whole line of survivors. I consider the stories of family, even those I don’t know today by name or date of birth. I’m not alone. They were here and lived lives that required endurance. Now I’m here in that crowded place of people both past and present.
I reckon those ancestors had to be a scrappy bunch. Obviously some of them did prevail, or I wouldn’t exist. What did they do in the heat of adversity? What strengths did they draw upon, and what rationalizing did they do, even in spite of contrary evidence? I’m sure some of them fought like hell when necessary, and even fought when they knew that the ship was going down anyway. Such a tenacious lot!
FINDING YOUR COMFORT ZONE DURING ADVERSITY
As things are today, I think about how fortunate David and I are to be born in the current time. His illness has yielded positive outcomes, albeit with medications and treatments. What we have is a plan. It is our time of adversity, and we are putting our heads together to work it, while maintaining humor and gratitude in the process.
And of those I embrace gratitude the most. I hope that no matter what, with this and future adversity, I remember I’m simply part of a whole, here for a short time only, and have actually been quite fortunate (through no personal merit). I am owed nothing and seek everything, simply because I live and breathe just like everyone else.
As for David and me, we are on our trip from illness to wellness which will require we fight like hell, because bad habits die hard. And we will battle, most especially against sodium, which as it turns out is a common enemy for many of us over the age of 50.
And we’ll remind ourselves, often, to stick to it. I once heard a client mention her grandmother frequently saying, “When things get tough, I give myself a good talking to.” I like the notion. When adversity strikes, we (with a little help from that posse of ancestors) can give ourselves a good talking to.
And in that talking, I’m embracing the gratitude which means appreciating my wonderful husband David a lot more going forward. More kisses and hugs, and more patience for his annoying tendencies too. Because certainly he has gifted the same to me.
What is your adversity story?