When Bad Things Happen
By Leslie J. Barner
We were away on a beach trip for our anniversary, enjoying great romance, good seafood, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
It was amidst the sweet sounds of seagulls cawing and gentle waves washing ashore that my husband got seriously ill.
After a misdiagnosis and two weeks in the hospital, he was diagnosed with polyarteritis nodosa, which causes inflammation in the small and medium arteries.
But that was only the beginning.
Within a few years, the disease affected his heart, causing it to fail.
I watched my husband―the one who played college football―struggle with dizziness, shortness of breath, difficulty doing everyday chores. This man who’d advanced up the corporate ladder and swung my girls up on his shoulders now found putting on his shoes physically taxing.
A year later, he suffered a life-threatening heart attack. After lengthy hospitalizations for advanced heart failure, we were told his heart muscle had become dangerously weak.
We had to make a choice for his treatment and opted for a mechanical heart pump. He went on the heart transplant list six months later.
We’re still waiting for a new heart.
Our new normal involves hospital stays, endless doctor visits, and the maintenance of a lot of equipment that must go where we go.
Is it scary at times? Very. Especially when concerning symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or numbness in his right arm occurs. What if I lose him? I feel the fear constricting my own chest.
Is there uncertainty at times? Absolutely.
But together, we’ve learned to trust God like never before, and cling to the words of Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
The good stuff: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)
Action points: Discuss together some things that you can do now to be prepared for a day when one of you may have to take care of the other because of a serious illness. For instance:
- How can you strengthen your relationship now to keep your marriage strong and protected when bad things happen?
- What are some ways in which you can make a practice of “living in the moment” and make the best of the here and now, while you both are healthy?
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