Friday, June 6, 2014

all things for good

Before January of this year, I don't think Derek or I would have even batted an eye at commercials for people with diseases or medicines...or movies where people are laying in hospital beds plugged into machines with tubes all over. But now, we can't seem to escape them. There are times when we're watching tv where we'll both just stop...and look at each other and shake our heads. It's crazy what we were numb to before. Those commercials were still playing, people were still coughing up lungs on television shows...we just didn't see it or care. It's like we're looking at life thru these new eyes. It's so strange.

Like now when I hear stories of somebody being on a ventilator or in the icu or having open heart surgery... my heart does a small cartwheel. That meant nothing to me before all this. Now that I understand what it really means, what it actually involves, I truly feel for people who have been in these circumstances. mean someone's lungs don't work and they can't breath on their own??? Someone's having open heart surgery... their chest cut open and their heart messed with??? Um, yes, those things are a big deal. Huge. But honestly I would have been stone faced hearing about either of those before all this. It's crazy what EXPERIENCE does in life. When you experience something for yourself, then and maybe only then, are you truly changed by it.


Back in January I was faced with one of the biggest decisions I would ever have to make in this life. It sounds sort of over the top to use those words... but after sitting here and thinking about all this... that's actually a true statement. I've never had to make a decision that could ultimately lead to someone I love living or dying. But there I was, making decisions and having conversations on behalf of my husband who could no longer speak or act on his own. That's why the word "ventilator" will forever mean something to me. When Derek first went into the ICU and was still breathing his own air [and struggling to] the doctor and nurses told us that our next step would be for him to be put on a ventilator. Neither of us truly understood what that meant. To us, I think it was just another means of helping him to get air. They explained he'd be heavily sedated until his breathing was stronger...he had to sign a paper...I had to leave the room while they put a tube in his throat. I thought the ventilator was something people went on for a few hours. I did not understand the severity of the situation. His lungs were shutting down, his organs also were. His body was dying. It's funny how clueless we both were at that moment. The situation still did not seem serious. A few hours later of course, I realized what was actually happening. I walked into the room and saw him lying there with tubes all over, unconscious, with his chest going up and down mechanically. I could no longer communicate with him. I was all of the sudden alone...and speaking for the both of us. It was a surreal moment.


Within a few days a couple people had mentioned the word "transfer" to me in regards to Derek... another word that actually means something to me now. How do you transfer a man to a whole other hospital and team when he's basically dying right in front of you? There were so many doctors working to keep him alive at that point...running tests, asking questions, maintaining the machines that were sustaining him. It was like every second counted. How could I risk packing him up and sending him off? That felt like starting over. The thought of transferring him seemed too big, too dangerous and wasn't something I thought necessary. He seemed "safe" where he was. I needed safe.

At that point Derek was not doing well though -- at all. It was horrifying to watch really. He was unconscious mostly, but he was also very hard to keep sedated properly. He kept sitting up and attempting to pull out the tubes and struggling to free himself from the very things that were keeping him alive. Again, horrifying. To have to talk him down and attempt to calm him...I can't even explain it. I felt helpless. I was scared of him at first to be honest...especially when he would struggle like that. I remember after one big episode I sort of retreated to the back of his room...and just sat there and cried. I was afraid to touch him, to go to him. It was like it wasn't even him. I was torn. I didn't know how to get thru to be a comfort to be strong for him. But in that moment, cowering in that chair, I felt a boldness well up within me -- I got up, grabbed my bible and went right up to him and started reading from the book of James. It was so hard to do. But somehow, I did it. With nurses watching and doctors coming in and go up and stand next to my husband and read God's word out loud and stand strong for him. I felt eyes on me, I felt some judgement...but giving Derek something to grab onto in those desperate moments meant more than what people thought of me. And once I started speaking and praying over him, the situation didn't scare me anymore...he didn't scare me anymore...and everyone else just disappeared. I would play songs and sing to him or read to him from God's Word and in the middle of a freak out, he would quiet. As crazy as it sounds, God's Word literally held us together in those moments. It brought peace into a room of chaos. 


I came across John 13:7 while I was doing my devotions's when Jesus is washing the disciples feet...and He says to them..."You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

I can't tell you how many times I've breezed right by that verse. But today, it blew my mind. So much of what we go thru in this life - those struggles and hurts - it's like Jesus is saying just may not understand what I am doing right now, but later, later you will. You just need to experience this in order to fully understand what I want to teach you. He can't just explain it all to us... well He could, but sometimes words alone fall on deaf ears. But to experience it for ourselves... that really brings meaning to something.

Like in THIS struggle... our faith has been stretched further than I thought possible. But the truth of it is that we've been so blessed thru the HARD. What if we could have found out somehow that Derek had the heart issues in January? Would we trade months of turmoil for a quick fix? If given the option, ohhhh yes...we would have taken it.  None of the hard, please. But we would have missed all the blessing my friends. I guess I'm starting to really understand Romans 8:28 and how God is working ALL things for our good. Even ventilators and hospital transfers and open heart surgery. [sigh]


  1. Thank you Erin! Somehow I totally missed your comment. And yikes, that was in June! I was reading thru old posts and reminiscing a little glad I did. Hope you are well!!!