This is as good a time as any to talk about the emotional toll the last 12 months have taken on us. Or should I say on me. I know it has on Ben as well, but I cannot write from his perspective.
As I said before, these heart issues affect the patient physically, but also all of our emotions, our daily lives. It’s stressful, not only on the person actually experiencing the problems, but on family and friends. It can change the course of your entire lives. It certainly has ours.
And it’s continuing to do so, and most likely will continue for some time, as our story continues.
I cannot speak for Ben, because all I know is what he tells me, which is not a lot, or often, unless I ask, and keep asking. I know he’s worried, and I’m sure he’s scared, but I also know he’s trying to protect me from those fears.
After all, he has all of the physical symptoms to contend with, and the actual surgery, as well as the emotional stress. That has to be even worse.
Of course, I don’t tell him a lot either about how I’m feeling, because I don’t want to worry him. Or upset him. However, with all we’ve been through recently, and all we’re getting ready to go through, I think it’s time to talk about it.
Because all of this takes more of a toll on you than you realize. A lot more.
There are times that your mind starts racing, imaging all kinds of things that could happen. “What if’s” are hard to stop, once you start thinking about them all.
What if he’s not able to have the surgery the least invasive way? What if he has to have his chest cut open a third time? How dangerous is that, really?
How long will it take him to recover? What will be involved in his recovery this time? How am I going to take care of him as well as help our daughter who’ll most likely be having her second baby by C-section about that same time? Her husband can’t do it all and work at the same time.
Will Ben be able to continue doing the things he enjoys? Will he be able to continue to work, even though it’s only part time, and how long will it be until he can go back? What happens if he can’t?
We have a two story home. Should we start planning to sell it? Where would we move? What could we afford if he can’t work? And how in the world could we physically accomplish that actual moving without a ton of help?
And the really tough ones I don’t want to think about…should we update our wills before the surgery? Our medical directives?
What if he ends up eventually needing a heart transplant? How would we be able to handle that? I can’t even fathom it, but yes, your mind goes there as well. Several people have even innocently asked me that question without knowing all of the story.
And then there’s that thought that worms its way into my mind in the early hours of the morning when I just can’t sleep…what if he doesn’t make it?
It’s natural to have those thoughts, those fears, especially with all we’re going through. He’s my husband. I love him. And I’m worried.
There are a lot of nights I wake up and listen to be sure he’s breathing. I remember a good friend of my mother’s whose husband had severe heart problems saying the same thing. Now I know what she meant.
There are those who’ve told me that I don’t have enough faith; that I’m not trusting the Lord enough. That if I really believed I wouldn’t be worrying because I’d know my husband was going to be all right. That I need to pray more. That if we prayed more the Lord might heal him without surgery.
I’m sorry. Please don’t tell me these things. Or anyone else going through something like this. Don’t insult me or try to tell me I don’t have the faith you do, because that’s what you’re actually saying. You are actually judging without even realizing it. Unless someone is actually experiencing it, they really have no idea.
They aren’t in my place. They haven’t been in my place. And I hope they never are. Because if they were, or they had been, they’d most likely see things differently.
I trust my Lord. I believe in the power of prayer, and I’ve seen it work. Many times. And I do pray for him. But there are times that our humanness comes out and we get scared. We go through the “what if’s” and we find our minds going in places we don’t want to be. We cry. Sometimes we cry til there are no more tears. Many, like me, are careful to not let anyone see us cry, because we don’t want our weakness and fears to show to other people. We want to appear strong, when on the inside we’re crumbling.
But those feelings are there, and they don’t go away.
That’s reality. That’s how it is. And when you really aren’t sure what you’re facing; when you know there are risks; and that those risks may have to be taken, it puts you in a place you don’t want to be.
And getting out of that place is hard. Very hard. It doesn’t make me less of a person, or less of a believer. It reminds me that I’m human.
We will get through this with the love and support of family and close friends. With very good, excellent, dedicated medical teams at one of the top heart hospitals on the East Coast. And because of our faith we will look back on this and say, “We survived another one!”
Thank you all for your support so far. It means more than you know.
And the saga continues in Matters of the Heart, Part 12, to be published April 8.
Don’t miss the previous stories in this series:
Matters of the Heart, Part 1
Matters of the Heart, Part 2
Matters of the Heart, Part 3
Matters of the Heart, Part 4
Matters of the Heart, Part 5
Matters of the Heart, Part 6
Matters of the Heart, Part 7
Matters of the Heart, Part 8
Matters of the Heart, Part 9
Matters of the Heart, Part 10