I t S t a r t e d w i t h A n E a r t h q u a k e
Thursday, January 3, 2013, 5 am.
I am awakened out of a deep sleep to the sound of Lou’s voice, rather urgent. The room wasn’t shaking. It couldn’t be an earthquake. “Babe, you need to wake up. We’ve got a problem. I think you need to go to the hospital with me. I am coughing up blood. “
I jumped out of bed in a hurry and thought: “Ok, let’s go see what’s going on. Probably nothing, but you have to check. What did I have going on today? It was too early to call in to work. Wonder how long they will keep us?”
So began the terrible journey that would forever change our world.
… In the ER on a gurney for two days. Blood Tests, IV’s for an infection, CAT Scans of the chest, the head, the throat, the abdomen, then more specialized tests of the lungs. They were able to get in touch with the lung specialist who was never in this area this time of the week. He immediately came to the hospital. He ordered a bronchoscopy of the upper right lobe of the lung and hung around after to evaluate and report for Lou and I and our daughter, April.
What he said wasn’t good. They couldn’t even see into the upper right lobe. What had been diagnosed as pneumonia in December was a huge mass. It completely filled the lobe and was growing out into the bronchial tubes. He was surprised there hadn’t been a lot more evacuated blood.
By the middle of the first day, Lou asked the radiologist and the lung specialist if it was cancer and both said “Yes”. So, there we had it.
Logic set in quickly. Lou could live just fine without one lung or partial lung. I used to work for Thoracic and Vascular Surgeons. I had met lots of patients who did great on one lung.
The first step into grief began in that Kaiser Hospital on Sand Canyon. For me, it was shock. It was impossible to wrap my head around this. I was a problem solver and one who comforts and consoles. I pray for others all the time with great confidence that God will hear and take care of their every need. This was not a problem with an obvious solution and there were no shots for me to call.
I needed comforting right now as much as I needed to comfort. And I clearly didn’t understand a thing that was happening. I am too intelligent for empty platitudes and so was Lou. I would not do that. We had to know more.
We were admitted to the hospital, but couldn’t be moved because there were no beds available. We were 14 down on the list and that proved to be a wait that never turned into a bed. The best they could do was locate a spare gurney for me about 4 a.m. so I could lay my exhausted body horizontal. I was close enough that we could hold hands, in a room too bright and noisy to sleep, with all the monitors beeping and IV’s of strong medicines needing changing every hour or so. I cried most of that night, silently so as not to disturb Lou. I found out later he heard it all and was crying too, but for me, not for himself.
I knew, without a doubt, we would not be alone in this. Looking back, God never left us for a moment. Friends and family, even strangers came in tight around the edges. But right there, in that ER, it was literally a dark night of the soul and it wasn’t shaped like anything that remotely fit with our plans for the future.
So began my journey of grief. It was an earthquake. …about a 9.5 to be exact. It literally shook my world and the rubble that remained around me was just starting to be sifted through…
Grief and loss are part of the human dilemma and I will continue to tell my story in posts to come, but now I want to hear from you:
For those of you who have faced shocks and life-changing moments like these, how did you handle the news?
Do you recall that first moment when you got your bad news? What was your first reaction?