Although I have become known as the platform writer of hope, life sometimes interferes with the process. When circumstances force me to the sideline, I have to work harder to find hope and encourage myself again.
The last weeks of 2019 were harrowing. Beginning with December 5, the side effects of a medicine gradually sapped my strength and shackled me to the bathroom. What I didn’t know was that my electrolytes were being screwed as my body lurched into dehydration.
Then the flu hit and what was left of my immunities were destroyed. I woke up December 26 with no strength, blacked out and conked my head on the bathroom tile. When I came to, I was sweating and my heart racing. That’s when I called 9-1-1 and crawled downstairs to unlock the door.
As the siren screamed ever closer, I thought how ironic. Whenever I hear sirens, I pray for the first responders and the people involved. Was anyone praying for me?
The paramedics found me on the floor, semiconscious and breathing fast. They immediately started intravenous fluids and helped me to the gurney. Their strength and professional demeanor encouraged me. At least I would not die alone.
The emergency room was another experience, but my son soon arrived and took control. I have no recollection of signing forms, speaking to nurses or agreeing to treatments, but my son was fully conscious and did everything necessary for my care. It was only later that I realized I still wore my colorful Christmas jammies.
Dehydration was the main culprit and an ugly form of the flu, followed by a urinary tract infection. It took several weeks to recuperate with multiple meds and more trips to Urgent Care. I lost twelve pounds, and Gatorade became my new friend.
But the experience taught me how fragile is hope, how we have to work hard to emotionally receive it after we’re sidelined.
Independence Narrows with Age.
Of course, I know about the narrowing of independence from watching my mother fade into Alzheimer’s. She moved from independence in her own home to a hospital visit to assisted living.
But we rarely imagine the same for ourselves.
The truth is that none of us is immune to losing our independence. As we age, illness can take a greater toll. No matter how determined I was to eat nutritious food and take my supplements, one month of severe side effects and a common virus derailed everything.
I was grateful my final decisions for death and burial were already determined and the paperwork complete, because I was not sure I would return home. I have never felt so powerless. It reminded me of Catherine Marshall who was bound to her bed when tuberculosis stole her life. She wrote many of her books with her arms propped up by pillows.
A Support System is Crucial.
Although I raised my son to deal with the unexpected, I was surprised how quickly and efficiently he took control. His wisdom and decision-making brought me comfort. It was easy to return home and let him do everything. The ease of the role shift enabled me to relax, stay in bed and heal.
I was grateful for Caleb’s presence but also for his boss who let him leave work and said, “Family is more important.”
So protect your support system, complete all that important paperwork and make sure your special person is on speed dial.
Living Alone is Becoming Less of a Possibility.
It is scary to go through a health crisis alone.
Although my son currently lives with me, he was at work that day. And the future may change our comfortable living situation.
The beauty of being independent means I can have my own space, set my own hours and live where I want. But reality presents a different scenario. Living alone for the rest of my days no longer seems possible or even smart.
In 2017, my plan for living with someone and taking care of each other died when Deb walked into eternity. It seemed so easy and the best possible solution for the two of us to become the Golden Girls. Sadly, that did not happen.
For years, I have wished for a big house or some sort of solution for all the single women I know — a safe place where we could have community together and help each other. That answer has not appeared.
Most of us cannot afford the senior living townhomes or the luxury apartments shown on TV. Sure, who wouldn’t want those beautiful spaces to live out life, find a community, yet guard your own identity?
But beauty and safety come with a price tag. Hope fades with the reality of finding affordable housing as we age.
The 9-1-1 operator comforted me with his words, “I’ll stay on the line until they get there. I’ll stay with you.” And he did, bless him! His words were my main recollection of that scary day. This stranger on the phone with the soft voice would NOT abandon me.
Now that I am recovering, once again I am going through the house, giving things away. As I feel independence narrowing, I know I must choose what I will need for an even smaller space. And those choices make me sad.
Finding Hope Requires More Intentionality.
To be brutally honest, this illness has challenged this Hope writer. I find myself having to search for the positive outlook and remind myself daily that God has promised to never forsake me.
Each day becomes a more intentional desire to give it everything I can.
- To write the words that must be released to the world — while I can.
- To express my gratitude for colorful sunsets, faithful friends and anything good that happens — while I still recognize them.
- To hug my son, often and wholeheartedly — while I have the strength.
- To make each 24-hour period matter for the good — while I can still hang on to hope.
And to enjoy the independence I still have.
Hope may change, but if I intentionally look for it and seek to grasp it — it will be revealed. At least, I’m believing that today.
©2020 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Check out the books I wrote in 2019, listed on my Amazon Author Page.
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay
Oh, my friend! I had no idea the extent of your trouble at Christmas. God bless Caleb for taking good care of you!
Thank you, Jane. Yes, so grateful for my son!
Dear Rebecca, my heart goes out to you and Calab. I pray our Lord reveals to you His purposes in this situation. You give so many hope and encouragement, Lord isn’t done with you here so I pray strength n hope, Restoration and deeper revelation. Holy Spirit liftup Rebecca’s spirit, let her hear clearly from you. Increase her deep Joy w great peace on Your felt presence. Amen
Thank you, Rita – love love your Spirit-breathed prayer !
Wow. I am so sorry I didn’t know you were struggling so much.
Thank you for sharing and for reminding your readers of intentionality. My brother and I look out for each other, It’s so important. god bless you. I hope you received the pretty scarf to stay warm. I thought of you when I saw it and how you disliked the cold. Take care and continue to stay in hope, Amy
Thank you, Amy. I appreciate your prayers. And yes – I did receive the scarf – thank you! But it arrived w/o a return address, so I didn’t know who to thank. It is indeed lovely and very warm. Thanks also for the cat coaster. We share a love for cats !
I was so saddened to read of your recent medical challenges. I pray that you are gaining strength day-by-day, that you feel God’s reassuring presence within your spirit, and that His peace – and Hope! – which passes our human understanding, reigns in your heart! We are finite beings, but we have an Infinite God who cherishes us and walks with us through every circumstance of life. Therefore, go into each day with confidence that He will meet every need and care, which is our comfort each day He gives us breath. And God bless your dear son for the loving care he gives you. May joy, wonder and awe bless your spirits as you go forward day by day.
Thank you, Pamela, for your kind words and Spirit-breathed thoughts. I appreciate your prayers!
Oh my—I totally agree with you!! I feel your pain—as I throw out-give away items that represent memories of happier times with the grandkids—or my children. Knowing that I can never go back. But the future doesn’t look as bright as I would like—like you I know that death is getting closer every day.
Take care of yourself. Hope you are getting wisdom on what to do about your vaginal bleeding.
Yes – just beginning the process of tests and medical visits. A hassle, but I’m grateful they have the technologies to find out what’s going on. Thinking of you and praying for something really good to come out of this trial.
I am so sorry you are going through such a trial. I had no idea. I pray the Lord will grant you some solutions. This stage of life has some truly sad and scary realities. May you know Jesus is walking each step together with you.
Thank you, Sylvia. The trial continues with the need for biopsies and further medical tests. Appreciate your prayers.
I am praying for you!
thank you! So appreciated!
Rebecca – I am thankful you were able to dial 911 and get help. And Caleb is your angel. I am so glad you are still with us. Love you, my friend.
Thanks, Shanna. One day at a time.