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.