It’s every military wife’s worst nightmare…the phone rings…it’s his unit…something has happened. We do our best to not think about it, but in the back of our minds, the thought is always running in a constant circle. We are always on edge to a certain extent. Each time the phone rings and they aren’t right there with us, our heart skips a beat. We don’t let it run our lives, but it is always there.
Recently, for me, that nightmare became a reality. My phone rang and it was his unit. Something had happened to him. His commanding officer told me he had a seizure at work and was on his way to the emergency room. He wasn’t hurt. But, my thirty-three year old, totally healthy husband had a seizure out of nowhere and was on his way to the hospital.
My heart stopped. My stomach knotted. I thought I was going to be sick. But, I did what needed to be done – I grabbed my keys and flew out the door. The drive to the hospital was the longest ten minute drive of my life. When I arrived at the emergency room, he was alert and awake. We waited and speculated as to what could have caused my perfectly healthy husband to have a seizure. Was it the flu-like virus that had been going around? Had he hit is head? They took him to get a CAT scan, it was in the moments after that our world changed, when life dropped a bombshell on our laps. The CT results showed a mass on his brain. The bomb dropped and time stopped. There were so many questions and so few answers. Neither of us knew what to say, so we just sat there and cried together. As military spouses, we are always waiting and preparing for the military crisis. What now? Nothing prepared us for this.
Eventually, he was transferred to Yale Hospital and we were able to meet with a Neuro-Oncologist. They informed us that the best treatment was surgery. The morning of the surgery we woke up early and made the hour-long drive to New Haven. He was so calm, I couldn’t believe it. My heart was pounding and I felt like I was going to throw up. But, there he was lying in the bed, joking around with the surgery team. Finally, the time came; I gave him a kiss trying to hold back the tears, and watched them wheel him away. The time seemed to move so slowly. On the outside I may seemed calm and normal, but on the inside I was dying with anticipation. After surgery, his surgeon told me everything went fine. They had been able to remove the entire tumor and my husband was doing well. When I could finally see him, my heart was still pounding and I was shaking with adrenaline. Seeing him lying in the bed hooked up to all the machines brought tears to my eyes. Then he just barely opened his eyes and gave me our little secret wave, and I knew he was going to be okay.
Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. In less than a week, I had the fear that my husband could be dying. I found out he would need brain surgery, something that would affect the rest of his life…our lives. But, I also found out that he was going to be okay. I had him home for Christmas and got to kiss him on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes life drops bombshells on our laps, but those are the times when we learn how strong we are. Those are the moments that remind us to appreciate everything we have and every minute we have together. Those are the days that teach us not to take any day for granted.
And in the process, a learning experience for me. I learned to be stronger and prepared for the times life may throw you a curve ball. So taking from this moment and how we can learn from it; Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help. We were overwhelmed by the amount of support we were given during the time my husband was in the hospital. For most of us, asking for or even accepting help is a very difficult thing. But the support and help during a time of crisis in your life makes all the difference. Get Organized. During a time of crisis, especially health crisis, there will be a lot of information thrown your way very quickly. Also, there will likely be medications and appointments to keep track of. Getting organized is a huge help, otherwise you will go crazy trying to keep track of everything. Don’t forget yourself. When you are the caregiver in a crisis, it is easy to get lost in the other person and their needs. It is just as important to take care of yourself. Take a few minutes to breath. Make sure you are eating right and sleeping as needed. You are of no use if you are worn down and unhealthy.
Taking one day at a time, and being grateful for this time given.