Roller Coaster Year

So many things have happened this year that I am finding myself wondering “what’s next”. My mother in law passed away the end of March after battling kidney failure for two years, the result of heart catheterization dye when she caught RSV at a family birthday party and experienced an acute myocardial infarction. She had fallen in February and broken her hip; protocol dictates blood thinners be started to prevent blood clots, but due to her other medical conditions, she should never have been placed on blood thinners, especially not one that has no reversal agent. She literally bled to death over a period of a month. She had been getting tired of not feeling well, and her 95 year old body was literally worn out. So in a way it was a blessing for her suffering to be ended.

Just two weeks after Mom’s passing, a dear family friend died during a procedure after suffering a silent heart attack. He had been my own mother’s “gentleman friend” for several years, and a grandpa figure to my daughters. I had dashed up to the hospital to see him before he went to the procedure room and I was thankful I had the foresight to do so. I stayed with his daughter and son in law while the procedure was being done, and B kept apologizing, saying “I am so sorry you are experiencing this so soon after your own loss!” My mother would have expected nothing less from me. I wasn’t interested in feeling more guilty over not doing something she would have expected.

June brought an unexpected death of the husband of a cousin in my husband’s side. We all were devastated; he died in his sleep, no symptoms of anything when he went to bed the night before. I was thankful I had taken several photos at the family dinner in March after Mom’s service; R was in a couple of those pictures which his wife found comforting.

Our oldest daughter gave birth in September to a healthy baby girl. After experiencing a miscarriage last year and several complications during the pregnancy, we are all thankful for little one’s safe arrival. I had retired from my job just 3 days prior to her birth; timing is everything, they say, and it certainly seems to apply here. I will be caring for little one when her mama goes back to work in December.

In October, another aunt (sister to mother in law) passed away; she was also the mother of the lady who lost her husband in June. A trial of faith for sure, Aunt T had experienced multiple health issues of her own which required 24/7 care the last two months of her life. Her two daughters were grief stricken but at peace because her struggle was done.

The culmination of months of planning, our youngest daughter finally married the man of her dreams this past Saturday. They have dated since high school, and never looked back! So thankful for the blessings in our lives. Life is not always fair or kind, but having bright spots like new life and young love exemplified gives hope for our tomorrows. I am blessed and thankful as we head into the Thanksgiving season.

Stress Flowers and Love

It is hardly surprising that healthcare workers are stressed, no matter what their role. I am not at the bedside directly, but my job is to get patients to beds from emergency room, surgery, or wherever they may happen to come from at our facilities. Recent changes to our leadership and processes have made an already difficult situation even worse. My husband works at the same hospital as a BioMed tech, so he understands the atmosphere of the hospital currently. So when I had texted that yesterday was a most definitely awful Monday, I came home to dinner ready and flowers in the table. With me on 12 hour shifts, he has discovered it is most helpful to have dinner prep done or underway by the time I get home if we want dinner before 9 pm. The one consistent thing in my life since our marriage has been dinner with him after I get home. For 30 years we have called when we get off work and said “I am on my way”, whether we are on time or delayed. But the flowers last night were a special surprise that he doesn’t usually do. Valentine’s Day he typically will buy a live rose plant to replant outside rather than “dead flowers,” as he puts it. Our dining room table is usually a chaotic mess of whatever hasn’t found a home in a drawer, file, or the shred box. Projects that he needs to fix, junk mail, books I am reading or want to read (because if those get to a shelf, they may or may not get read…), you name it, it all lays in a pile that would drive most professional home organizers up the wall. Marie Kondo does not live here, I do.

So as I review emails, texts, and my Lent devotional, and sip my coffee, I gaze at the wonder of pink lilies just opening their buds. These are a gentle reminder that my husband loves me and wants to make me happy. I also am reminded that long ago Jesus said, “…even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:29) as he reminded his disciples that worrying is pointless. So I take comfort that I can try again another day to learn from my mistakes, and do better.

How to Bounce Back From Failure – Michael Hyatt

I personally believe that it is in times of failure, that the most important lessons are learned. You find the drive within yourself to get back up, to persevere, to keep going. 
— Read on

Even though this article is written from a “business” perspective , it is also true of health care professionals dealing with the stresses of work. When patients die in spite of the best efforts of the health care team, we view that as failure, because our goal is healing and returning patients to their loved ones whole. Often we cannot accomplish that, and we become filled with self doubt.

Taking care of ourselves is more important than ever. If we don’t, who will?


“Vulnerable strength isn’t an emotional outburst, rather it’s working through misunderstanding.”

Very important words this morning. Yesterday was not the most stellar of Mondays. I managed to get through most of the day by just taking deep breaths and letting go, but by 8 PM I was tired, frustrated, and really at the end of my rope, although I didn’t fully realize it. I stopped to pick up some prescriptions at a local pharmacy on my way home, and tried to make a separate purchase with my new debit card. That’s when the trouble started. The card would not work. At all. “No big deal,” I thought. I told the fellow that I would just cancel the purchase since I did’t have enough cash. I went back to my car, my mind racing over the past few days’ purchases. Surely I had not overdrawn my account! Then, my youngest called wanting me to bring home “something to make this cough stop.” I explained that we already had cough medicine at home, and that since my card wasn’t working I couldn’t make anymore purchases until I figured out what was wrong. I hung up the phone and tossed it in my bag on the seat beside me. Pounding the steering wheel in frustration, I started screaming and yelling at the unfairness of it all. “She has had this stuff since before Christmas. WHY won’t it go away??? Why is this stuff all piling up? WHY was today so crappy???” And so on for about a mile. I swung into the ATM to at least get my account balance. “Contact distributor of card.” Oh dear. This. is. not. good. Pulling back onto the street, I buzz towards home. My phone dings. I pick it up–the screen is BLACK. Apparently the toss into the bag created another issue for me. Now I have no cell phone.

Anybody else see a trend here? I am FAR too dependent on things. And I let little stuff bug me WAY too much. My place of employment is full of people who have woes far worse than mine. And yet I regress into toddlerhood and create more issues for myself. Suzie Eller wrote the words I quoted above, and in her blog post today she is talking about responding with grace in difficult situations. My issues yesterday evening had more to do with anger at myself in the long run, but I have also been guilty of not responding with grace in relationships as well. Thinking back on how I could have responded yesterday evening, lashing out didn’t do anything but create more problems, and I certainly didn’t feel better after my temper tantrum. It seems the more I resolve to do better in that area, the worse I do.

A side note: I fully expected my husband to really be upset over the phone, which is going to create another expense even though I do carry insurance on it (and the protective screen covering which we paid extra for didn’t do it’s lifetime guarantee job). When I explained what happened (a drop on the floor earlier in the day, unintended, did not help I’m sure), his comment was, “well, things happen.” His usual “I’ll just buy the part and fix it” approach won’t work this time–a replacement screen is $150. Sooo, he is taking it back to the phone store for me today since I work another 12 hour shift and won’t be able to do it myself. Oh, and the bank issue? Seems my email to the bank last week about a new card arriving after the Target debacle triggered a chain reaction. They deactivated the new one before it even arrived at my house because it had been sent out 3 weeks ago. Long story short, I still have money, just no debit card–because I cut up my old one this weekend after finding the new one in the unread mail pile. *sigh* Life’s inconveniences…

And how has YOUR week been?

My prayer is that I respond with more grace and less silly emotion. Stuff happens. I need to get over it.

1 Peter 1:2b, “May God give you more and more grace and peace.” (NLT)