Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Reminder to Cherish Every Minute

I have recently had a loud and clear reminder that it is important to cherish every minute, because life can change in an instant...without warning, when you're tootling along without a care in the world and you least expect it.

Last Monday was predictable and routine: I spent the day taking my mom to a doctor's appointment, shopping with her, and making dinner for her and my dad, while my husband did some handyman jobs at his family's home on Lake Champlain.  But that evening, there was a hint that things were about to change--when some of my husband's siblings and I saw that my husband had developed what looked like a weird rash on his feet and legs.  (An allergic reaction, we wondered?  But why didn't it itch?)  Those red spots looked exactly like the ones that appeared on my face the day my fourth son was born.  He weighed in at almost eleven pounds (yes, I said eleven), and apparently the strain of pushing him out into the world broke every blood vessel in my face.

Okay, so broken blood vessels sometimes have an obvious cause, and when they do, they don't warrant a lot of concern.  But what kind of strain could possibly do that to my husband's legs?  What kind of exertion would have caused that?  Especially when we're talking about an extremely fit guy who does strenuous P90X routines on a daily basis and is in better shape in his 50's than he was in his 30's!
 
My guy felt absolutely fine, so he wasn't too concerned.  Along with the red rash, he had a bruise on his shin, but he couldn't remember how he'd gotten it.  He dismissed it as a random "old man injury" as he sat with some of his siblings and me on the patio by the lake, enjoying a cocktail after a long, tiring day spent working on the front door of his family's home--sanding, patching rotten spots with wood filler, and getting the frame all prepared for the new screen door that he had plans to install.

We went to bed Monday night a bit perplexed but not overly worried. I got up early Tuesday morning and blogged (something that I don't always get around to doing when I'm visiting with family).

Then my husband got up.  And I took one look at the bruise on his shin and knew something wasn't right.  Because now it looked like this.
I was alarmed.  I thought perhaps he'd gotten some sort of insect or spider bite--and he had noticed a lot of spiders around when he was working on the door frame the day before, so maybe that was the answer. The big red circle was red and swollen, but it didn't hurt or itch at all.  I thought he might have an infection that was spreading; but he had no fever and felt completely normal.  Things just didn't add up.  Then as the icing on the cake, my husband admitted that he'd found blood blisters in his mouth, on the insides of both cheeks.  When he'd brushed his teeth, he'd spit out blood. 

That did it.  We were on our way to the ER.

After check-in and initial questions from the nurse, a PA came in to ask my husband what was going on.  It's never a really comforting thing when a medical professional says, "Huh.  I've never seen anything like this before.  I'm going to go get Mike and have him take a look."

After assessing the situation, it didn't take long for Mike, who was the young doctor on call, to order blood tests.  And when the blood work came back, we found out that the reason for the broken capillaries on his feet and legs and the easy bruising was a rather serious one: my husband's platelet count was extremely low, and he had a condition called ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), which causes the immune system to malfunction and go into platelet-attacking mode. They think this condition is sometimes triggered by a viral infection, so we couldn't help but believe that it was a direct result of a nasty viral illness that had laid him pretty low and sent him to the ER just a couple of days before.

It wasn't long before my husband was visited by a hematologist, who told him that he would be admitted and more tests would be ordered.  After ten hours in the ER, hooked up to an IV treatment and waiting for a bed to become available, he moved upstairs and had more blood drawn.

Through all of this, my indomitable husband appeared hale and hearty, per usual.  His color was good, he felt fine, and he looked less like a bedraggled patient than I did.  I mean, he was...well, see for yourself.
Look at that smile.

On Wednesday, my husband received a second IV treatment.  He had to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights in the hospital (where I slept in a reclining chair, because I couldn't bear to leave him), and he was finally discharged on Friday morning, when his platelets had climbed to a safe enough level.

A priest came in to see my husband on Wednesday, and he gave him a blessing and Holy Eucharist.  The entire time he was in the hospital, my husband was unfailingly optimistic and calm; he was the best possible patient and I'm sure his cheerfulness and kindness made a huge impression on the nursing staff who took such beautiful care of him during his hospital stay.  But his eyes did fill with tears in the aftermath of receiving Our Lord.  It pained me to see his tears, but didn't surprise me at all.  He is always, always close to God; but I'm sure, with all the uncertainty and fear created by this strange episode, he felt His presence more acutely than ever.

Although he's on the mend, my husband could still use lots of prayers as he continues to get better.  I know many of you who read this blog are fierce prayer warriors, so I'm counting on you.  In the meantime, I'm going to storm the heavens, too...and I'm going to cherish every minute I have with my extraordinary husband.

30 comments:

  1. Praying! I am glad that your husband is on the mend!

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Even though we were so relieved to have some of the scarier possibilities ruled out, we're still a bit shaken by this. And my husband appreciates any and all prayers. <3

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  2. Oh my heavens - what a time of stress for you both! I'm thanking God with you that your husband is getting better, and you can count on my prayers.

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    1. This was tough. It was such a powerful reminder of how very vulnerable we all are, and how precious life is! I can't remember the last time I felt as afraid as I was when we were waiting for the results of his blood tests.

      Thanks SO MUCH for the prayers.

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  3. My daughter had ITP when she was five (she's 17 now). As soon as I started reading, I knew that's what it was. Glad your husband is on the mend!

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    1. Thanks, Julie. He still can't do anything too strenuous, until his follow-up blood work shows more improvement. But things seem to be moving in the right direction.

      Did your daughter have just the one episode? We're really hoping this is a one-time thing for him.

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    2. Yes my daughter only had it one time. She saw the hematologist for about six months afterwards.

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    3. That's good to know. Thanks for the information. Hopefully, both your daughter and he will only have to go through it once.

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH, Beth. Prayers mean everything.

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    1. Thank you, Tiffany. I wasn't even sure if I should blog about this, but I did so for two reasons: 1, as sort of a "public service," for anyone else out there who develops similar symptoms and could be helped by this post; and 2, so that readers would pray for my guy. :)

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  6. Praying for your husband And for you! May you feel the Healer close to you and may your husband recover quickly!

    And as a nurse, I bet the nursing staff loved you guys! :-)

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    1. I love nurses--how wonderful that you are a nurse. That nursing staff was absolutely awesome--so incredibly caring, patient, and sweet. And I think they really loved my husband. He was such a happy, compliant, uncomplaining patient. And as I like to tease him, easy on the eyes, too! (I joked with him that I thought all the young female nurses were probably coming up with excuses to visit the good-looking older guy!!)

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  7. Oh my goodness. I am so glad he's heading towards good health! Take it easy, being a caretaker can be just as stressful as being a patient so make time for prayer, sleep, eating and keeping yourself healthy. Many many prayers for your family, for health and thanksgiving.

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    1. Thank you, Madeline. I am overwhelmed--but not surprised--by the outpouring of concern and prayer from readers who don't even know us...and we're especially grateful for the prayers.

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  8. I have been paying for him every day! I love you guys and hope for a quick recovery!!

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  9. That must have been very scary! I hope he is feeling well and his upcoming blood tests show improvement. You both will be in my prayers today at Mass!

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    1. Oh, how we appreciate those prayers at Mass! We're hoping for a certain number at his appointment on Tuesday. I'll update and let you know if he reached it.

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  10. We will storm the heavens also, praying for a speedy recovery.

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  11. So glad that he felt okay during the entire episode and that he is home safe now. We'll keep him, and you, in our prayers.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kari. There can never be too many prayers!

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  12. So very scary .... Praying for both of you and hoping for a speedy recovery.

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