Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Holiday Lesson In Gratitude

During my childhood, Thanksgiving was a huge deal for my family. We always had plentiful food, laughter, and football. As I grew older and my family grew smaller, its importance never diminished. This year we were determined to make Thanksgiving simple, yet amazing. We ordered turkey and sides from a local rotisserie restaurant and invited a small gathering of about ten family members to celebrate the day with us. We even signed up for Direct TV so we could watch the Cowboys game, which is a family tradition. (We bleed blue and silver in my household!) It was going to be a great day because I had a lot to be thankful for - I finally gained control of my depression and beat an illness that had me hospitalized and then homebound. This Thanksgiving was going to be one of the best ever... then life happened.

A few days before Thanksgiving, my husband complained of stomach pains. We brushed it aside until he messaged me two days before Thanksgiving that the pain was so intense he thought about visiting the ER. He improved somewhat as the day progressed, but he still didn't look well. When I told him that we were going to the hospital, he asked to wait another day. I said, "NO. YOU BETTER NOT RUIN THANKSGIVING!"

All was well at the hospital, and we even joked around with the nurse. After she left the room my husband immediately became dizzy and feared he would pass out. Sweat poured off of his head, and his face took on a deathly pallor. They quickly gave him an IV,  and he started to improve. A few minutes later his lab results arrived, and we found out he had severe sepsis and was going into septic shock. Their initial thought was a ruptured appendix and off he went for a CT scan. I've always heard that a ruptured appendix is your worst nightmare. It isn't. A perforated colon leaking into your abdomen pretty much is. After being pumped full of antibiotics, he went into surgery the next day. The surgery went well, but he went into respiratory distress post-surgery and was put on a BiPAP.

I was pretty sure that Thanksgiving was ruined. Instead of his normal room, they moved him to ICU. The day involved medication, sleep, dressing changes, frustration, and no Thanksgiving meal. I cried in the Whataburger drive through. I was mired in self-pity at that point.

When I returned to the hospital and talked to my husband, he said, "I know what I am thankful for today. I'm thankful to be here." I felt like an asshole. By getting lost in wanting the perfect Thanksgiving, I forgot the point of the holiday - that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my best friend, even if it wasn't in the setting I had envisioned.

Our tenth wedding anniversary is two weeks away, and he is still around. I have so much to be thankful for. The hospital will be receiving all of our money, so we won't have a big Christmas. But we still have each other.

This holiday season I encourage you to not make the same mistakes I did. At the end of the day, the food you eat on Thanksgiving is digested and disposed, but the love and memories we share last forever.

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