Thursday, March 17, 2016


I had the week all planned out. Despite feeling poorly (after all, it seems to have been the rule rather than the exception as of late) I knew how my week was going to roll. It included all the normal activities: homeschooling, co-op classes, tutoring, church, chauffeuring kids, etc. as well as a few special activities like a much anticipated breakfast with a friend and a dyslexia evaluation. Yes, I'd been diagnosed with pre-pneumonia that just didn't seem to be improving, no matter what we threw at it. Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I wasn't quite certain how I was going to pull it all off. But, I had IMPORTANT STUFF to do.

That all changed Monday night.

I had self-diagnosed that in addition to dealing with the remnants of pneumonia, I was also fighting every Longleaf Pine in Northeast Florida which had callously decided to release its pollen into the air and into my allergy sensitive lungs. I called the doctor on Monday, but she didn't have time to see me in the schedule, so I scheduled the appointment for Tuesday after co-op. I never went, however.

I prepared to go to sleep Monday night. I was struggling in my breathing but I brushed my teeth like all was fine in the world. Then I went to bed and found out breathing just didn't work at all lying down. It finally officially scared me.

Minutes later my husband and I were in the van and headed to the hospital. As we drove, my breathing became more and more difficult. I grew more and more scared. Could I be wrong? Could it be a heart attack? Suddenly, all my weekly plans didn't seem so important any more.

The staff at the hospital were obviously better trained at spotting a true emergency than I was as they quickly whisked me back into a room. Drawing a breath in became more and more my intense focus rather than an automatic activity. Concentrate. Inspiration. Expiration. A blood draw was accomplished before I even realized it, and then the questions began:  Did I smoke? (no), Had I had a recent surgery? (no), Had I been on a long car trip or flight? (no). Don't these people understand I'm in the midst of a major allergic reaction? I agonized.

Turns out, my allergies were the last thing I needed to worry about. At some point I had suffered a bilateral pulmonary embolism and could easily have died. This had happened despite having no known risk factors at all. As my head spun and my heart feared, the staff quickly started me on blood thinners and began the detective process. I was incredibly blessed I didn't die.

Alone in the hospital room surrounded with my thoughts, I realized my to-do list wasn't as important as I had originally thought. Instead I turned my thoughts to gratitude- to God for saving my life through the skill of the hospital staff, to my husband who bravely stood beside me and a terrifying diagnosis, and to my friends and family who were supporting me with prayer and fervent well wishes from far away. To love.

I'm so thankful I am still here. I like to think that I would be okay if had returned to God, but I'd be lying if I said that, I embarrassed to admit. The fact is, I feel like I still have so much to do. Maybe God agrees. Earlier in the week I'd been enjoying a rare one-on-one conversation with one of my children as we drove along the highway. "Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone," I reminded him. "Love the people you encounter in your day, every day, despite how you feel. They are God's gift to you." He had been feeling especially challenged by one person in his life, and I understood his struggles. I've been there as well. My brush with death formed that conversation into a crystalline gem for me to keep and remember. My admonition stood for me, too.

I'm grateful I'm still here, wrestling with the massive and mundane questions of life and the universe. I'm thankful to still be a daily presence in my family's lives. I'm mindful things could be different. Love God, love others. That's the way of it. By doing so, we will experience a life well lived, no matter how long.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind', and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Luke 10:27, NIV


  1. So glad you are okay. Nothing like something major to quickly put things back into the proper perspective.