Friday, October 10, 2008

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball......


Life can be funny sometimes. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something hits you out of the blue. In my case, it's been several things.

Late last week, I found out that my current full time day job at a local advertising agency will likely be cut at the end of the year due to our clients severely cutting back on their budgets. I've been in this position before, though never with as much warning, so I'm sure somehow things will work out for the best and I'm already looking at my employment options and updating my resume.

Then, Sunday night I received one of those dreaded phone calls from my mother. Please don't misunderstand, normally I enjoy hearing from my mother, but this was one of those calls. You know the kind.......the bad news phone calls. My husband answered the phone and I could tell right away by his tone that something was wrong. I could feel myself starting to panic as my mind raced through which of the elderly relatives had passed away this time and caught myself wondering if something was wrong with my father. I couldn't possibly imagine any news my mom would be sharing that would be worse than that. Oh, how wrong I was! My 31 year old "baby" brother, pictured above with his wife of just over a year, was in the hospital in critical condition due to kidney failure. He and his wife had visited our parents for Sunday dinner. When he mentioned to mom that he'd been having trouble breathing and that his vision was blurry she knew enough to get him to the emergency room right away. I thank God that he visited our parents that day and that mom got him to the hospital in time! When they arrived at the hospital his blood pressure was so high they couldn't measure it using the cuff in the triage room (hence the blurry vision) and given the difficulty he was having breathing they immediately admitted him to the ICU. He was suffering from end stage kidney failure, blood pressure so high it would have killed most people, heart damage akin to having a mild heart attack, and had fluid in his lungs. He would not still be with us had he not gone to the hospital when he did. The doctors were able to stabilize him and discharged him from the hospital Wednesday. Unfortunately, the kidney damage was so severe he'll have to undergo 6 - 12 months of dialysis before his body will accept a kidney transplant.

5 years ago he was diagnosed with a kidney disease known as Berger's Disease, or, officially, IGA Nephropathy. My understanding of this disease is that it usually progresses slowly and can be managed by watching the diet, particularly limiting protein intake, by monitoring cholesterol to ensure the levels are low, and by keeping blood pressure in check. We knew we may one day, hopefully many years from now, be faced with my brother's kidney failure, but none of us were prepared for the disease to progress so rapidly and for him to end up in ICU without warning. He should have been getting regular checkups recently but due to only being on his current health insurance for 9 months he hadn't been for a checkup since going on it. Due to health plans denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions anywhere from 6 months to a year after covering someone he was afraid to get a checkup. It angers me that health care in our country is such that he was placed in such a position. He underwent his first dialysis session Wednesday evening, but only was able to endure 1/2 the time recommended by his doctor. Hopefully his session this evening will be easier on him and he'll respond favorably to the treatment. At least it will buy the time needed before he can undergo a transplant. As soon as he is well enough to visit a transplant center and initiate the process my sister and I will undergo testing as potential donors.

My sister, brother, and I posing for a cell phone photo at his wedding last fall.

To top off an already great week, Wednesday, after she shared the news that my brother was stable enough to be discharged, mom let me know that my father has a unilateral nasal polyp and has a doctor appointment today to most likely schedule surgery to remove it. Normally a polyp is not a cause for great concern, but dad's nose has been sore and bleeds when he blows his nose so it's likely a sign of an intranasal tumor. I'm waiting to hear more after his doctor visit today before I allow myself to get overly concerned.

My family all live in Washington state, whereas I'm in Pennsylvania, and the distance is causing me to feel even more helpless than I otherwise would if I lived closer. I haven't made it home to visit since last fall when I was home for my brother's wedding. I would like to be able to visit more often, but with two boys in grade school, a full time job, the craft business, my husband's very demanding schedule for his full time job, and just life in general, it's difficult to find the time.

In the course of one of the phone conversations with my mother about all of this, she said that she'd put my brother in God's hands. This has given her peace of mind and she said that she hopes we all learn whatever we're supposed to learn from all of this.

I'm fairly certain I'm still learning, but for right now, what I've learned is this.........

Life is precious. Don't ever take it for granted and take advantage of each opportunity to let your friends and family know how much you love and appreciate them. You never know when the opportunity to tell them may be suddenly taken away from you. As much as I recycle, there's one thing I'll never be able to: wasted time.

So, please, go hug your loved ones, tell them how much they mean to you, and remember:

You can't recycle wasted time.


Twyla AKA Xenarae said...

I have your brother and dad are in my prayers. I hope he gets better and what you said at the end is true. Earlier I wanted to randomly tell my mom I loved her but didn't. Were not like that...but I just wanted to say it and couldn't. Maybe tomorrow.

BarkerBell Herbs and Heirlooms said...

Thanks for your comments! Many people are praying for them and they can always use more! If you want to let your mom know you should, even if your family doesn't usually say that to each other. I'm sure it will mean alot to her even if she doesn't admit it.


BarkerBell Herbs and Heirlooms said...

Update -- my brother is slowly getting used to dialysis and dad's polyp is a tumor for which he has surgery scheduled the end of this month.

Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed me and expressed their sympathies as well as their thoughts and prayers!



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