Life Turns On A Dime

“Life turns on a dime”.

We’ve all heard the expression before: a slang summary of the fragility of our lives, warning us that our taken-for-granted norms can change in a heartbeat.

As I’ve alluded to previously in this space, I’ve been doing bout with some health issues – just as everyone does at some point. No reason for going into boring physiological specifics, suffice it to say that one ailment’s been triggering others.

Bottom line is that last Monday on a visit to a sinus doctor, I suddenly found myself in a wheelchair being transported down to an Emergency Room, in the midst of what was diagnosed as “a full blown asthma attack”.

It’s been a fear all my life, prompted by witnessing the emphysemic decline which led to my Dad’s passing a half century ago at the age of fifty-two. It’s how our minds work, right? Despite the fact that my teenage flirtations with wussy cigarette brands like Virginia Slims and True Blue faded faster than a season of “The Soupy Sales Show”, nevertheless I’ve always been secretly waiting for the other asthmatic shoe to drop.

So last Monday, there I was. And the first question from the ER doctor was, “Have you ever been intubated?” I asked what that meant and heard terms like “voluntary coma” and “breathing machine”.

That’s all, brother.

But I think it turned out O.K., at least for the time being. Nothing approaching intubation was necessary, and after four hours, three asthmatic-standard breathing treatments and enough steroids to make Barry Bonds water at the mouth, I was released back into the world, primed to fight another day.

I’m writing about this because it appears there were lessons to be learned and I think I got some of ’em.

Lesson #1: For the most part, in this instance I practiced what I preach, and I’m grateful and proud of myself.

At some point when things looked most frightening, instead of panicking, by some miracle I made a better choice. I remembered that lately I seem to have no trouble blabbing to the world that I’ve got a God of my understanding who’s my partner in life. I tell anyone who’ll listen that He’s the One in control, not me. I’ve made a commitment to accept His Will be done, not mine – no matter what.  My only responsibility is to be the best man I can be, and to keep open the lines of communication between us by praying as regularly as possible.

Lesson #2: Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Illness brings misery – no question about it. But its impact on me is measured by my acceptance that nothing, repeat nothing happens by mistake in God’s World. If I accept what’s happening to me as a planned part of my life’s journey, I need not waste time and energy in “Why me’s?” or resentment or anger. When I make those choices, the most unmanageable experiences somehow seem to become more manageable.

Lesson #3: Excessive fear is a masochistic waste of time and energy.

I realized this week that dwelling in dire scenarios is voluntary punishment, and every time I start to get sucked in, I can choose to opt out a little. I can write about my fears, talk to others about them and oust them from the crevasses of my brain instead of letting them fester in isolation and darkness.

So.. after a week of learning, but still wondering if the doctors were gonna find out what the heck’s going on (hey, I’m human, O.K.?), my guy called.

Turns out he did a culture and there’s pills that kill the bacterial S.O.B.’s that’ve been causing all this stuff. And though there’s no guarantees, he says that if I take them religiously for a couple weeks, I’ve got a good chance of feeling a lot better.

I like that phrase: “take them religiously”.

Life does turn on a dime. But with every rotation there’s an opportunity to grow and enrich my soul. And as painful as those spurts might be, I think I still oughta thank God for the opportunities to view alternate scenes from His ultimate Big Picture for me.

Thank You God for the infinite blessings in my life – along with those hard-earned lessons.

I’m better.


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