Life. I didn’t know it would be like this. Please don’t take that statement the wrong way…this is not a rant. In the past few years, I’ve had some of the most awesome high points, both in my family life and my career, and I’ve had some of the most frustrating times that I could ever imagine. Regardless of my frustrations, I know that I am immensely blessed and that God has a plan for me (and my family). The frustrating times have forced me to grow up…and by that I mean to grow closer to my family and grow closer to God. I’ve always been a hard worker and my own worst critic, but lately, I’ve had something else on my mind. I’ve found out what it’s like to realize that the person I love the most has an illness that can’t be cured.
My wife, Christina, is the reason that I’m the man I am today. She always says that if she wasn’t around that I’d have a lot more money, and while that might be true, my heart would be empty, and the money wouldn’t mean nearly as much. I also remind her that I’d also be a lot more lazy, and that I might not work as hard if I didn’t “have to”. We’ve been married since 2008, and we really thought we had it rough in 2009, when I didn’t have a “real job”, and we were trying to buy a new house, and blah blah blah. Yeah, that was a rough patch, but it led to a change in my mindset that gave me a “get the job done” attitude. That’s how I’m trying to view our latest obstacle, but seeing the silver lining is not quite as easy.
Christina was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis in February of this year. She has been sick since November, and with lots of random symptoms, we were losing faith in doctors as she continued to struggle without any real answers. She bounced around from her primary doctor, to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, trying to figure it out. Her blood counts were way off, her energy level was way down and she had a growing knot behind her ear. After a minor surgery to remove a few lymph nodes, it was a major relief that her weird symptoms were not related to Lymphoma, but we still didn’t have an answer. The ENT referred her to an Oncologist to check on the wacky blood work. Again, no real answers, and she was referred to a Rheumatologist. By this point, Christina is feeling terrible, day after day, with no relief. Trust me when I say that Google is not your friend when you start asking about all these random symptoms she was experiencing. The Rheumatologist confirmed one of Christina’s Google searches, stating that she felt this issue was a mixture of Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome. The Rheumatologist found blood and protein in her urine, and referred her to a kidney doctor, who ultimately diagnosed her with Nephritis.
Sorry for the long, drawn out timeline of her diagnosis, but try to imagine the minute or so it took you to read that paragraph as four months of your spouse suffering without any answers. It was brutal. I had to sit and watch my wife suffer during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, especially with a toddler who was so excited about the Holidays. Random pains, a lingering cough and terrible fatigue were just a few of her symptoms during this time. Although I was hopeful (and naive) that this would be something simple that could be resolved with medication, that was not the case. On the day she was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis, her kidney function was 33 percent and on the verge of irreversible damage, and chemotherapy was the only option to knock out the severe inflammation in her kidneys. That was the turning point, because even though it hasn’t gotten any easier, we know that there is a plan and she’s working toward something. But it hasn’t been simple or easy. I’ve prayed a lot, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve learned a lot. One thing that I’ve learned is that no matter how much you beg God for something, you may not get the answer that you want. God’s timing is something that we cannot control, and it’s something that may not always work in our favor.
I’ve been strong for Christina, but I’ve also broken down with her. I have pushed her to call the doctors, take medicine, drink more water, REST and most importantly, not feel guilty for me helping her. I’ve done more house work and spent more time with Carlee than I ever imagined, but I had it in my head that I was helping make Christina better by doing all these things. There I go, thinking that I’m in control, and that my actions would somehow heal her. Apparently, that’s not how it works.
During all of this, our little girl, Carlee has given me great lessons about being a father, and she has indirectly shown me how our Heavenly Father handles certain situations. Carlee is one of the greatest blessings in my life and it was earth shattering, heart breaking, life changing (the list goes on) to think that if Christina’s problems hadn’t been caught (and immediately treated) by her kidney doctor that I would have to explain to her how great her mom “was” and how proud she “would be” of her. My heart couldn’t take it. The devil tortured me with these thoughts of losing Christina, until I finally broke into a million pieces, allowing God to come in and clean up the mess.
I didn’t know my life would be like this. And you don’t know what God has in store for your life either. You might feel like you’re in control, but God will eventually show you otherwise. My advice to whoever might read this is to love your spouse like they might be dying, because ultimately they will. Life is shorter than you think. Regardless of your health, or your spouse’s health, we’re one step closer to dying with every day that passes. Doesn’t that freak you out a little bit and make you want to get right with God so that your time together doesn’t have to end so soon? It sure had an effect on me, and made me realize that my time with Christina will not end when our hearts stop beating…but in order to make it to Heaven, I have to get out of my own way and let God control my time on earth. It’s a hard pill for a man to swallow, but it’s the only way to get the ultimate reward at the end of the long road called life.