When emergencies happen in our lives it is easy to get sucked into the chaos of it all and head down the road to self pity. The problem with that kind of behavior is that it leaves us unable to think clearly and make good judgment calls, which is something I had to force myself to realize this week. I mean, it’s not that I don’t actually know this stuff, it’s more that when you reach the highest stress point of whatever emergency situation you’re in, the line between keeping it together and losing your shit is practically non-existent. This is especially true when it comes to seeing the people we love in physical danger and that is exactly what happened this past week. On Wednesday night, my stepdad called to let me know that my mom was in the hospital because she had suffered a heart attack.
Those five words paralyzed me with fear. Mom. Had. A. Heart. Attack. “What do you mean? How could this be? Not my mom, you must be looking for someone else. My mom is the vibrant, young woman who eats right and is too good for bad things to happen to.” They say denial is the first stage of grief, although I wasn’t necessarily grieving a loss but more so that I was already running through every possible outcome and my mind landed firmly on the worst case scenario. It is an impossible thing to feel so helpless and unsure of what to do and thankfully, even in my stupor, my brain got itself together enough to let me get moving. The whole thing was such a surreal experience. I almost wanted to pinch myself to verify that I was, in fact, awake and living in this moment. It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that my body went from being tensed up to being able to breathe normally again. Seeing my mom, sitting in an ER bed laughing at something my stepdad was saying, was an incredible relief. It was a scene I’d witnessed too many times to count, only this time we were in a different setting.
It has now been three days since that panic-inducing phone call and my mom is home, safe and sound. As I sit here typing this and thinking back over the past few days, I am proud of myself for not dwelling on the fear for too long and instead focusing on being there for my mom. Usually I am terrible in a crisis, I don’t do well with things that I don’t understand. My brain sort of shuts down and I panic because it is such a helpless feeling, but for once I pushed through it and am happier for doing so. Being there for my mom, listening to everything that was being said by the medical staff, and updating everyone in our family as well as my mom’s massive friend list on Facebook, I handled things like a boss. Granted I have been terrified the entire time but I feel as if fear is often a motivator for positive actions. All I know is that had I stopped doing these things, I’d have become a puddle on the hospital floor instead and that kind of thing is just never a good idea. I mean, just think of all the germs down there! 😉
Life is unpredictable. Even the healthiest people can get sick for no reason whatsoever. The doctor explained that sometimes these things happen to people simply because it’s in their genes, and that is really scary. This basically means that you can do everything right and still suffer serious medical issues, like people who get lung cancer without ever having smoked a day in their lives or, as in this case, someone has a heart attack when they eat right and exercise regularly. Things happen to all people from all walks of life on a daily basis. We are incredibly vulnerable beings and just as we all have a birth date we also all have a death date, regardless of how fast we try to run from it. The best way to honor this gift of life that we’ve all been given is to live fully and enjoy the ride.
As I end this post (and the week) with a huge sigh of relief, I also want to give a shout out to Taylor Swift and her mom, Andrea who has just been diagnosed with cancer. It doesn’t matter who we are, famous or not, we are all equally vulnerable when it comes to diseases and death and this situation for them is just so sad. I truly hope that she makes it through whatever treatment plan she chooses and that Taylor has lots of love and support around her during such a difficult time. (You can read her blog post here about it if you’re interested.)