July 6, 2011

I Am Grateful for You

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
~Mother Teresa

I have written entire posts about, or alluded to, my husband’s health problems and more specifically his heart attack and bypass surgery no less than 15 times since last September. That’s an average of 2.4 times per week.

I write about gratitude regularly.

However, I have never written about my gratitude surrounding the events of last Fall.

I think I should.

I am not by any means grateful that Mark had another heart attack requiring double bypass surgery. I am not grateful that he had a septic staph infection surrounding his heart. And I am not grateful his heart stopped 3 times. Nor am I grateful for the 2 weeks he spent in the hospital and the total of 8 weeks he spent on antibiotics and with sternal precautions. Along these lines, I am actually grateful that the doctors found a bone infection in a toe on his left foot and amputated it so it couldn’t get any worse.

What I am truly grateful for are the PEOPLE in our lives, those who were there for us in so many ways.

Mark drove himself to the ER and when we found out they needed to look at his heart my dad went to the hospital since I was home with my kids. My poor dad had to be the one to call and tell me it was bad and they needed to do surgery the next day. For some reason my aunt and grandma were there with my dad and my aunt came and got me and my kids so I could be at the hospital to sign papers and get all the information. I am grateful for their immediate logistical help and support.

Right after I spoke with my father I called my friend Jessica crying. She was in the middle of trying to celebrate her husband’s adoption of her son. I felt horrible that another drama of mine was interfering with that. But because Jess is so sweet, she simply shifted gears and contacted our mutual friends to tell them the news and start rallying the troops. When I talked to her again later that night and couldn’t articulate what kind of help I needed, she seemed to just know. I am grateful for Jessica’s calmness and intuitiveness.

I try very hard to keep my kids from being burdened by their dad’s health problems. They operated on Mark first thing in the morning, but I wasn’t at the hospital for it. I decided to be home with my kids to get them off to school so they could have a normal day. That was probably for the best too, because I would’ve just been a nervous wreck at the hospital. I am grateful for my children because they give me equally important things to focus on when we have these crisis.

After taking the time to focus on my kids in the morning, I was then able to hand them off to my friends Carin and Roxy. When my friends have my kids I know I don’t need to worry about them a bit. Carin got my kids and Jessica’s kids off their buses (because Jess was with me). Roxy ended up staying with my kids until very late that night. I am grateful for my fellow mom friends who care for my kids and give me peace of mind. I am also grateful for their teamwork.

The day of Mark’s surgery Jessica took me to the hospital and stayed with me for the rest of the day and into “the night from hell”. Most of the day was fairly typical I guess. Just spending time by Mark’s bedside and getting reports from his doctors and nurses. My dad and aunt were also there some. We all spent the time talking about things, planning logistics for me and the kids, updating other family and friends and thinking everything was going to be just fine. I am grateful for the companionship.

About 9:00 that night I decided I should probably go home. Jessica and I were maybe halfway when the hospital’s spiritual counselor called to tell me I should come back because Mark had coded and been resuscitated. When we got back, I asked Jessica to come with me to Mark’s room. I’m pretty sure that was the last thing she wanted to do, but she did. After I saw Mark, Jess held me while I cried and held my hand while people talked to me. Carin showed up a little while later. I was sitting in the waiting room with the 2 of them and on the phone with my mom when the counselor came out and told me Mark had coded and been resuscitated again and that I needed to go in there and have a little talk with him. I am grateful that I had 2 people I trust physically with me, my mom praying for us and this wise lady telling me to suck it up and be strong for Mark.

I am so very grateful for Mark’s nurse and doctors that night who saved his life 3 times.

In the days that followed Jessica organized childcare, rides and a mini food drive for my family. Several people contributed food and household items we needed. Jess also cleaned up my house a bit because my in-laws were coming and even carted her 3 and my 2 kids to a Girl Scout meeting. Carin, through the job she had at the time, arranged a discount on hotel rooms for Mark’s parents. J Ho cried with me on the phone, wishing so badly she lived closer. Our friends and family were at our service for whatever we needed. I am so grateful for this.

In the weeks that followed our family and friends continued to show their support by visiting Mark in the hospital, with rides to and from the hospital for me, spending time with my kids, checking on us and how we were doing with Mark’s IV antibiotics, taking Mark to and from dialysis and follow-up appointments…..


People need people.

"Independence"... [is] middle-class blasphemy.
We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
~G.B. Shaw, Pygmalion, 1912


  1. Visiting from Shell's place...I long to have friends like the ones you described. I am the friend everyone calls for help, yet I feel alone, as if I have no one to call if I were to ever need help. Your friends and family are amazing!

  2. You are very lucky to have people who are there for you in tough times like that!

  3. People need people.

    Amen to that.

  4. I cannot believe all you have been through. You are so blessed to have such great friends. Your attitude is amazing and I am grateful for that. You have inspired me to try to go through my day focusing on all that I am grateful for.

  5. I am so sorry about all you have been through. But I'm glad you have a support system and some wonderful people in your life.

  6. This is my first stop by your blog, but I couldn't leave without telling you how sorry I am about everything you've been through. Your gratitude is so inspiring. Just reading this post, I can see why you have such an amazing support network of family and friends.

    Wishing you all the best --