A few days ago we talked about my tendency to cross bridges long before they have been built.
You know, that anxious ability to live bad things before they ever happen, if they ever happen.
But what about the bad things that have already happened?
I firmly testify that Heavenly Father can and has taken tough experiences and brought out blessings before unimagined.
I testify that He will continue to do so.
Ever heard of Coumadin Failure?
Basically, it is when you get blood clots while being on Coumadin. Kind of discouraging, but it happens. It happened to us.
You just really don’t take much higher doses than that.
We met with one of the best-experienced blood specialists and discovered there are a few reasons for this to happen, one of which is cancer. With no signs of that particular demon, he told us that there really isn’t any better treatment with which to move forward to help protect from further clots developing. We can try a different medication, but other than that…
I told him that I had first-hand experience with pulmonary emboli and knew what they felt like. We agreed that if I experienced those same symptoms, especially if I couldn’t take a deep breath, we’d go into the emergency room.
My follow-up ultrasound showed the clot to be unchanged, indicating that perhaps the new medication wasn’t any more effective. I reiterated my commitment to the “watchful and waiting” approach, and headed back to Logan.
Fast forward to a few days ago.
My lower back from time to time flares up from a herniated disc years ago. I can usually pinpoint exactly what I had done that caused the familiar pain. But this time, I couldn’t think of anything that brought that almost paralyzing hurt. It didn’t matter. I began my ritual of gritting my teeth, breathing deeply, and forcing my body through stretches and slow movement.
It was a little discouraging, but nothing I hadn’t done before. It really wasn’t a big deal.
By the next day, the lower back was fine – a bit surprising – but I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
However, a few hours later those very familiar pains from the front of my chest through to the spot between my shoulder blades went quickly from annoying to concerning to downright overwhelming.
I carefully checked my breathing. While I could still force a deep breath, I had to work at it.
The watchful waiting had my full attention.
Now, you may be wondering why I go on about this pity-party story. You may be thinking “what a dramatic hypochondriac you are Greg.”
I wouldn’t blame you.
But there was a powerful lesson learned that I think is worth sharing.
When Ann came home, I calmly informed her how things had developed and that I had my eye on it. She calmly (albeit with concern – who could blame her after all I’ve put her through?) listened and joined the vigil.
She didn’t ignore my weird positions to try to alleviate the pain, or my silly grunts and deep breathing, but she also didn’t make a panicked focus of it either. We enjoyed the shows and talked and laughed and acted like the old geezers we are. You know what I mean, shocked at what this new generation is doing. Our kids would always roll their eyes at us and groan at how out of touch we are. We laughed at what they would be doing had they been there.
It was a normal, wonderful evening.
That is huge for someone like me who is tired of ALWAYS having some sort of trauma.
Saturday the symptoms were more intense. I checked my breathing and it was becoming increasingly more difficult, yet not at dangerous levels yet.
I reasoned chances were good that we’d go to the emergency room sometime that day.
So I calmly showered, shaved, and prepared. I did easy stretching and light exercise to keep things moving. I crossed everything off my work list for the day and stayed pretty quiet. Ann knew that her working outdoors would make it hard for me not to be at her side, so she too crossed her list off.
We grilled steaks and had a wonderful salad – Ann’s favorite meal – and laughed and enjoyed each other.
Aware of possible danger, but not paralyzed by its presence.
We were doing all that we knew we needed to do.
Because we had already crossed that bridge.
There is true benefit to going through tough pain and heartache. Ann and I have learned that becoming numb does nothing.
Neither does giving in to fear.
We’ve held hands while being given fatal diagnoses. We’ve sat together while hearing that things aren’t fatal, but that they are going to be pretty rough for the rest of our lives. We’ve looked at each other and accepted that our future will be very, very different from what we had planned and dreamed of.
Together, we’ve mourned and moved on.
Just as there is no value in continuing to cross a bridge that hasn’t yet been built, we don’t really need to keep returning and crossing those well-constructed and painfully traveled bridges again and again.
We can leave those chasms behind and move on.
And if this time we don’t make it all the way across, it’s okay.
Because, we trust the bridge builder. We know without doubt that what lies on the other side is going to be wonderful beyond our mere mortal comprehension.
Our job in the meantime is to just keep doing all we know to do.
And laugh and enjoy all we can while we keep moving on.
What bridges have you already crossed?
You don’t have to keep crossing them again and again; rather, you are free to keep moving forward on the other side.
It’s all about trusting the bridge builder.