I am too young to die. Those were the thoughts running through my mind in 2012. I was twenty-five years old, and thought I was having a heart attack.
I am not a dramatic person, and not a hypochondriac. From my experiences I have learned what is real and what is not. At that moment, I seriously thought I was having a heart attack.
I had been having “episodes” for a few months. I would get back pain and my chest would hurt, but it always went away. I didn’t really think anything of it, because I get these other “episodes” where my upper left abdomen swells and I am in extreme pain. I have seen doctors, but found no answers, so I deal. I thought the chest pain was the same. Something I should deal with.
That day, however, I thought I was going to die. I worked third shift at a nursing home at the time, as a nursing assistant. I usually slept all day and woke up when my husband got home from work. That day I could not sleep. I was in misery! My chest pain was so extreme that I called my mom, something as an adult I did not do.
My mom came right over. My back was hurting so bad, as well, and the pain of it all caused me to vomit. My mom got me into a chiropractor that morning. Nothing was unusual with my back, but I was feeling a bit better after being seen, so I rested at home that day.
After some time to process what happened, my mom and I both were struck with the same thought, gallbladder. You see, a few years earlier my mom had her gallbladder out after having similar symptoms. I was seen by a doctor, tests were performed, and my gallbladder was removed. We had found the culprit!
To be honest, of all my surgeries, gallbladder surgery was the worst. The surgery itself was fine, but recovery left me with an upset stomach for weeks. At the same time, my husband and I were still trying to conceive a child, even though we had discovered I personally had many health issues that might interfere. The next step was to have my husband’s sperm tested.
Many men might not find this test difficult. My husband, however, is extremely shy, and this test gave him a great deal of anxiety. However, he gathered all of his courage and completed the test, much to his embarrassment.
My husband, like me, grew up in the hospital. He was no stranger to health problems. I do believe that is one of the reasons we were drawn to one another. We could understand what each other had been through.
My husband was born two months premature. He spent the first few months of life having surgeries and other medical procedures performed on him. As a child he had a fatty tumor removed from the inside of his cheek. In junior high school he joined the band, trumpet was instrument of choice. While playing, however, he blew out his ear drum.
Most people would not think that blowing out your ear drum is a particularly lucky event, but to my husband, it was! It was when having his ear examined that the doctors discovered something else. A cholesteatoma, or tumor, was found on the hearing bones of his right ear!
He underwent quite a few surgeries over the next few years to remove the tumor and replace his hearing bones with metal. He is technically deaf in his right ear and had to give up the trumpet. It was at this point he discovered a love for the guitar, and we were inevitably brought together.
Most people would not think that infertility is a lucky either, but my husband and I are so thankful for the events that unfolded as we tried to conceive a child. After his test results came back, the doctor informed us that his sperm count was low and slow moving. Normal problems faced by many others. However, there was something else. The lab results showed some inconsistencies, and he referred us to a urologist.
The urologist preformed a physical exam, and then a scan. Our world froze the moment we heard that dreaded word. Cancer.
They found a tumor in his right testicle, and the best thing to do was to remove the testicle itself. The tumor was so far up inside of him, that no one could feel it with a physical exam. For years he had felt pain there, but no doctor could feel anything, so it was just brushed off as a minor pain. Little did we know that a cancerous tumor was growing inside of him.
I am an emotional person. Typically, I try to remain hard-faced in an attempt to protect myself from emotional pain but put me in front of an emotional movie or send me to a funeral, and I will cry like the rest of them. When it comes to health, though, after all I had been through, I learned that crying never solved anything. That day was different.
Jamie and I held hands as we walked to the car, words eluding us. We decided to call our parents before we drove home. Jamie went on one side of the car to call his family with the news, and I stood on the other side of the car. As the words, “Jamie has cancer,” came from my mouth the tears began to flow. After getting off the phone, I dried my tears, took a deep breath, and calmly entered the car.
The next few weeks were a blur. I was just returning to work again after having several weeks off work for my gallbladder recovery. He was planning the day to have his surgery and his subsequent time off work. We would not know anything about the cancer until the tumor was removed, so we just went on with each day as normal as we could, and we prayed. Alot!
God has been an ever-present blessing in our lives, through the good and bad times. This time, the worst time of our lives, was no exception. God brought us together, and we trusted that God would keep us together.
Though our faith kept us strong, doubt and fear were always present, as well. The thought of losing my best friend, the only person on earth that understands me completely and still loves me, the person that makes me laugh and brings me joy, the person that means everything to me….The thought of losing him took my breath away.
Every time I told someone about it, whether a coworker, friend or family member, I would cry. But never in front of Jamie. I wanted to stay strong, for him. We would save our tears for after his recovery when we knew all would be better.
Two weeks after the discovery of his cancer, he went into surgery. The cancer was removed completely, and we all celebrated! His friend, Artie, even drove over from the next state to be there during the surgery. It was a blessing to be surrounded by friends and family at that moment.
The cancer was slow growing and had been completely removed! We were referred to Dr. Einhorn at Indiana University, the best doctor in the country for testicular cancer, as we were told. He was wonderful!
After meeting with Dr. Einhorn it was suggested that instead of doing chemotherapy or radiation on an otherwise healthy man, that we go in for observation and testing every few months. This monitoring last a few years, until we were able to go just once a year. Now we go every five years.
The whole time came and went so quickly that it is hard to believe it ever happened at all. Oh, but it did happen. For a time, we were threatened with the loss of time, the greatest gift we are given. I would like to say we never took time for granted again, but alas, we are human, and the day-to-day grind gets us all. But every once in a while, we look back and remember, what it was like to almost lose each other. It is something that changes you. Your life is never the same after that.
My husband is the strongest man I know. He has a gentle strength, born of kindness and courage. He has faced just as many health crises as I have, and still, he is full of love and grace. My husband is the best person I know, and I am so blessed to have him! I truly believe God created us for one another and feel so blessed that it is so!
One of my coworkers at the time told me that Jamie and I were so unlucky in life because we were so lucky in love. It was the universe’s way of finding balance. If that is true, I would gladly take the life we have, because the love we have is worth it! If that is the case, though, I would much rather I were affected than him. I would do anything for the man I love!
Was there a time in your life you almost lost or did lose someone you loved? What was that like? Don’t forget to comment or reach out to me on:
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