June 22nd, 2014
Ive come to quite seriously wonder whether life has a set of ears.
I discussed with a good friend once of his theory that it was best not to ever admit your happiness out loud in the belief that life would hear you say it and consequently send out about two years’ worth of destruction your way in the next week (jealous old thing, that life). At the time I laughed at him and his superstitious theory – after all, his latest self-confessed quote back then was “Life is like a toilet”, and though I would argue with him that it was the worst analogy ever created, he stuck by it. But all these years later, im starting to think he was perhaps onto something. Not with the toilet analogy – I still laugh at him when he says it, but the Happiness Out Loud Theory.
It was only two weeks ago that I remember sitting down with a friend over coffee announcing that I couldn’t be happier with how things were turning out, only to find myself the lead in a series of unfortunate events the following week.
It’s as if life doesn’t want us to become complacent in the periods of our lives that are full of happiness. As if, life needs to keep throwing challenges and heartbreak our way to make sure we know the value of happiness when it comes around. If this is the case, then I wish to make a deal with life that I will never grow complacent with happiness in return for a car, my savings, and the health of the one I love most.
Last week was a bad week. I’m not bitter about it anymore, because I choose to not let it eat away at me. But its taken me a couple of days and fair few tears to at least start to uncover the silver linings.
TUESDAY: After about a month of chronic stomach aches, and multiple other horrible symptoms which no human should ever have to experience, my significant other went for an investigative operation only to be diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Which for those who don’t know what that is, it’s an autoimmune disease which does not yet have a cure and you can click here to find out more. It means a huge lifestyle change for him, and constant medications to maintain quality of life. The worse thing is that until the medications start to have an effect, there isn’t much I can do for him. And I feel absolutely hopeless. I mean, im a nurse. I help people who are sick every day. And yet, I cannot do a single thing to help the one I love the most.
WEDNESDAY: I woke at about 3:30am, if waking is the right term to use – I’d barely slept all night. Partly because I was worried about my mr, and partly because I was struggling to breathe with the cold that had seemingly moved from my head to my chest over the last twelve hours. I was an asthmatic when I was a child. Multiple hospital stays form the basis of my memories alongside being attached to masks with holes slightly too small to fit my thumb through to suck. I hadn’t had an asthma attack since the age of seven, but that by no means meant that I had forgotten what it felt like when all of a sudden it felt as if air refused to enter my lungs. I was raced to the hospital and admitted before I knew it. I couldn’t speak, I could only try to suck in whatever air would seep through the inflamed linings of my lungs. Six nebulisers, 50mg of Prednisone and 48 puffs of Ventolin later, I could at least start to talk in sentences. The colour wasn’t back in my face yet, but I was breathing far more effectively and that was all that mattered. They decided to keep me in over night just to make sure that the asthma remained under control and for those who are asthmatics, you would know that its particularly at about 4am in the morning when the lungs struggle most – something to do with the subtle changing of night to dawn that plays havoc with ones ability to breathe. It was roughly midnight when the nurse (incidentally a graduate nurse just like me, and I knew her!) arrived to check my vital signs….they weren’t good. The large doses of Ventolin I had been having had caused my pulse to skyrocket to 165 beats per minute (normal = 60-80), my respiratory rate had increased to 36 breaths per minute (normal = 13-20), and my blood pressure had sunk through my boots to 92/56 (normal = 120/80). I wasn’t in good shape. One ECG, two chest x-rays and an emergency call later, I was under control again – this time making it successfully through the rest of the night without any more problems. It was such a relief to be able to breathe and I remember making a silent promise with myself to never take the ability to breathe freely for granted again! I was out of hospital and back to being a nurse instead of the patient by Friday.
FRIDAY: I was driving my car home from the hospital at about 4pm, navigating through the busy roads of the suburb I live in. There was a car following me most of way, a blue Subaru Forester who seemed to think they were above the law weaving in and out of traffic recklessly. I remember looking in my rear vision mirror and thinking to myself “This guy is going to have a crash”. I was one intersection away from my house, stopped at a red light in the turning lane. I had looked in my rear vision mirror to see this Subaru coming up behind me with the drivers eyes set firmly on the side-walk instead of the road she was travelling along showing no indication of stopping in time. I remember holding onto the wheel and shutting my eyes tightly, there was no way she was going to stop in time not to hit my little car. I heard the familiar sound of metal crushing and grinding against metal and was flung into the middle of the intersection. I was thrown into the steering wheel hitting the left side of my head with quite a bit of impact. In a state of shock I gathered myself pulling off the seatbelt that had prevented me from flying through the front window. Without hesitating I put on my hazard lights and took a big breath in. Flight or fight. Adrenalin pumping through my veins, heart beating fiercely. I looked behind me to see the state of the Subaru, only to see them pull out from behind me and take off down the road. Without my clarity of mind, I didn’t have a moments time to capture the number plate as I watched this car drive off in disbelief. I looked to my right at a couple who stood on the island between opposing lanes of the road as they turned their heads from the crash and continued to walk across the road away from me. I remember sitting there contemplating whether I should chase them down the road to ask for their details as witnesses, but dismissed that idea as that would mean leaving my little car in the middle of a busy intersection. I sat there broken with my hazard lights on waiting for aid that never came. In the midst of a busy road, cars passed me by honking at the inconvenient place my car continued to sit. Not one person stopped to help. If there was ever a moment to lose hope in humanity – this was it.
It was a bad week. And the carnage left after it I’m still dealing with.
The diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease means a lifestyle change in what my man eats and does each and every day. He has to learn how to live with a life altering condition and will be medicated for the most part of his life from here on out. There’s a chance of major surgery down the road if the symtoms can’t be controlled, but for now, we are just waiting to get him into the specialist.
My health has improved since my spontaneous visit to hospital, but I now battle with asthma creeping up on me every day. My inhaler now never stays far away from me as even the smallest of things such as laughing seems to set it all off. I feel limited all of a sudden. I have to think about things more, such as whether I am going to be able to walk up the hill to work without my lungs deciding to combust on me half way there. Its challenging because I haven’t had to deal with it since I was a child, and even then it wasn’t me who managed my asthma, it was my mother.
My little car, Bluebear as he’s always been called, isn’t in great shape either… bit of a matching week with us all being bent out of shape in some way or another – it almost seems fitting. Bluebear has now been taken to three different panel beaters who have mostly formed the opinion that it will take much more than what the car is worth to fix. However, I managed to find one place who have agreed to fix little Bluebear instead of writing him off for used parts. Unfortunately, due to not catching the number plate of the offending blue Subaru, im up for the excess that comes along with comprehensive insurance, and being a young 20-something, it’s not a pretty figure they want me to pay.
I have spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about all that’s happened. Its played on my mind constantly, and I sometimes think ive given it a lot more thought that it deserves because at the end of the day, the reality is that this is simply life. We have great plans, and something or someone comes along and alters our path. We can be the best kind of people, work hard and donate our lives to the tribute of others – and bad things still happen.
I’m still sceptical about whether this happens because we voice our happiness for life out loud, the Happiness Out Loud Theory may have to be given over to myth busters as a ‘plausible’ outcome. But I do know that in this life, we have to choose to take what’s given – including whats injust, and turn it into something worth experiencing. We only grow from our experiences, right?
The ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ has been screening the tea room tv on most of my night shifts since my bad week and I can’t help but take away with me something from it.
“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I cant begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday’s my favourite day again.”
We owe it to not only ourselves, but the people around us to find the silver lining in every negative experience we have. It’s what helps us process, and even more importantly, it’s what helps us grow as people. Some of the greatest people ever known, had to travel a heartbreaking journey to reach a destination where their ability to see a silver lining – a purpose for suffering – enabled the empowering of so many others.
My silver linings go a little something like this: The one I love most is alive, I’m alive, my car is both drivable and fixable. The money that I will have to spend and changing we have to do in our lives because of the events that happened feel like a small price to pay for being able to fall asleep in his arms each night and live each day this following week.
Having a week just as bad as mine was, or even worse? Click here – you won’t regret it, you may even cry just like I did.
I lost a little faith in humanity last week, but seeing this was exactly what I needed to pull me through. Life isn’t always fair, and bad things do happen to good people. But entwined with the bad, there is good and even in the most smallest of increments it sparkles brighter than any injustice someone can inflict upon you. “The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday”, but that’s no reason to give up hope or abandon a good heart. Look forward to better days, but don’t fear the Happiness Out Loud Theory because the bad things are what make you a fighter. They make you better.