Not the words you want to hear, but that’s what our doctor said a week ago. Without going into detail (at this time), my wife started having abdominal discomfort on a Saturday with a sharp pain late that evening. Monday, a visit to our doctor turned into a abdominal CT scan which led to the ER and a 4-day hospital stay — to treat her for potentially life-threatening infected peritonitis. She’s home but we’re not out of the woods yet.
But this is not that story. Rather, that story reminds us to pay attention to those sharp pains in our bodies. Or odd occurrences.
Several years ago, my brother suddenly noticed he couldn’t read a menu while out for dinner. He could see the words but couldn’t make sense of them. Though he worried a bit that evening, whatever it was had cleared by the next morning, so he didn’t think about it.
Until his stroke a couple of months later.
Now we know that first event was likely a TIA — transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke. It often presages a full-blown stroke. It’s uncertain if knowing that could’ve prevented the stroke, but it might have.
We have been trained by the economics of our society to avoid seeking medical treatment due to prohibitive costs, even when we’re insured. Too often, we exacerbate our illness or injury through delay in seeking help, due to very real fears of unpayable bills, or even bankruptcy.
Another good friend figured the sharp pain in his leg was simply some sort of muscle strain, so he postponed going to a doctor. Two days later, with the pain still there, he went to an ER, where they told him the sharp pain had been an aneurysm bursting. That caused a blood clot to drift downward and lodge lower in his leg, cutting off circulation. Now, his foot and lower leg were going gangrenous and had to be removed.
The doctor said had he waited another day, he would be dead. Thankfully, he is alive — but lost a leg to delay.
This is not about any of those stories — it is about all of those stories. It is a cautionary tale told here on the back porch, and the “moral” is simple: seek help when you need it. Pay attention to your body and its signals and remember a sudden, sharp internal pain is not normal and may be the signal to seek help.
We now return to you to our regularly scheduled life…we hope.
We are all temporary here.
We must love and enjoy each other right now.
It is the only time we really have.