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There’s a time to fight and a time for faith

Published: November 2008
PA CAREgiver Magazine

As I write, my husband, Scott, has been in the hospital for 70 days straight. Needless to say, it has been a long and arduous stay and I am unclear when it will end.

More so than any other of Scott’s hospital stays, this one has caused me more frustration and anger, more turmoil and emergencies and more hurdles and unanswered questions than any other. I wondered what of this experience I could share in my column that could help other caregivers.

Almost daily, I hear words from friends and strangers alike, “Boy, you are one tough lady.” “You sure have a lot of strength.” “You’re a strong woman.”

I sure don’t feel very tough, but then again, I know that there are times when I have to be. Where does that strength come from? Fight and faith. I realize that my way of dealing with situations over the past 70 days has been either to fight or to have faith.

When Scott lost over half of his body’s blood and I had to follow the ambulance to the hospital at 3:30 am, it was time for faith.

When communication with doctors became nonexistent and keeping the caregiver in the loop didn’t seem to be a top priority, it was time to fight.

When we had to go to the ICU for the fourth time in one hospital stay, it was time for faith.

When I saw his mental alertness decline and dementia develop, and it seemed like I was the only person who was urgently concerned, it was time to fight.

When I was left alone in his hospital room as they wheeled him away for emergency surged to repair a hole in his colon, it was time to trust our surgeon and go home for two hours sleep. And, it was time for faith.

When I could see changes in his speech and in his lab results that concerned me, it was time to fight.

When I walked out of his hospital room to talk to a doctor and walked back in to find him in the middle of a seizure, it was time to step aside and let doctors do their best. And, it was time for faith.

When he had an emergency and the hospital neglected to call me, it was time to fight.

When I had to leave his bedside each night, leaving his life in others’ hands, drive an hour home and try to live a “normal” life, it was time for faith.

When it took every ounce of mental and physical energy to get up and go to to work after getting home from the hospital at 2 am, it was time to fight.

When I didn’t know, even as I write this, if or when he would return home again, it was time for faith.

Although some days I have neither the energy to fight, nor the capacity for faith, I am sustained by family, friends and the tireless hospital staff who fight and have faith right along side of me.

Fight the good fight, my friend, and never lose your faith. It will sustain you and your loved one through the same.

Editor’s Note: Susan’s husband, Robert Scott Allen, passed away on November 12th, 2008 shortly after she wrote this column.

About @susanharkema

Susan is the creator of MyHealthVoice.com, built upon her 20+ years in healthcare and her experiences as a caregiver and patient. She is a writer, speaker and advocate for people living with chronic or life limiting illness as well as their family and professional caregivers. Learn more - www.myhealthvoice/susanharkema/.

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