The GRIP is back!

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

I’ve been known to frequently say, “I love my life!”

I’ve also often been accused of putting on a false front and pretending my life is perfect.

Whenever I’ve heard that throughout the years, I’ve always respond by saying no, my life isn’t perfect. Far from it. After all, I play a fairly significant role in it and God knows how flawed I am. However, the point is that perfection should never be the point.

Anyone who demands a perfect life to be happy with it will most likely die a quite lonely, sad death after living a miserable life.

The very thought of that breaks my heart. Especially now that I know how it feels to literally face the very real possibility of imminent death.

As many of you may know, this is the first print edition of The GRIP since Jan. 11. Shortly after that edition was printed, I became ill and was hospitalized. What began as a seemingly routine case of pneumonia quickly became something much worse – Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS.

Rather than going home when I initially thought I would, my husband and I were met in my Spalding Regional Hospital room by a medical team who explained that I needed to be immediately transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, intubated and placed on a ventilator.

To say this news was shocking would be an extreme understatement.

Because much of it wasn’t allowed in ICU, my husband was instructed to take everything I’d accumulated in two short days to the truck for storage. Meanwhile, I was transported to what would become my family’s home away from home for the next two weeks.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I still understood that transfer wouldn’t have been happening if I wasn’t quite ill. Even so, only when my team began to prep me by cutting off my clothes did I truly realize they weren’t playing around.

Between the morphine I’d been given and severe respiratory distress that resulted in hypoxia – basically, acute oxygen deprivation – I definitely wasn’t thinking clearly. That may explain why I refused to allow my health care providers to begin what became life-saving treatment until my husband returned. Despite how loopy headed I was, I clearly explained nothing was to be done until I’d had a chance to speak with my him.

Very few things frighten me in life, but that evening, I was truly afraid. I was absolutely terrified of being placed in a medically-induced coma and never awakening. It wasn’t fear of the unknown, because I know. Despite what some would no doubt call my heathen ways, my God and I are tight.

My fear was that I’d never again be able to hold my sweet hubby’s face in my hands, look in his eyes and tell him how much I love him, and how magical he’s made my life. My fear was that I’d never again be able to speak with my children and tell them how profoundly they each have impacted my life. How they’ve all made me a better human being and how much I love every unique, freaky thing about them.

It was all about making sure the people who matter most in my life were well aware of exactly how incredible they are and how thankful I am to have been blessed with them in my life.

Not for one moment did I give thought to the work I still had left to do. I had no concern for the articles still left to write. I had no worries about the heaping piles on my desk, nor could I have given a rat’s behind less about my growing list of unanswered emails.

You see, I understood that the few moments ahead was all the time I was guaranteed, and at the pace my condition was declining, that wasn’t certain.

Thankfully, my wishes were honored and my intubation was halted until I could speak with my hubby.

We had mere seconds together, but we made them count. We said what we had to say. I was at peace as I closed my eyes, knowing the last thing he’d heard me say was “I love you.”

I was at ease knowing he’d tell our kidlets what I needed them to know.

That was it. For the next 12 days, I was, as my family says, asleep, or so it seemed.

I am so blessed to have had periods of time when I was aware of others around me, and my memories are all sweet. You see, the only things I remember are times my family was loving on me. What a joy that is to hold onto!

For my family, though, it was a time of great stress and yes, deep fear that regardless of my promise to fight and survive, I may not make it.

You know what, though? That time was also one of love and at least some measure of happiness, and that’s thanks to many of you, my dear readers. This is the news I awakened to. Reports of so many of you praying for my family and me. Reports of so many bringing food to the hospital for my family. Reports of gifts and cards that over the coming days and weeks would bring me more encouragement than you can imagine. Reports of people even donating money to help support my family and me while I was unable to work.

Just as very little frightens me, less shocks me. This news, however, left me stunned. I couldn’t believe so many people – many I’d never before even met – had pulled together in such amazing ways for us. Even now, it’s something I have great difficulty wrapping my brain around.

I remain incredibly humbled and more grateful than words can express, and I’m determined to spend every day of the life with which I’ve been most graciously blessed making sure there’s no one in it – no, not one of you – who doesn’t know how much I appreciate and love you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for your support, encouragement and love. Thank you for helping me get through one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Thank you for helping me overcome serious obstacles. Thank you for helping my business survive.

Thank you for knocking my socks off! Y’all are seriously awesome and loved!

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