Near the end of 2011, my husband of 25 years had a massive heart attack that put him in cardiac intensive care on a ventilator and feeding tube for almost 25 days. He had major heart damage and kidney failure and ended up having 7 bypasses (who knew you could have so many?) and heart valve repair.
Each day was excruciating – not knowing if my husband would live though the day, but knowing I could not imagine a life without him. Those months felt like the bottom of hell: 100-mile drives each day, 8 – 10 hours in the hospital waiting room under bright lights (and pervasive fear), making difficult medical decisions for someone else, seeing him code right before my eyes.
I am so relieved and grateful to report that through excellent care, prayers from all over the world, energy work and my husband’s spirit inside wanting to stay alive, he has survived!
In between all of the bad experiences, I was kept afloat because of the incredible people that were with me each day, and who became my angels: the gifted surgeons, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff – all brilliant people who were so caring.
The little things these “angels” did for me kept me alive while my husband was fighting for his life:
- The housekeeper would come up and give me a big hugs when I was alone and crying in the hallway
- The head of the heart hospital would check in on me each day and speak with me kindly and give me a hug as well (this was a warm and huggy place for a major heart hospital!)
- The stranger in the garage elevator who told me, out of the blue, that everything would be ok
- My family and friends becoming my lifeboat with their calls, notes, food, and flowers
I got through those hospital days, but did not get the relief I had hoped for when my husband finally got to come home. I was then thrown in to the role of caregiver, which was particularly frightening because he was still very weak and fragile. I was also already physically and emotionally drained, and quickly become very depressed and stopped doing anything but getting through each long day of caretaking.
It was almost 3 months with barely any days off and non-stop issues to deal with… and during that time, the story I told was one of hopelessness, worst-case scenarios, and exhaustion.
Then my life coach asked that question: “What story is it that you want to tell about your experience? Is it the dark stuff or the story of the goodness that happened every day?”
Wow! I was taken aback as I realized I was becoming a victim – a role which I have been very conscious of staying out of most of my life. But here I was – right in the middle of “poor me!”
I decided right then and there to put my attention on the positive parts of my life, and I changed my intention from “get through the awfulness of today” to “move forward and change my life, taking action each day to re-find my joy.” That intention is strong… I am sticking to it relentlessly… and IT IS WORKING!
Instead of reliving those painful memories over and over again, I am putting my attention on other things by meditating each day and focusing on gratitude. I think about how I can ‘pay it forward’ from such a grateful place in my heart. And I have a strong and relentless intention to move forward and change my life and am taking action each day to become happy.
I changed the way I was telling my story, and it changed my experience of living.
It is so powerful to stop each day and decide what our story will be for this day and going forward. There is only one simple question – what is my story going to be??? What is my story today? What will I have written 5 , 10 or 20 years from now?
It begins today. You get to decide.