We take a lot of things for granted. Like breathing. The average person breathes about 20,000 times per day, but they rarely even think about it. Until that ability to breathe is threatened.
It’s been a rough month in our family. Two family members have spent a collective 45 days in the hospital -- so far -- and one is fighting an unexpected, uphill battle of his own.
I'll start with my husband, John, who trained this year to ride the Lotoja – a 200 mile bike ride from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming. He knew it would be a tough ride (60 of the first 100 miles are uphill), but he didn’t know how tough.
That’s because he didn’t know he was riding it with a collapsed lung...
At mile 100 – after cycling up to the third and highest peak in the ride – he called me and said, “Come pick me up.” When I reached him, he put his bike on the rack and climbed into the passenger seat, and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I just don’t have it today.”
Turns out he was right. He didn’t have it – He didn’t have one of his lungs, that is. But we still didn’t know that. We sat in the car for a few minutes, and I asked John if he didn’t want to keep going. The last half of the ride was the best part -- the downhill, flat, fun part of the ride.
“No,” he said, without hesitation. “It’s time to stop.”
(Before the ride, our son had given John a Priesthood blessing. John’s back had been bothering him, and he wanted a blessing that his back would hold out. But instead, Nate blessed him that he would know ‘when to stop.’ Not if, but when.)
This is John's lungs. The healthy one is on the right. You can see the pocket of air surrounding the lung on the left -- a pocket that got bigger with every breath, filling with air that had no place to go, and which put more and more tension on his lung -- and his heart. Yikes.
He had surgery to repair his lung, and spent a week in the hospital. It was a painful procedure and he’s still not fully recovered, but at this point, I’m just thankful. Thankful he knew it was time to stop. Thankful I was only 7 miles away when he called. Thankful for skilled doctors and nurses. Thankful John has two working lungs now.
Okay. I know what you're thinking -- you're wondering why there was a picture of a baby on this post. Well...I'm getting to that.
Three days after John was released from the hospital, our son and his wife had a baby boy – a month early. He weighed just over 3 pounds. He’s spent 5 weeks in the newborn ICU, and he’s still there. :(
I guess the lungs are one of the last things to fully develop in a baby, so when they’re born early, babies usually need help breathing. The oldest and the youngest members of our family had the same problem, in a way. Both of them were not fully able to breathe…and that’s a big deal.
But there are lots of reasons to be thankful here, too. Thankful little Levi is breathing on his own now. Thankful for breathing tubes and feeding tubes and blood transfusions and amazing doctors and nurses. And thankful he’s still fighting.
I referenced a third family member who is fighting a battle of his own. This one isn't life-threatening, but it’s life-changing.
And I haven't figured out how to be thankful for it. Yet.
All I feel is worried and frustrated and even angry, and that’s how I was feeling a couple of days ago when I got on Facebook. Which is not generally a cure for any of those things – haha – but it was that day. Because I saw this post:
Not to mention they have a very similar design. Coincidence? I don't think so!
It was a sweet reminder that God is there, and that He has a plan. I know He loves us. Enough that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ – not so we could escape the trials of this life, but so they could just be temporary.
Christ has overcome the world, and He intends to help us overcome it also. And right now, I’m holding onto that. One day, one moment, one breath at a time.