My friend has just come out of a season of lemons.  You know, when medical mayhem takes over your life, leaving you breathless, hurting, and exhausted.

She is my “Buddy” and we have known each other for 40 years but became close when we both retired from our jobs.  Then we would just hang out, sometimes running errands together, having lunch out but mostly laughing.  We were like Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz in I love Lucy.  Whoever drove that particular day was Lucy.  And like Lucy and Ethel we cracked each other up with our antics. We had fun doing nothing.  Laughter was truly our medicine.  Since our move to the Orlando area, our playdates are relegated to planned visits to each other’s homes and I have missed our weekly “playdates”.  My errands are just not as much fun without my buddy.

During the last several years, my Buddy had been having gut trouble.  Each episode – sometimes sudden and short term and sometimes for days – would leave her tired, exhausted, and fearful of leaving the house.  The pain would literally render her breathless.  Doctors would always diagnose it as diverticulitis or a urinary tract infection and put her on antibiotics, never looking further.

These events happen so often she just got used to it and began accepting this as a way of life – her new normal.  When it would strike she would stay home and when she felt good she would go about the business of living.

It culminated last October when over the course of several weeks, afraid to go to the hospital because of the COVID pandemic, she became bedridden, feverish, and incoherent to the point of passing out on the kitchen floor which she thought was her bed!  She wondered why the bed felt so uncomfortable.  Living alone she laid there about 8 hours until her son who lives three hours away could not reach her  by phone and asked a neighbor to use the garage code and check on her.   Emergency response was called in and she was taken to a trauma hospital near her house.  There she spent ten days in the ICU, and 4 surgical procedures over the next 4 months in an attempt to heal her from a kidney stones that had fully blocked her ureter.  She was septic, suffering from pneumonia, kidney failure, uremic poisoning, and dehydration.  She was told that when the paramedics answered the call she had about 15 minutes left to live.

With this season of lemons over, she no longer has the kidney stone.  Doctors say she has had this stone for years but because they assumed it was either diverticulitis or UTI’s never did an ultrasound – until it was big enough to block everything up and almost kill her.

Talk about a wakeup call.

It made me realize once again just how fragile life can be.  And no matter how much we think we know, we are never prepared for these seasons.

So how do we turn lemons into lemonade or lemon chiffon pie?

We must have safeguards in place for such a season as this. If you live alone, have a friend or family member check in on you daily.  Have an alert system set up to call for help when needed.  This can be a medical alert system that you pay monthly for or as simple as having several Amazon Dots in your home that are set up for calling someone in an emergency or even within your home.  Thad and I use the Amazon Dots in the garage, master bath, kitchen, and office to “announce” or “drop in” and this has eliminating yelling for one another throughout the house.  They are really awesome.  While some may feel this is intrusive and “Alexa” is always listening; I have decided that it is better than lying on the floor for 8 hours because frankly my back can’t take it.  No could my bladder.

Make sure your finances are organized.  Have your money automatically deposited into your bank accounts – think Social Security, investment payouts, paychecks, retirement checks).  Set up your bills to autopay either from your checking accounts or to a credit card.  This was something we did not have totally set up but with my Buddy’s season of lemons, Thad and I have gotten our finances organized so that should something happen to either of us, our overhead and insurance coverages will be paid for during this time of mayhem.

When medical issues continue keep in mind these points:

  • Seek other healthcare professionals, push doctors to try think out of the box or even their own specialty.
  • Do your own research. Look at risks vs. benefits, efficacy of the drug/procedure.  What is the efficacy?  What are the alternatives?  What is the cost?
  • Don’t live in denial or hope for the ailment to just pass because chances are it won’t. Don’t procrastinate.
  • Don’t settle for a possible diagnosis – push for concrete evidence.
  • Keep asking questions until you are left with only answers.
  • Seek cures and not band aids
  • Seek out your community of friends and family to help you through this process and decision making.  The final decision is yours but having different thoughts help solidify and determine what is right for you.
  • Realize this may be a season and not a lifetime.
  • Find God’s message in the season and believe that strength will come from Him even when He seems distant. Remember His promises, His forever presence and eternity will be fulfilled.  Remembering helps it become more visible and life becomes more sustainable.

My friend has weathered this storm the best way she knows how.  She has re-assessed what she did and what she might have done better.  She has implemented some safe guards and because of this, she is smarter, wiser, and stronger.  Most importantly, she will never again simply put up with the pain and suffering as a way of life.

Not only is she all of the above, she is also funnier than ever and the only remanence of this four month descent into lemon-ville is that she has lost virtually all her hair.  While most people would cry and ask “Why me;” my buddy said “Well It’s not like I haven’t lost my hair before (chemotherapy for breast cancer) and promptly went out in search of a wig.  My Buddy came home with four!  She has one for every mood: short & sassy, tousled “I just got done rolling in the hay”, the long and stylish and the one styled like she used to wear her own hair.  She also got a few caps with “Boca bling” and turbans for days she doesn’t want to fuss with her ‘hair’.  She told me she could be a different person every day.  I told her that was fine as long as she will always be my Buddy.

I’m proud of my Buddy and how she is moving forward and not looking back.  As she says “What’s the point?”  And she’s right.  She is grateful to the wonderful neighbors and friends who not only took care of her, drove her to and from doctors and surgical procedures, brought her meals, but took care of her dog while she was in the hospital.  She is grateful for her body’s determination (and hers) to heal and she looks forward to more time with family and friends.

I am happy to report that my Buddy was well enough to drive herself 3 hours away from her home to spend a week with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson and me!  We had the best time hanging out, eating out (we are so bad for each other), sitting in the backyard watching our dogs play together, and modeling her different style wigs each day.

And of course, with a tall glass of lemonade we were laughing through it all.

Here are two pictures of us.  One is from a number of years ago trying on ear muffs in South Florida!  And the second is from our recent day together at Twiddlebugs in Oviedo, FL where we created projects for our home.  I am blessed with a wonderful friend and I hope to make many, many more wonderful memories together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What other ways do you turn a season of lemons into lemonade or lemon chiffon pie?  Please join in the conversation so others might benefit from your experience.

 

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com

Blessings for Health & Wellness.