Growing up I think I took my health for granted. Sometimes I probably still do. I don’t know if I have a rocking immune system or I’ve just been lucky, but my life has not been overrun with medical visits, prescription drugs, or hospital stays. My poor Ethan is in a different boat it seems, with the continued issues he’s had since his surgery this past August.
If you would have told me that Ethan would have a lobectomy at last New Year’s, I would have said, “Stop pulling my leg!” He is younger than me after all, and I have the tendency of attributing health and wellness with age. But then the slew of physicians and doctors the army sent him to were telling us he had a rare disease. I felt like the sound had been sucked out of the room. A rare disease? Ethan? Of course it could be remedied after surgery and a week-long hospital stay, but I felt sick to my stomach. Hospitals (although my mom, dad, sister, aunt and future brother-in-law all work at a hospital back home) have always felt like the deep end to me…uncharted waters.
A place I’d wet my toes and that’s all. As we crept closer and closer to the date of surgery, I felt like I was losing Ethan…he wouldn’t be the same after this. And he’d have a void in his chest and a scar on his back to prove it.
I am most thankful for the success of the surgery, how well Ethan did in his breathing exercises, how amazing he did managing his pain. Honestly, it was a huge ordeal and a big step for us in our marriage. He had to rely on me for simple tasks and I had to be the strong one…for the both of us. It feels surreal to remember him so drained of color, the smell of the intensive care unit, the stacks of styrofoam cups and empty apple juice containers in his room. And before that, how when he couldn’t eat or drink anything I was allowed to feed him ice pellets. He’d opened his mouth for me like a baby bird, and it made my heart ache tremendously. I am so protective of my Ethan in general, but became even moreso during that delicate time. I hope, throughout the fog of all his medication, he could sense that and feel more secure. I am profoundly grateful I had that kind of strength inside me…for I don’t think I’d ever been tested in that way.
Ethan’s surgery, in the end, changed me too.
We were hopeful it would all be over then, all his breathing issues fixed as he slowly recovered from home. After all, that was what his doctors predicted to us. Although the pulmonary sequestration was removed, it wasn’t long until we realized his shortness of breath and asthma attacks remained. And that’s part of what we’ve continued to deal with since Ethan returned to work in the beginning of October.
I can’t fully understand how labored breathing feels. But I see Ethan living with it everyday, and it worries me. I want him so desperately to be healthy. To be able to horse around and not feel the need to reach for his inhaler immediately afterwards. With so many appointments to keep track of, I can see Ethan’s patience being tested…mine is as well. It is nothing but exhausting. I know we both just want him to be better…to breathe normally. And I’m hopeful that day is somewhere in our future. December 11th is his next appointment where he sits down with his new pulmonologist (finally!) and hopefully receives insight as to how to remedy his confirmed asthma.
And where we might go from here.
Special thanks to Ethan, who kindly allowed me to photograph him shirtless.