The Year of 40: Not what I was expecting

by Christie Browning

This second week of "The Year of 40" was not at all what I was expecting. It started with treacherous roads followed by a 4 a.m. trip to the emergency room with my husband, Mat.

Finally this week was going to be normal. No more holidays, no traveling... just a normal week with all things fitting into the routine. Aaaahhhh I love routine. I like to shake things up a bit too, but there comes a time when I am done with all that and I am ready to return to "normal." That's exactly what I expected this week to be. I even posted on my Facebook page:

However, The Year of 40 had different ideas. Tuesday morning I headed to Fort Wayne, only to get caught in serious traffic backup on a two-lane highway. There was bad ice that morning and several slide-offs so when traffic came to a stop, I figured it was due to an accident. I sat for TWO HOURS waiting to get going. In the rural stretch of highway where we were stuck, there was little opportunity to turn around or turn off for a different route. 

But panic hit me when I heard my low-fuel light ding at me and I was no where near a gas station, no where near a place to turn, and no where near the end of this traffic tie-up. I texted my husband saying, "What do I do??" We were both beginning to worry that I would be stranded in the middle of the highway, in the middle of cow pastures and depleted cornfields, with no help insight. I could utilize our road side assistance but with the traffic the way it was, there was no way they could even get to me. UGH! I was freaking out. I spent about 30 minutes worrying about this situation when finally, a sheriff made his way down the line of traffic, escorting each car into the oncoming lane and back to an alternate route. The problem was.... that route took me miles out of the way. But off I went, navigating the country roads, curving and winding as they were, through the ice with a blaring low-fuel light on my dash. I prayed that God would just get me to the gas station. I then prayed that God would just calm me down and keep me safe. 

I made it to the gas station... on fumes, but I made it. I was relieved to have gas, but I still had an icy commute to take, but I made it to where I was going and all was well....Until Wednesday.

Wednesday morning about 1 a.m. I heard my husband get up coughing and hacking with this horrible cough that just won't quit. He's had it for weeks now, a leftover symptom from bronchitis he had a month ago. I laid in bed listening to him cough from 1 a.m. until about 3 a.m. - seemed like nonstop. I got up to check on him and to persuade him to consider going to the emergency room. Something in my gut just told me the ER was where we needed to be. 

As we sat there discussing if we should go or not, a coughing fit hit him hard and Mat was struggling to breath. There was a look of panic on his face as he gasped for air. At that moment, I wasn't discussing it anymore and I wasn't taking "no" for an answer. We were going to the ER. 

It was about 4 a.m. when we got to the hospital. They immediately took us into a room and Mat was hooked up to all sorts of machines as the nurses ran an EKG, ruling out any heart concerns. Then came the blood work, vitals and a myriad of other tests. In the end, the doctor cam in to say that he felt this was just a lingering infection from the bronchitis and a round of breathing treatments would help Mat out. They did indeed. We were waiting for the nurse to come back with directions and prescriptions for Mat to be treated at home, when the doctor said he saw one test that had an elevated number that had him worried. He wanted to do a CAT scan on Mat's chest to rule out a blood clot and any other lung abnormalities. This immediately worried both of us. Mat's mom passed away from lung cancer and currently, Mat's dad is battling it. We were worried, scared and a bit panicked. 

Thank goodness for smartphones and messaging. I hit up family, friends and church members for prayers. I knew in that moment we need God to calm our hearts and renew our strength. Mat went off for the test and I wore a path in that little ER room as I paced back in forth praying God's healing power and strength and presence rain down on us there in that hospital. 

After waiting about an hour, the test came back normal with no signs of the initial concerns the doctor had. But Mat's blood pressure was still high, his pulse rate was very high and spiking at times and his oxygen was very low. The doctor made the call to admit Mat and upstairs to a hospital room we went. Mat ended up staying overnight with breathing treatments every four hours and three IVs of antibiotics and drugs to fight off the lung infection.

Friends and family still prayed and a few members of our church came up to pray for us in person, laying hands on Mat and asking God to bless him with healing and strength. It was a long night, but Mat's numbers began improving and late in the afternoon on the next day he was released with a long list of instructions and several follow up tests and visits that we will tackle this coming week.

Needless to say this week was nothing but normal. It was as if life said, "Haha...you want normal, well think again!" But through it all I was reminded of a few things:

  1. We are getting older...and our bodies need to be taken care of so that when we are faced with illness, we are strong enough to fight it off and stay health. We have lots of years to live still and we need to do what we can to maintain this "temple" that God has given us. Maybe it's because I am turning 40 or maybe I am just getting wise as I get older, but eating right and exercising is becoming a pertinent to-do on my list. BUT... I need a little bit of normal in order to get into a new routine where I can fit a trip to the gym into the schedule.
  2. God is in the middle of our upset. Yes, we know God cares for us and that He is with us when we face scary situations and worry-filled circumstances, but sometimes in the middle of those moments, the fear blocks out the truth. As I text messaged my mom with an update on Mat, she reminded me of the promises God gives us in times such as those. It was a great reminder and the words I needed to hear to keep my heart in check and the fear at bay.
  3. When there's no words, the heart speaks its own language. In that moment when Mat was out of my sight, getting his CAT scan done, I wanted to pray, but there really were no words I could speak. Emotion poured out of me and my heart just ached for the fear and pain he was in. It was for just a few minutes, but in that brief time, peace swept over me. I didn't even utter a real word, but yet God granted me peace and calmness. How good is our Heavenly Father that He understands the hearts of His children even when we can't express how we feel. 

It's a wonderful thing to have routine and "normal," but life doesn't always fall in line. But when it all falls apart and life comes undone, only truth remains and that is Heavenly Father's promises and unfailing love for us. 


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