A Lesson from Option B

When my husband got sick four years ago, I read a book about grief that really stuck with me because grief is not just about someone dying. It can also be about the hardship you are going through when someone is ill. That book was Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Over the holiday, my husband ended up in the hospital once again to undergo emergency surgery to clear up an infection that is running amuck due to his diabetes and Sjogren’s causing complications. As I navigated a week of text messages and phone calls from friends and family, I am reminded once again about the lesson that really stood out to me from their book.

Screenshot from the website for Option B

The website for Option B has been updated to include a message about resilience in the time of COVID, but that part I read years ago is still prominent today…when you ask what you can do or how you can help, you are putting the burden on the person experiencing the hardship. This week, I had many such text messages or phone calls. Honestly, I am exhausted. This hospital stay is a lot more nerve racking than previous ones because I can’t be there for my husband. Due to the COVID restrictions, there is a no visitor policy being reinforced. To make it even more stressful, he had to be transferred to a hospital out of state, almost two hours away because our local one was too rural to have the needed specialist on staff. They contacted nine hospitals before they found one that had the available surgeon and room in the hospital.

When my husband arrived at the hospital, the Emergency Department decided to do their own evaluation of his condition. So it would be another 36 hours from when he first went into the ER at our local hospital to when he received his surgery. Our local hospital let me stay in the ER with him until around 2am on Monday when they decided he needed to be transferred. So I was there to ask questions and advocate for him. At noon on Tuesday, he was transferred via ambulance to the bigger hospital. It took over two hours before I heard he had arrived, but I could not get any updates on his condition when I called the hospital. I knew how to access the patient portal for the lab reports and doctor notes, but when I called, I would be told there were no updates. Finally, I received a call that night from the surgeon that they would operate, but they did not know when that would be other than the next day, most likely in the morning.

Wednesday, I received a text from my husband that they were prepping him. He tried to do a video call, but my phone would not allow me to pick up the call and then he would not answer when I tried calling him back. I knew that he probably had been taken to the OR and it would be a while, but missing that call played on my anxiety. When I still had net heard anything after three hours, I started calling the hospital. I was transferred to the ER, but told he was not there and must still be in surgery, so they had no updates. The process repeated for hours. I couldn’t imagine the surgery taking that long because I was told it would be general anesthesia. So either something went wrong or the ball had been dropped. At my wits end, I tracked down the information on how to contact the nursing supervisor for the hospital since the patient advocates office was closed by this point. Within 20 min of speaking to the supervisor, I got an update that he was out of surgery and they were just waiting on a room to open. Apparently, he had been out of surgery for hours already. I hate that I had to “Karen” the situation by asking to speak to the supervisor, but it is what it is…

I updated friends and family through Facebook posts to keep them in the loop on what was happening. People offered prayers and thoughts, but there were some that offered to talk or to distract my son for a while. My landlord even offered to drop by the hospital or to lend a hand if needed. One friend sent me a giftcard to Grubhub so we wouldn’t have to worry about meals. Those offers were appreciated because if asked what they could do, my answer was nothing. I was sleep deprived, anxious, and stressed. The last thing I could think about was involving other people.

As I write this, my husband has undergone a second round in the OR. Still no word on when he can go home. Things have calmed down since the start of last week. My biggest strength is my son who has made sure we eat and even watch Supernatural to distract our brains from the waiting. It is probably similar to the mother-daughter study discussed in Option B. We are there for each other, so it lessons our anxiety.

So what is the lesson? Be there for each other and don’t leave things to ambiguity. Do what you can so the person feels like they have a semblance of control and a small piece of normality. We are still waiting, but things are getting better. I really appreciate my friends and family during this time. It is hard right now during COVID without things like non-COVID medical emergencies. Resiliency cannot happen alone. It is through community and support that we weather the things thrown at us.

Here is to a brighter year in 2021!

Book Club!

I did a thing tonight— I created a Facebook group called The Not Quite Superhuman Book Club. The group is a place to talk about books. There is no monthly set reading list. Simply talk about the books that have you excited and you want to share with others. All books are created equal there.

Anyone can join. In fact, most of the first members work in libraries, so there are sure to be some great recommendations. Librarians are great people, but just in case, here are some Group Rules:

  1. As Captain America says “Language!”. Let’s keep it clean and respectful.
  2. While discourse about a book is encouraged, respect the opinions of others. We all have different reasons a book made a connection with us and not everyone will agree. That is okay!
  3. Book links from Amazon are okay, but don’t try selling your essential oils and Tupperware here…that will get you blocked.
  4. No politics…things go down the rabbit hole too quickly.
  5. No hate speech or bullying.

This group is a work in progress. If you have ideas or would like to help moderate, let us know! Happy reading and check out the group! We would love to see you there!

Click here to request an invite to join the group!

A-Z Challenge Time!

Many years ago, I participated in an A-Z blog post challenge. In April, not counting Sundays, there are 26 days. So the idea behind the challenge is to post a new blog post each day in alphabetical order. April 1st would be an entry for the letter A and April 30th would be an entry for Z.

In years past, this has meant that I posted a potpourri of ideas, but I like the idea behind that because there is a creative aspect in coming up with each entry. Sure, I could make it more challenging by having a theme, but let’s face it, life is just crazy enough as it is without throwing that into the ring…so anything goes. I could post Instant Pot recipes or I could share pictures of my dogs. Could it be a book review? Maybe you will get a social distancing observation entry. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what comes next.

Are you a blogger and you want to participate in the challenge as well? Drop a comment with a link to your blog and I will keep a list here. Please, only family friendly blogs. Believe me, I have a mouth like a sailor, but my mother could be reading this…second thought, she would enjoy that too much. My third grade teacher could be reading this…let’s keep things clean for the Irish Catholic Parochial School teachers out there. 😉

P Is For Promoting Happyness

Yes, it is spelled wrong. Kudos points to anyone who can tell me where that one is from…

Anyway, today I heard some good, some bad, and some ugly. It had me thinking about happiness. With the economy as troubled as it is right now, many people are trying to just hold on. Many have been holding tight for longer than they expected and for some are just getting started. It is especially tough for those with kids because we want to give them the world or at least give them better than we had it.

Today, I heard about a government funded program that was giving capes out to the unemployed who visited their office. Yeah, bad idea and a waste of money, but I understand where they were coming from. When you don’t have a job, it is very easy to sink into depression and once that happens it is hard to climb back up. They were only trying to boost moral and send a message. Though that message could have been told in a more metaphorical manner rather than literally passing out red capes. Everyone is somebody’s hero regardless of what they do or if they have a job or they make tons of money. A lot of these heroes go unnoticed.

It is situations like this cape thing which paint a target on what other agencies are trying to do to help. I would like to hear more stories not about how the government or other companies are mismanaging but rather how they are doing right. When was the last time you heard about the family who visited the library where dad used the free Internet to search for a job and mom took the kids to the story time workshop being conducted in the children’s room, also free? What about the free tutoring offered to at risk learners through the school system? Free family movies in the park? Free lunch at the senior center? Volunteer run community groups that provide sports for youth? How about a company like Target that gives back 5% of profits to the communities they serve? Yeah, might not sound like a lot, but think of how much 5% profit for a company like that can go. Even individuals can do small things to spread a little good cheer.

Yes, times are tough, but we all have a responsibility to each other. We all need hope and something to get us through. What do you do to promote a little happiness?