Embracing the Calm and Being Thankful After Stormy Events

Despite some recent health scares, this columnist is focusing on his blessings

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by Ari Anderson |

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In my previous column, I discussed how difficult times can help strengthen the qualities of patience and endurance. But life lessons can be learned even when we’re not going through a crisis. It may take going through terrible events first, but it’s up to each of us whether we embrace the calm afterward.

Right now, I’m wrapping my arms around the calm I’ve been experiencing the past couple weeks. I’m practically jumping for joy that I don’t have any respiratory problems at the moment, but some frightening winds preceded my happiness.

Last month, I explained that I needed my second surgery in six weeks to remove the rest of my kidney stones. The winds of fear and frustration were trying to blow me down, but I was fighting back with my own winds of positivity and faith.

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These two forces battled after I had my surgery three weeks ago. Not only were the dangerous winds of complications trying to blow me down, but they were blowing my blood oxygen levels down as well.

When healthy, I spend a majority of the daytime off my ventilator. During usual respiratory illnesses, spending extra time on my ventilator at home provides a comforting shelter from the storms of breathing difficulties.

There was something disturbingly different after this surgery. I still felt the comfort of extra support from the vent, but my blood oxygen numbers were telling a different story. My oxygen saturation was dangerously low, both on and off the vent. The readings, which my nurses kept track of 24/7, were making me afraid. Even though I felt OK while breathing on the ventilator, my body was being exposed to a storm it hadn’t experienced in a long time.

I was also confused because normally I feel terribly short of breath whenever my oxygen saturation is low. There was no mistaking that something was seriously wrong.

Who knew how long it would be before I actually started to feel the suffocating effects of what my body was going through?

I knew that drastic action had to be taken. To remove the excess mucus in my lungs, I used my vest and cough assist machines much more frequently than usual. While that didn’t leave much time for anything else, it was better than drowning in all of the fluid in my lungs. My oxygen saturation increased a little each day, and after a week, I was almost back to my old self!

As a precaution, I am still using my vest and cough assist a little more frequently, but not nearly as much as I did just after my surgery. Thankfully, I have more free time on my hands once again.

At the same time that I was starting to feel better, I received another blessing: A new nurse came into my life.

Those who read my column regularly know how tirelessly I search for nurses to add to my home care staff. This one came as a surprise. My nursing agency waited to tell me that they had possibly found someone until the day before she came out to my house for the first time. Many nurses have backed out before meeting me, and the agency didn’t want to disappoint me yet again.

I am excited to say that this nurse is working out well so far, and that there may even be another one on the horizon.

I don’t know how long this peace will last, but I am embracing it.

I cherish every easy breath that I take, as well as every supportive member of my medical team. I totally relate to fellow SMA News Today columnist Alyssa Silva, who recently wrote, “I’m thankful to have doctors who listen.” I am also thankful for the nurses who listen.

I know I’ve said this in several columns now, but I beg you to please take pleasure in life’s simple things. Whether you’re living with SMA or not, you never know when the next storm may come.

If we can make this our life goal, I believe we can all soar with hope!


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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