My life turns to shit a lot. It started right after my wedding. I had to delay my honeymoon to have my appendix out, then when we left for the postponed vacation, I got a fever that very day. My appendix incision was abscessing and the infection was in my blood, a condition known as sepsis.
The kicker? By the time I realized what was happening, I was at a remote fishing lodge in Canada. I almost died on my honeymoon, and that was just the beginning. In our 22 years of marriage, we have endured a few lifetimes of shit, but we always, always stay positive. Here’s how:
1 – We Laugh
You might think that being deathly ill from sepsis at a fly-in lodge in remote Canada isn’t a funny situation, but in reality, it would make a perfect sitcom episode.
When we realized I was sick, and that it was my appendix incision that was infected and making me sick, we asked the lodge manager for a first aid kit. I was a Paramedic, and figured I could treat myself with whatever they had on hand, but I expected more than a couple of band aids when we were about 100 miles from the nearest 2-track. The first aid kit was pathetic, so we had to make do with what we had on hand.
Because our honeymoon had been delayed due to the appendix surgery, I was due for my period while we were there (yay me!), and had a whole kit of feminine supplies. When my incision began to ooze, I adhered a period pad to my panties, but on the front instead of in the crotch, which created a running joke about the proper use of feminine hygiene supplies.
Once my fever broke, I was hoping to at least enjoy a bit of honeymoon fun, and disrobed to enter the shower with my new husband, but at that point my appendix incision was swollen and red with a huge white spot on it that looked just like an enormous pimple. When I eased into the shower he screamed and jumped right out, terrified that the incision would burst in the heat and steam, which left me alone in the shower cracking up.
2 – We Help Each Other
Low and behold, that same night I woke up with a searing pain in my side and rolled over to grab some Advil. My husband woke up as well, and was perplexed by the odor of a dead animal nearby.
At that same time I realized I was soaked, and thought my period had started with a vengeance. I asked my husband to hit the lights and help me out of bed to clean up, when we realized that my incision had indeed burst wide open as he had predicted, and was oozing putrid pus all over our bed and my pretty new honeymoon nightie.
I figured that was it, my sweet husband would walk out the door and go figure out how to proceed with annulment.
Not so. He was gagging because the smell was wretched, but after opening the window for some fresh air, my husband helped me up, gently sponged me down with warm wet wash cloths, got clean bed clothes and hand washed my nightie in the sink with shampoo.
I was mortified by the whole thing, our honeymoon was a disaster, but my husband’s gentle help ended up making a bonding experience out of the horrifying situation. To this day I am humbled by his tender loving care that week.
3 – Cry, But Then Move On
Needless to say, though we made the best of it, our honeymoon was bitterly disappointing. Yes, we did end up taking a second honeymoon (18 years later), but that once in a lifetime trip to celebrate our new marriage truly sucked.
Making the best of a tough situation helped a lot, but we lost a the idyllic trip that we had dreamed about and planned and saved for for years. We initially planned to fly home early. Then my fever broke and we were able to stay, but we had already lost several days that I spent entirely in bed, and the rest of the time I was too sick to enjoy the wilderness as we had hoped. It was only right to grieve that loss. I cried the big ugly snotty cry for a good long while.
When I finished crying I picked myself up, dusted off, mopped up the snot, and got on with it. No matter how crappy our honeymoon was, I wasn’t going to waste another minute feeling sorry for myself. Being angry and sad wouldn’t bring my honeymoon back, but making the best of a shitty situation meant that I was able to make some memories with my new husband.
They weren’t what we had hoped for, but we still have the memories.
These lessons, learned early in our adult life, have brought us through many more trials together, and are the foundation of our resilience. When one of us slips, the other helps to pick up and put things back together.
Though my example was our unfortunate honeymoon, that simply set a foundation for us to use these principles for many other hardships in our lives, including job loss, our child having cancer, illnesses and injuries with major surgeries, and much more. Making a daily practice of applying these concepts to life events both big and small, makes great practice for when major life events pull the rug right out from beneath us, and I am not sure how we would have survived without them.