It was the Spring of 2013. My wife was in the hospital for at least the fifth time. Some months earlier she had suffered a stroke for no apparent reason. 36 years old, relatively healthy, mother of four. The doctors were at a loss as to the exact reason, but all we knew was that every couple of weeks or so, she would experience debilitating fatigue and occasional migraines that gave the appearance of another stroke. Whenever these hit, we knew the drill. Lay down flat, pray, wait to see if the inability to talk or feel her left side would go away within a minute. Pray some more. If she struggled much more than that, we would go the ER. We learned over the months that doctors don’t play when it comes to former stroke victims. Every episode turned into an all-inclusive stay at the “luxurious” hospital room for a not-so restful 24-48 hours. You’ve probably stayed at this sort of resort before- where they serve the worst food, wake you up multiple times in the middle of the night, have four different people come in and ask you the same questions that are in your chart, and then tell you results are negative, but they want you to come back in a week for more tests. Then you get the bill. Whoa! All of that for the price of a week in Hawaii!
It was during this season that both my wife and I started taking our health serious. It was actually just a couple of months before her stroke that I started going to the gym and we had adjusted our diet. I was 30 lbs heavier back then, and largely uncomfortable with my physical appearance and emotional health. When I started working out with my buddy Josh Elmore, something awoke in me. The athlete from high school, the physically disciplined kid from college, the competitor was alive again. Then the stroke happened.
When my wife was resting in her hospital bed, I had a choice. Do I stick to my newfound discipline of working out hard for about 15 minutes three times a week, or do I use these overwhelming circumstances as an excuse to forfeit my goals? Do I eat the extra piece cake that the nurse would bring to me, or do I resolutely (or reluctantly) say, “no thanks, I’m reducing my sugar and carb intake.” Do I sit in the room for hours, though working, and simply sit and watch TV, or do I choose to take the stairs, walk outside, and pray while walking around the building? Pray for my wife, pray for my three girls and boy, pray that these hospital bills somehow get taken care of.
That was easily the hardest season of my life. The fear of losing my best friend. The terrifying thoughts of raising my children without their mom. The paralyzing uncertainty of how to take care of my family with the mountains of medical debt accumulating. Two things got us through that season. Prayer, and taking care of my body. I couldn’t change my wife’s condition, that was out of my hands. The best I could do was take care of my body and emotional health, to stay strong for my family. I chose, pushups, crunches, mountain climbers, planks, wall-sits, burpees, and to not eat cake. It helped.
Have you considered how taking care of your body can help you take better care of your family? If not, I encourage you to do so. If you’ve considered it, I encourage you to act. If you have been acting, I encourage you to continue. Trust me, it helps.
Written by UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier