Navigating the Storms of Life

Writer’s note: This was rather emotional for me to write and it took a lot to maintain my composure throughout.

Life can be quite the adventure sometimes. It has more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride. It’s got the unexpected and the expected.

Never in a million years did I envision what happened in my life over the last 365 days and I’m sitting here reminded of the song from “Rent” as I reflect on everything that has transpired over the last year.

“525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”

To me I measure it in the ups and downs, but most importantly by how it has shaped me into the man I am right now.

In October of 2016, I had a routine Monday off and the wife and I were set to visit the eye doctor for a regular appointment. During the field vision test portion of the exam after they had trouble getting my left eye to 20/20 they found I had a blind spot so they recommended I see a neurologist just to make sure nothing is wrong. Oddly enough a few hours later I received a call from my then employer that a few colleagues were laid off. More on that to come.

But, back to the eye.

A few weeks later I made the trip to Harrisburg and the neurologist. They had a suspicion that something was pressing on my optic nerve causing me to lose vision, so they scheduled me for an MRI.

The journey continues the following day when I make my way to Reading to see Casting Crowns in concert. It was my first Christian concert, unless you include the small music festivals at my church. I felt a sense of comfort during the concert.

Oddly enough there was a song that came on the radio after every doctors appointment along this journey and it was a Casting Crowns song, “Praise You in the Storm.”

To sum up, we are now in December of 2016 and I’m getting ready to go get my MRI. The hour and a half endeavor was long, but went well. Oddly enough, the first song to play while listening to music during the MRI was Praise You in the Storm.

Over the next month I saw a Neurosurgeon who prepped me for the idea that I would be having surgery and we went through the process before getting my surgery date of February 23rd on the 9th.

Fast forward to surgery day. I went into surgery not knowing I would come out of it or not, yet I had a sense of peace over me. The surgery was to remove a tumor from my pituitary gland.

The procedure had them going up through my nose, removing the sinus bone and then using a camera in one nostril and the tools through the other nostril. The pituitary is also located extremely close to the carotid artery. One slight miss and they could hit the artery which would be game over. Sorry for the graphic detail.

The surgery, however, went rather successfully and I was in the hospital three days to recover. During my stay I might have slept about 3 hours in total, got to experience a tornado warning from the 6th floor of the hospital among many other things.

Soon after discharge I began leaking fluid through my nose and had to go back down and be re-admitted.

During the period I was back in the hospital they debated having to go in for more surgery as they were unsure if I was leaking spinal fluid. I also had severe anxiety attacks, including one terrible one in front of my wife.

It was a dark time for me.

They found no reason for more surgery and I was finally able to get some sleep so they sent me home a week after my surgery.

The recovery was long and difficult. I remember my first sneeze and the panic and pain that it caused. I remember wanting to go back to work only to be told I couldn’t.

Eventually I recovered and got back to work. Everything was back how I wanted it. I had my health, my job, my wife, my God. Everything was going well.

Then September came and word of more layoffs came out. This time I didn’t survive the cuts. I was laid off. The job I had known my entire adult life was taken from me. I had no back up plan.

Oddly enough when I was coming home from that last day at the York Daily Record, that same song played.

I’m smart, but I’m not college educated. I got the job I wanted, so I stopped going to college. What would be my next step? I needed health insurance because I was just 7-months removed from surgery, my wife had a second surgery for endometriosis just 2 months prior. I needed to provide.

So, I got a job at my church’s day care. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it was full-time, allowed me to do correspondent work for newspapers, kept my evenings and weekends free and provided insurance.

Fast forward nearly 4 months there and I feel like I’ve lost a sense of self. Who am I? Everything I had known in my life, everything I wanted from life has been taken from me.

My job, my health, the ability to have kids as my wife’s endometriosis all but took that away.

I continue to fight a battle with anxiety and figure out what’s next in my life. For now, I’m going to ride the ride and trust that God will provide for me.

The oddest thing of all of this is how full circle it comes. On that one day in October of 2016 the process started for finding the tumor and I avoided layoffs. Fast forward 16 months and the tumor has been removed and I got laid off.

I’m happy to say my health has improved as my 1-year check-up has turned out great. Plus I’m back in my element at the District 3 wrestling tournament. Despite all the ups and downs and storms in my life, I can honestly say I’m content and happy.

NOTE: If you got this far, thank you. I really appreciate knowing that you cared so much to read about my journey. I just want to thank everyone for their support they’ve shown me throughout the year.
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