Storytelling: Part II, continued from yesterday

When I came clean to Erik about missing Bryce’s kindergarten graduation, I did so with a little apprehension.  He had been so insistent and felt so passionately about me being there for Bryce.  And while it had been well over a year and the kids could hardly remember anything that had happened, I still felt guilty about keeping this secret from him.  So when he began to laugh at my semi-tearful admission, I felt relieved.

After a few minutes he decided to tell me the secret he had been keeping from me for the last year.  I paused, my fork in mid-air.

Erik had his transplant surgery on July 3, 2003.  He stayed in the hospital a mere 11 days and was released to go back to my sister’s house in Frisco.  In celebration of not only a successful transplant but also getting to leave St. Paul for the first time since April, our families surprised the two of us with a night’s stay at the Double Tree Hotel in Dallas.

We lounged by the pool, ate dinner at a fancy steakhouse and enjoyed a night’s sleep without a nurse coming in every half hour.  It was delightful.  I woke up the next morning to hot coffee, a newspaper and breakfast in bed.  It was like being on my honeymoon again.

Little did I know what my husband had been up to during the wee hours of the morning.

When we had arrived at the hotel the night before, Erik realized he had forgotten his medications at my sister’s house.  Keep in mind he CANNOT and DOES NOT miss taking his medicine.  He is immuno-suppressed, so some of the medicine keeps his body from realizing the heart is not his own and rejecting it.  The other medicines he takes prevent the slightest little germ from causing full blown pneumonia or a stomach virus from hell.

Even today, 12 years later, the medicine is vital.  But 11 days post-transplant – missing a dose was no joke.

So Mr. Double-0-7 woke up at the crack of dawn and covertly left the hotel to drive to Frisco, leaving me sound asleep.  He had never driven to my sister’s before, so of course he found himself lost after driving awhile.  At 6 a.m. he finally gave in and called my brother-in-law for directions to their house.

Kelly said when Erik walked in their house he walked straight back to our bedroom, grabbed his bag of pills and went out the door saying, “Let’s not mention this to Jennie, please.”  Matt and Kelly died laughing as they gave him directions back to the Double Tree.  They also swore to keep me in the dark for as long as necessary, or forever.

Erik was back in our hotel room with his meds and coffee by the time I woke up.  And for a year I knew nothing about his little adventure at dawn. 

How sweet of Erik to not want to worry me or stress me out about the medicine.  And boy would I have freaked out.  Not to mention, he wasn’t even fully released to drive a car yet.  He still had staples in his chest for Heaven’s sake! And this is what happened 2 days later.  So yea, he should NOT have been driving!

As I said yesterday, ignorance is bliss and sometimes little white lies aren’t all that bad.   

This got me thinking about Erik’s medications and how over the last 12 years they have been such a huge part of our lives.  Erik takes 42 pills a day and he can swallow a handful all at once with just a quick swig of water.  It amazes me.

The pills are like our 4th child.  We take them everywhere we go.  We spend a great deal of time refilling, picking up and paying for them.  We wonder if we will always be able to afford them, especially after Obamacare – if not, what then?  We have been so blessed these last many years regarding his meds.  It’s just a constant worry that our coverage could change or the price could go up to an unaffordable rate.  Not to mention the tribulation or a zombie apocalypse might occur and I would be forced to break in to every Walgreens in a 100 mile radius to steal pills.

Don’t think I wouldn’t.

We have so many other stories about his plethora of pills.  Like the time they mysteriously disappeared Thanksgiving day at his mother’s.  Our family of 20 searched for 3 hours all over the house and grounds finally determining that the pills must have accidentally been thrown in the kitchen trash and thus wound up in Gramp’s garbage fire out back….we farm folks burn our trash.  Erik, the kids and I finally left to drive the six hours to Tahoka, but two hours into our drive we got a call that the pills had been located.  Behind the television in the kitchen, because of course that’s where he would put them.  We turned around, went back to Hearne and decided to forego the long trip to Tahoka for Thanksgiving on Friday.

Another time was after my Grandmother Grace died.  We drove to Tahoka and I unpacked our bags and toiletries.  Because we had a house full of curious little kiddos, I put the bag of pills up in the medicine cabinet in the girls’ bathroom.  We stayed at my parents’ for a week through all the funeral and family gatherings.  The moment we walked back into our house in New Braunfels, Erik made a fast bee-line to the bathroom and then almost fainted when his pills were not on the bathroom counter.  He had decided in Tahoka that he must have forgotten to pack them.  And I had assumed he knew where I put them.  So he had been a week without his meds and hadn’t wanted to alarm anyone because of the circumstances.  My parents FedExed the pills to us the next day.  Thanks again, Mom and Dad.

What else – oh YES, there was the time that his bag of pills got stolen out of his suitcase when he flew to Chicago.  When he got home he was able to get all the prescriptions refilled except the CellCept which is the immuno-suppressant pill….kind of important.  Because it wasn’t “time” for the insurance to refill, Walgreens told us we had to pay $1200 for the new bottle.  After some tears (me) and lots of prayers (Erik and my Mom), the transplant office in Dallas came through with some samples.  Again, thank you Jesus for your mercy!

The main reason I’m disclosing so much information about Erik’s medications is because I would like to share with you what I pray for daily. 

We know Erik got an almost perfect heart – size, blood type, young, healthy.  He no longer has heart disease.  He no longer has any heart complications.  He gets his heart biopsied every 5 years now, but that’s another story for another day.

What the devil would love for us to worry about is Erik’s kidney and liver functions after so many years of so many pills.  His body has to do a lot of work to put the medication to good use and then flush them out of his system.  The doctors watch his creatinine levels as much or more than anything else.

Many years ago I started praying a specific phrase for Erik and those pills: 

“Lord, let the medicine flow through his body like living water.”  So far, the Holy Spirit hasn’t told me to tweak that prayer at all.  And God is listening.

Will you also pray for that for Erik?  God hears our prayers and no one more than Erik Hughes could attest to that.

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