Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Difference a Year can Make

One year later--Healthy, Happy, & Strong
A year ago tomorrow afternoon I walked into the Emergency Room at Memorial North. Though I had an appointment with my nurse practitioner for the following day, the pain behind my belly button had increased and I knew something wasn't right. You know how it is.....we don't want to pay the ER copay, if it's not truly an emergency. I really wasn't sure. I called my mom and then visited the nurse at FVS  (for an informed opinion) and after a brief inspection, she instructed me that I needed to go to the ER and offered to drive me. I kindly declined the offer, I could yet drive myself. (Yes, I am that stubborn!)

I arrived and was admitted an hour later. First hypothesis was that I had an umbilical hernia. But after a CT scan, the doctors weren't really sure. There was definitely something wrong, but the view of my gallbladder was obscured by some type of liquid-like area. I knew it was going to be an exploratory surgery, but really did NOT get the seriousness of the situation until the following afternoon when the anesthesiologist was explaining the process for putting in an epidural (for post surgery pain management). This is when I got scared and I confess, I started to cry. This was serious, after all, and I didn't know what the outcome might be. 

The surgery went fine--though a little longer than expected because I had 100s of gall stones stretching from up against my liver to down behind my belly button. They extracted it all and sewed me back up. I spent one week in the hospital and then another two weeks home from work to recover. It was a scary time, but I followed doctors orders and was walking over 5 miles a day in no time and back in the gym just as soon as I was cleared to do so--about 6-8 weeks post surgery. 

But this is just the start of what has become an epic year of change for me. That health scare was what showed me that my marriage was not viable. My former husband was not, and is not, a bad man. But he did not know how to take care of me. It was more stress for me to show him what to do, than for me to just take care of myself. That was the light that began to illuminate the path to divorce. I'm grateful it was not a nasty divorce and proud to say that we both acted like the civil and compassionate adults that we are. We had a good run, but it was done. 

This is my past year in brief highlights: 

Health Scare. Recovery. Run 2014 Leadership Lab. Journalism Adviser Institute in Vegas (time with Robin). Epic trip to Mongolia with Father. Divorce. 

.......begin to open my heart to a man across the ocean..........who somehow knows me already....

Move into apartment. Begin to contemplate a life in Asia. Visit Robin in San Francisco. Sell House. Pay off debts. Zorig visits for 50 days (trip to MI, trip to ID, trip to Vegas--meeting family along the way). We confirm our path is mutual and shared. Decline contract at FVS for next school year. Adopt Mona out to her new home. Secure job in UB for next school year. Take trip to Bent's Old Fort with 11 freshmen. Roz visits for Spring Break. Pack up my life for container shipment. Pre-sell all furnishings. 

Yet to do: Sell car. Move into friend's home for month of June. Run Leadership Lab. Spend time with friends. .....and then....... move to Mongolia. For life. 

A friend looked at me recently and said, "You know Heather, you'll probably never have another year like this." 

Zorig and Enji
Oh, how right she is! It's been a whirlwind of change, of life in action. We all have different paths to walk, different things we are in pursuit of, different things that make us fulfilled and let us know peace. What I want now is completely different than what I wanted a year ago. But this is the beauty of being human--we can change our minds, alter our course, BE different. 

One year after walking into that hospital, I am thrilled to report that I am healthy, happy, and filled with joy. The road ahead of me is more than I could have ever imagined. It's a road that that includes these two special guys. The way they have welcomed me into their hearts and lives is beyond anything I've known before. And before long....we will be together at last....family under one roof in Ulaanbaatar. This image of us motivates me, drives me. It is the why behind all that I do. 

It may be cliche, but Tim McGraw got it right--we really should live as if we were dyin'. There is no guarantee about tomorrow. I know my hospital stay, in retrospect, was perhaps not life threatening--but it did serve as a wake-up call. And an opportunity for me to realize that 40 isn't all that old and that my life can only be what I make it. 

And thanks to Destiny--I'm gonna live it large! Go for broke! 


  1. What a incredible year you have had. Happiness is not the absence of problems, it is the ability to deal with them. It is very interesting to read your life sense. Also, it is helps me to improve my English. And i am looking forward to meeting you in Mongolia.

  2. Thank you, Gerel! I am counting down the days until I am reunited with Zorig and can dive into this new and lovely life. You are correct about what happiness is and is not. We can't always choose our circumstances, but we CAN choose how we react to and live with them. Thanks for reading. :)