‘Are you feeling OK?’  That’s the question I ask my poor wife.  Day after day, sometimes hour after hour.

She is almost six months from her radiation and chemotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer, and from the pulmonary embolus that followed treatment.

The good news is that she is thriving.  Riding bikes, lifting weights, eating almost everything she wants and down to her college weight.  She is still a little hoarse, and sometimes still has discomfort with swallowing.  But otherwise, fantastic.

The bad news is that her husband (that’s me) is largely, how shall I put it, crazy.  Yep, that’s me.  I’m crazy with anxiety.  Crazy with memories of those dark days.  And even though I know, day to day, how well she is, I do what every good emergency physician invariably does;  imagine the worst possible complication or outcome.

As a physician, that skill helps me not to miss heart attacks, meningitis, strokes, ruptured spleens and dozens of other eventualities. As a husband, it makes me really, really annoying.

And as a Christian, it sometimes makes me seem quite faithless.  The scriptures are clear.  ‘Do not worry about anything,’ it says in  St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians.   Everyone, from God the Father to God the  son to angels, patriarchs and apostles says, repeatedly, ‘Fear not!’  In fact, it’s the most repeated command in the Bible.

However, I wallow in fear.  I don’t care for alcohol, I adore my wife, I have never used illegal drugs, (yes, yes, I eat too much), I try to speak the truth and not covet (though I really wish I could kill a deer now and then!).  So my true, pet sin is anxiety.

I suppose there may be some PTSD involved here.  When we come close to losing a spouse, it’s easy for the images, the memories to haunt us.  In addition, my work brings me in close proximity to many types of loss on a regular basis.  Maybe this is a recurring theme in health care providers or the families of those who survive terrible illnesses.  I don’t know.

All I know is that driving my poor wife nuts with my constant queries, my hovering, my stares (however well-intentioned) and my never-ending medical assessment of her every physical characteristic.

I suppose I just want to say, to anyone in a similar situation, it’s hard not to do it.  Especially for those of us in medicine, worry is kind of our job.  But when we take it home, it’s not very functional.  And it can easily drive our loved ones crazy, even as it drives us crazy inside.

And to those of us who profess Christianity, well worry is a tough affliction to overcome.  The world is full of hurt.  The world is a place of loss.  Life hurts. But we are promised that one day, all will be well. And that along the way, in every storm, we will have a guide.  Psalm 91, among many others, is clear.  The resolution of our worries, rational and irrational, may await eternity, but it will come.

The great challenge, in the interim, is simply learning to live day to day without a constant fear of catastrophe.  And with a daily resolution to enjoy every moment, without the poison of anxiety; real or imagined.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as time heals the wounds, physical and emotional.  And let me know if I can return the favor.

God bless you,

Edwin

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