Last week in Elders Quorum class, (a Sunday church class for the men in the ward/congregation), the teacher asked the question “What would you do if you only had one day left to live?” It was based on a General Conference talk by Elder Godoy, titled “One More Day.” We all gave different answers. Someone said they would go skydiving, someone said they would eat ice cream all day, someone said that they would make sure to write down their testimony for their posterity, and most everyone said that they would want to be with their family. I thought that I would probably be somewhat like the prophet Lehi and call my family to be around me, and probably give each of my children a priesthood blessing. That was Sunday.
Monday comes and things are normal, but by the evening my vision is a little weird. By Tuesday afternoon I realize that I am really having trouble seeing and that I have double vision, something I had never had before. I went to bed early Tuesday night hoping it was just the lack of sleep and the stress and physical work of going through moving and finding a new home.
On the way to work Wednesday, I called my friend and former bishop, who is an Optometrist. I told him my situation and he let me know some of the causes, and he suggested that I see an Optometrist. I was able to find one who could see me in Port Angeles right away and after several tests he determined that it was the third nerve in my eye and that I should go to the ER and get an MRI to see if it was something serious like a stroke.
I texted my wife and she took me to the ER and stayed with me. Hundreds of questions like, “How many fingers am I holding?” I would respond, “Well, I know you don’t actually have 6 fingers plus your thumb, but that is what I am seeing.” 7 hours of waiting and finally going through an MRI… It was a long day.
I’ve never had an MRI before. They asked if I was claustrophobic and I said, “Well I prefer open spaces.” It’s true. I am a bit claustrophobic but not too severe. Once I was put in the little tunnel I really had to think of other things. Mind over matter! It was very loud even with ear plugs. I did not like it. I kept thinking of my little Xavier and how many MRI’s he has had to go through with all of his operations and treatment of Hydrocephalus. Now I got to see, albeit with double vision, first-hand what an MRI was like. Cool technology for sure. Not a fun experience. I pretty much feel like an astronaut now. They had drawn some blood earlier and had given me an IV. After a long period of time in the MRI they brought me back out on this electric conveyor, only to put some dye in my blood to enhance the image, and then back in I went. More loud noise. More of trying to get my mind off of the fact that I was in a really tight space with something attached to my head that felt like I was wearing a storm-trooper helmet. Either I was getting an MRI or they were going to shoot me into space. I wasn’t sure which was better after awhile.
I was wheeled back into a waiting room in the ER. It was a bit of madness. Someone was yelling and I heard them calling security. Luckily we were safe from all the craziness behind this little thin curtain wall. I’m pretty sure they are bullet proof.
As we were sitting there, I leaned over and said to my wife, “Whatever they come back with, it probably isn’t going to be good.” During the questions they had asked me if I had hit my head. I actually remembered that back when I fell off the ladder and hurt my foot, that I had hit my head pretty hard on the cement drive way, but that had been a couple months ago. The worst case, maybe a tumor or some type of brain cancer. Hydrocephalus. Or maybe I had Diabetes. I was bracing myself for some bad news. We hadn’t had lunch that day and it was time for dinner. We were both hungry. Finally the doctor came in and she looked at me, I tried to focus and only see one of her without closing one eye and looking like Popeye. She said, “Great news. We didn’t find anything! And the blood work all came back normal!” Wow! I did not expect that. She said to follow up with the Optometrist.
The Optometrist said to wait a couple months to see if it corrects itself. It could have been a very small localized stroke in the nerve or it might be something for which they have no explanation. In any case, everyone seems to think that it is nothing to worry about too much.
Interestingly, my father-in-law has been having issues with double vision. The cause of his double vision might be the same cause as mine, or it might be from the Parkinson’s Disease which he is battling. After now experiencing what it is like, I have more compassion and empathy for what he is going through. Maybe this is a lesson I needed to learn. I know that after I had my hip replacement, I had a lot more empathy for those in our church congregation and other friends, family, and neighbors who have gone through hip and knee replacements. You don’t really understand 100% until you go through it.
Luckily my vision is somewhat better. I can see looking forward, but looking down is still an issue. Walking down stairs is problematic, but I’m alive. I’m a little more grateful in my prayers for life and for being with my family. I have thought back all week to that lesson. I’m glad I wasn’t faced with the decision on what to do if I only had one day left. I’m pretty sure if I only had one day left, I would not spend it going in to work, or doing some of the other things that take up a lot of my time. I think I would love my children and make sure they know of my testimony of Jesus Christ. He and His infinite atonement are the only ways in which we can over come death and sin. This knowledge, of our Savior and Redeemer, is what is most important. This is what I would convey on my last day. This is eternal truth. It is our only hope and the only way back to our Father in Heaven.
“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.” Mosiah 5:15