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Good Problems to Have

Last week in my blog, I talked about the miracle of my nephew getting a heart transplant. I’m happy to report that things continue to go well and he’s now at home with my sister and her partner.  In an update sent to our extended family, my sister wrote, “I am profoundly grateful.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the disappearance of stress or anxiety. Last week when I was visiting my sister and her partner, I sat in on conferences with the discharge folks who went over the new medication regimen as well as dietary and life style restrictions.

The chances of rejection are of course highest in the first year. So are the chances of getting an infection, since the drugs that help prevent rejection lower the immune system. It’s a delicate dance between the anti-rejection meds and the drugs and life style changes prescribed to minimize the chances of an infection.  As we sat there listening and madly scribbling notes, I was struck by the new challenges in my nephew’s life, as well as the lives of my sister and her partner who have been his key support system.

Meantime, we experienced a less dramatic but positive turn of events for our younger son who’s had more than his share of financial and career struggles. After months of applying, he got the news last week that he’d been longing for—he was the top choice for a teaching job at an innovative high school out West. It was his if he wanted it.

Boy, did he want it! The good news felt almost surreal. The day after being hired, my son told me he hauled himself out of bed and stumbled over to his desk for his morning ritual—check to see whether any new jobs had come in he could apply for. As he booted up his computer, he blinked several times, and thought, “Wait a minute. What am I doing? I have a job!”

Overnight, my son and his fiancé had a new set of challenges—leaving their current jobs on good terms, moving across the country, finding a new place to live, and helping their kids adjust to a major move. When I asked my son’s fiancé how she felt about this sudden turn of events, she said, “So excited! So thankful… but I’m also really anxious.”

“Yes,” I said, remembering the years of frequent moves that my husband and I had made as professional dancers and teachers determined to keep our family afloat.  Whenever we hovered on the brink of financial disaster and one of us landed a job that would pay the bills, we were thrilled beyond belief, but also mega-stressed.

Funny… I always want to think in terms of “good times” or “bad times” in our lives and to long for the uncomplicated “Happily Ever After” in our stories. But life has a way of interrupting my fantasies. None of us gets a pass from the stress of major life changes—even the ones we’ve longed for, such as my nephew’s heart transplant or my son’s new job.

Still, these are such good problems to have, and there tends to be a pretty stark difference between good problems and devastatingly bad ones. I’ll take our family’s “good problems” any day.  And like my amazing sister, I am “profoundly grateful.”

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