Dear Todd,

This blog post is a letter to my younger self. To that younger me, when my crazy beautiful health journey started. You are welcome to join me on this journey.

Dear 2002 Todd,

Hello 2002 version of myself. You are about to start a crazy beautiful journey. Today, you cannot see the beauty. At this moment, you are in shock. You and your bride are trying to process everything the doctors have told you. Did that doctor really say I could be in a wheelchair in five years? Or worse. How could this be happening? So many questions. You are definitely not seeing the beauty at that moment. But hold on. The journey is just starting. You have no clue what a journey it will be. That is a good thing. You would not be able to handle it. Your life is going to change dramatically the next 17 years. Yes, 17 years. And counting. Just a quick side note. Everything is going to be okay. I promise.

Yes, the journey will be a long one. But hey, it’s 2019 and your still not in a wheelchair or worse. Oh by the way, you and Laura also fired that doctor. You two will get pretty good at being patient advocates. And not just for yourself. That will be one of the blessings birthed out of your journey. Believe me, you are going to add a lot of job titles to your resume the next 17 years. You will also become a Runner, Abolitionist, Missionary and a Speaker. Just to let you know, you will not be paid financially for any of those titles. Those will all be passion projects. And guess what? You will love it! But in 2002, you cannot even imagine how God could use your journey. That is a good thing. You would be overwhelmed by it all. At this moment, you are just trying to get back to a normal life. You will experience many “new normals” along this journey. Those will be tough to understand, but God will walk you through it. You and God are going to have some amazing conversations at 1am over the next 17 years. You might not appreciate those 1am discussions at first, but you will come to cherish them. I promise.

Hey 2002 Me, this journey is not going to be easy. Your body is going to be beat up beyond what a person can take. But remember you serve a God who is bigger than any storm you will face. There will be times you will doubt that, but God will still be faithful. I promise He will never leave or forsake you. In those dark moments you will face over the next 17 years, God will constantly remind you of His loving presence. Remember those 1am conversations with God I told you about? Those conversations will help you get through those dark moments.

I am going to let you in on a little secret. During this crazy beautiful journey, you are going to be blown away by your bride. Laura is going to become a total rockstar. You have no idea how strong she is. But believe me, you will be blown away by her strength and love for you. Do not ever take her for granted. Do your best to love her well. Your marriage will become stronger during this journey. You will see other relationships crumble under the pressure of health issues. So make sure to thank God for your bride every morning.

The 2002 version of yourself, is also going to be blown away by the friends that are going to walk beside you during this journey. You have no clue how loved you are. I am not joking. There will be multiple times over the next 17 years, you will face death. During those moments, you will have people from around the world praying for you. You will have so many friends surrounding you and Laura during this journey. You will learn the meaning of true friendship along this journey. Sometimes those lessons will be hard because some of your friends will walk away during the journey. Don’t worry, God will help you during those tough moments.

During your journey, God is going to bless you with a beautiful medical team. They will become like family. They will save your life on more than one occasion. Make sure you always treat them with love and respect. Because you will learn first hand how hard they work.

You cannot see it now, but there is going to be this thing called Social Media that will explode upon the scene. You will reject it at first. A lot of people will. But you will come to embrace it. You will not only embrace it, you will use it to tell your story and encourage others. Oh yeah, your story. Let us talk about that.

You will go from not wanting anyone knowing about your health issues, to sharing your story with the world. Guess what? You and Laura will even write a book about your journey. I know! You of all people will write a book. And your mom will not be the only person buying a copy. Your story is going to encourage so many people. Promise me you will never think the story is about you. Make sure you always give God all the praise and glory. Promise.

There will definitely be some sad moments along the way. You and Laura will both lose a parent during this journey. I promise God will get you through those tough moments. I pray you take the time to properly grieve during those times. Do not be afraid to asked for help when needed.

There will be some amazing moments during your crazy beautiful journey. You and Laura will decide to truly embrace each day. You will learn to love well. You will learn to think outside of the box. You will be forced to step out of your comfort zone more than once. You and Laura will take adventures that you are only dreaming about right now. You will be given the incredible gift of truly thriving in life.

Dear 2002 Todd, this journey will not be easy. Part of me is sorry about everything  you will face the next 17 years. But a bigger part of me is so excited to see everything you are going to experience. The person you will become. Do not get comfortable with the 2002 version of yourself. In the next 17 years, you will not recognize him. And that is a good thing. I promise all the pain and loss is going to be worth it. Just keep your eyes on God and see what He is going to do. Plus you are going to get some really cool nicknames. Enjoy the ride!!!

Finish Strong,

Todd “OC” Shoemaker 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Good Morning God

Good morning God. Thank you for blessing me with another day. May my thoughts, words, attitude and actions reflect your presence in my life. Please bless and protect my family, friends and those around the world who are in need. Thank you for loving me on my worst day. Amen. ~OC

Life Is Short

Life is short. Time isn’t promised. Love hard. Live well. Pray often. Hold the people that matter close. Hug your family and friends. Tell your family and friends you love them. Call a friend. Get together and celebrate family and friends. Love your enemies.. ~OC

God’s Presence

Dear God, thank you for your presence during my crazy beautiful health journey. You have walked with me each step of the way. You have blessed me with your guidance and strength. You have never left or forsaken me.

As I wrote the words above, I thought about my family and friends walking through their own journey. Dear God, I pray you would remind them that even during the darkest moments, you are with them. That you are gracious and good, and that no detail escapes your control. Dear God, give them the strength to seek you during the darkest days. Give them the strength to pray when the storm seems overwhelming. Give them the strength to praise You during the storm. Give them the strength to celebrate You during the victories.

Dear God, I know you see my family and friends that are hurting. I pray you would remind them that you’ve not forgotten them. I pray they would feel your presence. Thank you. ~OC

Thank You 4 South Heroes

As I sit here in the quietness of my house, I realize it has been almost 4 months since my last hospital visit. That’s a pretty big deal, when you have spent as much time as I have in the hospital the past 17 years. The staff on 4 South at Good Samaritan Medical Center have become family over the years. They have blessed Laura and I so many times the past 17 years. Here are just a few examples of going above and beyond the call of duty.

 

A Recliner. Some of you might not beware I can no longer sleep in a bed. With my Parkinson’s and other health issues, a bed is extremely uncomfortable. At home I sleep in a recliner. I have done this for years. During my hospital stays, the staff on 4 South always makes sure I have a recliner in my room. They could easily just say, Todd you need to sleep in the hospital bed. But they don’t. I have seen them walk all over the hospital to find me a recliner. To help make me feel as comfortable as possible.

Sitting With Me. The staff on 4 South just doesn’t come in the room and move on to the next patient. No, there have been many times they hung out a bit to catch up on life. Even on those crazy busy days the staff still pop in to say hello and check on me. I have never felt like a number during my stays on 4 South.

Caring for Laura. The staff has not only taken care of me for the past 17 years, they have taken care of Laura. Laura has never been a patient on 4 South, but the wonderful staff always makes sure she is doing okay. They realize the importance of the caregiver.

A Room With A View. Good Sam is located by the intracoastal in West Palm Beach, FL. Some of the rooms have beautiful views of the water. The staff always tries to make sure I have a room with a view if possible. When I am in the hospital for weeks at a time, waking up to an amazing view is a blessing.

Good Sam Is My Cheers. Have you ever watched the old tv show Cheers. The lyrics from the theme song says “Everybody Knows Your Name.” That is how Laura and I feel when we walk into Good Sam. Everyone knows our name. I bet you have the song in your head now.

A Life Saved. The nurses and staff on 4 South always go above and beyond for their patients. Let me share just one example. Back in 2014, during a visit on 4 South I passed out in my room. My heart rate was out of control. The staff actually had to stop my heart and start it again. During this incident, one of the nurses ran down 3 or 4 flights of stairs to get some medication I desperately needed. Her quick actions probably saved my life. Thankfully, I have no memory of that day. Laura does and is always thankful for the quick response of the staff that day.

As you can see, the staff on 4 South is pretty special. Some of the staff have been taking care of me for 17 years. Some have gone and come back. Some have retired. I have friends that joke Good Sam is a vacation spot for me. Well, I wouldn’t call it a vacation spot, but I would call it my second home. I would call it family. ~OC

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