Man Plans and God Laughs

The Yiddish expression, “Mentsch tracht und Gott lacht” is a wry, slightly humorous acknowledgment of life’s unpredictability.  Until it isn’t.

Monday’s plan was an exercise class followed by lunch with a friend, then a quick stop at Trader Joe’s before heading back home to spray the azaleas, make dinner and see the movie Hugo with my husband. He was off getting his yearly physical and then a workout at the gym. God probably starting laughing somewhere between lunch, and the cereal aisle at Trader Joe’s.  By the time I got home and figured out dinner, He must have been thundering the Heavens with guffaws.

During my husband’s physical, the doctor discovered a blood clot in his thigh. No need to go all Gray’s Anatomy on you, save to say hosannas to the nurse who noticed one calf was appreciably larger than the other, and to the doctor for running a test “just to be sure, just to rule out anything major. All your numbers are those of a much younger man…”

The doc called just as I was heading upstairs to change into my gardening clothes. It was major.  Four star general major. “He has to go to the emergency room. Now. We don’t want this thing breaking up and traveling.  Boy, are you lucky. Had this been three days later…” I cut him off right there, grabbed my keys and headed out.

They were waiting for me at the entry of the medical complex.  I eased my husband into the car, thoughts of nitroglycerin dancing in my head. We set off counting the miles and the minutes. Somewhere along the way we also crossed that invisible line separating the garden-variety health concerns of middle age and the big stuff that makes old age irrelevant.

Forty-eight hours later (feels like forty-eight years) we are home. There will be new protocols to follow for a while, danger signs to stay alert for, regular tests for a few months, diet modifications.  Who knew spinach and Brussel sprouts could be put on a no-fly list?

God might have been laughing His head off on Monday, but He was also there in every “coincidence” that tipped the scales in our favor: the eagle-eyed nurse, the just-in-case diagnostic test, the fact that for some spontaneous reason, my husband rescheduled his physical from mid-March to early February. We are grateful for so much: our friends and family who rallied ‘round, the care he received, the two-ton elephant in our nation’s living room: good health care.

Am I still making plans? You betcha. God can laugh all He wants. I will meet that laughter with another famous Yiddish expression: L’chaim. To life.

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17 thoughts on “Man Plans and God Laughs

  1. Linda Anger

    Wow, Debra – what an eye-opener! I ditto Cindy’s comment.

    But why are spinach and brussel sprouts (two staples in my diet!) on the “no fly” list? (I’ll take my answer off line) —

    We so often complain about the cost of medical care and the dysfunction of the system – it’s heartening to hear that there are medical professionals who really are paying attention and doing a great job!

  2. Donna ryan

    Debra. So glad your husband caught the bloodclot when he did and i cannot imagine receiving that phonecall from the doctor. My mom always used to say YOU CANT MAKE plans and when i was younger it angered me but now that im getting older i get it. We try to plan but we never know if our plans are the same as gods. God had a better plan for your husband monday. Living with my 93 year old mom has taught me to be grateful for each day and to not stress over nonsense as i once did. I know longer play the i will be happy when game but shout gratitude every day. Thank you for once again pisting this experience. Lessons for sll of us. Contnued health to your husband

  3. Diana U. Dinverno

    Glad to hear that Martin is okay. Thank goodness all the pieces came together. I’m sending a big thank you into the universe on your behalf.

  4. Kay Harris

    Yes, life is like that. When Ira had a blood clot in his leg last year, the doctor called to tell him to go to the emergency room asap. He wasn’t home, having gone to pick up sushi for dinner. Maybe I was crazy, but I let him eat and as soon as he finished, I told him to get his coat on and get in the car. He was astounded that I kept my cool while he ate. But at least he enjoyed his dinner and alls well that ends well. Glad to hear the same good ending for Martin and you.

    1. Debra

      I marvel at your cool. I don’t know that it was crazy at all. Gave you time to compose yourself and muster strength. And besides, a little sushi never hurts….

  5. Elissa Schwartz

    So sorry to hear of Martin’s blood clot, but thrilled that the nurse was observant and the doctor proactive. I have a doctor like that and it drives me crazy running for this test and that test every time I turn around. However, I do it because it is so much better to either find out its nothing or catch something early than to not get tested and find out too late that the decision was a costly mistake.
    You and Martin will remain in my thoughts and prayers and I am very happy that I detest brussel sprouts. Take care.

    All My Best,

    1. Debra

      Elissa! You should taste brussel sprouts the way I make them. Maybe I’d convert you!
      Thank you for all your good wishes.

  6. Aunt Judy

    Learned of the emergency when I opened Martin’s latest photo collection – then to your posting for more details. My prayers of gratitude this shabbat will be more detailed than ever – wish everyone had access to the same level of medical care that kept Martin on “the right side of the grass.” Love, Aunt Judy

  7. Debra

    A poem from my good friend and wonderful poet, Meredith Trede. The width of this column has messed with a bit of her spacing however…

    Genesis Revisited

    You have to give it to a god with a sense
    of humor: trees with information-bearing fruit he won’t share; a cunning, smooth

    talking snake that’s looking for somebody else
    who’s in the know; then, no fan of the fig leaf
    god becomes first slayer, first furrier to his first

    exiles; deploys the original armed forces—
    Cherubim to guard the tree; and he’s just
    warming up. He insults the fruits of Cain’s

    labor (this god likes meat) but after Abel is
    killed marks Cain for safekeeping; you’d like;
    to ask how he feels re the three-in-one sibling

    thing that will come up later, but whenever
    people get evil or uppity he has a major snit fit:
    flood, brimstone, fire. Chutzpah takes it on

    the chin again when he throws the tower
    down. Testing trickster: giver-takes-back
    Abraham’s kid; Jacob slyboots wheedles Esau’s

    birthright/blessing; seed spilled; seed-strewn
    promise of progeny, some day, one day; Joseph
    sold to be savior. Dust of the earth, twelve

    tribes zigzag the land to find a home fit for the
    self. He goes to show you that east, west, north,
    south—out, or inside, Eden ’s a dicey place to be.

  8. The Southern Belle

    As I mature in my faith, I realize that some of the events I used to call coincidences are really God’s grace. As my sweet Southern Baptist Mama says, “God is great, and God is good.” Blessings to you and your family, Debra.

    Dondra Maney

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