Even the Best-Laid Plans


The following is a guest blog post written by friend of DGVE law, Hollee Schwartz Temple, Esq., an attorney and the co-author of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, Spring 2011).  Hollee interviewed me for a piece in the American Bar Association Journal that appeared last Spring as well as for research for her new book in which I make a brief appearance or two.
 No one wants to think about life’s horrible what-ifs – much less devote an entire book chapter to it – but that’s exactly what I did in my new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, Spring 2011).
In the book, I share what happened when my 36-year-old husband, John, endured a health crisis that none of us could have expected. Our best-laid plans were obliterated by bad luck.
John got the first inkling that something was going wrong with his heart on a flight from North Carolina. Right before he was supposed to board the plane, he got into a heated cell phone discussion with a work colleague, and then his vision got blurry. The way he described it, the frame got smaller and smaller until he was sure he was going to pass out.
It scared him enough to see a doctor, but given his otherwise healthy history and age, no one expected the worst to happen. They gave him some drugs, told him to try to manage his stress, and sent him on his way.
But the signs persisted. Right before my older son’s fourth birthday party, he was mowing the lawn when his teeth started to hurt and he curled into a ball on the lawn. He said his heart felt like it was racing, but I assured him he was fine. (The doctors had diagnosed atrial fibrillation and said that while it was annoying, it was not life threatening.)
The doctors were wrong.  A few months later when he was racing around on a racquetball court with our sons, I peered through the glass doors to see him reaching out at me … and then he collapsed, his lips turning blue.
The rest was a nightmarish blur … three hospitals, two lifeflights, numerous surgeries. I’ll spare you the details, but tell you something that comforted me in the darkest hours: I had planned for this.
I had taken the time to create a set of estate planning documents before our first son was born; we had both been approved for hefty life insurance policies.
I thought about those papers a lot during John’s horrible hospital visits. If the worst happens, I would think, at least I don’t have to worry about rushing back to work. If the worst happens, the kids and I will be okay.
Happily for us, the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic were able to get John’s heart under control. He got stronger (eventually running a marathon), and when I look at him shoveling mulch in the yard or running the bases with our boys, it’s hard to remember that the nightmare was real.
It’s not pleasant to think about the worst, but I’m so glad we did.
Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood is available at bookstores nationwide or on Amazon at http://amzn.to/newperfect
Hollee and her co-author, Becky Beaupre Gillespie, blog about parenting and work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

About Danielle G. Van Ess

Danielle G. Van Ess is a Massachusetts (born and raised), experienced estate planning and small business attorney who helps her clients protect and preserve what matters most to them. To learn more, please visit: dgvelaw.com or call: 781-740-0848