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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Learn to keep glass half full

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - Jamey French, director of development and marketing for State of the Heart Hospice, believes there is no such thing as a bad day.
"Every day has perfect moments and imperfect moments," the Greenville man told guests attending the ninth annual staff appreciation luncheon hosted Wednesday by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce. "You have to decide which ones to focus on and which to overlook."
French explained his "perfect day" - walking hand-in-hand with his wife Molly along a moon-swept Cancun beach on New Year's Eve. It really didn't matter that he had spilled coffee over his expensive white, "touristy" shirt or that they had engaged in an earlier squabble.
His philosophy regarding no bad days was tested four years, four months and two days later as his wife hovered tenuously between life and death with a strep infection of the blood and adult respiratory distress syndrome. Specialists pegged her chances of living as slim to none.
"The doctors told me the 5 percent chance of survival was due to Molly's young age and a previous history of good health," French said. "Five percent is not much but it is enough to keep you from giving up."
A friend, who works as a respiratory therapist at the University of Michigan Medical Center, encouraged French to fly her to the medical center where specialists successfully treated similar cases with a poor prognosis. Her condition steadily improved but more surprises lay ahead.
French learned on Good Friday in 2008 that his wife, an elementary teacher in the Greenville City Schools, required surgery. Doctors amputated both her legs and two fingers related to dangerous complications stemming from a lack of sufficient oxygen. She didn't flinch, summing up her options with a well known line from the movie "Shawshank Redemption" - "You have to get busy living or you have to get busy dying."
Molly came home two months later and took her first tentative steps on prosthetic legs two months after that.   
French wondered at times how they would face the future with mountains of medical bills until he overhead her telephone conversation with a friend. It seemed as if she was speaking directly to him.
"Tammy, I've yet to have a bad day," she told the woman on the other end. "I've only had bad moments."
Those words echoed through his mind bringing him to a new realization.
"Every day we have perfect moments and imperfect moments," he said. "It is up to each one of us to determine which ones to focus on."
Following the program, Molly told The Daily Standard the experience that brought her to the brink of death taught her a valuable lesson.
"Don't take anything for granted," she said. "Being able to wake up in the morning, to breathe without assistance and to walk where I need to go are the greatest gifts. I shouldn't be here but I am. There are no bad days, only good ones filled with wonderful opportunities."
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