No one wants to kiss their children goodbye like it's the last time they will see them. Or better yet, maybe every time we part we should be hugging the ones we love as if we might not again.
I'd signed the waivers and read the risks and the words weren't at all pretty.
So when I woke out of some foggy blackness and everything felt like it was in the wrong place despite reassuring voices to the contrary, I wished I'd gone on. At least just for a minute. That might be one's wish when feeling driven over by a truck.
As the the fog lifted and the voices cleared, however, it was encouraging to observe medical delight as toes twitched and knees lifted, no sensations of numbness, and bodily function and control returned.
Medications made me restless. Nothing inside seemed to know after forty some odd years, where it should be and I tossed and turned as much as one frozen in place can toss or turn. Time to stand and I felt my head lull to to one side and the room swim.
I'd never succeed if I didn't cut back on medication doses. Killing the pain would teach me nothing. Knowing my limits and listening to my abilities would only improve my skills. Despite contrary advice, I took control and reduced meds to half doses.
Progress was up and progress was down. I couldn't keep in food or pills. I couldn't shuffle ten steps. I needed bathroom assistance. I began to revel in the small miracle of the moment. I took a bite. It stayed down. We did it. I took a step. I closed the door to the bathroom alone. We did it. I perched on the edge of a chair for thirty seconds. I took five full breathes of air. We did it.
I awoke from a hallucinogenic sleep alone. My phone lay at my side with a text message from dutiful Newel who had paced at my side day and night, "Grabbing lunch, be back soon." Followed by another one, "Can I come see you?" from a favorite girlfriend. Slowly forcing my hand to respond, "No" I punched send as I heard her voice at the door and turned to see her smile. I burst into tears realizing my no meant yes.
Does anyone ever know when they are another's daily miracle? Probably not.
She took charge. Rubbing circulation into feet and hands. Working kinks out of over compensating neck and shoulders. Forced ice chips in tiny increments. Held hair back from rejected stomach contents and gowns back from bathroom indecencies. Sent an over exhausted husband to a hotel for some much needed sleep. Lay awake into late hours listening to medicated phsyco-babblings. Mostly, she filled the room with a Healer's love.
As the days wore on, I shuffled then walked, then climbed stairs, all of which seemed out of reach but little by little returned. My neck stiffened to a debilitating pinch. The kind that outweighs all things and my brain swirled and whirled around the idea of post operative difficulties and side effects. A nurse entered suggesting more pharmaceutical relief and I burst into tears. Let's not go backward, I said. There has to be a better way. She blinked at me in frustrated amusement. Bless her heart, the "candy closet" was the answer to all ills in her world.
A new physical therapist visited my room for an assessment. "If only we were in my private practice office." she said, "I'd dry needle along these pressure points to relieve strain here and here." Familiar with her technique, I begged her to find a way. "It's not hospital procedure." she said glancing over her shoulder, but something in my desperate pleading sent her away and brought her back with "stolen" needles from the medical closet. Muttering quietly about the possibly of repercussions, she worked fast at her acupuncture, then disappeared into the hallway. Minutes later, my body relaxed, muscles released, my head turned side to side and breathing returned to normal ... and I never saw nor heard from her again.
She'd come when I needed a miracle most.
I lay awake in the dark of night with my sleep patterns re-arranged. Wondering if I'd get past this. Wondering if I'd move faster than a shuffle. Wondering if I'd run, or lift, or hold, or chase .... or sleep. Crying came from the room next door. Finally able to leave the bed unassisted and shuffle with a walker, I exited my room for a small stroll.
The words spilled through the crying, "Just let me die". I knocked lightly and an elderly woman alone lay shriveled in an oversized bed. I asked to come in and to sit since sleep evaded us both. "Tell me ... where are you from? Do you have children? How old are your grandchildren? Tell me about them." We talked the night away. In the dark of the morning, I returned to my bed finally exhausted. I had sat. I had talked. I had thought about something other than myself. She'd given me more than I could have ever given back and I was grateful for her miracle.
I thought we'd never be released from the hospital but somehow we did and made the three hour drive home. It's a blur. But the warmth of returning home was real. I thought I'd burst with love for a mother in law who so patiently held down the fort. For children who had exceeded expectations looking for the need within our family. For church friends who showed up in the days that followed with meals ... for those who stayed a little while longer to make the hands of the clock tick just a bit faster. For those who walked with me from front door to driveway end ad nauseam to regain strength. For girlfriends who packed me to their homes to rest on their recliners and entertaining my preschooler. For a diligent physical therapist who called within minutes of hospital release saying, "Lets get you back up and running, I'm on my way over."
But mostly for a husband who every step of the way encouraged and cheered and pulled and prodded. Changing bandages, rubbing sore muscles, pushing activity, force feeding, bathing, and getting children everywhere they needed to be. I am forever grateful for the man who put me in a car and drove me around to look at Christmas lights so I would be distracted as I over came the pain of forcing unwilling muscles into a sitting position. For his tolerant patience and assistance on a day when I just had to do something mom-ish and bake banana bread come hell or high water and broken bodies be damned. For his attentive hover as I cross over winter's icy pavements. For his gift of special hiking equipment as I struggle to reclaim my former activity levels. For his ever constant "Look how far you've come!" when I feel there is so far to go.
Today, I move quite well and I'm feeling better and better every day. I tote kids here and there, fulfill the mom chores and try to breathe in every precious moment. The sun is out. The sky is blue. Sometimes that combination is a daily miracle in and of itself. I look back at the picture of the path and I see every moving part leading to where I sit now.
A girl who will hopefully fulfill her measure.
Because of a father who shared his everything.
Because of a mother who scrimped and saved.
Because of a ballet teacher's motto "Think Straight"
Because of an education in muscle memory.
Because of seven beautiful children.
Because of a doctor with incredible talent.
Because of friends who encourage and care.
Because of a nameless professional with a willing heart.
Because of an opportunity to serve
Because of daily struggles to knock off rough edges
Because of spiritual influences
Because of family who loves
Because of a Father in Heaven who doesn't leave.
Because every day holds moments that are miracles bringing us to where we stand.
All we have to do is look.