Lately there have been some things I just can’t do on my own. Has anyone else felt this way recently? For me the frustrations began on Saturday, February fourth. I wanted to do something special for Carrie before her terrible week of taking care of me would begin. I suddenly realized that on February 14, while I recovered from surgery would be Valentine’s Day. What was I to do? I mean, I couldn’t be sure of whether I would be alive or dead, able to make plans for my dear wife or be struggling for consciousness. I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but I was unsure of what my condition or quality-of-life would be.
I wanted to do something special for my wife, but I was faced with the reality that I could not actually wait any longer to make plans. If I didn’t order some flowers and set some plans in motion, I could run out of time!
|I was very fortunate to be with Carrie for her to see these on Valentines!!!
As a young man I seldom feel as though I will run out of time. I seldom feel as though I might miss getting something finished. Sometimes that means that I wait until the last minute to setup worship or plan a Bible Study. Sometimes that means that I don’t often enough tell my wife or family how I feel about them. Oh, and more recently, it means that I get up at ungodly hours to eat sugar-sweetened cereal (every since getting to my in-laws) …because there will always be tomorrow to exercise.
Isn’t that a shame? I especially recognize the shame in such behavior this week. I finally found a week when my health concerns forced me to face my mortality and the precariousness of life. I suspect that others of you have felt these feelings sometimes, am I wrong? Don’t we all feel a little helpless (maybe hapless) from time-to-time?
One reality that really slapped me in the face, once I was out of the hospital this week, was the fact that I could not drive. I’m young! I never imagined for a moment what it would mean for me to have my driving privilege taken away from me. Well, stop the presses, let’s be really clear: I never really thought of of driving as a privilege! Driving seemed to be a right for someone in my age and in my condition! I have always just assumed that I could drive.
During my hospital stay it was a non-issue, of course. Except in a wheelchair: No one drives in the hospital! That would be silly. No problem! But when I got my official discharge all my friends and family were away from the hospital at the moment. Still, no big deal. I had plenty to do and I began setting myself to work trying to gather up the many small items which had exploded into my room. My father-in-law and wife were on the way and all would be fine. I just had to be patient. Patience, though, really isn’t my strongest suit. I made it it home just fine, of course…except that wasn’t the end of the story. From the moment of my surgery right up until the moment I am writing this very journal entry…I have been on very powerful narcotics to control pain. That means no driving. –It means, actually, that there is a lot of very unsteady walking, too. My mobility has been severely limited and I find myself frustrated and continually impatient.
Not only did I find myself with strict orders to not do any driving, but I was under instructions to not shower, not get my head wet (that meant no shampoong my hair: gross!), and, perhaps most stressful: I was under orders to use a walker or wheelchair. Have any of you found yourself losing your freedoms like this? It was terribly disenheartening and this all left me feeling a bit silly and vulnerable. Of course, once we start learning our limits we begin to get used to it, right?
By day number two of all this: I was very comfortable with the fact that any strolls down the hallway would be with a walker. In fact, it brought me some comfort, in a way. I felt some security in knowing that I had something to hold onto. But even in the midst of comfort and security, we can have setbacks, right? The next day, without the Physical Therapist, but with my wife and parents nearby, I decided to take short walk with my walker (having notified my nurse, of course). The day before my walk had gone very well and I went at least two thirds of the way down the hall with supervision, but on this day: with my parents arguing behind me, my wife not in my line of sight and with commotion all around me (patients, nurses, doctors and others walking quickly past), I suddenly felt as though I was going to pass out. I’m not sure if I exclaimed it verbally or just thought it, but all that I knew was that I was about to go down -and embarrassingly, I had not even gone half the distance of the day before! I’m passing out! What a strange, terrible and helpless feeling. I felt like a failure, but my wife shouted and my father ran for a chair. I can’t be sure of how it all happened, but somehow my body was managed into a wheelchair and my wife gave me the safety of her arms as she helped me to feel safe and secure once again. Oh- and just as importantly, she bouyed me up emotionally, reminding me of what I had accomplished and not letting me dwell on my failures.
Don’t we all have moments when we realize we have gotten in over our heads and we worry that we can’t succeed on our own? Today, as I ponder all of the freedoms I have temporarily lost and the strangeness that has become an every-day part of my life, of late: Today I cannot help but recognize all that I have gained, as well. It maybe frustrating to ask my mother-in-law for a simple ride to the store. It may seem lonely to sleep across the room from my wife…and it may drive my wife and mother-in-law mad that they are now scheduling their days around medicine pick-ups, Scott’s silly errands, physical therapy, and home nursing visits.
Yet, as God is my witness: I shall do my my best to not take the help of others’ for granted in the future; I shall try to be more ready to ask for help (I strained myself moving a chair by myself, tonight, instead of asking for help); and I, most assuredly, will strive to be more compassionate and available to providing support and assistance to others where I see them struggle.
I won’t lie: This has been a difficult few days, but it has also been days of patience and learning for both my wife and I! Would you join me on this journey as we support on another, grow in community and call upon God to strengthen us, even on those difficult days?
Thank you for your continued love and support (and patience!)