December 2017 was remarkably hard. I felt a painful ache throughout my body all through the fall and by December, the emergency room visits had started. By the end of the year, I’d had what my doctor believes were 3 separate small heart attacks. On Christmas day, I found myself plagued by such a serious bout of food poisoning that I couldn’t keep down anything including water for 8 days.
Something good came of it, though. I entered 2018 feeling strong and capable. There’s nothing quite like being stripped of all your strength to help you notice when it returns. I’ve experienced this before and it now feels so familiar. In 2009, I had lost nearly 100 lbs when I had a Reverse T Abdominoplasty (aka: a massive tummy tuck to remove all the excess skin from my weight loss). All was well for about 5 days. September 4, 2009, I had a triple pulmonary embolism. By all accounts, I should have died. In early 2011, my marriage was targeted by a dangerous sociopath and my entire life had to be rebuilt from scratch. Seriously. She didn’t just want my husband; she wanted my house, my dogs, and even my kids. It was vicious.
Our family came out of these trials stronger and more closely bonded than we could have imagined. We also gained that ability to notice when our power returns.
Enter 2018: A return to power.
The thing is, there’s a price for everything. You don’t get something from the Universe unless it intends to take something from you. My Mom called me on Monday to unknowingly let me know what it was that the Universe had decided I owed. Cast off caffeine addiction, dehydration, illness, and it all goes somewhere.
Arriving at the emergency room was surreal. Hospitals aren’t exactly foreign territory for our family because of our varied disabilities, but this felt different. A phlebotomist was with my Mother, poking at dehydrated veins. She writhed in pain. Within 2 hours, she would be taken back for emergency surgery. Scar tissue from a previous surgery had twisted a large section of her bowel and the consequences for not fixing it were either a fast death or a slow death. Surgery was not optional.
Okay, Universe. I hear you. I can be strong, but only if I’m ready to use that strength. I’m ready.
Our first potential hospital release date was yesterday. I scurried about, preparing my home and children for Grandma to move in. Next up, I drove to her house and picked out a variety of outfits that wouldn’t upset her surgical site before heading over to the hospital. #BitofaDay printed across my tank top, I waltzed into her 3rd floor hospital room just in time to meet her new nurse. “How’s she doing today? Great?”, I chirped. She met me with glance down at the bag of blood she was holding. Mom intervened before I could get the news from the nurse that she would be receiving a blood transfusion. My arrival was perfect timing. Not for her hospital discharge, but to sit beside her and support her through her first ever blood transfusion.
I stayed through physical therapy and occupational therapy. Notes seemed to jot themselves down in the notepad app on my phone with very little effort from me. Doctors and nurses assured me she could come home with me on Monday, or maybe, if things turned around quickly, even Saturday. “What’s today?” I thought, days having blurred over the past week. Thursday. My phone assured me it was Thursday.
My 4 year old son opened the door when I arrived home and he didn’t close it behind me. He held the door and waited for Grandma as I tried to explain why she had to stay with her doctors for a bit longer.
This morning, I tended to all those notes in my phone from the occupational therapist. Amazon is an incredible resource for finding the rehabilitation supplies you need at a comparable (if not downright cheaper) price than what you find on most medical supply sites. Buying local is my usual motto, but I simply don’t have the time right now. Right now my energy is entirely focused on maintaining my family while spending most of my hours up at the hospital waiting for good news that rarely comes.
8 to 12 weeks is the current estimate for Mom’s initial recovery, but that could change. As of now, we’re expecting that she’ll be staying with us through February and possibly March. She’s an independent woman, but her home has a large set of stairs between the front door and her living quarters. There’s no way she can take those stairs daily with a massive stomach wound. Our rambler is the perfect answer.
Following Our Instincts
We homeschooled our kids based on our deep belief that it would be what was best for both of our daughters. This has proven to be true. We travel, invest, remodel, and live by our best educated gut instincts. Everyone has their familial precepts. Trusting ourselves is among our highest.
My Father taught me to never fear a stranger simply because I did not know them. He taught me to love mankind and to embrace opportunities to make friends and help people. Our home was a hub, whenever needed, for those who needed a place to stay or someone to talk to. No one was turned away and there was always room for more guests. Abraham and I recognized what a huge influence this had on my life early in our marriage and we decided to work as hard as possible to ensure that we would never have to turn anyone away.
This learned instinct has led our family home to become a sanctuary for those in need, including, now, my Mother. I cannot think of a better way to show my Father that I was listening and that I will continue to hold his lessons in my heart regardless of his death. Mom clearly feels she is burdening us, but that could not be further from the truth. An opportunity to serve the ones we love is never a burden. It’s a blessing. This is perhaps easiest to see through the eyes of our children, eager as they are to see Grandma every day.
Even blessings can be difficult, though. Please, wish us luck.