Despite the very best of intentions I have not been posting here regularly. Life has thrown me some major knuckle balls over the past month and notwithstanding my best efforts, I did not hit them out of the park.
Hubby and I were supposed to travel to New Mexico for the wedding of my sister-in-law to her high school sweetheart on a two-week road trip that saddled Memorial Day weekend. I washed all the clothes I planned to take and made lists galore, bought a few books so I didn’t have to worry about losing anything from the library or my Kindle freezing up, made up Ranger’s medical information folder for my mom who graciously offered to dog sit while we were away. I got my yearly physical and a clean bill of health. The living room was packed well in advance with suitcases, duffel bags and stacks of stuff that was going with us on the trip. I was ready; I had planned out almost every detail of the trip and even anticipated things that could possibly go wrong.
I never anticipated that it would be a trip I wouldn’t go on. Instead, the trip I took was to the emergency room just 4 days prior to when we were supposed to leave. I was relieved when they sent me home the next morning, scared when I had to return just a few hours later, and paralyzed with fear and worry when they admitted me to the hospital the next morning. I went through numerous tests to try to figure out what was wrong. I went from having stomach pains to being the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t eat or drink anything (other than contrast fluid for a CT scan) for days. I was covered in bruises from iv lines and needle pokes for blood tests. I had numerous abdominal x-rays. A CT scan. A sonogram. A colonoscopy and endoscopy. (How I managed to drink nearly 4 liters of that nasty preparation is beyond my scope of understanding.) A HIDA scan. And still no real concrete answers. I faced emergency Gallbladder surgery which thankfully didn’t have to happen. They finally released me, a week after I had shown up to the emergency room. Hubby booked a plane ticket so he could attend his sister’s wedding and my mom came down to care for me. I could barely walk, so weak from eating only juice, broth, and jello for days. My mind was foggy from the morphine-induced haze I found myself in during most of my visit. But still, I was alive and so glad to be home.
I learned so much from my visit there. I learned (again) that it doesn’t matter how much you plan, sometimes God’s plan for you is different than anything you ever expected. I learned that nurses are some of the most amazing people on the planet and I cannot fathom how they can love to do such a difficult, demanding, and usually disgusting job. And that those nurses have seen it all– so the embarrassing and humbling things your body does while you are in the hospital are completely normal to them; they aren’t going to judge you for it. I found that laughter helps almost anything. (I sort of knew that already.) I learned in the power of a fist bump from a male nurse who brought a 4 liter jug of colonoscopy prep liquid and told me that I needed to treat it like a game of beer pong. (Which I have never actually played.) I learned that I need to speak up for myself more than I usually do, and even my newfound voice still isn’t nearly loud enough at times. I learned that even though my dad may be in heaven, he still has ways of letting me know that he is always near. I learned even more so the deepest meaning of in sickness and in health and that I am loved more than I could ever know.
But the thing that was most cemented in my mind and heart is not to take a single moment for granted. On Friday afternoon– a week after being released from the hospital, my husband packed me into the Escape, drove me to Sandy Point State Park, and coaxed me onto a blanket spread out on the sand. “It isn’t the real beach,” he said “but it’s as close as I could get right now.” We dipped our toes in the water and I collected the pebbles and shells I could reach from my station on the blanket. Though we only stayed for 45 minutes and I could barely walk back to the car on my own, I realized that it was so important to have my toes in the sand and the wind in my hair and hear the waves lapping the shore while my love sat next to me, smiling, because those are the things that make me feel alive. And the feeling of being alive was exactly what I so desperately needed to be reminded of.