In many ways, recovering at home is almost harder than being in the hospital. In just as many ways, recovering at home is a lot easier than being in the hospital.
What’s hard about being home: No doctors at home. Well, my sister and my husband but they don’t have access to as many meds and testing stuff and in fact, don’t even have medical degrees. No adjustable bed. I miss that adjustable bed. It made sleeping a lot easier. No Nora. At the hospital, it was just a quick walk down the hall to see her. I could go a couple of times a day. But, at home, it’s an hour of travel time there, an hour or two visit and an hour travel time home. That trip simultaneously wears me out and is the highlight of my day. And the hardest thing of all? Seeing stuff around that needs to be done and feeling completely powerless and useless. I can’t help. And anytime I try to help, I get in trouble with Dr. Sister and Dr. Husband.
What’s great about being home: Being with my family. I love being in the midst again. I love being with my kids and seeing my nieces and my sweet, precious little nephew. The coffee is much better here. It’s easier for people to visit me, so friends and family drop by and brighten my day all the time. My new chair…how I love my new chair. It’s almost as good as the adjustable bed. It feels more like I’m part of life at home. It feels like this might one day be over and I’ll eventually find a new normal. In the hospital, you feel like a patient and the road seems awfully long.
In both cases, being in the hospital and being at home, you don’t get to go to the bathroom in peace. At the hospital, it’s nurses and doctors: “Mrs. Carter? Are you okay in there? Will you be out soon?” At home, it’s family members: “Mom? Where are you? Are you okay? Can I come in, Mom?”
I think it’s really sinking in what happened to me, what it could’ve meant. Because I can’t remember much of what happened, it’s like hearing a story of something that happened to someone else. I was unconscious while my loved ones processed what losing me might mean to their lives. I was out of the woods by the time I woke up and I was never really afraid. I didn’t have a moment of seeing a bright light or of hearing Jesus call to me. I didn’t know I was in such peril until the danger had passed and I was awake.
But now…as I get better (sloooooowly get better), it’s starting to sink in. My children almost lost their mother. The little ones wouldn’t have remembered me really. Lila may have remembered some things, but Claire wouldn’t have and Nora would never have met me. The older ones, who have already experienced a lot of loss, would have remembered much. And there would’ve been a me shaped hole in their hearts. I would’ve missed their weddings, their babies, their lives…My husband’s whole family would’ve changed. As a stepfather to kids 1-4, what would that have meant for the shape of his life? Raising two tiny little girls all by himself…being without me…I would feel like half of a person without him, and I know he feels the same way about me. He is part of my Joel 2:25 and fills my heart…we are two pieces of one whole. And then I think of my sister and how we end every day by texting or facebook messaging and how she is my sister and my friend and how my life would seem deflated and empty without her in it. My nieces who I love and who love me, my nephew who is like pure sunshine, my brother in law who is more like a favorite brother, my parents who are friends as well as Mom and Dad, my extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins and in-laws, all people I adore…my friends, my amazing friends…I could’ve just as easily been gone on November 19…but the prayers of the saints snatched me back. My life was spared.
Last night, tears flowed down my face as I watched John and the kids put up the Christmas tree. I’m here to see that, to be a part, even if I’m just in my chair watching.
And a handful of paradigm shifts have happened. One, small stuff is so inconsequential. So someone broke something. So a kid wants a bite of my food. (This used to drive me NUTS!) So there are toys on the floor and shoes all over the walkway. I might ask someone to clean them up, but it’s just not a big deal. Love Well, Love Big, Love Each Other…I keep saying these things to my kids because you just never know. Life is much more fragile than I ever imagined it was.
Two, gratitude for every little thing is even more crucial than I realized. And I know I’ve been crowing about gratitude since last January but it runs so much deeper in me now. I was almost gone from this world and the little things like good coffee and tiny arms around neck and laughter all seem so much more precious.
Three, I need to give back. As the gratitude overflows and my cup runs over…I just want to get better so that I can go and do for others as others have done to me. So many people- some who are friends and some I don’t even know- they’ve cleaned my house, taken care of my yard, babysat my kids, brought over groceries, meals, Christmas gifts, K-cups, people have given money, gas cards, gifts cards, have held fundraisers and have prayed and prayed and prayed. I can not wait to be well enough to do the same for others in need. It’s been wonderful to be so well loved and held through all of this. It makes it possible for us to all focus on each other and to focus on Nora and my recovery. All these saints…they’ve given us this gift of having only each other to focus on. Our emotional resources are somewhat depleted and not having to worry about the basics of life has made it all so much easier to bear.
Four, don’t wait to encourage, to share love, to tell someone how much they mean to you. I remember right before my surgery, I was scared. I was staring at a curtain in my room and I thought to myself, “I don’t want these moments to be the last moments of my life. I’m just staring at this ugly curtain, feeling afraid and really thirsty and I want another chance to enjoy the world and see beauty in it. Not this dumb curtain.” Now, I think I want to maximize every moment I can. I want to really see the good gifts in my life. There is so much good in my life.
So, yes, recovery is hard. I have pain. Painkillers help but don’t take it away completely. I have no energy and no stamina. I cry regularly and without warning and sometimes really hard. My emotions are raw and fear for my health is something I have to pray away each and every day. I miss Nora and wish that she would just get big and learn to eat already so that we could have her home. She has a long road to go first and being so far away from her is really hard. Reconciling the missing her with the knowledge that she’s better off in the special care nursery is hard. Yes, this is a hard season.
But I’m here and I’m alive and my household buzzes with noise and wild children. I’m here to be with my husband and my kids and my sister and my family and my friends. I have learned that when you love someone, you’d better tell them. You’ll never regret telling someone who special they are…but you might very well regret not telling them. I see silver linings everywhere, little gifts God has placed on this hard journey to remind me that His hands are on my life and He is with me.
He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten. I know He will.