Three weeks ago today I closed my eyes without knowing if I would open them again. I took a breath in Yah and a breath out weh. Yahweh. I have no further memories until I saw a light and heard voices addressing me. This was no Light. I was alive. The surgeon had successfully removed most of my liver and I was still here. Thanks be to God!
Not many people knew that my surgeon had grave concerns about proceeding with surgery. The complications were high in his mind. Between us we did not see an alternative and I was willing to gamble on what I thought were higher chances of all going well. I rallied a great cloud of witnesses around me and believed that God had this. Now I recover. Three weeks in I am off pain killers. I can walk a square city block. I breathe more deeply with each passing day. I am back in my own home alone and managing most tasks.
What have I learned these past three weeks?
1. Believe in the power of prayer. Pray often and always. When you cannot pray yourself, others will carry you. Do not be shy in asking others to pray. Prayer is one tangible way most everyone can be involved. God has this. Hand it over. Don’t make God wrestle it out of your clenched fists. One thing you can do for those praying for you is to pray for them. When the nurse wakes you up to take your vitals, when you jolt awake in pain, when you get up to go to the bathroom AGAIN, when you are too tired for anything else, you can say a quick prayer for the ones carrying you.
2. Trust that you have everything you need. God is a generous giver. Even without knowing what we need, God has already planned and purposed it. We do not even have to ask.
3. Think positively and know you can beat the odds when you trust the Creator. Not every story has a happy ending but when we think positively, the smallest miracles spring up. One negative person in my life kept all those dark thoughts silent around me to honour my request. This was a huge blessing for me.
4. Listen to your intuition. God whispers all the time. We need to pay attention to that Voice. We have learned not to and the din of other sounds can drown it out. Tap into your inner boss and call a Friend when you need to. That Life Line is always open.
5. Be an active participant in your healing. I thanked the surgeon for doing his part and the Great Physician for orchestrating the entire affair but also promised that I would take care of my body and listen to its needs as it recovers. I have to do my part now.
6. Be grateful. In the wee hours of the morning, I would thank the health care aides for whatever they were doing for me. I would be gracious to the cleaning staff. I would smile at the rotating medical teams and the crabby nurse. I prayed for those who were praying for me. I was alive–how could I not appreciate every little thing?
7. Stay in the moment. When red ants were crawling all over me as I hallucinated on the wild narcotics I was on, I tried not to flinch. After a few unsuccessful attempts to close my eyes and sleep, I prayed them away. Even when the present moment is scary, stay there and deal with it. With dozens of friends wondering what the diagnosis is, I remain in the present, focusing on healing my body, mind and soul so I can receive whatever news comes in a few weeks. God will take care of the rest in perfect timing.
8. Embrace joy. The number of visitors who mentioned my smile in my guest book surprised me. I am not sure what folks expected to see and truthfully, some saw the hurting side of me, but a smile seemed appropriate. The nurse who would hum as he changed my dressing late at night was a welcome beacon of light. The resident who cheered me on and counseled me mornings gets an A+. The patient who did daily walks at the same time as me and who I nicknamed Speedy made me laugh right out loud as he raised his fist in the air and shouted at me, “Get ‘er done!” When I had a bit of a narcotic crash and felt the darkness closing in, I rallied the troops for help to retrieve my equilibrium. Joy is always a choice, even in the toughest moments.
9. Let go of what is not helpful. That grumpy nurse–who knows her story except for God? The look of fear when someone saw all the lines going in and out of my body was not my issue to deal with. How another patient is doing in comparison will not benefit you. Do not judge your situation by someone else’s progress or lack thereof. Keep your eyes on Jesus and the path that is marked for you and you alone.
10. Know that you are loved. God loves me and you. God is Love and pours out grace upon grace for us. Receive it openly and without false humility. We are never worthy because God accepts us as we are right now. We do not have to be perfect. God places amazing people in your path and together this amazing community is a healing balm and a force to be reckoned with. We reap what we sow. I must have sown some seeds of love and grace along the way because I have been blessed with an abundance of angels around me. Sow well so that when harvest arrives you gather a crop of blessings. In the end, God will be the One who receives the glory.