You know what is crazy? My life! I've learned it can't be excused with current circumstances because once this set is gone another will arrive. Different, yet still crazy. And much of it is a direct result of choices we've made. I guess in life we all do our own version of crazy but I can't help wonder sometimes if we are over-achievers.
Last week I got up at 3 AM, packed and got ready for the day. I drove to my sister's house and we left, still in the dark, bound for New York City. Our agenda: Monday was to be pre-surgical testing and a first meeting/consultation with the plastic surgeon who had been hand-picked by my primary surgeon the week before. Tuesday was to be a sedated procedure which would prepare the area for a surgery later in the month.
When we met with the plastic surgeon, I liked him immediately. He had an easy manner and wasn't creepy or squirrelly. He joked a bit but was professional. He seemed confident without being pretentious. After asking me about the specifics of my case (he'd clearly already been well updated by Dr. Temple) and doing an exam, he said, yeah, I think I can do this tomorrow.
Wait, what? Tomorrow?? Amy and I were totally on board with bumping up the timeline by two weeks, especially since we were already there in the city, it was just surprising.
We walked back to the hotel and started making logistical arrangements to maybe have surgery the following day and then be in the hospital about four days recovering. Or maybe not. Maybe we'd just go home the next afternoon and come back later in the month.
Tuesday came and we arrived at the hospital at 11:30. We didn't have to wait long before meeting with Dr. Temple to go over the procedure and/or surgery and sign paperwork. She and I have been through a lot of hard things together and I have deep feelings for her and she for me. Our personalities have been a perfect match to do all this business together.
After, we were sent to get ready for surgery. Amy and I waited a bit (Amy, who had a bunch of sick people at home and a million things that needed to be done) and Shaun was finally able to join us, having rearranged his entire day (during tax season) on a moment's notice. And then we waited some more. A highlight during this time was getting a visit from the fellow, Michael, who took such good care of me during my time at the hospital in July. I have no idea how he even discovered I was there, but it meant so much that he'd hunted me down and had even peaked at my scans from the prior week to know they were clear. SO sweet!
Finally, four hours after arriving at the hospital, I said goodbye to Amy and Shaun and followed a nurse to the OR room. I've got to say, its a little strange to go into surgery not knowing what they are going to do. Maybe that's more common than I know, but in my last three surgeries, there was a very clear, definite plan. This time, no one knew though, when I finally started pulling out of anesthesia, it was immediately clear to me that they'd done the full surgery and I even knew exactly which leg they'd taken muscle from.
I must pause here a moment to say, I've always had a pretty positive body image. I change the things I can (flabby triceps) and accept the things I can't (5' 4.5", in the midst of a tall family). However. I couldn't help but think what a waste of a plastic surgeon. Instead of giving me a smaller nose, he made two incisions in my thigh totaling 20 cm and used that muscle to fill an internal cavity. Ah well...maybe next time. ;)
After a long day of waiting, Amy and Shaun were able to come see me for a few minutes around 9 PM and said all preliminary reports were good. Dr. Temple, the plastic surgeon and yet another expert had all collaborated for the 2 hour 45 minute surgery. What a blessing to have such good care!
By the next morning, there was already of talk of me going home the next day and it actually happened! My dear brother-in-law was in the city for a work meeting anyway, so he scooped me up from the hospital when I was discharged. We had NO traffic issues. The kids came racing out to greet me and Amanda had made sure to leave signs of love and welcome all over the house.
Shaun continues to be my superhero. During my hospital stay last week he was dealing with sewer issues at one of our buildings. One night while I was away he tucked the kids in bed and was digging until 2 AM then was up early the next morning getting kids off to school and going to work. Its still not resolved and we've had to put all the tenants up in a hotel since there is no water at the building. This week a plumber will be digging up the driveway and maybe the sidewalk, working on getting things fixed but it has been quite stressful, expensive and ill-timed.
I'll answer two common questions here.
1.) Yes, I had a roommate again. I was initially made aware of her my first night at 1 AM when there was an animated and lengthy debate between her and the nurse about using the commode. The back and forth went on until it was too late and then there was the cleanup effort.
What I discovered throughout the next day was that she was highly confused due to her advanced cancer. Everyone who came into her (our) room it seemed, asked her the year, who is the president, where are you. These questions always stumped her. Once, I heard her on the phone with a relative, desperately trying to find someone to spring her. As she was hanging up she said, "Oh, by the way, what is the date? These people keep asking me that question!" :)
I've officially struck out on roommates. I think its time to reflect on who is the common denominator in all these failed attempts to find a BFF at the hospital. ;)
2.) How are the kids? They are strong and amazing and resilient. But this is hard. Yet again, I made a trip to NYC and didn't return when expected. I said I'd be home on Tuesday and I wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if they understand enough to be able to process it, other times they'll make a comment and all at once I realize they probably know way too much.
Always my prayer is that this experience, this lifestyle really, will work to help them be individuals who are compassionate, who are the first to jump in when they see a need, who understand that scars and imperfections are badges of courage and that always, always God can be trusted, even when, especially when, we cannot see.
Thank you for your faithful prayers, your acts of love, your caring thoughts. We remain hopeful that this is the last leg of the marathon. As a friend said, you can read the small print on the finish line! :)