The hum of the highway was an all too familiar sound as we made our way down to Ann Arbor today for my post op appointment. It is the only highway route I have taken since October 19, when we headed down to Michigan for my first surgery. That was also the last time I had driven. Two months ago.
The time in between has been a blur, life-changing, filled with grief, tears, and unexplainable grace. I have tried time and time again to piece together the puzzle but there is a part of the picture that I have not seen yet, making the puzzle incomplete. At times I wish I could put it all together, but that just isn’t how our God works. You see, if we knew, we wouldn’t want to see the whole picture anyways. We’d see these dark spots and wonder why in the world He would make that part of the picture. I’m glad I had no clue.
As Dan reminded me today, my first surgery was scheduled for November 30, until it was moved up to October 20. If all went as it did, I would still be in the hospital and most likely celebrating Christmas there as well. What a different outcome. I am so thankful God had a different plan, once again.
It was a bit of an emotional day, though no tears made trails down my cheeks until I was rocking Mazy to sleep tonight. Driving there, for once I actually felt well. A first in awhile. Also, I was able to WALK into all of my appointments instead of being pushed in a wheelchair or steered by a transporter in a hospital bed. There was a sense of accomplishment felt today.
It was a longer day of appointments, but one that has given us answers and our next steps. My x-ray looks perfect and that was comforting, knowing either I was carrying fluid or pneumonia when I first got home from the hospital Nov. 15. My heart does still have some healing to do, but we know this too, is not in our hands, but is known in every detail, by God. I have some extra beats which is expected after surgery. My heart function (how well it squeezes) is a bit below normal, in that it doesn’t squeeze as hard as it should. But after all of the damage done with having a child, going through heart failure after pregnancy, dealing with fluid issues since then, then going through severe SEVERE heart failure after my second surgery, to have this as a lingering issues, comes as no surprise. It is something they hope will improve, which we hope it does. It will probably not affect my lifestyle in the long wrong, but time will tell.
I will be starting cardiac rehab in the next few weeks, which should hopefully help me immensely as well. Even though I’m told I will be the youngest by a long shot (and maybe not), I am still ready for the challenge. I want to do whatever I can to make the most of my life here on earth. God has me here for a purpose like He does everyone else, and I want to ensure I live it to the fullest. Even if it means hanging out with those who are 30 years older than me!
It was also a day filled with a few emotions, in a good way. It has been hard. Not going to lie my friends, it has been REALLY hard. This journey has tested every level of my being. I have bawled and bawled over the past few months. I have wondered if I can even do this. I have wondered even if I would live when I went into that second surgery. Vivid moments that have been etched in my memory and will never leave. I have struggled with flashbacks and still have some here and there, but let me tell you. God has done some real work in this girl. If you would look at me today, you would maybe never guess that our past just happened a short two months ago. God has performed miracles on my life. I have seen medicine go only so far, but God’s mighty and healing Physician’s hand, go so much further. Medically some things have not made sense, but in God’s eyes, it has made complete sense. And because of that, that is why I am where I am today.
My ribs are still healing and I have some lingering issues, but I remember the first surgeon said, give yourself 6 months. One of my ribs is pretty displaced and will forever be at an odd angle, but it is making progress. It has been two months since that first surgery and a month and a half since the second, and I think I may need those 6 months. But I have to tell myself, it’s okay.
I struggled a bit tonight thinking that my life will never be “normal” again. I remember after my first surgery, there was so much hope that I would go on to live a normal life, after recovering. Now that looks a bit different, but when I look at where I was and what could have been, it helps me keep perspective. Am I a bit disappointed that things did not turn out as I had hoped? I am. I am still trying to find peace in that. I told Dan tonight that it’s hard to have another surgery already “scheduled” 12 years from now, but we pray that God would continue to use the very people He created, in His image, to learn new ways of doing medicine. Our hope is that in 12 years, it will not be an as invasive procedure. I can’t live my life thinking about that 12th year, but about every year in between. How will I, despite our circumstances, live it to the fullest?
Back to those tears while rocking our sweet girl. As I looked at her face, holding her in my arms, since that restriction was lifted, my eyes welled up. I tried so hard to hold it in as I was singing “Silent Night” to her. It twas a silent night, just as it should be. With my baby girl in my arms. I felt like a mom again. I felt my heart doing what it was supposed to be doing – holding her in the very arms that just a short month ago, I could barely lift on my own. This is why tears made trails.
It will be a slow ease back into “real” life, but I am ready for the next challenge.
To top off the day, I was able to meet my newest niece, Ava Faith, my older sister’s (and brother-in-law’s of course) newest addition to their family! Plus, I was able to take my first drive alone. And guess where it was to? The very hospital that I was flown from, that I have visited now 3 times to go to the ER, and even saw the helicopter pad I launched from. It was a bit surreal to drive past, as all the thoughts came flooding back, but instead of being stuck in the flashback, God gave me peace about it, in my mind. How sweet it was to hold that sweet little child, imagining what her life will be like. So innocent and so filled with life already.
Looking outside the window at the clinic…oh the memories! That was the courtyard the ICU nurse wheeled me out to, so I could get a breath of fresh air before being moved down to the step down unit. I now realize how big of a deal that was…it’s not everyday you can leave the ICU to go outside!
Dan handing over the keys to me for the first time in two months! Last drive was on our way to my first surgery on October 19!
Getting used to the wheel again…nothing like being thrown into the mix in busy Ann Arbor!
Meeting our newest niece, Ava Faith!
Making my first drive ON MY OWN! Very strange…
I have been cleared by the surgeon and will now be followed by my cardiologist. When Dan and I were talking about the past 6 months, I have had countless tests at Michigan and through it all, have only met with my cardiologist once prior. I was right away referred to a surgeon, so it was good to start over in a way!
I will go back in 6 weeks to figure out how the new medication regimen is going and see if my heart is improving at all. All in time, we hope! Thank you for all of your prayers for today! God is not done with this heart of mine yet!