It has been 4 months since my two open heart surgeries. The more time passes by, the more I realize just how far God has taken me. And what He has taken me through.
In those quiet moments, my mind often drifts off to those vivid moments. Those moments that will always be etched in my mind as mile-markers of when I needed God most, but also when I saw God lift me up and tuck me under His wing.
During my first surgery, I experienced severe nerve damage where my incision was. The nurses alluded it to someone turning up the electric voltage, higher and higher, until nothing but pain meds could take away the pain. My cry for help felt like empty words, as nothing was helping, until that morphine kicked in. Each time those “episodes” happened, God brought relief. To this day, I still have what I call “twinges” here and there (some days better than others), but as I’ve learned, nerves take awhile to heal.
I used to barely be able to touch a washcloth to the bottom of my feet because of the pain the nerve issues caused. I used to not be able to dress or undress myself. I couldn’t put on my own socks. I couldn’t put my own coat on. I couldn’t wash my own hair. I couldn’t go a morning without taking a nap. I couldn’t shut the door of a car b/c I was too weak. I could barely eat (cereal was about it). I had fevers every other day, if not every day. For two months, I slept upright because it was too painful to sleep horizontally. For almost two months, I woke up with night sweats, that they couldn’t explain. I had a nurse and a physical therapist come to our house twice a week to help me sustain the health I had and gain the strength back that I lost so quickly after the two surgeries.
I can fall asleep at a decent hour, sleep through the night, only waking up about once a night (incredible) – which is normal! I can get that 8-9 hours of sleep I need! I can wear any shoes I want without pain and can even wash the bottoms of my feet with ease! I can get dressed completely on my own, which sounds so silly, but it sure was difficult for quite some time! I no longer need to nap everyday and in fact, maybe only take one once a week! I can drive!!! My appetite is slowly coming back. Haven’t had a fever in two months! Night sweats are few and far between. The only appointments I have now are blood draws and rehab. I can lift 5 pound weights at rehab, which is incredible progress! I can walk at a 3.6 pace for 20 minutes, when I could only do 2.5 for 10 minutes, only a month and a half ago! I can lift Mazy and even carry her around now, with little to NO pain! My rib no longer “pops” out of place, but is floating just slightly, instead of moving with every move I made. I can finally start to remember things and not have to write every single thing down, knowing I’d forget otherwise! I don’t wait up in pain every single day. I have a desire to do my devotions again and pray. That sounds ridiculous, but I had a hard time formulating words in my head to pray and also understanding what I read. I’m back on board now!
What I look forward to:
Continuing to be able to walk. I told the pros at rehab that I’d love to leave with the ability to jog, but I am realizing that might be a bit lofty. And, duration versus intensity is much more important. A reality that is a complete 180 for me. Before my mitral valve went south, I was doing high intensity interval training videos, and I can’t help but wonder if that did some hindering. Now I can’t look at how much I can do in a short amount of time, but how long I can do it for.
Continuing to gain strength so I can continue to lift Mazy up more often (she finally reached the 30 pound mark! Woohoo!) and eventually, play with her in the pool again! By the end of the summer last year, it became difficult because I couldn’t lift her multiple times out of the pool. This summer, I hope it’s different!
Continuing to get my mind and energy back. That is something I was not prepared for – the mental and emotional toll the surgeries would have. This week, I told Dan that I feel I am FINALLY desiring to be with people again. Not that I didn’t want to see people before, but I had such little energy and the energy I did have, was spent on trying to heal and not be in pain. Now I am wanting to build on the relationships we started before surgery and knowing we have a lifetime to ahead of us, gives me the mental grace I need. This will all take time and that’s why I am thankful for God’s daily grace in this area!
Continuing to get our “normal” back. It was a long haul. I know the journey is not over, but we are hopeful for the future. For awhile, it was hard to look to the future because we were so unsure what it would look like. Now, I am confident in the journey God has us on and that it is for HIS glory. In whatever way that may be.
I find that in taking a look back, it has been very healing for me. Sometimes it is difficult to do because I fear stepping back into PTSD, but I know God sure has a plan. And it is and will be a good one.
Because that’s just who God is!
(Thanks for listening to me blab on and on about my surgeries! Blogging for me has been incredibly healing and has helped me make some sense of it all. I understand the most when I can speak through my words via a computer/journal. So thanks for hanging with me…)