I’m sure you’ve heard someone tell a story and you thought “oh that will never be me…”
Yup, been there. Multiple times. In fact, countless times.
I hear someone talk about their life situation and I think “that will never happen to me…”
And then it does. God puts my foot in my mouth, redirects my thinking, and teaches me a humbling lesson.
I remember thinking those very words when I was recovering from my first open heart surgery in October. I wouldn’t need rehab! Ha. That’s for the old people! No way would I ever need to step into a rehab facility. I can walk on my own. I don’t need to have someone tell me what to do and walk at a snails pace. Those were the thoughts that went through my head.
Talk about eating my words.
I’m sure God was just like “Oh Kristin, you just wait honey!” Fast forward to after my second surgery. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lift my head. I couldn’t do many of the “normal” things that most humans can do. Walking to the park seemed like a far off dream. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to do that again, considering how slow and unstable my first 4 weeks at home were. When I was encouraged to go to rehab before we left the hospital on November 15, I asked when I could start?
What a change.
I was desperate for something to help me get better. I was willing to cling onto anything that would give me relief. For insurance purposes I could not have both visiting nurses and leave to go to rehab, so I had to wait until I was cleared by my surgeon after my follow up. Now looking back, there is no way I could have even thought about rehab until really, this week. With broken ribs, exercise was very painful. Unfortunately I have a rib that will probably never fuse back together they said because the gap is too great. Strange, huh? The thought of moving my arms back and forth, made me shutter. Even walking, I walked like a robotic person, for fear of a nerve shooting pain or a tweak of my bones. I have since overcome that and really, cardiac rehab is EXACTLY what I need.
I walked into today’s class with some apprehension, not knowing fully what I was getting myself into. As I was hooked up to wires, I started to wonder how different I will be after the 10 weeks are complete? As I joined my other “classmates,” in doing the stretches, I realized we were all so different, but this one place, joined us together and made us “normal.” Sure I looked different than all of the people there, but at that moment, it didn’t matter. We were all striving towards the same thing – to get healthier and get better.
I sat next to a man who was well into his 70s, who just had quadruple bypass surgery. My jaw dropped and I thought wow, I could never do that! Then I looked at myself and thought wait, even though our reasons for surgery were different, we both went under the same knife. The same surgery. Maybe we weren’t all that different.
As I was doing my stretches, I told another man next to me, that when I was there on Friday, I saw him working hard on a machine and that it was motivational to someone who hasn’t started yet. To help me realize okay, maybe I can do this! He kind of chuckled and said “well, we’ve all been the new person before…”
And that’s what I was told. We all have a beginning. We all need to start somewhere.
After I did my workouts on the treadmill and this sit-down stepper thing, we headed to class/education. When I first thought about the “education” part I thought okay, this is going to be old news. Michigan is very much a teaching hospital in the sense that it not only teaches it’s students, but their patients too. Well, again, my foot got put in my mouth and I sat there, soaking in every word. In fact, no word had to first be spoken for me to realize I was right where I needed to be. On the whiteboard was written this quote from John C. Maxwell:
I took a deep breath, exhaled, and thought: I’ve got this. When I realized that everyday truly is a gift from God, that everyday, I have a choice to make to keep pushing forward or just give up and eat a bag of potato chips, I knew I had to be there.
Cardiac rehab was NOTHING like I expected. I belonged there. I felt a sense of belongING there. I never imagined at 34, walking into a cardiac rehab facility. Don’t we all search for that belonging in same way or another? Of course my belonging is in Christ. But in my daily routine, He has given me avenues and places for me to feel like I belong. I carry with me a story that is sometimes difficult to talk about verbally, but my heart is screaming to tell it. Cardiac rehab is where that healing will continue. Where I can continue to get my physical life back. And actually, I think every other aspect of my life too. The confidence I was given today, the assurance that I can do this, and the encouragement to keep going, is what this girl needs.
Every week I see changes, thanks to God’s mercy and grace. I don’t find it ironic, but a part of God’s sovereignty, that both of my drives to rehab have consisted of the song by Laura Story, “Blessings” being played on the radio. Those two times, tears welled up in my eyes, as the truths of the chorus spoke what my heart so deeply believes and feels:
It is no mistake what God has allowed in my life. My journey is not over. And you know what? It won’t be until the day God welcomes me into the gates of Heaven and I just pray, He is able to say: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That is my hope, my heart’s cry, and my inner prayer.
And thus begins a new chapter in my journey, at cardiac rehab. When I never thought it would be me, but have never been more thankful that it is.