All the information, booklets, visits from the different therapists and the remarks of different doctors in the days and hours prior to leaving the hospital following my husband’s open heart bypass surgery didn’t prepare me for the recovery road. Yes, I’d listened intently. Yes, I’d taken notes and appeared to comprehend all the information they were giving me — giving us.
I guess I was prepared for what they’d specifically instructed me to do when we returned home, but I wasn’t prepared for the other stuff — the other stuff that they didn’t tell me. And now, looking back, I see that there was “other stuff” they couldn’t tell me –– they couldn’t prepare me for what I’d experience any more than the obstetrician could prepare me for what I’d experience in labour and delivery and for the weeks following the birth of our first child. I marvel at the similarities.
Last July, we were sitting out on the deck of a local restaurant enjoying the airplanes, hotair balloons and the beautiful sunset. In ordering the bacon wrapped tenderloin, I obviously completely forgot that my. husband. had. just. had. open. heart. surgery. We’d walked there so that we could keep with the prescribed daily walking schedule — two to three walks per day, increasing the length of the walks each day. But, yes, I shot us both in the foot with that order.
Through the month of July when our first son was born 35 years ago, each day was filled with the activities of feeding, bathing, napping, dressing, strolls, and extended times of just gazing at him while he slept. I’d gently lay my head near my son’s face to hear his breathing or my hand on his back to feel the gentle rise and fall of each respiration. Each day seemed so long but the weeks seemed to fly by — such an uncanny parallel to the way this past July was spent.
Each day we’d wake up early, the sun streaming in our living room — my husband in his recliner, and I beside him on my temporary bed. The new electric recliner gave him so much freedom to get up or sit by himself, but the tone of the electronic lift was like an alarm clock — the operative word being: alarm. 😉 Though he never complained of my incessant, day or night, staring and asking, are you okay? I stared at him while he rested, stared at him while he ate, stared at him while he read. Each day seemed long — much like those early newborn days, a flurry of firsts, busy days just like the early days of the first baby, my days were filled with feeding, bathing, napping, dressing, strolls and staring at my… husband. Somehow the busyness of keeping each day’s chart filled in — assorted new meds, his temperature, blood pressure, walks, water, meals and doctor visits all served as distractions to what was really going on or what had really gone on.
I wasn’t prepared for the new tentative feel to life. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling that this was all very temporary — that at any time my husband would have another heart attack and we’d do all that all over again. I wasn’t prepared for what felt like the loss of the middle years — suddenly catapulted to the later years — the last years. I didn’t anticipate that there’s be potholes on the recovery road and surely didn’t anticipate their source. I wasn’t prepared for the comments and questions I’d receive and, therefore, didn’t have a ready response. Instead of hearing them as simple conversation, I heard them as attacks and didn’t have the wherewithal to give reasoned answers. I took my husband’s health personally and have felt ashamed that I contributed to it being what it is — that I could have/should have made better choices for the last thirty six years and, had I done so, he’d not be in the condition he is.
In saner, stronger, more rational moments I’ve been able to reason that, first, God is sovereign. That’s a sure plank on which to stand. He’s also Lord of my life, Lord of my husband’s life and has been our sustainer, provider, strength, and guide through all these years. I’ve been careful to be in the Word and in prayer daily and to recognize, ultimately, where the feeling of attack came/comes from. The devil knows my weaknesses and one of them is guilt or shame over things that happen around me — that when bad things happen, it must be my fault; when relationships are strained, it must be my fault; if/when my kids fail, reject me, reject the Lord, or whatever: it must be my fault. So also, when my husband’s health failed, surely it must be my fault and to excuse myself in any way would mean I’m not accepting the fact. It’s a vicious cycle — one I’m very familiar with — one that I must work diligently to accurately see for what it is.
It’s a decision I’m not always quick to react with though, and sometimes I’m in the middle of a pothole when I finally see I’ve fallen into the trap the devil’s set for me on the road. And in that place, I must resolve to yield to the Lord: I resolve to rest in His promises. I used to see as weakness what I now see as yieldedness. I used to see as a copout what I now see as trust. What I used to see as naïve I now see as faith. I often wish it hadn’t taken me so long to see these truths.
No one sets out to have heart disease — but I wish I’d grasped early on what it is to set out to NOT have heart disease. Obviously, I don’t even yet grasp this.
5 thoughts on “The recovery road”
so much love for you, Lanita.
God knows all these things——————I’m daily resigned to yield to His promise: He is working all this together for good.
I want His GOOD. <3 love.
I totally get what you’re saying, Lanita. And, I appreciate that you’re reading as I value your thoughts and life so much. This is really ringing true with me… mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. But God.
Isn’t it incredible to think: God loves us so. He loves us. No matter what. No matter what.
I type this at the risk of sounding like: so, yeah, go ahead and be a fool, go ahead sin, be careless, and do what you want… God’s going to love, love, love you. That’s so not what I’m saying. But what’s true is that when we repent, when we walk before Him, when we yield to Him, He’s the God who sees, the God who redeems, the God who heals, the God who restores, the God who IS and who GIVES peace, the God who loves us—the God who graciously, mercifully loves us. Loves you. Loves me. And isn’t this amazing? And though I cannot fathom this, I pray for faith, I pray for full understanding and assurance and in this faith I’m yielding to just have faith to believe that it’s true for me. For me. Regardless what I’ve done or not done as a mother – wife, homeschooler, friend, etc., etc., regardless what this or that child has or hasn’t done; regardless what this or that child, friend, churchmember, whoever… I trust The Lord is only merciful, loves us and works all things together for good. This is the good news. This is the good Good news. And every day we learn.
with so much love for you.
Thank you for sharing your journey, your very painful journey. As always you are being transparent as know else I know can be. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways. I cannot know what you are going through, but I do know what it feels like when you think that nothing you do is right. I feel like I have failed God and my family waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many times and that I don’t learn sometimes from my past failures. I feel like I am the slowest learner in the whole world. But God is faithful and always shows me where my error of thinking is and helps me to go on. I have to keep looking forward. I can’t look behind too often or I get depressed.
I will continue to pray for you and your wonderful husband.
Love YOU, Lanita
Thank you, Keri… This is the hardest reality of these past five years: failure after failure. But another — greater — reality is that God is – was – will be – the sovereign Lord who was with me, is with me, and will be with me. Painful as the reality of failure is, glorious is the reality of God’s gracious mercy and love. All that, AND, ever day is an opportunity to go on in grace. If I didn’t believe this, I’d likely have taken my life. So, the Lord carries me on from here—wherever here is, from day to day. And I cannot properly convey my gratitude for that. And my family is and has been sooooooo forbearing and forgiving and loving to me. I can only say, thank you, to them and press on in faith that today, I will walk with the Lord and trust Him to guide my steps as I know He continually picks up the pieces I have scattered and uses them for His glory. I know this. Thank you for your love, Keri, and for your life and testimony — you’re an inspiration to me.
Oh I’m so glad you got to the sovereignty of God! I have so.many.regrets of things I didn’t do, or did do, before I learned that xyz is good, or horrible, in raising up my children. I am still learning, learning, learning….and I know I’m still making mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. But God, oh, thank God, for His sustaining grace in all of those times of doubt. Love to you