Monday, June 15, 2015
I’m sitting in a waiting room, in a hospital, while my daughter Erin goes into surgery for the second procedure in a month. The first time it was diagnostic as the surgeon looked for signs of cancer by taking biopsies. This time we’re praying for a “we got it all”. We arrived here at 6:00 and were whisked back into the holding room by 6:10. She had an IV put in, got dressed in typical surgically garb , then we talked to the anesthesiologist, her surgeon, a resident and about four nurses.
It’s not unusual that parents have health worries and concerns as their children grow up. Many of you have been there. For some those have been relatively easy-to-cure illnesses, for others there have been significant challenges with cancer or multiple operations to correct a problem. Sadly, like my Mom, some of you may have lost a child to death. Sitting here, I again recognize the fragility of this life; the delicate thread that tethers us from this human existence to the spirit side.
Watching your child poked and prodded to have an IV put in is hard for any parent, even if that child is 34 years old. Then, knowing that they’re “putting her under” is even more unsettling. The fact that Erin is a nurse herself seems to make it a little worse; her anxiety level is heightened. She knows “too much” and (especially when she worked in trauma on the West Coast) she has seen so much. The nurses are doing their jobs…the same job Erin does in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit)…asking the same questions over and over…the same questions that are on her chart from only a month ago. She tells them about the heart defect she was born with; one that has been resolved but still causes her heart to skip a beat occasionally. She asks her doctor how soon she’ll be able to swim again with her sister, niece and nephew. She doesn’t want to miss the summer.
When they’re ready to take her in for surgery, we give her a kiss and hug. I say, “I’ll see you soon, I love you”. We’re sitting here with coffee, praying of course. Texts have been coming in. Sara (our older daughter), Linda, Mary, Nancy and Jill all sending love and words of care, concern and support. The “prayer train” as Erin calls it has been on this for about a month now….blessings in the time of need.
There are two much older women (I’m guessing they’re friends) talking about the happenings in their lives. As we sit there, one of them follows her nurse to another room. A husband says goodbye to his wife. Her surgery will last at least four hours. It’s funny how, when you’re in this situation, your learn so much about perfect strangers lives.
We’ve been called back into her room. The surgeon comes in and talks to us. Everything went well. Pathology reports should be in by the end of the week. Again, I say a silent prayer for a “we got it all”. He tells us she should be back in the room in a half hour. The room is tiny…typical surgical recovery rooms; maybe eight feet by eight feet. There’s a lot of noise and activity outside. Staff members talk about their weekends, folks ask questions about their loved ones. This room has a window. It looks out onto a busy street with typical Monday morning hustle and bustle. Life goes on. I remember thinking about this fifteen years ago when my Dad died. I’d be driving to the office and I see people in their cars laughing or singing and I’d think “how dare they?” It’s funny how we see the world from where we’re sitting, isn’t it?
I think about cutting off or out a part of the body. I think too about how, not so very long ago, this cancer probably would have killed her. So much cancer….so many “cancers” in our lives that we don’t cut out. I think about what I would have done differently along the way if I had known things I know now. Would all those “little things” cease to matter? Why do we “forget” and slip into our old ways as soon as a crisis is averted? We don’t know what’s coursing through our veins. We, all too often, don’t appreciate our health. We take for granted that our brains make all these things “happen”. We take for granted that our heart will pump blood through our entire bodies. We don’t appreciate it until it doesn’t work…just like so much else that’s taken for granted until it’s taken away…our health, our loved ones, our careers, our passions, our joy.
Erin’s rolled in. She’s groggy and slightly disoriented. She’s hungry and thirsty. She’s experiencing some pain, but she’s here. She dozes in and out. It’s amazing that she can go home. So much can be done in one day now. I’ll get home later today and type these hand-written words into a machine that will share with you just one tiny leg of the journey;
this journey that began 34 years ago with a tiny baby with a hole in her heart,
who grew up to be in a profession she’s ultimately dependent upon,
to cut out something that could kill her.
How often have we had to cut something out to survive? How often have we let a life cancer consume us?
Until we get an answer, we’ll hold our breath, we’ll pray, we’ll anticipate. Once we get the results we want, then life will go on. We’ll forget…until the next time…the next danger…the next moment when we’re forced to STOP and take stock and recognize what we DO have.
We’ll leave here soon…this place where mere mortals work to improve and sustain human life; this place where life and death dance together every day, and I say, “Thank You God”.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
3:44 pm 6/15/15
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”:
#13. Spend time with the children in your life; again, not a coincidence that today’s “ps” falls on a day I’m spending time with my child. Life goes so fast.