Being. Not Doing.“I wish that guy in the hallway would just: Shut up. Doesn’t he know this is a hospital?”

The words buzzed like annoying and drugged flies through my mind. Fortunately, they must have been drugged enough not to leave through my mouth. (For once.) Eventually, I started eavesdropping on the annoyingly loud guy.

Who happened to be: Praying.

Evening prayers.

Over the hospital loudspeaker.

Because I was in a Catholic hospital.

Duh.

In my defense, it was the night of my surgery. I was hurting and drugged and exhausted. (I’m hoping that defense will keep me out of hell.. just saying….calling a priest annoying? Prolly not a good thing.)

The next day, I may have over compensated when the hospital Chaplain came to visit. “I’m Tracey… blah blah what Parrish are you from? I think you have a MOPS group…. I’m on the Board of Directors with MOPS International…..blah blah paassionate about reaching moms and families… blah blah….” (Yes, apparently even post surgically- I’m a MOPS advocate. (MOPS pusher? Maybe.) Or, maybe I was just trying to make it clear that: Yes, I’m a Christian… even if I thought evening prayers were annoying, last night…) I also went into a schpiel about how our church friends and family are bringing dinners etc……Anyway….I laid the “I’m a Christian” thing on pretty thick… I even used code words like: Peace, Jesus, Trust, Ministry….(Maybe it’s because I was listening to Mandisa before surgery?) Or, because of my preconceptions about Catholics preconceptions about protestants….That’s probably closer to the truth. I’m a jerk like that.

Anyway, he’s lucky I was too wasted (FY: Dilaudid is a good thing. Martha Stewart probably won’t tell you that… but it is.) to remember any of my favorite Greek or Hebrew word studies….

Anyway.. to top it off? The chaplain was even more annoying than the evening prayers priest. Because he saw right through my long winded cray-cray introduction, and in the most gentle and lilting Indian accent, he responded with this:

“Tracey, I can see you like to “do” a lot. It is hard for those of us who do when we are hurting. Remember, as you recover….you are a human being… not a human doing….The Lord wants you to rest.”

I could respond with nothing but this: ” My mentor (Mentor mom at MOPS International, actually.) Taught me that truth years ago…. I will receive those words as from the Lord.”

I am a human being…. not a human doing. I forgot I knew that.

Which is good, because at the moment, I can’t DO much. To be honest? I’m happy I can wipe my own behind. My left arm is not being very cooperative. It’s kind of like a painful chunk of meat hanging there at the moment. Due to the extent of my surgery, my neck is not the only thing affected. My entire torso is. I am just beginning to be able to lift my arms enough to dress myself without help. I’m not allowed to bend, twist or lift. In short; I’m a mess. I’m hoping the extreme left arm thing is just inflammation and will take time because at the moment: I have the dexterity of a T-Rex.

There’s not a lot of doing going on. Taking a shower and dressing doubles as physical therapy and a work out. Pulling up my underwear is my current equivalent to burpees. (Confession: I don’t even know what Burpees are. Other than a seed company and something to do with that crazy new work out thing. But, I hear they’re brutal. And so is pulling up my drawers at the moment.)

What there is a lot of- is working very hard to relax. Oxymoron? Maybe. But, trust me. My body is constantly trying to spasm, and I have to consciously make my body relax. Spasming hurts. Not in an: “Ouch, that hurts” Or even an “Oh crap!” Kind of way…. spasming is an insidious tightness and pain that feels like it’s trying to pull apart everything the doctor sewed up. (Well- sewed up after he cut it up, I think he used a ginsu in there, justsayin. IT HURTS.. ) All day long, I work against the spasming…

“Shoulders down. Breathe, Tracey. Let the brace your head up. Don’t fight the brace.” 

I also fight not to bend down and pick up the wrapper on the floor.  I fight not to try to move just one piece of laundry from the washer to the dryer at a time because then, maybe I could get a load in without hurting myself……Or to try to hold the hair dryer….I’m fighting to be… not Do…

There are moments, like right now, when my husband is looking for a laptop key the crazy shorkie accidentlally knocked off his laptop, and I cannot help him find it, that make me feel edgy. Frustrated. Useless, actually. Am I the only one for whom watching my spouse look for something is torture? It’s like I’m hard wired to just get up and find it… because: I would.) In these moments I hear the chaplain’s Indian accent reminding me again: “You are a human being, Tracey, not a human doing. Rest. Recover. It’s what the Lord needs you to do.”

So that’s what I’m doing. Working as hard as possible to rest. Yes, that’s hard work.

Dear Lord- Thank you so much for the Chaplains wise words.I had no idea how hard I would be working to relax after this surgery. Please help me to remember I’m created as a human being…. and being is enough. Let me rest in your presense…..Help this spaz… not to spasm…. and Lord? Thank you for helping my husband find that computer key:) I love you lord and trust you- even here. When it hurts. When I can’t do anything. When I’m afraid this left arm may never work right…..even here. Thank you for being with me. Amen. 

So… readers? Have you ever felt like resting was a physical work out? Do you find relaxing: easy, hard, impossible? Do you sometimes feel like if you’re not DOING something, you’re not worth something?

Me too. You’re not alone.

We are human beings. Not, human doings… and that? Is enough.

The truth is… I think I need to be knocked on my butt every once in a while so I can remember it is GOD who is and does all good things, in the world- and and me……. not me. ;)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

 

 

0001Caution: morbid, possibly melo-dramatic post.

(If you’re my mother- or a close friend- don’t freak. I’m fine. I’m just being honest about the fears that happen when Moms face surgery and or chronic illness. )

Purpose: To give voice to those concerns so that moms find out they aren’t alone.

What if: I die?

  • Have I done enough?
  • Have I loved my kids, enough?
  • Disciplined them enough? Too much?
  • Taught them enough?
  • Modeled enough healthy things? (Lord knows, I’ve modeled enough NOT healthy things.)
  • Loved God, enough?
  • Loved others, enough?
  • Will I go to heaven?
  • Will someone do my hair and make up so I look like a supermodel instead of just a dead version of me?

Who will:

  • Counsel and explain this all to my kids?
  • Keep up the laundry and the house? (I mean: who will remember to flip the couch cushions so they don’t break down.. and keep my OCD positioned pillows in their correct places????THIS IS IMPORTANT.)
  • Make time for each kid.
  • Encourage my husband. Be there for him. Love him? (Not sure I want anyone else to do that.. also: don’t want him to be without support)
  • Find all the things that are right where they should be- in plain sight?
  • Remember to lock the patio door-  front door and the cars?
  • Feed, water and groom the pets?
  • Remember garbage night? (and keep it holy…. sorry- sounded like the Sabbath there for a minute… oopsy told you- dramatic)
  • Mediate all the things that require mediation?
  • Throw out the underwear and socks with holes in them?
  • Clean up cat puke? (It’s a scientific fact: Only moms can see cat puke. To others it is invisible. Cat vomit creates tiny tears in the time/space continuum that can only be bridged by moms. Apparently.)
  • Throw out all forms of junk mail, so my family doesn’t smother in advertisements for credit cards and window replacements?

What if:

  • It hurts and I can’t hide it, and it scares my kid? (My kid- not a fan of seeing mom in pain. Nether am I, actually.)
  • It hurts and doesn’t get better?
  • The surgery doesn’t work?
  • The surgery makes it worse?
  • I end up paralyzed?
  • The surgery works, all goes well- and then it turns out I DO have Lupus and everything else body-wise goes straight to H***?
  • I can’t do my make up after surgery? (hello, vanity- party of one.)
  • The surgery works, I DO get better and i don’t have an excuse for why EVERYTHING still, doesn’t get done? (It won’t. Trust me.)

What if:

  • This is just the beginning?
  • I don’t heal according to my “Schedule?”  (Hello- 6 weeks puts me at mid august, I have a vacation first week in September, and school starts after the holiday…)
  • I lose more range of motion than I want to? (Seriously? Spinning my head around as a PMS warning sign- is just so: effective.)
  • I get addicted to the stupid meds, stuck in a burning crack house and fall through the floor only to have my friends and family watch me  die as the building explodes? (Sorry- just re-watched the last season of House…..PS: not faking my death. I promise. )

These are the thoughts and fears the fly through my mind like mosquitoes, as I clean house, wait for more blood tests and get ready for surgery. They don’t stick around long… just long enough to suck a bit of my peace out and give me a rash. They need to be recognized, addressed and then smooshed. Preferably before they have sucked up enough peace to leave a smeary mess when I splat them.

They need to be smooshed.

Because the truth is- in all likelihood…. All will go well. I will heal. I won’t die. Whatever autoimmune thing I have going on can be treated and managed. If I do die? Well, God has been there taking care of my family all along, and he will continue to. Even there.

I wish I could say I’m not afraid. That my faith means I know that all will be fine. But it doesn’t. My faith means that whatever happens…. God is present. Right there, in the messy middle of it. In pain, in sickness, in grief and fear. In celebration and healing. In all things. Present.

So that’s my prayer as I finish getting ready for surgery and for facing whatever autoimmune thing I have going on… (or don’t) …

“Dear Lord, I love you. I don’t like pain. I don’t like surgery. I don’t like fear. I don’t like the questions that I have. I don’t like the lack of answers to those questions, or even all the answers I do have.. it’s possible the house could overflow with junkmail and cat vomit if I died.. it’s just a fact…. But, lord,  I love you. I need you. Lord- whatever happens… be present. Be with me and my family… even here. Amen.”

So readers…. how bout you? Fears, rational or irrational as you face surgery, or serious illness? What do you do when they buzz in your ears like mosquitoes ready to suck the peace from your life? 

I:

  • Tell myself the truth.  (God is in charge and able, I am not. The world does not actually, revolve around me.  My kids and husband would be fine and are brilliantly capable of handling the house and life.)
  • Talk about the fears and concerns.
  • Talk to friends who’ve experienced what I’m experiencing.
  • Pray. Listen. Read and listen to the things that fill me with peace.
  • Do what I can to prepare what I can prepare.
  • Feel the feelings- then move on.

Do the next thing.

Which today, is: Get ready to meet friends for lunch, instead of worrying myself into a headache or working myself into so much pain I can’t stand it.

See you after surgery! Prayers appreciated- As of now, I’m scheduled for 11:00 A.M Eastern time- tomorrow- July 3.