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.


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



I’m that person. The one who wants to know what to expect and how to prepare for surgery. Prior to my ACDF’s (2- c5-6 then 5-7 after the first failed.) I found videos, blogs, and lots of spine health boards with tips for recovery and preparation.

Yesterday we scheduled a PCDF from C4-T1. (Previous surgeries were through the front of my neck- this one is through the back.) Pain has been increasing and function has been decreasing since Decemberish… so it’s time to do the next thing. Problem is- I’m not finding much helpful information about this surgery. I’m scheduled for July 3rd.

So far I’m finding that:

1) It really hurts.


2) It really hurts.

That’s not enough information for me.

So- here’s my plan. I’ll be blogging the preparation and recovery as I can. There needs to be practical, accessible information for the next (woman- specifically) to find. So.. in addition to my usual posts….. you’ll be seeing some of these as well.

I have a little over 2 weeks to prepare. Here’s my basic plan:

Housekeeping- taking some time to do major cleaning while I can. And to prepare for the help I’m planning to have post surgery. (Planning on having a cleaning service this summer. Highly recommend for post surgery.) Stuff like: declutter and prepare for a more (temporarily handicap) accessible home. (My mobility will kind of suck for a while… and Cleaning services usually do basic stuff. Not Pick up and declutter stuff.)

Meal planning- Get some meals prepared in advance and into the deep freeze. (Yes- I know people will want to help… but I’ll feel better knowing I have some things ready;)

Family preparation: it’s summer. I plan on making plans to enjoy it as much as I can prior to and after surgery. I’ll also be making plans for my youngest so he doesn’t feel ripped off by yet another summer spent with sick parents. (Day camp stuff maybe? Will check into pool membership, (I’ll be able to sit by a pool:P) End Goal: we have a family tradition timeshare the first week of sept. We’ll be working towards getting there;) We need a vacation.

List making. I’ll be making daily household maintenance check lists for my guys to use during my recovery. That way they’ll know what needs to be done each day and can help. (Will actually just update what I have- I use for home-management.) Grocery list prep. (basic staples)

    Personal preparation:

  •  Nails, haircut and roots. (yes, these are things I need to get done before surgery. Pedi too, if I get a chance.I won’t be sitting in salon chair for a while. ) I’m also going to be eating extra healthy and exercising as I can… the better health you’re in before surgery- the faster your recover.

    Take care of medically related needs- I already set up my amazon wish list for the medical/rehab stuff I’ll need during recovery… shower bench, bed rail, stuff like that. I’ll order with time to get everything ready- together- installed.)  I also had enough blood drawn to drown a vampire. We’re checking to make sure there isn’t anything systemic that is causing me not to fuse.  Primary care physician is on top of that. Next stop: bone density test on Monday.

Sanity Preparation: (recovery=boredom. Boredom= cray cray.)

  • Netflix cue/amazon instant video library maintenance. (I probably won’t be able to read for a while… too much pain/distraction. So your movie/ TV recommendations are appreciated.)
  • Bookstore stock up reading plan (For when I can read;) Kindle is already stocked. But recommendations for that are good too;) Kindle is easier to read from post- surgery. Don’t have to hold it up.
  • Project planning- I’m a knitter… lots of recovery time will most likely mean: knitting time. However- the posterior approach may make knitting very painful. Not sure. But will be ready. (patterns/yarn and needles will need to be accessible without bending/ twisting. etc.

Spiritual Preparation: 

  •  Lots of prayer, worship and listening.

Work preparation:

  • Get as much writing/ MOPS International work done in advance as possible. Be sure to alert anyone impacted by my “down time.” (will send out emails and probably set up an away message for my inbox.)  Computer time will be limited. (Can’t look down at screen post surg. Will be able to use social media.. phone probably…but we’ll see.)

Things already to go:

I already have this awesome mirror for once I can drive.

Already have a recliner with heat, massage and power recline. All it’s missing is power lift…. but I can do without that;) (recliners are a back surgery patients’ best friend. Besides Jesus, I mean.)

I promise tomorrows post will be something less medical… But- Like I said…. it’s hard to find info for this— and the next few miles I walk are in the shoes of a mom preparing for surgery… I know I’m not the only mom to experience that… so I’ll leave my footprints here… for the next mom to find;)

Dear Lord- so much to decide and do over the next few weeks. Please help me to be wise, to honor you and to not do more than I should…. Lord- work through the doctors, and be with any mom who is facing surgery and is trying to prepare….