On August 22nd I had surgery to remove one of my parathyroid glands and the benign tumor that it contained. Surgery went well but recovery did not. Weeks passed and left me extremely fatigued, dizzy and weak. I could barely make it through work and get dinner on the table. In fact, on most nights I didn’t. It became clear that my body wasn’t liking the new calcium levels and just wan’t going to cooperate for awhile. During this time it was also discovered that I have a very narrow chest that actually traps my heart, in a way. It’s not a serious condition but it explains why I pass out easily.
I could barely make it through work and get dinner on the table. In fact, on most nights I didn’t.
To be honest, consistently feeling terrible really started to get to me. I began to worry that this was my new normal. I missed going for runs and doing errands and just living my life. I began to make plans to turn over the Ethiopia trip I was leading. I even wondered if my current career would work for me anymore. What if I couldn’t travel anymore? There were a lot of questions and a lot of anxiety over the situation. I prayed desperately through sleepless nights and long days. I begged God to help me heal. And then immediately felt guilty for asking. I believed that relief would come in time, but I also had a glimpse into how it might feel to live with a chronic illness. I gained a huge respect for those that get up every morning and face their health difficulties with bravery. I began to pray less for healing and more for bravery.
I remember praying… God, life is hard, I want to be brave.
Bravery was a turning point for me. I still felt bad, but I didn’t accept it. The mental part of healing is often just as important as the physical aspect of healing. I set my sights ahead and on my family and on the God who created me. Slowly I accomplished more, made dinner and walked up the stairs to read bedtime stories.
Part of being brave is also being vulnerable. During my hardest weeks my friends showed up at my house with food. They fed my kids and cleaned my house. They sat with me and chatted with me. My sister in law flew in for a weekend. And the icing on the cake? My grandparents moved in for two weeks. You know it’s bad when you’re an adult and your grandparents come to cook and clean.
Side note: having my grandparents here was such an unexpected blessing. We cherish every bit of time we get to spend with them.
This has really gotten quite long, so let me start working toward the finish line. A couple of weeks ago I woke up… and I felt good. In fact, I felt great. I tentatively went about my day, cautiously trying out this new feeling good thing. To my delight, feeling good started to be a daily thing. I was also sleeping well again at night.
It took me more than two months to complete a recovery that I was told would take a week. But I learned about being brave. And I think, and I say this cautiously, that I’m thankful for my longer-than-expected recovery. I’m thankful for the way Jesus drew me close and I’m thankful for friends and family who carried me on my most difficult days.
Tomorrow I leave for Ethiopia to do what I love… Speak up for vulnerable children. I’m abundantly thankful tonight as I reflect over the last few months.
Stick with me this week and next as I share about our trip and revisiting the orphanage where my son lived before we brought him home.