Thoughts I Didn’t Plan on Thinking

Today we are in my brother’s truck having a rare family road trip. It’s a change for me not to be driving. It leaves me free to look out the window at the gray, somewhat foggy fall day. The leaves are turning but the colors are muted and dull. There is still a lot of green out there so maybe we’ll have a better autumn brilliance in a few more days.

We are going to Eau Claire, a small city two hours away, to visit Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic. An ophthalmologist/plastic surgeon has been working on Mom’s right eyelid after removing a small basal cell carcinoma. This is our fourth visit due to complications of the surgery and repair. Mom has been struggling with ointments, painful eyes, poor vision and a sense of being really tired of this whole process. We don’t know what to anticipate today.

We have so many medical options for anything that goes wrong with our bodies these days. And things do go wrong sooner or later – that is a given. There are many decisions to be made because of this, some we make for ourselves and some others make for us. Swirling all around these calls for decision are issues like the value of life, quality of life, the comparison of one life over another, our views of death and suffering and medical accountability. It’s deep water and not fun to navigate.

This week I was sitting in my husband’s hospital room as he slept. In the common room where I could see and hear them, a family was sitting with their youngish looking son who had obviously been in an accident of some kind resulting in brain trauma. Like my husband, he was there for intense rehab and he was showing good improvement. I had a moment of guilt as I compared him to my elderly husband, with numerous comorbidities, struggling to show progress at all who was taking up a valuable bed in the facility. I felt sorry for the doctor who had to decide to move my husband out to a nursing home for rehab, and I understood what she had to consider. Because we’re having trouble finding another suitable place, he is still here at Miller Dwan in that bed.

My husband spends time thinking about what purpose God could have for him that he was allowed to survive this stroke. He is so tired, and to look at him on some days, you might think he was half dead already. I think he looks half dead, which makes me get busy waking him up, shaving the stubble, sitting him up and telling him to open his eyes before the next therapist arrives. I want him to look valuable, hopeful, worthy of the time and effort they are putting into his rehabilitation. He has indicated he wants that and I am his advocate. It’s a job.

I’ve asked him to think about what he would want if he were to have another stroke. Would he want to go through again what he’s experienced the last two months? He said he hadn’t thought about it. How can that be? He has so much time to think. So many things happen to us because we can’t imagine what we might have to decide, but now he knows and doesn’t have to imagine.

Last week there was an article in the local paper by Garrison Kieller of Prairie Home Companion fame. He also had recently been hospitalized and had experienced many feelings my husband recognized, a lot of mention of bodily functions. He had a good laugh when I read the article to him. Helplessness and dependency is not just happening to Dennis Dietz. And at some point, it could easily happen to any one of us.

I’m thinking about my future, although I know there’s no getting “control” over this realm. It seems to help me to do mental role playing around the possibilities, that way I’m not completely surprised by some of what actually happens. My choices play into my future so I try to make good ones (most of the time) but my best choice has been in believing that God is in control, and that he doesn’t plan on wasting any of my experiences. I can accept that hardship is part of life, and that circumstances can be beyond awful at times. Endurance is needed but there is help along the way in many forms. My belief is that the outcome is good, and it is sure. Just sayin’…

No Fun Today

I typed that and realized immediately that it wasn’t true.  I am quite sick today but in spite of it, there is fun to be had in resting, reading, doing quiet things that never get done while I’m able to work.  I’m having fun being sick, who would have thought…

Before anyone gets envious let me say that it’s difficult to concentrate when my head hurts, throat hurts, chest rattles with every breath and the aches and pains of fever make me feel weak.  This feels more like pneumonia than anything I’ve ever had before and it came on very fast.  Most likely I will recover but just in case, I want to say that it is very freeing to realize that things go on without me.  I know some people feel like they cannot take a day off when they are sick, or for any other reason, because they are indispensable. Well, nobody is indispensable.  I’m glad I’m not. I stayed home from everything today and plan the same for tomorrow. Nobody wants to be exposed to what I’ve got.  Staying home when one is sick is a way to show love to others.

In between naps I’m getting some reading done, catching up on my blog reader, cleaning out my inbox, and thinking.  How glad I am that I am here in my own bedroom rather than in Cambodia like I was last year when I got sick.  How strange that it has happened two years in a row after many years of not being ill.  Hmm…

I’m especially thinking how God uses sickness in my life to remind me that I am not in control, to increase my compassion for others, to get me quiet and listening,  I’m not afraid of being sick, whether it leads to recovery or not.  I love being here on earth, but I would also love not being here.  Thinking about dying is not a fearful thing, and I thank God for that. As I get older my most common thought about dying is wondering how it will happen.  Accident? Cancer? Pneumonia?  I have preferences but they are between me and God, and I doubt I’ll get to choose.  I think it’s very wise of him not to let me know ahead of time.

This is kind of a stupid post and I’m not terribly proud of it, but having this much time on my hands I had to write something, and these truly are the things I think about while being sick.. Just sayin’…