A year ago, to this day, I was discharged from the hospital after undergoing neck surgery. I knew I would be in a brace, but waking up and being immobile in one of those things is intimidating. Unsure how to move, I remember fearing rolling over or shifting slightly in either direction. When it was time to use the restroom, I required nursing assistance per regulations. As she began to help me, everything felt awkward as though all movement was restricted. I looked up at that poor lady, and politely asked, “Why don’t you tell me what I can’t do.” She smiled and said, “Lisa, if you can move, you can do it.” With that, I sat up, flung my feet over the bed, and walked to the restroom. No longer convinced I was immobile for the long haul!
The coming days were spent knocked out from muscle relaxers and pain pills. Finding it impossible to lay down in my bed without pain, my husband went out and bought me a new recliner. I parked there for the next couple months. After a few days, I took less medication, and began moving more. The day I could shower, I took off that brace for the first time, unwrapped the gauze that covered my throat from surgery, and gasped. The incision crossed my neck like a murder scene in a horror film. I was mortified at the sight. Convinced I would look like Frankenstein, I stood in the shower, unable to raise my arms to wash my hair, and cried. The stress of the previous month had caught up to me, and it combined to be more than I could handle.
Three weeks before I had surgery, I obtained guardianship of my grandkids, ages 7 and 5. My plate was full with school registration, back to school supplies, and clothes. While we had the space and extra rooms, we did not have the bedroom furniture. My mind raced like the Daytona speedway, wondering how I was going to get this done. I couldn’t drive. I had to rely on others to get around. Thankfully family stepped in to help.
At my two week check up, giddy to get that brace off, I was shocked to hear it would be months before I could go without it. No one told me that before surgery! This put a serious dent in my expectations. However, I was allowed to drive as long as there was no pain. So, here I was driving two kids around to get ready for school, with the help of my mother, in this huge neck brace contraption!
I could not lift a dish out of the dishwasher, so my grandson, Zaiden, would climb on the counter and his little sister, Harlee, would hand him each dish one at a time. Those two helped me vacuum, do laundry, dust, mop and anything else that required help. They were my team!
I often wonder how I managed those months of limitations. I thought nothing would ever be the same again. I sat in my pity party late at night, all alone, confused, sad, and fearful of each new day. Though I prayed and prayed, there was no miracle. This was my new life. I had to accept it and learn how to just be.
I had to be patient through healing, through teaching kiddos the way things work at Nanny’s house. I had to be patient to reach each milestone when I could expand my abilities. There was no time for emotions in the reasons the kids were living with me. I could no longer run to help their mom, because I was now helping them. In exactly one month, my life flipped upside down. I couldn’t stop it, change it, alter it, or wish it away. It was what it was.
Acceptance in our crisis is difficult. I didn’t want to accept any of it, but in the end, I had no choice. In that moment of my life, I had to tell myself to just be.
Be present, be love, be consistent, be honest, be thankful (especially since I could use my right arm again) be ready, willing, and able. Most of all just be. Be you. With each breath, and every single thought in my day I controlled one thing- to be.
Some days I had to focus and be intentional to get up and function. I had to tell myself I can do this because everything in me comes from a greater power. There were days I sat all day with those kids and played or read books. Our lives were filled with life, of laughter, joy and contentment. In that place with those two gems, I could be.
I had to choose going forward, and finding joy in a messed up reality. I had to accept another curve ball in the game. I had to surrender my insane need to be in control and go with the flow. I had to start by taking one thought and transforming it into something positive. Then the next thought, and the next.. Eventually, peace would flow. Even when anxiety gripped my heart, peace was circling around me.
That is what it was.. by the loving grace of God, I was peacefully.. being.