Numbers

As I sit here and reflect on what I was doing a year ago today… right at this hour – February 2, 2010 – a lot of things come to mind.

I was writing a lot of emails in the wee hours of that morning. Telling people I’d learned just hours before that I’d be headed into surgery just hours from then.

I wrote a blog post – giving the vague general info. It really was too complex to get too into at that late hour.

I have only snatches of memories of that day itself. I was pretty sick.

And then I went through a whole heck of a lot.

All in all – when I look back on the past year, there are a lot of numbers that stand out in my mind. So I thought I’d take a moment to chronicle them.

One. The number of years since I was taken into surgery. February 2, 2010.

One point Seven. The lab value that my albumin level dropped to after surgery. So not okay.

One. Stinking, horrible, awful, no-good, wretched, life-altering bedside, resident-eager-for-experience-placed, chest tube for a fairly significant pleural effusion. Yeah, can you say PTSD?!

One. Infected surgical site. Ten inches long, four inches wide at it’s worst.

Two. The number of organs that I parted ways with that day a year ago. One stomach. One spleen. And parts of stuff, too – part of a pancreas, part of a liver, part of a diaphragm. And a fairly massive upper left quadrant abdominal abscess.

Two. The number of surgeries I went through. One on February 2nd – 8.5 hours in length. The second on February 5th – a short one, thankfully.

Two. The number of times a day my blessed husband would wash out and pack and dress my incision. Have I ever mentioned that he’s probably the bravest person I know?

Two or Three. The jury’s kind of out on the count on this one – but suffice it to say that there was more than one occasion when my life was nearly lost.

Three. Only three hospitalizations in 2010. A far sight better than the 5 of 2009.

Three. My amazing children who have gone over, beyond, above, and then some in so many ways to help, persevere, encourage, love, and care.

Four. The number of months it took my incision to heal up – the slow ugly way – from the inside out.

Four. The number of months it took before I could knit – without pain.

Five. The number of blood transfusions I was given.

Five. The number of pounds I’ve gained each month. And it’s not like I gain a little bit each day. I’ll get on the scale, it’ll stay at a particular number for the majority of the month, and then *whammo!* next day – 5 pounds more. So not loving this.

Six. The lab value that my Hemoglobin dropped to. Not good.

Seven. Or at least I think it was seven – right around there, anyway. The number of times I had to go back in and have part of my incision cut away, burned off, have non-dissolving sutures cut out, etc.

Eight. The number of PICC lines I had – well – that included some of 2009, too.

Eight. The number of weeks it took before I could sit up for more than a few minutes after getting out of the hospital.

A Couple Dozen. Falls. With the added weight, my ankle reconstruction has lost much of its stability. Add that to the replaced hip, and my natural grace (not) – and well, I’ve had quite a few falls. Some of them of the heart-stopping variety.

Maybe a couple hundred? Okay – counting 2009, in this one, too – ’cause honestly – so much of when what happened is a blur any more – number of x-rays, and CT scans, and procedures, and trips to Interventional Radiology, and Upper GI’s, and trips to anesthesia-land, IV’s, infusions, reactions, lab draws, site dressing changes, etc. Way, way, too many.

Three Hundred. Well, give or take a dozen or so. The number of times I’ve wracked my brain – going back, trying to figure out HOW this whole nightmare happened. Okay – yeah, I know – the dumb ibuprofen. I mean – how I could have been so oblivious? How could I have not seen into the future and taken the time to have “Don’t Mess with my DS” tatooed onto my abdomen? That part. Ugh.

Three or Four Hundred. The number of times I’ve missed the ability to eat meat and/or bread. Yeah – that number is probably WAY higher!

Five Hundred. The number of whiney emails I’ve sent to Dr. Baltasar about this whole stupid thing.

Five Hundred Fifty. The number of dollars it cost a week (out of pocket, of course) to pay for the formula for the tube feedings I had to have for a couple of months. (Which of course, does not include the cost of the tubing, etc.)

One Thousand. The number of calories that I limited my intake to to try and keep this body from gaining any additional weight. Didn’t work.

Five Hundred to Six Hundred. The number of calories I was advised to keep my calories at to try and keep this body from gaining additional weight after the 1000 calories a day thing didn’t do a thing. Yeah – that was my reaction, too.

A Million. Probably conservative – but somewhere right around the number of times I’ve stopped – gotten a little teary-eyed – and thought, “God – why did you see fit to bless me with this incredible husband? How did I end up being the girl lucky enough to be the recipient of the tender, kind, precious, amazing, faithful, consistent love of John McBride?”

Fifty-Five Bazillion. The number of times I’ve thrown up. Gosh I miss my stomach. You just kinda don’t have much of a way to comprehend what it means to your body’s ability to avoid hurling. But once it’s gone – and you’ve got those suture lines there where stuff can get hung up – well – you do a lot of barfing.

I could probably just go on ad nauseum – but I won’t.

I’ve gotten past the feeling like I’m that deer in the headlights – watching the whole horrible train wreck happen in slow motion part.

Yeah – I probably do have some genuine PTSD going on. Okay. Yeah. I do. But you go through all this crap and tell me it’s not normal, okay?!

I’m at the part where I’m wondering if I’ll ever have my energy back. If I’ll ever not have to carefully meter out my activities to avoid major crash and burn.

I’m kind of at the part where I feel like my life will never be free of weariness. I hate that.

I long for a time in life when my every other thought isn’t a prayer pleading, “Help!”

And I’m so glad that God doesn’t need me to try and explain what I’m feeling, thinking, mourning, feeling angry about, fearful about, so incredibly weary over. There are times where there really and truly are no words to express the storm of emotions going on in my heart and mind – and the precious truth that there is always One who doesn’t need me to give a blow by blow or have to try and articulate appropriately – is what makes it possible to go forward.

And so go forward I must.

Spring will be here before I know it. There’s a garden that will need my attention. I so look forward to that.

There are still insurance wars to continue to be fought. That I don’t look forward to. In fact, it makes me kinda wanna hurl. The injustice of it all makes me just kinda wanna sit down on the floor and cry. Some more. But fight I must.

There must be some way to come up with a way to make it back to Spain and Dr. Baltasar who has agreed that there may be a way to fix this mess of a gut of mine. He’s not in any hurry – but then again neither am I! Right now I can’t even fathom the thought of willingly heading back into surgery. And it would take a major financial miracle….

But you know what. Ultimately – none of this has to define me or my life, right?

If I don’t stop – thinking of all of the things I need and even want to do – the battles that are ahead of me – it becomes so overwhelming. I begin to lose focus, and then I need to go back to TRUTH.

Psalm 91:1-4

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

I’m still just the girl who so desperately longs to be God’s without reserve.

I want each day from this one forward to be a day when I make a conscious decision to choose to be wholeheartedly His.

To choose to thank Him for each breath that has been given from His hand to my body.

To choose to marvel at the fact that somehow He sees beauty in the ashes that have so defined this past year.

I will choose to trust that He holds me in His righteous right hand.

I will affirm once again – I have NEVER been alone.

NEVER apart from His presence.

NEVER without His nearness.

NEVER without the knowledge that no matter how horrible it has been He’s been right there – right in front of me – His hand extended back to mine – holding it – leading, speaking clearly, “I’m always right here with you.”

I will NOT fail to stop and acknowledge that He is God and I am not. And THAT is the way that it should be. What a blessed thing!

Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORDperforms righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Maudie says:

    Thank you……

  2. Melody says:

    Wow! Rest in His shelter, dear one! You are on my daily prayer list again! 🙂 Love you!

  3. Tammy says:

    Dina,
    you missed a significant number:

    a gazillion – the number of times you encouraged, helpfully chastised, warned, and otherwise gracefully assisted many of us through that same year.

    We are grateful for your sharing of such hard earned wisdom, and we thank you.
    tamy

  4. Sharon says:

    Dina Dina Dina you have had to endure so much, it is scary!!! I don’t even want to ask for advice and help with the pathetic little things that bother me. Your life makes me just so so appreciative of the good health I have after my BPD and stop focusing on how much I have or have’nt lost. I must say that God did bless you with a very special man and that goes a long way in my book to make life worth living. I will continue to pray for you and you hear it all the time but HE sure had a purpose for your life the least of which is the inspiration you are to us DS es.

  5. Sharon Vd Westhuizen says:

    I’ve jut re read this and again I marvel at your amazing positive attitude and your inspiration to us all. This sure answers any Question on “can we use anti inflammatories.” God has a serious purpose for your life.!!!

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