Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
That was my intention and you know what they say about good intentions. Well, it's true. Some devastating things have occurred in my personal life.
My husband's health took a turn for the worst. When your spouse is diagnosed as terminal, every day life takes on a whole new meaning. Each day is precious because someone official says there is no hope, no chance of survival, and the only treatment left is comfort. Some times they even put a time frame based on THEIR knowledge. For my husband that date was eight years ago. Do not be concerned with man's time. It's God's time. Let me tell you that there is a big difference in the concept of time between the two. We just coast through and enjoy each other with whatever moments we have. We share each day whether it's talking about concerns we have, politics, jokes, family, but mostly faith. It is our personal assurance that God holds the reins in our lives.
You know what Murphy's Law says...whatever can go wrong-will. I had a stroke which left me paralyzed on my dominant right side. I am currently in out patient therapy a couple days a week. It was the suddenness that shocked me. It wasn't an instant now you have it; now you don't. But a gradual loss over hours and days as brain cells starved and died which led me to where I am. But still a loss is a loss with numerous adjustments. Life is about adaptation and faith can AND will carry you through.
I had to have my children go through my appointment book and cancel every single wedding and counseling session, classes, and book signings for the rest of the year. You see, I also lost my ability to speak and swallow. Mentally I can't spell without a spell checker working which I despise, grammar is history except for the basics, math is a thing for calculators, and when asked by a therapist (who also got some of my speech back) the opening lines of my favorite wedding...I couldn't remember although I used it over a thousand times.
In God's work, I do not go door to door or even have my own church. The Lord has a way of putting people in my path who have a need or many. I never know in advance, they just appear before me so I'm constantly looking. My stroke was no exception. Just like a business plan there are short and long term goals. God's work is the same, and don't ever doubt it. I knew in purpose for my stroke was learning patience that was a long term goal because recovering can take years. As stubborn as I am, it might take me that long to learn it. It was the short term goal I couldn't see until four days before my release from the intensive rehab program.
During rehab session, think five hours a day of hard work, there were others who had joint replacements, accidents, strokes and all manner of problems trying to learn to do something they couldn't up until a few days or weeks ago...like me. I became the head cheerleader coaxing others to work harder, stretch further, give it their all so they could go home. You see God had already given me the previous knowledge of what they were going through and how hard it was. I had them realize their own accomplishments. Made them acknowledge therapy was working so they could go home. I was spreading the love of the Lord to all. Sharing faith and encouragement thereby increasing my own.
Four days before I was released to go home, the patient care tech put a man at my breakfast table. Like me he'd had a stroke. Unlike me, this was his second having fully recovered from his first one years earlier. The second stroke did considerable more damage. He was unable to talk and was now wheelchair bound with no movement on one side. He was spared his dominant side unlike me. He changed the channel on the remote to a Christian station and was bobbing his head to the words spoken. This was my short term mission. Breakfast was brought in. The aide opened everything for him and I watched while they fed him the dreaded puree diet. He could nod his head yes and no but wouldn't even try to talk. In the middle of breakfast he broke down in tears. He took the towel they were using as a bib to wipe his face.
I waved the aide off with look and began talking to him. It was to be his first day of therapy. I told him it was okay to cry because he thought of himself less than a man and useless. There are times for tears, grief, and even self pity, but to limit the time to less than fifteen minutes an episode. It was time to work to get his life back and that's why he was here. He nodded and was rolled down to the therapy session. I reminded him every time I saw him break down by simply touching his arm in a gentle pat.
I had told him I was worse than him when I was admitted, but look at me now. I had learned how to swallow, mostly stopped drooling, was in underwear, I could walk with a walker but the wheelchair was quicker, But I still had no use of my arm. I demonstrated this by picking it up with my unaffected side and dropping it on the table. While weakened he had use of two fingers and his wrist, and shoulder on his affected side. I told him that I had much farther to go than him. He gave me a lopsided smile, his first. since the stroke.
By the second day after his arrival, he was more confident. I met his wife and family, and some of his friends and pastor. They already knew I was one and the nurses had told them that I was working with him. From personal experience with my own husband, I knew the male ego is a fragile thing. I would ask what he did in therapy and he would motion, by the motions I could tell what he was doing because I had been there and done the very same thing. He would nod when I guessed right. Two things happened that were significant that morning. 1) one he made three guttural sounds for words, and 2) he tried to feed himself. These were milestones. I praised him profusely for his efforts. When the aide tried to feed him I shook my head no at her. "Let him try." It was a messy process but I watched as he mixed his sausage into his grits, picked up the open packets of salt and pepper and pour them in clumps on his food. It was just the way he ate it at home according to his wife. He had some problems with opening his yogurt and I showed him how I did it. I picked up my spoon and punched the top allowing a bigger area the pull. It was a major accomplishment day for him. The aide sat back and watched in awe. For over a week they had been feeding this man.
By the third day, the tears had almost ceased. The confidence and pride shone in his eyes. He was actively fighting to get his life back. He also told me his name. I already knew because I asked the nurse, but I truly hate calling people by their last name. It's respectful, but unfriendly. He was walking and eating. He was more actively engaging in things going on around him. I told to always remember...fear and faith cannot live in the same body. To not give up because like any good parent, God did not want second best for HIS children. These were the words I received in my morning prayers about him...or I thought it was about him, but they also applied to me.
The next day was my discharge day. The man had a therapy session before me. I had missed our morning meeting because of my final assisted shower. I rolled into rehab and our eyes met. "Good Morning," he said to me. I couldn't have been prouder if he had been one of my own kids. Like so many I minister to that the Lord puts in my path, I was discharged and went home never to hear any more about him. Gone, but not forgotten. My life is truly blessed and enriched by these occurrences. God knows how to use me best.
It has taken me an hour to type this blog, but I think it is worth it. I have made many friends over the years who have offered assistance. The one thing I ask for is prayers. I have the willpower and faith to recover even if it's not totally. I am after all a realist. Miracles happen every day and I believe in prayer. I have never prayed for myself in all the decades of faith, but have continually prayed for others. Why, you ask. Because God sees what I need and supplies it. It's guaranteed.