Yesterday as I sat in the coffee shop at the gym one of the lovely staff asked if I’m nervous about my heart surgery next week. And you know what my response was? Yes of course I am nervous but I’m also excited.
My own words took me by surprise. I’m going into hospital in a few days to have major open heart surgery, surely that can’t be how I’m feeling?
Of course I’d just spent 2 hours dancing so it could have been the endorphins talking. (Did you know that the endorphins released in your brain after exercise trigger a positive feeling in the body and mind?) But I think it’s more than that. I think I am actually excited, and I think I’m as ready as I can be to go through this.
I am getting my heart fixed. The process is going to be horrible in many ways I know, but I am being reassured by all the cardiology team, and fellow heart warriors across the pond, that the results are going to be worth the pain.
I can’t imagine what it is going to feel like to not have a mucking great big hole in my heart anymore, and to have all the blood vessels in the right places so I have more oxygenated blood. I’m guessing and hoping that it will feel wonderful. That once I’ve recovered from the surgery I’ll be able to build my fitness to beyond anything that my body is capable of right now. That I’ll have loads more energy to dance and move and stomp. I do like a good old stomp!
And I am excited about spending time with people during my recovery. I honestly feel incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life who love me, and want to spend time with me to help me, support me. I know that I won’t always be good company, that I’ll be in pain at first, and there will be many tearful days. But I also know that allowing myself to be that vulnerable with others will make me stronger and strengthen my relationships with them. That’s very exciting to me. I want my heart to be stronger so I can love more, and be a blessing to others too.
This surgery has been hanging over my head for 5 years now. It’s a bit shocking to think that this time next week it will be done and I’ll have got through the time in intensive care, already back on the ward! And the weight of anticipation will be lifted from me, I’ll be free from the looming dooming surgery ahead because it will be behind me!
I didn’t know I would feel so excited.
But really I do.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve not gone manic. I realise that this is huge. I’ve been told the risks countless times. And no doubt will be again next week before the surgery itself. I’ve gone to the depths, I’m not avoiding the fact that I might die. I’ve felt it, I’ve stared at it. I’ve cried and screamed and shouted at it. And I have accepted it. The surgery might kill me.
It is true. But you know what I am going to die some day! We all are. And I am not scared about it. I know I’ll still be with Jesus when I die. He’s not going to leave me, not ever, not for eternity! Death – where is your sting???? (1 Corinthians 15: 55)
I can also feel a defiant strength rising up in me. It comes from that acceptance, that knowledge. When I am weak, He is strong! (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10) I’m pretty sure I will need reminding of this a lot over the next few months, but going through this process is a gift. Being weak and vulnerable is a gift.
His grace is enough; it’s all I need.
His strength comes into its own in my weakness.
I have to focus on the positive benefits or there is no way that I will be able to go through with it. I need to focus on my future, all the possibilities, all the adventures to be had. I’m getting a chance to spend the rest of my life with a heart that works much better. As it is, my heart defect means that I am in a high risk category for stroke and heart failure. I desperately don’t want either of those. The surgery will give me the chance to live without those high risks.
Now comes the ironic part. As I got to this point in writing, I got a call from my surgeon’s secretary to say that my surgery date had been changed. Brought forward by a day.
I wasn’t expecting that!
With help from my friends I’d had everything for the next few days planned out and organised. I was in control. So much to do – finish cleaning and sorting the house, get everything ready for Christmas, get my boiler fixed and a million other chores. I had cat sitters sorted, family arriving, meals planned.
Then got that call.
I’m now going into hospital on Monday instead of Tuesday. surgery now Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Of course only if there is an intensive care bed.
And I freaked out.
When I took the call I was feeling positive and hopeful. The news made me feel instantly anxious. My mind went into overdrive with everything I have to do.
One minute I feel in control, the next I’m reminded that I’m not. That’s not easy for a control freak!
But it’s important for me to learn this.
Last night I went out and tried my best to forget about it all. I had a great evening. I really did. I’m so blessed with such beautuful, wonderful people in my life.
Today it’s 10am and I’m still sat in my dressing gown. I’ve got loads to do and will get started in a minute but right now I’m enjoying a lazy Saturday morning. I’m enjoying my heart as it is. I’m enjoying being myself. I’m taking a bit of time to appreciate my life. To be thankful.
And I’m starting to feel positive and excited again.
I can do this. I can get through this. I can see my situation as a gift and learn from it.
Deep breaths, chin up, big smile and best foot forward.
Love Lou xxx