A cool thing about having a forum like The Manofesto is that it provides an opportunity for reflection and a place to mark occasions that are meaningful, if only to me.
One year ago today I posted this meme about encouragement on my Facebook page. It would be the last thing I’d post until a week later, when I wrote a brief update on my condition from a hospital bed. I very clearly remember waking up on Veteran’s Day, but the following 48 hours are forever lost to me. My family became worried enough that they came to my place and had to get law enforcement to gain entrance. I’m told I was conscious but have no memory of the encounter. I was rushed to a local hospital and then taken to another bigger hospital about an hour up the road. I was born with a condition called spina bifida, and something that usually goes hand in hand with that is an abnormality called hydrocephalus, which means that fluid collects around my brain and builds up pressure. This pressure is relieved by a shunt that is inserted into one’s head, with a tube draining harmlessly into an abdominal cavity. I’ve been very blessed to have very few issues with this process. The shunt that was initially put in my head as a baby had been replaced only once, in high school, and even then the symptoms that I exhibited weren’t too terrible. What happened a year ago was much worse, and I understand that I am blessed to be alive. I underwent two surgeries and spent a couple of months in the hospital. Complications arose which prolonged the agony or my stay would have been much shorter.
Upon my arrival back home I wrote about my experience in the hospital and continue to be thankful for the talented doctors, nurses, & medical staff that saved my life. I haven’t totally forgotten about those that didn’t necessarily appeal to me, but we’ll let bygones be bygones. Eventually I regained most of my strength. Wounds healed. Life was resumed. I got a new job back in the spring and returned to normal activities like church and…well…whatever else I do in this humble & oftentimes prosaic little life of mine.
I am forever grateful to everyone who nudged me along in the path to recovery. My father visited often at the hospital and ran errands for me. I’ve desperately missed my mother every bit of the past 17 years, but Dad fills that void in his own unique & indispensable way. I have a sister & two nephews who, despite busy lives of their own, were there when I needed them most and continue to do just that. Sweet little Rocco lived with them for nearly three months. I know in my heart & soul that many people don’t have that kind of support. My brother from another mother, The Owl, drove five hours from Columbus, OH for a visit. He didn’t have to do that, but it made a dreary Saturday confined to a hospital bed just a little more enjoyable. My minister visited often and my church family stayed in touch. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of prayer. In the hymnal at church #77 is How Great Thou Art. When it was decided to move me to a different hospital room in the very late hours of the night (because they do those kinds of weird things at odd hours) my new abode was room 77, and I just smiled and assured God I understood the message. I could go on, but I’ll refrain. I just wanted to say “Thank You” one more time to all who visited, called, stayed in contact on social media, and said a little prayer or two along that bumpy road.
I worked last night, as I do every Friday from 10:30pm to 7am. But this morning I came home. I am conscious (for now…gotta get some zzzz’s soon). I know who I am and on what planet I reside. I’m snuggling with Rocco and later on I’ll watch some football on my own TV while eating my own food. Exciting?? Not really, but in comparison to where I was a year ago I’ll happily embrace it. There is a little part of me that will always wonder if what happened might happen again, but I can’t let that drive me nuts. None of us know what the future holds…that’s just part of this deal called life. There is a little part of me that will always be sad about the things I missed. I didn’t get to attend my youngest nephew’s playoff games on his way to a third straight state championship in football. I was in the hospital for Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s, and y’all know how much I love my holidays. Though I have condemned Christmas Creep in years past I will admit that I’ve already been listening to carols and may have watched Elf on television. I am REALLY excited about the holidays this year and might even put up a Christmas tree for the first time in over a decade.
God blessed me with people who offered encouragement. They offered hope in the midst of hurt and love that minimized my pain. The suffering that I endured doesn’t amount to a hill o’ beans compared to the issues that many face on a daily basis, but one doesn’t always understand that while surrounded by the storm. When faced with having my second surgery in less than a month last December I must admit that there was a train of thought running thru my head wondering if I’d make it off the operating table alive. I am not usually such a fatalist, but it was a feeling I couldn’t shake. After the surgery was over and I did indeed wake up I knew there had to be a reason. God wasn’t done with me yet. I’m still not sure why I’m here…that is indeed the great existential question we all ponder occasionally, right?? All I know, as I sit here in my humble little Bachelor Palace preparing to take a much needed nap, is that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven. I’m not much of a country music fan, but a few years ago Travis Tritt did a great song in which he opined that it’s a great day to be alive…I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes…there’s some hard times in the neighborhood but why can’t every day be just this good…it’s a goofy thing but I just gotta say, hey, I’m doing alright.