I’ve waited a long time to write this post. Six months, in fact. Now, finally, it’s time to write Part V (the finale) of my series of posts on the difficult lessons I’ve learned from having major spine surgery. I learned so much that I was drawn to share about it on this blog – a daring thing to me to do on many levels. But, the overwhelmingly positive response I received affirmed my decision.
If you missed my previous posts, here they are:
Part I: What I’ve Learned
Part II: The Bracelet
Part III: Isolation and the Value of Friendship
Part IV: Setbacks
At the time I wrote Part IV, things were progressing rapidly. They were, and then they weren’t. I was making progress, but what the wound specialist expected would take only a few weeks – final closure of the incision – ended up taking two months. The upside was that I was healing. The downside was that I still required extra care and twice-daily bandage changes. As you can imagine, that made my wildly-busy Spring speaking schedule difficult to manage.
With the grace of God and some of the tricks my wound specialist had up his sleeve, I was able to keep all of my commitments. A couple of times, my husband accompanied me, which made everything so much easier because he was right there to change my bandages. The rest of the time, I was set up with long-term bandage patches that would allow me to be away for a few days at a time. So, I kept all of my trips as short as possible and, thanks be to God, I only ended up needing Urgent Care twice – both on the same trip, oddly enough.
I think that was the hardest part of it all. While I was excited and grateful that I could continue speaking around the country, inside there was a constant worry about my back. Will the bandage hold? Was there enough medication in the gauze to keep me from getting an infection? What if it came loose and I didn’t notice? These little questions circled in my head round and round as I was traveling.
Yet, God saw to it that I would make it through all ten of the speaking engagements and that they all were a success. Sometimes I had only a few days between trips! Yes, it was grueling. Yes, it was worrisome. But I noticed something about myself in the process. Inside of me was growing a renewed sense of mission and an inexplicable urgency. I’ve long had a fervent yearning to turn hearts to Mary, but now it was much more than yearning. I wasn’t yearning anymore; I was compelled. My desire to lead the world to Mary one heart at a time had become a mission. As far as my short-sighted vision could see, my wound care was getting in the way of fulfilling my mission.
I kept praying for complete healing, but it seemed that God
was in no hurry to give it to me.
I kept praying for complete healing but it seemed that God was in no hurry to give it to me. I’d hoped to be healed by Christmas, but that didn’t happen. I thought perhaps by New Year’s Day, but that didn’t happen. Valentine’s Day? Nope. As I entered Lent, I thought surely God would heal me if I sacrificed hard enough. In the meantime, there had been great strides in the closing of the incision and so I fully expected that on Easter morning I would rise renewed like our Lord Jesus ( a bit naive, I know). Not then, either. I was closer; but still not there. To say I was disappointed puts it mildly. I thought ahead to Mother’s Day and wondered if finally by then the ordeal would all be over. But, I didn’t pray specifically for that. Why? Because it seemed God had chosen to heal me slowly and inconspicuously. I prepared for a long haul.
The week before Mother’s Day, I had my six-month postop appointment with the surgeon. The x-rays showed that the hardware and bone grafts had healed strong and solid. He lifted all activity restrictions and gave me my “free pass” to do whatever I like as tolerated, including using our elliptical machine and stationary bike – both of which I severely missed using, as I’d been unable to use them for several months before the surgery and was banned for all these months since. He didn’t even see a need for physical therapy as long as I continued my at-home exercise program. I couldn’t believe my ears! I was truly astounded and overcome with joy.
I knew from my husband that the incision was looking really good,
but I had no idea how good.
A few days later, I had an appointment with the wound care specialist. I knew from my husband that the incision was looking really good, but I had no idea how good. The specialist examined me, rolled his chair back, and announced to everyone in the room, “It’s closed.” The nurses, the doctor, and I all threw up a cheer. Unbelievable! Finally, the incision had closed! The only thing left is to keep it covered and protected for about a month while the now-vulnerable tissues strengthen. But, that’s nothing compared to where I’ve been with this surgery saga.
And so what have I learned from this?
I’ve learned that the heavenly Father had to take me out of the game and put me on the bench for a good long while for my own good. A player sitting on the bench can see and understand things that he never would’ve seen or understood while playing. Sitting on the sidelines helps him to regain strength and perspective and increases his desire to give it his all once he’s allowed back in the game. God has the playbook in his hands and I wasn’t trusting him to run the plays. Being sidelined helped me to see and understand things I wouldn’t have otherwise. It allowed me to regain strength and perspective. And, it most certainly increased my desire to give it all when I’m back in the game.
These have all been hard, hard lessons to learn. Indeed, I’m still learning and probably will continue learning from here forward. But I know I’ve gotten the main point: God’s done this to prepare me for what lies ahead.
Image: Free stock photo, pexels.com