Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"To Love and be Loved is to feel the sun from both sides."- Barbara Johnson

The first morning of my rehabilitation following open-heart surgery began with the above delightful quote from Barbara Johnson, a much loved and favourite author of Carol's. It was though Carol herself tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that 'feel the sun from both sides'. I needed that encouragement and also need to say at the beginning of this chapter how true that is to my present experience. One of the delightful benefits of the sun is that it brings warmth and light and life; and love is like that.

The lead-up to my recent big adventure began at the completion of a long bushwalk with Heather, Brent and the family in late December. It was a solid six hours walk and was truly a delightful day (See the chapter "Leisure time in Summer (second half)" At the end of the walk, however, I knew that angina had reared its ugly head again after some years of absence. I was free from all medication, taking only a small aspirin each day, with blood pressure to be pretty perfect. With the experience of renewed pain, I made an appointment to see my GP and found out that the perfect blood pressure was no longer perfect by a long shot! It had shot up rather dramatically. With areferal to a Cardiologist, I soon found myself under the microscope, including an angiogramme that showed three arteries blocked to 90%, one blocked to 70% and a couple of other 'minor' ones also having some discomfort. The consensus from the medical fraternity was an early operation to bypass the blocked arteries. I was a little shattered, not expecting anything between four and six by-passes, hoping instead for less intrusive surgery.

I finally received a call a couple of weeks ago to say that I was scheduled for surgery on 5 May with an admission to the Royal Hobart Hospital the day before. Alas, with more pain on 1 May, I found myself admitted four days earlier for observation. Finally, on Monday afternoon I was wheeled in for surgery with the heart specialist completing a quadruple by-pass. The family was relieved to receive a call by about six to say that the operation went well and that Intensive Care was looking after my immediate care. By Sunday 11 May, I was home!! Amazing! It was wonderful to be back in my own environment and my own bed. The family is wonderful and provide me with so much support. My first night provided me with a wonderful nine hours of restful sleep that set the stage for the beginning of my rehabilitation programme, which will take up to three months. To receive the message that is at the head of this chapter was just such a special gift and I am deeply grateful.

My gratitude extends to so many people who I dearly LOVE. They expressed their LOVE for me in many different ways through emails, letters, cards, visits (hospital staff got a bit worried a couple of times), phone calls. Most assured me of their prayers and my overwhelming experience has been that the Lord Jesus was and remains constantly by my side. 'Thanks' seems such an inadequate word as I acknowledge all who prayed and share the journey with me. Believe me, I have not found this experience comfortable, particularly the side affects of medications and the emotional roller-coaster. The pain of not having Carol with me was rather intense a few times. Even coming home had that touch of loss, considering it was Mothers Day. Yet, at the same time, I continue to be grateful that God is in control and I get the message that my work on this planet is not yet over. It certainly is my prayer that I may continue to LOVE and to be loved and in that way experience the sun on both sides!