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It’s a Good Day for a Good Day

You may have seen the video clip floating around the internet of John Piper talking about disappointments.

“Occasionally, grieve deeply over the life you hoped would be.  Grieve the losses.  Then wash your face.  Trust God.  And embrace the life you have.” John Piper

I can certainly relate to this and it ministers to me because of how much it hits home.  When I wake up  every day and  remember where I am and why I am here I find that I am  having to talk myself into perspective just like yesterday.  It feels easy to just lay in the bed and be sad.  I feel that I do have to just make myself get up and “wash my face” (and maybe put on some makeup and brush my teeth and my hair – I’m a little more high maintenance than John Piper), “Trust God.  And embrace the life (I) have.”

There’s just no way to know what life is going to bring you.  You don’t realize what you thought your life would be like until it doesn’t happen that way and you find yourself disappointed.  If I don’t believe that God is in control and has my best in mind then I find myself in a tornado of self pity or anger or bitterness, swirling round and round into greater and greater intensity and ultimately destruction.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

I must trust and believe that God does have a plan for my life and it’s a good one.  In fact, it is the best one for me.  Even though it may seem hard at times to find the good in it, this promise and many others from God’s word gives me the confidence to say and believe every morning that “it’s a good day for a good day”!

A day in the life…waiting on a heart

Many of you have asked me what my days are like here and how I am doing.  Since I am two weeks in I do feel like I have been able to establish a bit of a routine.  I use that word loosely, of course, because one of the first things I learned was the only consistent thing around here is inconsistency.

Well, there are a few consistent things such as my 5AM wake up!  This is the time of day that I am most confused as to where I am!  Is it a prison or a hospital?  What feels like a fleet of people enter my room and start doing things to me before I can even fully wake up.  My blood is drawn, my blood pressure is taken, my temperature is taken…then I have to stand up and get on a scale to be weighed, have my blood pressure taken three more times and then I get to head to the bathroom and pee into a container since they are keeping track of all the fluid going in and out of me.

After this they leave me alone for a while and, if I can go back to sleep, I do.  I wake up about 8am and order breakfast. While I’m waiting for breakfast I spend some time readying my Bible and praying.   After breakfast I do the best I can do with all of these tubes coming out of me to get washed up and dressed and looking somewhat presentable!  I was so discouraged when I first came here that I was having to wear a long bulky hospital gown with pj pants or leggings underneath.  I couldn’t believe this would be my new attire indefinitely until I left this place!  So I found a website called shouldershirts.com that had hospital type shirts with openings at the shoulders to allow for all of the things I have going on.  It was a very happy day when those shirts arrived and I could stop wearing the gown!

So I put on my shoulder shirt and my lounge pants (not sure what to call them but you know what I mean right?  the pants you can’t wait to put on when you get home from work!)  and head out to the hallway for my walk.  My goal is to walk a mile in the morning and a mile at night so I tracked down the PT soon after I arrived and found out that I have to walk 15 times around the floor I am on in order to get to a mile.  There are a few other heart transplant patients here waiting as well.  As I have been walking I have met all of them and sometimes a few of us will walk together.  The doctors want us staying strong so we are expected to keep moving and to strengthen as much as possible so that our recovery will be quick.

After walking, or sometimes before, the doctors will stop in to see me and check my numbers for fluid in my heart.  Because this is a teaching hospital there are always several people doing rounds with the doc.  Soon after they come by it is  usually time to order my lunch since it takes 45 minutes to arrive.  While I am waiting on lunch I may read, talk on the phone or maybe even try to color in one of my many adult coloring books given to me in preparation for this stay.  I eat lunch and then resume any of those activities unless I have visitors.  I think I have had visitors during almost every afternoon since I started having visitors and I am thankful for the many friends who have taken time out of their day to come see me and encourage and pray for me!  After a few days here the docs gave me “patio privileges” (again you see the confusion as to hospital or prison!) so I get to go down to the little side patio by the gift shop and sit.  That has been a interesting experience that I’ll possibly elaborate on later.  It is so awesome to feel the sun and smell the fresh air!  Several days Joe or the boys will bring Lizzie, my miniature daschund, to visit which brings me much joy!

After I go back up to my room I order dinner and return to my to do list or my long list of “things to do when you’re bored”. Some time in the afternoon I also will go to the “gym” and exercise.  That means I am riding this machine I call the pedal pusher- it’s kinda like a stationary bike but you push the pedals and pull and push the arms.  It is a good workout so I try to get in there every other day to do it.   Once I have eaten my dinner I go out for another walk and get to experience a shift change while I’m out there.  That can make for some major traffic in the hallways but I’ve gotten used to it and it’s fun to see who is coming and going.

Many evenings after my walk or during it Joe will come either with the boys or without and keep me company for a few hours.  We usually watch tv or a movie or something.  Then I try to start winding down around 10:30.  The nurse and tech do one last swoop through my room checking vitals and giving meds along with checking my numbers for fluid in my heart.  So around 11pm everybody leaves and I am left alone to fall asleep.  I sleep until 5am and the day starts all over again!  It can feel a little bit like the movie “Groundhog Day” in here so I do try to break up the monotony a little bit.

I thought it would be interesting to end this post with a list of all of the Mayo staff who enter my room in a single day so here goes… Nurse, Tech, Transplant Doctor, Resident doctor, Nurse Practitioner, Head Nurse, Caring Canines dog and owner (love this one!), Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Dietician, Social Worker, volunteer who has a musician/singer to sing to me (awkward!), Picc Team Nurse, Respiratory person, housekeeping, laundry guy, Nutritionist, Support Group leader, room service.  I’m sure I am probably missing a few even still!  So all in all I get about 10 minutes alone each day!  Jk!  I am thankful for the good care I receive here but it is pretty hard to have some peace and quiet!!  Well, I hope I haven’t bored you to tears but now you have a window into my world.  It really is like living in a whole different world here.

 

Heart of Stone

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

This verse in the Bible has come to my mind many times since I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure this past July 2017.  My doctors inform me that my heart is stiff and enlarged due to Chemotherapy treatment I received ten years ago when diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

In these verses it is referring to God speaking to His people about His relationship to them.  Though we may think we are running our own lives we can be quickly reminded, as I was ten years ago, and have been again recently, that we are not in control.  So that leaves one left to conclude one of two things: Either 1)there is a God who made us, sees us and works in our lives to bring about His desired results or 2)  we are here by happenstance (however that works) and there is no rhyme or reason for our existence and no plan for our lives.  Things just happen to us and we do what we can to influence a desired result.

At this point it is probably obvious that I wholeheartedly believe that there is a God and that He wants to know me intimately and has a plan for my life.This viewpoint does require faith and trust in the fact that God will give me a new heart and spirit.  This is referring to the fact that everyone comes into this world as a “sinner”- or what I would like to call a “hot mess”.  Argue if you want to but it doesn’t take long to see that no one is perfect and most of us are far from it!  So we are in need of help and unable to live a life of perfection which is what God intended for us.  Sin came into the world through the first man and woman which separated us (mankind) from Him.  So God made a way through his son Jesus to enable us to be reconciled to Him again- to have that intended relationship.  In doing this we are able to receive a new heart (made of flesh-metaphor for soft and pliable and alive or healthy) in exchange for our old heart (made of stone-metaphor for hard and brittle, dead or unhealthy).

So as I sit here today having been in the hospital for 14 days waiting on my literal heart of stone to be exchanged for my new heart of flesh,  I find myself contemplating my spiritual state and am so thankful that God looked down on me and saw my hard heart toward Him and chose to sacrifice His son so that I could know Him and have a renewed life in Him!