I have spent quite a few hours in my lifetime waiting in hospitals and waiting rooms. My mom had several surgeries when my sister and I were young. She had gall bladder surgery back in the ’70s, before laparoscopic surgery made it less invasive. It entailed a fairly long hospital stay; I think it was a week. At that point in my life I was so young that I didn’t understand much except that mom was in a strange, white, cold room, and Grammy and Granddaddy would take my sis and me to see her for a short visit each day. This also entailed staying at Grammy and Granddaaddy’s house for the week, which I thought was weird. Granddaddy made strange food, like buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup, and sandwiches on pumpernickel bread. Pumpernickel!! Who would ever have thought of eating THAT stuff? 😉 Plus he watched Star Trek, and I was so not into that.
In the year 2000 there was an entirely different experience waiting for me in a hospital. My own little son, Jacob, age five at the time, was horribly sick. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that when ETMC finally sent us over to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, we were told he may have a tumor and that we should be prepared to “lose him.” Can you imagine that they told us that? My mind went blank. I chose not to believe that. Those hours waiting to be seen at CMC, so exhausted we could barely breathe, watching little Jacob writhe in pain each time he woke up, was unbearable. Minutes seemed like hours, hours seemed like lifetimes, as we waited. I tried to think what it would be like to lose someone I loved as much as my little curly-headed boy. My mind quite literally wouldn’t allow me to think those thoughts. I don’t know if that was a sign of strength or of weakness, but that’s what was happening within me. Ultimately, a resident student figured out what was wrong with Jacob, which was not a tumor, in fact, but a weird autoimmune disorder that could be treated with steroids after the surgery. What a blessing! I was so thankful!
Now we are sitting here waiting for my father-in-law’s heart surgery to be over. We got here at 1:00p.m., and surgery was supposed to begin at 3:00. Of course, as often happens in hospitals, the surgeons were running behind, so he is just now going in to surgery, and it is almost 5:00p.m. He is maintaining his “cool,” and we are prayerful and trusting that he will be o.k. What I have been thinking, sitting here, is that I am only twenty-six years behind my father-in-law in age. What will my life and health be like in twenty-six years? Will I even still be here then? Those, obviously, are questions that can’t be answered by us humans. What it teaches me is that I need to pay attention to my NOW. Right now I am healthy, and I have people in my life who need me, and whom I love so much. Not only should I make it a priority to take care of myself for my own benefit, but for the benefit of my family and friends. It’s not selfish to take care of myself, even though much of the time, as we moms tend to do, everyone else’s needs take precedence over mine. We’re martyrs, even though we don’t think of it that way while we’re doing it. We just love our babies, our family, our friends, and we want to do what’s best for them all! So, here in January, appropriately, I have decided (I refuse to say “resolved”) to make my health a priority. I want to do my best to be walking on a beach or hiking a trail or playing in a park when I’m in my 60s, spending as little time as possible in hospital rooms. Who’s with me?