Monday, November 10, 2014

It's a Wonderful Life--my version

Hi everyone

Since I've emailed you all week, I thought it only fitting to end on a positive note and to thank you for your prayers. Everything went much better than I thought it would. I realized last night (it was a horrible nights sleep) that this really wasn't about getting over my fears about wisdom teeth/pain/going under or even the heart attack; I realized that this would be about living my life as normally as I can despite having PTSD (which will come up every so often unexpectedly) but not letting it take over my life. Without getting too much into it or making this too personal, I went "back" five years ago when I was learning how to trust God amid a tradety, of letting something so terrible happen to me when all my life I had experienced only good health and no traumatic events whatsoever. And then suddenly, I feel like Peter who is walking on water and begins to doubt God and notice that it isn't until he is practically drowning that he cries out for help that God saves him. Well, this is sort of how I feel with the heart attack. He let me "die" before He saved me, He allowed me to think I wouldn't be saved but allowed me a spark of hope when I saw the police man come before I blacked out. He allowed me to think my coronary dissection was fixed before letting us all know that it actually wasn't and that the dissection had been continuing all that time...I have had a lot of trust issues since then not just with God, but with my own body and mortality. Since then, it's never escaped my mind that we can die at any age, in the middle of any event or plans we have in our lives.

So wow, this is a little longer than I wanted it to be but I just feel I need to explain things a little on my end as I'm sure it's hard to understand such anxiety and fear over removing teeth. I have always been a nervous and anxious person but I think that it's the nervous and anxious people that learn to trust even more than the average person. Or at least this is what I tell myself to make myself feel better. :-)  And yes, the past is the past but it's still a part of our lives, formed us who we are today and if something went wrong during that formation, God wants to fix it with trust. Usually, He can only do that by asking us to hand a part of our lives over to Him, whether it's our own life, our kids, our worries, even our teeth and bad memories of medical stuff.

So that is the best way that I can explain this anxiety to you. Even if you feel it isn't necessary to explain, it's something I felt I had to do mainly for myself. If I am going to show you so much of my heart then I want you to understand me correctly; not based off your own assumptions or understandings. Being vulnerable and showing emotion that we tend to hide isn't easy to do, and I sure don't want any trust ruined based on not feeling like I can't be open with you.

That is all I really wanted to say and to say thanks for taking me seriously and praying for me. I really have felt myself lifted up prayer and that's not something I can say often. I had so many ups and downs and moments of real sufferings of anxiety and fear but also of extreme peace, and even joy in just letting it all go!

So if you have to go, feel free to delete this email now. But if you want to hear a funny story, read on!

So skipping over the suffering parts (since I already covered that), I arrived to this apt with a huge snowstorm--just to make things even more fun. We slipped and slid all the way to oral surgeon and Dennis cracked just about every dumb tooth joke to keep my spirits up--just like I asked him not to do.

Then as we were walking in, Dennis realized he forgot our portion of our payment ($600) that was printed in bold that must be paid before I can get my surgery done. When I head this, I said, "What?! Are you kidding me???" Because as much as I did not want to get this done, I also just wanted to get over with.

Then when we checked in, Dennis blurted out to the receptionist, "I forgot the money." (You could tell he didn't know how to break the news.) She waited and said, "You're joking, right?" She was not happy but at that point, my nerves kicked in again and I was feeling irritable that she was only concerned about the money. (He came promised to come back right after to pay, which he did.)

Ok, I am rambling again. Fast forward an agonizing 15 minute wait when I had been sitting relatively calmly until two nurses called my name. Then, like a complete child, I broke down crying. I mean, loud honking sobs. Dennis tried to reassure me by saying, "Piece of cake" and walked back with me.

I stood in the room looking like some terrified trapped dog because I did NOT want to lay down in that chair. The hygienist seemed impatient with me and asked what it was that I was so afraid of. I considered telling her my whole medical history, just for the sake of stalling, but all I said was, "I've had a difficult medical history." She did seem a little more sympathetic and reassured me as best she could but was clearly in a hurry. I knew I couldn't delay any longer and laid down in the chair and gave Dennis a terrified look. He said again, "Piece of cake."

The doctor came in and asked how I was doing and I said, (still sobbing) "Fine." He looked at me crying and we both laughed which eased a little of the tension. But then the tension mounted up again as they whipped around the room, doing this and that, sticking a heart monitor on me, an oximeter on me, blood pressure, IV and all those hospital days came rushing back. The fact that they weren't really talking to me but seemed to be in a hurry made it even harder. I shot Dennis another look, and from sitting in his chair, he nodded, smiled and said, "Piece of cake!"
   "Is that all you can say?!?!" I said irritably.

During this time, it was like the heart attack, I felt like I was back on those steps dying. I felt trapped by wires and a dentist chair and medical personelle, just doing their job, not speaking much to me. I was trying to form words, to offer it up for those who asked me to offer my sufferings for their intentions, but I couldn't even form a thought. Then to make things worse, the doctor told Dennis he would need to go back to the waiting room. I argued with him, "They said he could stay with me until I get the laughing gas!"  The doctor explained that they had to move quickly, that Dennis staying to hold my hand through that terrifying moment would make him only in the way. I wish I could say that like the saints, I used that moment as accepting it as another part of the cross, but I didn't. I felt a little betrayed and angry since this was my one and only plan of comfort while I was being put out. And Dennis did not help things by patting me on the knee as he was leaving and saying yet *one more time* "Piece of cake!"

I realize this really isn't the funny part but just let me finish and then I will skip to the end.

So they put the mask on and my tears still hadn't stopped all this time. I remembered what I had realized in my prayers the night before, that this would a healing time for me, and that tears are a part of healing. The hygienist did slow down her work enough to say, "I will hold your hand" and also handed me a tissue. I began to calm down (thanks to the laughing gas, I'm sure) and finally accepted "death" again, if that's what God wanted. It was the point that I had to return to once again. I still could not form any words in my heart for prayer; all I could do was imagine Jesus on the cross. I kept this image in my head and began to talk a little to the dentist and hygienist, trying to be a little less difficult  and more friendly as I had refused to talk to them at all since they made Dennis leave, except to nod or shake my head to their questions.

I remember I wiped my eyes with the tissue, looked down at it lying in my hand, thinking how a simple tissue made a seemingly uncaring hygienist suddenly kind....when suddenly, the hygienist was standing in front of me, explaining that I was done, what I needed to do for care and how we were going to walk down to the recovery room. I said, "I'm DONE?? Already???"   I couldn't believe it and didn't believe her right away until I looked down at my hand again and realized that at some point, the tissue had been removed. This was my only clarification that time had gone by without my realizing it.

I was sort of like Gregory Peck in "Its a Wonderful Life" after that--the part where he gets a second chance at life.

It took two nurses to walk me to the recovery room (it was a short walk) as I was sort of wobbly, and I remember passing by a room that had a metal tray of 4 ugly bloody teeth. I asked the nurses if those were my teeth (which I had said I didn't want to see afterward) and they said yes, and I was so happy to see them removed! It really was done! I guess I was a little loud, Dennis said he could hear me all the way from the recovery room saying, "I don't even care that they're bloody!"

During recovery, the nurses jammered instructions so fast that of course, being a little grogg, I couldn't follow along at all. Thankfully Dennis was able to follow but even he admitted that they spoke very fast. I, on the other hand, kept repeating, "I can't believe it's over!" Because it still seemed to me that I had just sat down on that dentist chair only moments before! I was talking so much that the nurses told that I really shouldn't be talking at all or I would make the bleeding worse. I was to find out later that that was true, but at the time, I didn't care. I remember saying, "I don't care! I don't mind blood!" Ok, you know that I'm really doped up on something when I say I don't mind blood because I DO.

In the car all the way home, I continued to talk and talk, expressing my relief that it was over, that all was fine. I felt so good,  so cared for. I felt so loved by God. It was a really good feeling. He brought me back to that place, He asked me surrender, and then He took over. It felt good. So how could I not stop expressing my joy? Dennis, in the meantime, kept reminding me that my constant declarations of happiness and relief were going to make my bleeding worse. This, coming from the guy who could only think of one thing to say, "Piece of cake!" suddenly had a lot to say!

When we got closer to home, I began to mention to Dennis how I was beginning to feel a little nauseated. He said, "That's the anesthesia wearing off." Well, let me tell you. I worked in the hospital for 10 years and found out that some people are sensitive to anesthesia and some aren't, and it turns out that I am. Because the first thing I did when we pulled up to the driveway is I opened my car door, leaned over, and threw up. Thankfully, fasting for 6 hours made it mainly just dry heaves, but while I was throwing up, the gauze in my mouth fell out. There they lay, the two bloody gauzes.

Well, I was still pretty doped up, so I merely walked over the mess, walked up to the house and saw Mom and the kids in the window. In my eagerness to see them and to let them see how great I was doing, I walked straight into the garage door. Dennis righted that and opened the door for me, and the kids came running up to me, along with mom following behind them with big smiles on their faces. I declared, "I'm home!!" and bent down to give the kids a hug. Instead, Mom turned white and looked away, Henry ran back into the other room, and Anna was looking at me with a terrified expression and began to whimper.  I said, "what?" and looked down at myself, realizing that huge drips of blood were pouring out of my mouth, dribbling down my chin, all over my hands and clothes and all over the floor.

Oh, the poor kids. Poor mom! She looked like she was going to be sick. It's amazing what those little gauze bandages can hold.

 So Dennis quickly put new gauze in  for me (he had to because I wasso numb that when I tried to do it myself I was sticking down my throat) and I went promptly to bed. That was when it all began to hit me, how tired I was, how much my head hurt and all the discomforts that comes with a numb and dry mouth.

But I was still happy. I felt like I overcame a MAJOR hurdle in my life.

My recovery today has been great. I got some good sleep, I rested a lot. But mainly my only discomfort has not being able to eat solids (they won't let you until two days later to discourage infection while the wounds heal) and dry mouth. At this moment, the Novocain has worn out, and other than a small headache, I have no pain whatsoever. I haven't even taken that many drugs to help with pain. I haven't really needed to. I have been happy, cheerful, and able to get back to helping with the kids. Not too much--our neighbor and friend made dinner for us (which I can't eat anyway) which saved me and Dennis from having to prepare anything. But I have helped with homework, I have settle a few fights, I  watched Curious George with the kids while they lay in the bed with me,  and I led prayer time so that Dennis could get a break today. Other than that the repetitive "Piece of cake" comments, he has been really helpful, doing all the housework, meals, making school lunches, going to the store to get me some pudding and broth, picking up my meds and making sure everyone was quiet so I could sleep. Some guys are just better at being comforting rather than sounding comforting, and that's him.

And that is my happy ending to my two week story. Thanks for going along with me. And the moral of the story? I think when we surrender our lives, God will give it back--but a life full of more meaning, a better understanding and hopefully, a lesson of trust.

Thanks again for all your prayers.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky, Whew! I've cried before surgery and "procedures" out of fear. Oh, who cares if the receptionist didn't look happy!

    It was kind of funny to read about the blood dripping out of your mouth like a vampire. Too bad they couldn't give you the laughing gas on the way to dentist. Anyway, yes, you got over a major hurdle, so Yay to you!

    Lovely foyer.

    Finally, somewhere in your previous post you mentioned writing a book. Would love to hear more about it.