10:00, 2:00, 5:00 and 8:00

So it all comes down to this:  our world was changing and it began in a little room in the surgical Intensive Care Unit.  I watched my husband breathe with the help of a machine, still unconscious from the medications, with an enormous tube pumping fluids out of his chest.  The room suddenly got really hot, and I fought the urge to faint.  Thankfully, my cousin was there, keeping me upright.  She suggested we go get a bite to eat, and I realized I hadn’t eaten all day.  I was reluctant to leave, but my husband’s nurse assured me I could come back in any time.

After eating and another visit to the ICU, I eventually settled into my room, where I tossed and turned for hours.  All kinds of horrible scenarios were spinning around in my head and sleep would not come.  Finally I could stand it no longer, and went to the ICU again at 5:30am.   True to his word, my husband’s nurse allowed me in.  Although he was still sedated, at least I was reassured that he was resting, and was able to go back to my room and sleep soundly for a few hours.

The first morning after surgery I was allowed into his room pretty liberally.  However, eventually my days began to revolve around the following times:  10:00, 2:00, 5:00 and 7:00.  No matter what happened during the day, at those times I was standing at the doors of the ICU, waiting to be let in.  A total of 2 hours each day.  I treasured those brief times and would move Heaven and Earth to spend every moment of them at his side.

I was able to spend a second night at the hospital.  Late on the third night, my youngest son and I arrived home….and discovered that our air conditioner was not working.  My in-laws were due to arrive from out of town at 9:00am the next morning, and my sister-in-law was also coming in later that day.  Nothing could be done at that hour, so we each sweltered under our ceiling fans, with wet washcloths over our faces.

Thankfully I was able to get someone to come right over early that Monday morning to fix the ac, and when I told him why I needed to leave by 9:00 (see paragraph above), he waived his rush fee.  As I waited for him to fix the ac, I decided to make coffee for my guests, only to discover that the coffee-maker was broken.  Afraid to touch anything else, I sat in my sweltering home and waited for 9:00am.

When dealing with a stressful situation, I think it is easy to compartmentalize things…maybe it is the body’s way of protecting itself, to keep from being overwhelmed.  You are suddenly able to super-focus, to do only those things that will carry you through the situation.  And you do it almost automatically.  The unfortunate consequence is that there will be important things that are missed.  For instance, the day after my husband’s surgery our son turned 21.  Several days after that, a beloved aunt of mine passed away.  It would be several weeks before my son got his birthday gift.  I was unable to attend my aunt’s funeral.  There was understanding and grace for my focus being on my husband….I would begin to pay more attention to these acts of kindness in the upcoming weeks and months, and they would help me cope.

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