Pulling Up Anchor

Recovery is going very well.  Lately I’ve started to feel as if I’m really making progress.  Receiving the okay to drive last week was a nice milestone.  Now, back behind the wheel, running the boys here and there, going to the grocery store, meeting friends for lunch, it all seems hard to believe that less than five short weeks ago I was lying in a hospital bed.

So you can imagine that it throws me off a little when I run into someone who I’m seeing for the first time in months and they say something like, “How did you find it?” or “So, I hear it was found during your first mammogram, wow, that’s really unlucky.”

Each time I hear such questions/statements, I’m reminded of something my friend Matt said in passing shortly after I received the diagnosis.  He launched right into, “So, who are your doctors?  Are you comfortable with who you’ve chosen?  When is the surgery scheduled?”  Then he paused, and said, “I’m sorry to be so matter-of-fact…I don’t mean to diminish what you’re going through by jumping right into the core of it, but I figure you’ve already pulled up anchor.  I don’t want to keep you back there,” gesturing with his hands, “when you’re way over here.”

What an incredible gift my friend shared with me:  meeting someone where they are.  It’s a skill Matt modeled brilliantly, and one I’d like to emulate.  I see it as a skill high on the compassion scale.  It says, “I’m on board with you.”

I never told Matt how much those words meant to me, although there’s not a day that passes that I don’t think about them.  Pulling up anchor.  I believe it’s another way of saying, “It is what it is,” but with a slightly different twist.  More like, “You’ve moved on, and now you’re here, and I‘m right beside you, here to support you.”

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Hey Buddy, thank you.  I probably should have told you earlier.  Thank you not only for providing the example, but also for giving me a mental catch-phrase that I now use as a reminder when listening to others and what they’re going through.

Help Needed

I’ve never been one to take into consideration an action (like riding a bike, for instance) for too long.  (Ideas I can ponder for years, but actions are different.)  I like to sit back and observe, but then, after I’ve made up my mind, I’m off and running, or pedaling, usually with little or no help.

So, the whole concept of asking for help is not very intuitive to me.  As I woke up from surgery week before last, still in the recovery room, I remember trying to reach up to scratch my nose.  Not only were these cumbersome wires impeding my reach, I literally couldn’t scratch my nose.  But it itched.  It really itched.  So I thought, maybe if I try with the other hand I’ll have more luck.  Nope.  I couldn’t raise either arm one bit.

At that point I considered asking the nurse to scratch my nose.  Then I thought better, she had much more important things to do.  But I’m telling you, it really itched.  So, I opened my mouth to make my fatuous request, and nothing came out.  I couldn’t talk.

To get her attention, I decided to move my head from side to side, as if to say, “No”, and sure enough, she looked over at me.  As she stood over me, trying to understand what I was saying, I changed my mind and simply smiled at her.  In that instant I decided that there were going to be many small things I wouldn’t be able to do for myself, some of them would be tolerable and some of them wouldn’t.  This one was tolerable, so it wasn’t worth straining further.  And of course, as soon as I let go of the urgency for my nose to be scratched, wouldn’t you know, it stopped itching.

The following day I was told by a nurse that my catheter was going to be removed and I would have to walk to the bathroom.  At the time, I remember thinking I hadn’t heard her correctly.  Yesterday I couldn’t scratch my nose, and today, she wanted me to walk to the restroom.  I wasn’t annoyed or even disagreeable, I simply chuckled, thinking, “Yeah, right.  That’s NOT happening.”

The next thing I knew, she said, “Breathe out hard on three.  One, two, three.”  She had removed the catheter (on three) and said she’d be right back to help me to the restroom.  Now it set in that this really was going to happen.  But how?

Minutes later, with my husband on my left side holding me up, and the nurse of doom on my right side holding the other arm, they very slowly hoisted me out of bed and held on tightly as I shuffled my way to the bathroom – – approximately six feet away.  I believe it took just under ten minutes, but I made it.

Once in the restroom I had a sudden urge to brush my teeth.  To my surprise, I couldn’t unscrew the top off of the toothpaste.  I simply didn’t have the strength, nor the fine motor skills to do it.  It began to sink in at that point: I need help – – and a lot of it.

All of these months I’ve been writing about Letting Go and Surrendering.  This, however, was a tangible Surrender.  One that I couldn’t learn from reading a book or from listening to another person’s story, but one I had to experience on my own.

So I Surrendered.  I allowed everyone around me to help in any way possible.  And through it, I realized that when you’re experiencing a physical aliment, most often times others don’t know what to do, but if you allow them to help, they become part of the healing process and that’s where the beauty occurs.

Allow someone to help you.  My guess is that your bond will grow, and through that growth, your human connection with another will strengthen.