My Lesson for This Week: Don’t forget to be surprised by what can happen during post-surgical recovery! Some people mistakenly assume recovery is time spent in real physical pain — surprise, not always true — they have drugs for that. Some people think you have tons of time to read or write your long-promised book — surprise, not true — the drugs and post-surgical weakness do a good job of fogging your brain so even writing a blog is risky business!
But, all this can work toward making the little things in life that we usually take for granted really special — it reminds us how GREAT normal life can be! So surprises during post-surgical recovery can be REALLY GOOD THINGS!
For instance, my appointment with my plastic surgeon yesterday was not a “doctor’s appointment” but it became (SURPRISE!) a date — yes a date! You see, when you’ve been home in your pajamas for almost three weeks, you look for signs that normal life will actually return one day! And so, the fact that Prince Philip and I were in the same car together as he drove me 30-minutes both ways to and from my appointment in Irvine, that my hair was combed, my teethed brushed and my post-surgical drains tucked somewhat discreetly in the pockets of my matching sweatpants — well, that constituted a DATE! We were together, husband and wife. We were sitting close and talking and touching and sharing our lives — THAT’S A DATE IN MY BOOK! Never mind that I had to sort of hang desperately on to Philip’s arm as we walked slowly (and I do mean s-l-o-w-l-y) from the car to the doctor’s office. Never mind that he looked like, well … a prince, and I looked like, well … a rather disheveled, bent-over lady who could have been his elderly aunt! IT WAS STILL A DATE! We even stopped by a restaurant afterward and had a bite to eat together — and then went home and I was happily in bed by 6 pm, still reveling in the sweetness of my afternoon date with Prince Philip. Loved that afternoon of surprises!
And let me share with you two other sweet surprises which the Lord orchestrated during this time of my post-surgical recovery. Twice in as many weeks while I was in for post-op exams, Dr. Z, my plastic surgeon asked me to join her in an exam room to talk to a woman going through breast cancer and reconstruction.
- At last week’s appointment, she introduced me to a dear woman who had completed her post-mastectomy implant reconstruction and a month later fell on her reconstructed breast, tore and damaged the reconstruction site. She must now go through a tummy tram flap reconstruction — like I just had. As I hugged her and told her how sorry I was for what had happened, I asked what was her greatest concern. She said, “the pain and how it will look.” I happily told her that the pain was controllable and I then lifted my shirt and lowered my sweats so she could see how really beautiful the results can be. The look on her face was enough to make me remember that even in recovery, my Kind Savior uses us to bring hope to others. I kissed her cheek, gave her my card and made her promise to be in touch as she got closer to her tram flap surgery.
- Yesterday, Dr. Z once again asked me if I could join her — this time to meet a 44-year old mother of two young daughters. Cancer had been found in both breasts and in one lymph node. She’d just finished chemo and would need a double mastectomy and radiation so this may mean that if she chooses reconstruction, she’ll need the tummy tram flap surgery like I just had since radiated tissue doesn’t take implant reconstruction well. This young mom wasn’t even sure she wanted reconstruction — she just wanted the cancer to be gone so she and her hubby could raise their girls. Who can blame her? So this appointment with Dr. Z was to investigate her options: reconstruction or no reconstruction?And there I happened to be — on my date with Philip and yes, ready to show this darling young mom what your chest and tummy look like after a tram flap reconstruction! Isn’t God good? As with the first women, when my shirt went up and my waist band when down, her eyes flew open and she said surprisingly, “That looks really good.” I took her face in my hands and looked her in the eye and said, “Only people like you and I know what you thought it would look like.” And it’s true — when you are in the midst of breast cancer, mastectomies, reconstructions, you think your “final product chest” will look … well, cut up bad, real bad. But that’s not what this young mom saw yesterday. And I love seeing hope and yes, even a little happiness in her eyes.So with my sweatpants back up and my shirt back down, I knew my job was done in the exam room … except for one thing. I asked if it would be okay if I prayed for her. And so with Dr. Z and her assistant praying along with me, I held this dear woman’s hands and asked that Jesus would drive away every cancer cell from her body and that He would give her wisdom about her treatment choices. I prayed that she would be filled with health and live a long life with her hubby and two daughters. And I asked Him to show her His love. In Jesus Name, Amen. And with a quick kiss, I said goodbye to my new friend and went up to my date Prince Philip and gave him a hug that said, “Wow, that was a cool surprise.”
It’s easy to think we know how things will be — but then God shows up and in the midst of our circumstances, he brings His surprises. No matter what is happening around you, He reminds you that life is still beautiful and still filled — FILLED — with opportunities to make each moment count for His Kingdom!
Whatever today is like for you, my encouragement is this: don’t miss His surprises!
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.