In the first two to three weeks I came home from the hospital, Tram, our puppy, just knew something was off. Each time I got up, he got up. Each slow step to the bathroom or strengthening walk around the living room and kitchen, he would match my pace, slowly and faithfully.
It was a lot for him to lose me five days, then another two, without knowing if, when and what was happening to me, while I was at the hospital. Every visiting nurse visit or appointment that took me away, he would cry when he was taken to another room, or, I stepped out of the house.
When I left, He gave up his guard dog duties and wouldn’t bark when FedEx came to the door. He’d drop treats onto the floor and would walk away from them. He’d hide in his crate and only come back to life when I returned.
Each time I was back home, he’d get so excited, it concerned my mom he might get tangled in my drains, or, that I would trip over him when he walked with me. But, there was no stopping him. In due time, she realized he was determined to know at all times where I was going each time I moved, and that, wherever I landed, that I would arrive next to him, both of us safe and sound.
As I have gotten better, he has let me go for these short trips more or less on my own. He gained a trust that he didn’t always have to see me to know I was there. And sometimes now, he just eyeballs me, maybe stretches, barely picks up his head otherwise, as if to say, “You’re good. You’ve got this.” He has been a master of reading the physical signs of strength returning and has become more secure that, even if I am seemingly gone a short while from his sight, I am still there.
But, unless I am outwardly emotional, he doesn’t know how I am doing on the inside. He’s never known the quirky self image burdens I’ve carried along with me daily for years and years. He can’t see those.
Free of the drains, and in the proper support garments, I feel more comfortable and strong and am walking faster and taller. But, I look at my scars and I’m a bit of a mess. They’re huge and dark and, as clean and beautiful of a job I keep hearing the surgeons have done to rebuild my body, it is still so alien to me. Covered up, it is fine.
I don’t know what to make of this hip to hip scar and new belly button. When I stare too long, they spook me. When the binder is off and I feel the heaviness of my swollen protruding abs return, pushing and pulling me forward… I know all we have is time to wait and see if this will please heal up on its own.
I wonder if the drain holes low on my belly will ever fully close up and lighten up. They give me mean looks. Oh, and when the repair surgery comes and they re-enter through the scar, will there be two new drain holes so that two sets of eyes glare at me, meaner and darker than they do now?
My nipples were saved, spared but are dark, crackly, armour like scabs, numb to the touch. Too early for salves, they just wink at me.
Tram wouldn’t know how to help me with these mind games I trip over in some of my quiet time. The times my values are skewed. I suspect, even if he knew how uncomfortable I am looking in the mirror, as I apply my salves and try to press in my bulging abdominal muscles with my hands, he would nod off.
I’ve gotta keep my eyes on God. If I am left to my own devices, I will focus on all the lesser things. I will see the scabs and scars more than the healing. I will focus on the frustration that comes from getting ahead of God. The what ifs doomsday questions that He did not allow prior to surgery, but allows somewhat now.
“How many bullets will He allow me to dodge?” I ask. We met our oncologist last week and there is one more test result prior to knowing for sure if I am scott free of chemo by Mon. It will take weeks to know of I will succumb to the many side effects of the 5-10 year preventative meds, which, at it’s worst, can cause a rare other kind of cancer.
This is a continuous walk with Him, this road. It’s going to take more trust and focus on Him than ever. It’s over but it’s not over.
As it should be.
I really need Him to keep my eyes focused on His miracles. He has always lifted me out of these stumble filled places and there has always been something bigger to gain than to lose.
If I haven’t been writing much lately, it’s because I am in listening mode. I have to be diligent in these times at listening. The miracles are in His quiet work within me. I can’t hear if I am always talking or spinning my wheels. He knows. Everything.
I am reminded by this verse that the goal is to keep walking at His pace. To stick with Him and land where He lands us. To come and go and arrive in His time. And, without anxiety and worry, know deeply He might seemingly disappear on me in my neediest of times, but trust He is still there. I’ve got to daily pray to be in a place where I can let Him walk ahead, side by side, or just wait, eyeballing Him from that faith filled place and say, “You’re good. You’ve got this.”
(A powerful one)