One year ago today my husband, Scott, woke up with what he had originally thought was a migraine headache but quickly discovered it wasn't going away. His vision was significantly distorted in his right eye...his only eye, as his left eye is artificial. We called his eye doctor and got in that morning.
As I drove our children to school that morning they asked, "Mom...what's going on? Is dad going to be okay?" As confidently as I could I told them that the doctors would figure out what's going on and not to worry. All would be well.
Little did I know I was telling an untruth.
I got home and Scott and I left for the doctor. Once there we quickly felt things spin quickly out of control. Scott's doctor did not give a diagnosis but wanted him to see a specialist that afternoon. We had to be across town to the specialist's office by 2 PM. Scott's doctor recommended he not eat lunch...just in case a procedure was necessary. We could feel our bodies tense.
Once at the specialist's it didn't take long for him to make a diagnosis. Scott's retina was about 2/3 detached. He needed surgery...not the next day, but that day. Waiting a day could have risked almost complete detachment of the retina. He was scheduled for surgery at 6 PM that evening. He needed to be to the hospital by 4 PM.
My husband is one to keep his cool in these situations. After four cancers himself and two children who each had cancer diagnosis as babies...he has learned to be stronger than necessary...mostly because he wants to stay strong to ease the nerves of everyone else around him. Losing his vision, though, is something he has always feared and this diagnosis made that fear all too real.
He was scared. So was I.
The specialist told Scott that there were no guarantees. Even after surgery his vision could end up being compromised. The fear of blindness was something Scott and I talked to each other about. What would we do if this happened? We decided to leave it in God's hands and cross each bridge as we got to them. Right now, surgery was the bridge to cross. Healing would be the next one. One day at a time...letting God lead.
As we waited at the hospital, I made phone calls. Scott's mom was already with us so she called his dad. I called my parents. They would be at the house when the kids got off the bus. I called our pastor. He asked me if he could come to the hospital. I said, "Yes, please." Scott and I wanted our kids. We needed them there. Our underlying fear was what if the day prior to this one had been the last day Scott would have even seen our children clearly...without cloudy, distorted vision? He not only wanted Parker and Faith there so he could hug them and kiss them before surgery, but he wanted to SEE them before surgery. He wanted to see everything about them. So I called my brother and asked him if he would be willing to drop everything and pick up the kids at our house to bring them to the hospital. I didn't want my 80+ year old parents to have to navigate city driving to get the kids to us. My brother said he'd get them there as quickly as he could.
By the time Scott was prepped for surgery he was surrounded with love. I was there. His parent's were there. Pastor Steve was there. We waited for what seemed like hours...even though it wasn't...and then the kids were there with my brother and our oldest niece (18), who wanted to see Uncle Scott, too. We talked, we did a horrible job of pretending not to be nervous. The kids were so worried...you could see it on their little faces. They stood as close as they could to daddy's bed.
I could see the fear in my husband.
There were times I felt like I wasn't going to be able to breathe.
Pastor Steve prayed with us.
And they took Scott away to surgery.
Steve had to leave shortly after they took Scott. I excused myself from the others and walked out into the hallway with him...one because I wanted to thank him for coming and two because the room we were in felt like it was running out of oxygen. As Steve and I stepped into the hallway I could feel myself take a deep breath. When I get nervous I tend to hold my breath...and that's exactly what I had been doing. I remember looking at Steve, voice trembling and saying, "I...am...so...scared." He said, "I know you are...and it's understandable." We talked a little more and he gave me phone numbers to reach him at outside of church. I thanked him for coming and went back to everyone else.
Now it was time to wait for the surgery to be done.
My brother and niece took the kids back home where my parent's were waiting for them. Scott's parents and I went to the waiting room. Where I sat...and then paced...and then sat some more.
It felt like forever but the doctor eventually came to tell us the surgery was complete and it had gone well. Scott could go home that night. He would need to spend the next ten days completely face down. His face would need to stay parallel with the floor. We had already made calls to rent the proper equipment that would keep him "comfortable" during all of this so it was time to get him home and settled him in for healing. The doctor would also need to see him every day for those next ten days, as well.
Once home we realized the equipment we rented wasn't going to be very helpful. The next day we figured out how to make this work...which ended up being the futon mattress directly on the floor with neck pillows to rest his face in and an ice pack tied to his back to relieve back pain.
Here's what he looked like during recovery:
When I asked what I could do for him he would just say he was fine. He wanted to listen to something. I'd ask him, "Books? Music? What would you like to listen to?" He wanted me to put the television on the Christian music channel.
He had nothing but time...
...to talk to God.
And that's exactly what he did.
After ten days the healing process changed to ten days of eight hours of this continued face-down, eight hours of laying on his left side, then eight hours upright. He excitedly told me that his eight house upright on Sundays would be used for church. He missed everyone. Several had been by to see him...but he couldn't see them...and he wanted to. It was where he wanted...and needed...to be.
By mid-summer he was well-healed. He has restrictions for the rest of his life. But he's already had life-long restrictions because of his vision so this was just a few more restrictions added to the mix. He was back to being able to drive. Things were back to normal.
"Normal" just didn't feel right any more. All that listening, thinking, praying, talking with God had him in a different path. He had already been headed toward this path for quite some time prior to his surgery...but now it just seemed that nothing short of real purpose was going to be acceptable. He wanted to use his talents and skills and life experiences to serve God.
I suggested he call Pastor Steve and see if they could meet...just to talk. And they did. And boy did that ever go well! They meet now on a regular basis...and Steve is far more than Scott's pastor...he is a friend, a mentor, a confidante. Scott is involved in vision-planning at church and he has stepped into an interim children's director position.
Since one year ago today I have seen my husband change. He has become more relaxed. He is softer-hearted. He enjoys things more. He listens differently. He hears differently. He sees life differently...and not just because of his physical sight being affected...but because his "eyes have been opened."
Go grab your Bible...or just click the link...and look up John 9:1-15.
As I think back on these past 365 days God's love has once again shined through even the darkest of storm clouds. He has encouraged us and strengthened us in ways we could never have imagined. He promised in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. And he hasn't.
God certainly doesn't need to prove Himself to anyone...but every day He shows Himself to me...to my husband...to our family.
I know this because I've seen it...I've witnessed it...I've felt it...I've experienced it...through all the ways He has shown His love and His healing...for my husband, my children, me, our family.
As I reflect on all that has happened since one year ago today, I thank God with all my heart for His healing, His steadfast-love, His patience, His honesty, His truth, His warmth and His continual presence in our life.
He...is peace. Simply and fully.
Wishing you a peaceFULLYsimple day.