I don’t know where to begin.  I have written countless entries within my mind over the past two weeks, but I haven’t had the energy to place them here until now.

I want to avoid sounding like a victim; I don’t do “victim” well.  However, to share what I’ve experienced truthfully, I must include some of my fears and what caused them.  Otherwise, this effort is meaningless.  Sometimes, you have to live in hell to appreciate moments that can only be described as heavenly.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I had a feeding tube placed inside my belly.  I had been told it was a very simple procedure; no big deal.  The most difficult part, for me, was accepting the reality that I needed the tube.  I’ve had numerous surgeries over the years, (some have been little cosmetic deals, I admit, and these have had a lovely payoff, so the pain mattered little), and two were needed due to health conditions that necessitated the surgery.  I mention this here to illustrate my ability to bounce back quickly.  Always, I have rallied and amazed everyone by my rapid recovery.  Alas, this time was the great exception.

For those readers unfamiliar with endoscopic procedures, they put a scope down your throat, into your stomach and cut a hole for the tube from the outside.  In order to see where to cut, the belly is pumped up with gas, which is irritating to one’s system.  Once the procedure is over and the tube is in place, the stomach has to get rid of that gas, and this my friends, is extremely painful.

I left the OR with no pain meds.  I had to request something in recovery, which didn’t touch the pain, and that set the stage for the next horrific 24 hours.  Finally, in the middle of the night, they came up with a painkiller that worked, but it took several hours to gauge the appropriate time between doses, for it to be effective.

Also, because I was on the Neurology floor, the GI docs never came to see me until 28 hours following the surgery.  The neurology folks were so concerned about my pain that they asked the GI docs to come to see me, but they refused, saying they’d be there the next day!  When they finally came, the attending doctor told me that the cap was too tight which was causing a severe pinching, and she explained that she could open the tube allowing gas to escape, which surely would relieve my pain.  This, 28 hours of hell later!   If they had come to see me, as requested the night before,  the tube could have been opened, and the cap loosened, and perhaps I’d have had enough relief so that I could sleep.  This level of incompetence and uncaring infuriated me!

So, the first day, the pain was excruciating, steady and unbearable.  They never got ahead of it, and that was just my tough luck.  I got in and out of bed by myself to use the bathroom, but would not enjoy the feeling of a light stomach until Saturday, when at home, I was able to have my first blessed bowel movement.  I want to say here and now: bless your bowel movements!!!   Thank God for them.  Give praise!  Only a person who has experienced what I am telling you will understand.  For those of you lucky enough not to know, trust me and just give thanks for each and every one.  (I hope you are laughing here)………..I’m ready to write a song about blessing your bowel movements!

At any rate, the pain lasted for nearly a week after I got  home.  During those long sleepless nights, I thought of the misery I was feeling.  I realized that, for me, there is a continuum in our lives that moves from one end toward the other, at various times.   It looks like this in my mind’s eye:  MISERY_____________________________________JOY

We move around the middle closer to one end than the other at various times in every day.  Most of us move closer to JOY, especially those of us who are lucky in an abundance of love.  However, MISERY is a factor, too, and probably physical pain, and emotional loss are the two greatest predictors of how close we move toward that end.

I believe that the presence or absence of material abundance is irrelevant.  It is about health, love, peace and contentment.  These gifts cannot be bought; they come to us and we need only let them in.  When we are at the end closest to MISERY, it is easy to feel depressed, sad, hopeless, and helpless.   I am so grateful to be a resilient person.  I don’t stay down for long!!

To fully appreciate JOY, we must have a balance, which is knowing the opposite.  I have been up close and personal with the depths of despair in these past weeks, the like of which I have never, ever known before.

Today, I’m a bit stronger.  The sun is shining and the Colorado sky is that rich blue and cloudless.  I’m ready (finally) to walk Mollie today.  My daughter is coming to spend time with me and we will laugh.  Our friend is bringing his six-week old yellow lab puppies to play with us.  I think I’ll eat a crispy granola bar and sip hot chocolate.  I am filled with appreciation.  I know not how far I will be able to get back to my old self, and when I do hit that point, I don’t know how long I will enjoy the gift of being there before I begin to experience the inevitable diminishing of my stamina due to this hated illness.  But I have TODAY!  My belly doesn’t hurt, my oxygen level is improved, and I’m going to watch the Broncos and play with puppies with my love and friends.  And, this is good.