Today I walked into the same hospital room where I once lay semi-conscious. I went to visit my friend Carrie who was recovering from a heart attack, and subsequent open-heart surgery. The nurse says she is getting stronger and moving in the right direction. I've only known Carrie as a bubbly, smiling, energetic fellow heart-sister. It was really hard seeing her in a hospital gown with all the tubes and wires. I touched her hand, and she opened her eyes for a second. She looked towards my voice as I told her it was just me, and it was okay to just rest. I was flooded with memories of my own time in this room, and others like it.
Luke said this had been MY room, right across from the nurse's station in the CSU at Borgess. I can't tell by looking, because I couldn't see for awhile after my cardiac arrest. I knew the smell, though. It took me straight back to a scarier day. I remember the sounds of that time, and Liz telling me to stop making that face with my eyes, because it looked creepy. I remember hearing the voices of lots of people I love. I remember hearing Luke's voice, mixed with Boo's laugh. I remember the feel of the sheets against my feet. I remember being afraid I was going to wet the bed in front of my brother, until they convinced me I had a catheter. I remember Tracy wrapping up the blanket to look like a baby so I'd think that was my reason for being there. I vividly remember being afraid in the hospital. I remember a few days later, walking to the bathroom to see why my teeth hurt, only to remember that I hit them on the floor when my heart stopped.
My heart stopped.
The immense reality of it floods over me again when I smell those smells and hear that background, and go back to that room. My heart stopped. MINE! Why? What did I do wrong? How did this happen? How did I get to this whole new crazy kind of life? When did my own death become so much a part of my life? There are so many questions and answers that race through my head, as I am sucked back to that place and time. God's unwavering stead-fast answer remains comfortingly unchanged, "Because I love you."
Did you visit me in that hospital room? Or in another room on another floor? Was it awkward and uncomfortable to see me weak and vulnerable (which I have always been, and hoped no one would notice). I am certain it was weird to see me quiet, if I ever was. I'm sure my hair was a mess, and I had adhesive disks all over from the EKG's. Did it break your heart a little when you saw me laying there like that, and wonder if I was going to be the same? That was how I felt visiting Carrie.
Her rare heart disease is the exact reason we met. We were at the same "Go Red for Women" luncheon. I've met lots of heart sisters that way. We share diagnoses, medications, procedures, cardiologists, all kinds of things. The odd thing is that even though we've talked about the stents and ablations and devices we have, I've never seen any of them as weak or sickly. Carrie's a strong woman, and her heart stopped. It's going to take her a while to get back to her usual self. I want to support her. I can't fix her, but I know some of the fear she's going through. I pray I can carry away a little bit of her pain and fear, and remind her that He loves her, even when it doesn't feel like Love.
I'm not like all the other girls. I have heart disease. I have a wonderful group of heart-sisters that I AM like who have "worn the gown", or walked a hallway in my grippy socks. ("A mile in my shoes" is asking a bit much, I think.) They are a blessing and a comfort to my soul. I am so fortunate to have that support, and I hope to be support for them as well.
Thank you, God, for reminding me of the gift of life you gave me. Twice. Help me to use these gifts you have given me to bless your people. Help those who question find your answers.