5 May

I was scrolling through Patrick’s phone a few nights ago, looking at photos of things I’ve missed in the last few weeks- the kids’ trip to a Space Museum and Finn’s Cub Scout hike. As I swiped past photos of my kids, one picture came up that made me pause. It was me but it took me a second to realize it. The girl in the picture was pale, with tubes and wires all over her, her face obscured by a ventilator, arms propped up on pillows and wrapped in blood pressure and restraining cuffs, hair tangled on top of her head. A dim memory flashed quickly of a nurse gently twisting my hair up into a topknot so it wouldn’t get caught in the tubes coming out of my face and my neck.

In the picture I have my glasses on and I’m looking at Patrick as he takes the picture. He says I consented to have my picture taken. I don’t remember that at all. I don’t remember this day at all- save the quick snippets like that nurse tying up my hair, or looking up at a circle of doctors as one of them says “she’s coming out of it.” Out of what? The sedation? I keep getting little details about the things I don’t remember- like that blasted game of Read My Mind that had both Patrick and I frustrated; of friends sitting by my bedside while Patrick rested and me trying to set up someone to pick my kids up from school on Monday, unaware that the amazing machine of community had already taken care of that; of looking at the clock every time I woke up and it saying 9 o’clock every time, but sometimes it was night and sometimes it was day.

It’s a strange feeling to have lost time. Even if it’s only two days. It was two significant days where so much happened and so much was done to me. During that time, the baby I had birthed was miles away from me being taken care of by strangers. I couldn’t even remember what she looked like. I didn’t know when I would get to see her. During that time, no one would tell me what exactly happened to me. They tiptoed around details, not sure what I had been told or what I could handle. During that time, I had so many tests and pokes and medications that my medical record online of my stay is 68 pages long.

The bruises that turned my wrists and forearms purple and yellow have faded, the burns on my neck from a reaction to the glue used to secure the central line into my jugular vein are gone, and the tiny puncture wounds have mostly closed and disappeared. But I take a shower and still find remnants of surgical tape in new and unexpected places. I don’t know why there was a bruise and square of tape high on my left ribcage, I just shrugged and carefully peeled the residue off. The bandages on my abdomen have fallen off. I think at this point, four weeks later, all outward reminders of what happened, save the scar, are gone.

The internal reminders are still there though. The excruciating flashes of pain where a nerve is being pinched from the sutures inside. The constant infections that have sent me back to the doctors’ offices so many times. The heaviness that settles over my thoughts at the end of the day. Inside of me, my body is still working on replacing the blood of dozens of strangers with my own.

It’s easier to accept help, to accept that you’re limited when you look the part. Now that the bandages and bruises are gone, now that there’s no obvious evidence of how hurt I still am, I find myself feeling anxious to get back to normal. And so I go up and down the stairs, or visit with friends when they come by, or stay at Willa’s bedside just a little longer. But come the end of the day, I pay for it. Would it be easier to convince myself to take time to recover if I was still wrapped in bandages? Now I just feel lazy when I’m laying in bed all day. I sit here making long to-do lists every morning, and then feel guilty for not finishing a single item by the end of the day.

So I’m stuck trying to heal from invisible injuries. I need to work harder on being kind to myself, on allowing time to heal. I need to stop feeling like if I don’t look hurt, I’m not hurt. I need patience. But I am not a patient person.



3 Responses to “Patience”

  1. kathcahoon May 5, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    My dear, Melissa! I recommend a quick development of the patience virtue! Otherwise, you will keep getting opportunities to develop it!!! AND– you are doing very important work here! You are working on restoring a nearly lost wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc– to all those who love you so dearly! Trust me on this one!!! Patience developed and exercised on the front end will pay off in the long run! Your grateful heart will see you through! Rest long, wisely, and peacefully! I am praying for you!!

  2. Karen S Wright May 5, 2016 at 6:53 am #

    What my twin sister said times two!

  3. Janelle Lewis May 13, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    I’ve felt like that after every baby (though not to the same scale, I’m sure). I hope you get lots of rest! I’m so glad you’re okay!

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