We are recovering.
Slowly but surely, we are recovering. I love typing those words: WE ARE RECOVERING.
Yes, we are still in ICU. Yes, we are still battling pneumonia in both lungs. Yes, we are still on narcotic and sedation drips. Yes, we still have a gigantic healing road in front of us. But we are recovering. Rebecca smiles now, she is taking sips of fluids and working on minimal physical therapy.
WE ARE RECOVERING.
Thank you, thank you Lord.
For 130 days from the Dallas hospital to the San Antonio hospital, friends have dropped off meals, allowing me to stay by Rebecca’s side. Most of the time, they bring 2 meals at a time – lunch and supper. Because of COVID, instead of coming to the room to visit, the meals are left in the hospital lobby to be delivered to our room.
Our friends did not stop with meals for just me though, they also started a project known as “meals for the Taylor boys”. Our family was without a stove for 6 months during the hailstorm renovation and our friends wanted to ensure a hot meal multiple times a week for all 3 of my boys.
During 130 days of hospitalization.
I have the best group of friends in the entire world and I dare anyone to challenge that statement…
It still astounds me how sacrificial people in our lives are – serving us day after day, week after week and month after month. They continue walking this difficult journey alongside us – even when they have no obligation. They carry us through our struggles by strengthening our reserves, feeding our bodies, and lifting our spirits. All from a respectfully safe, COVID social-distance. These friends and family teach me to love abundantly, regardless of a recipient’s ability to give-back. They teach me how to be a better person.
This week was a little different though, I still had meals delivered, but with the new, stricter, COVID restrictions, getting the food up to the room required me to run to the lobby and pick it up myself. The lobby is approximately 3 minutes from the room to the front desk, give-or-take 30 seconds on elevator timing. There are times that 6-minute round trip feels like a lifetime – even with a nurse sitting by Rebecca’s side.
On this particular day, Rebecca was with her nurse and I ran to the lobby to pick up not only a large bag of Mexican food from my beautiful friend Dina Selva (who has delivered approximately 10 meals to me in the last couple of months alone) but also 2 large smoothies delivered at the same time. The GI doctors wanted to trial sips of an organic smoothie to help Rebecca wake up her dormant intestines.
I grabbed the Mexican food with my left hand and haphazardly propped the smoothie box in the corner of my right arm and ran to the sky-tower elevators only to find they were broken. That is right, all 6 elevators were shut-down.
Well, I just about panicked. And in my panicked state I ran back to the front desk clerk when the below scenario occurred:
Me: I need to get back to ICU immediately.
Clerk: I am sorry ma’am you will have to wait.
Me: How long do you anticipate the elevators not working?
Clerk: I am not sure, it could be all day?
Me (my voice high-pitched and cracking): All day???!!! I cannot wait all day! I have to get back up to my daughter. Please, you must help me get back to the 7th floor….
Clerk (seeing the desperate look in my eyes): Okay ma’am, I will use my badge to let you in the staff stairwell, but it is a long way up with what you are carrying. Don’t worry though, when you get to your floor, you will not need a badge to open the door.
I was so happy I almost kissed the young clerk but thought against it because kissing with a mask would just be weird, so instead I thanked him profusely and with my heavy Mexican food bag and my already seeping-from-the-edge, precariously half-tilted Smoothies in the crook of my arm, I walked up. Flight after flight after flight after flight after flight after flight after flight. I tried calling the hospital room numerous times to inform them of my delay beyond my normal 6 minutes and yet the concrete stairwell prevented all service.
After the 4th straight flight, I stopped for a moment to catch my breath and decided two very important facts:
- I seriously need another iron infusion
- I am even more seriously out of shape.
I know that second statement is shocking seeing as though I have walked a good 150 to 250 steps faithfully every single day of the last 130 days. In fact, I decided I was so completely in shape I no longer needed my nifty Fitbit the very first week of hospitalization back in September. Especially after it beeped at me 150 times a day telling me I was an exercise loser by not getting my 1,000 steps in every 15 minutes.
My favorite Fitbit reminder though, was when I epically failed my minimum sleep requirement and it gave me tips on how to get better shut-eye: Sleep on a good mattress in a dark and quiet room without interruption. For some reason, loud and constantly beeping machines with bright lights and a hard, plastic couch were not on the good sleep habit list??? If there was a way for me to severely loathe an inanimate object, my Fitbit would be top of my list.
Despite my critical revelations, I continued my hike up the stairs, never seeing a soul, huffing and puffing so violently that while gasping for air, I almost sucked the mask completely into my lungs. At least a hospital is a good place to extract a mask from an asphyxiated lung…..
By the time I made it to the coveted 7th floor, I was seeing stars and not quite sure if the 7th floor sign was really a 7, a 9 or a 17. It certainly felt like a 17. I finally reached for the door only to find it was locked.
Yes, it was locked.
I immediately took back my thoughts at wanting to kiss the desk clerk and replaced them with thoughts of how to hurt him (don’t worry – I was far too tired to follow-though with my evil schemes).
I was trapped in a stairwell, all alone, without phone service and absolutely no ability to get out.
At least I had food. I could survive for days on the amount of Mexican food Dina brought me. Unfortunately, I did lose half of the dripping Smoothies on the way up the stairs. I could already imagine the interesting conversations that would ensue from doctors looking at the pink drips, wondering what bleeding patient wondered up the staff-only stairs.
This was by far, the longest time I had been away from Rebecca and I felt a full-fledge panic attack fall upon me as I beat against the door over and over trying to get someone, anyone from the other side to let me out. Either no one heard me, or no one wanted to open the door to a crazy woman, but regardless, I was trapped.
For the first time in a long time, my world was quiet. It was just me, God, and my Mexican food (there wasn’t enough of the smoothies to count). And as I reveled in the complete, echoing silence, I talked to the Lord:
God, thank you for getting Rebecca through this week – she could have died at so many points, and yet, You continue to pull her through.
God, thank you for giving me endurance to make it this far.
God, thank you for my boys’ constant love and faithfulness.
God, thank you for the gift of Rebecca’s life.
God, thank you. Just thank you.
I was still. In the most unlikely of scenarios, God found a way for me to be still. And in that stillness, I knew, without a doubt, that He was God. My trapped-in-a-stairwell-event became my most unexpected miracle.
After what felt like hours, and my fist bruised from the dent I made knocking so long, a woman with a tray opened the door for me. We were in a barren section of a staff hall and she said, “no one ever walks this way, you are lucky I heard you”.
I was lucky. Lucky my God found a way to bring me peace in the chaos.
After thanking my rescuer, I ran through a series of hallways to Rebecca’s room panting as I entered. And you know what? Rebecca was doing just fine. She was smiling at the nurse as the nurse told her funny stories, distracting Rebecca from the pain. I was only a tad insulted Rebecca did not think to call the National Guard to come and find me. Rebecca just thought I needed a long-overdo break. Apparently, God did as well.
Love to each of you,
“Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10.