4 years ago today, I was tucked into the ICU at Heritage Valley Hospital in Beaver, PA with my not-so-stylish hospital gown, grippy hospital socks, my 2nd chest tube, a raw throat from being intubated, and my weary parents. Oh, and the mascara that I apparently asked for. :) With my eyes still closed and being half asleep, I remember the sounds of visitors shuffling in and out of my room, sniffles from tears, gentle touches to my hands and feet, and prayers being said. I had just had lung surgery the day before to adhere my right lung to the lining of my chest wall because the silly thing wouldn't stay inflated. Prior to the Talc Pleurodesis surgery, I had received a chest tube due to a spontaneous pneumothorax and stayed in the cardiopulmonary unit for a little under a week. The hope was to not need the surgery, but God had different plans.
Recently, I read a post titled "Oxygen" on the She Reads Truth blog and it got me thinking about my time in the hospital. Below is the excerpt that really struck me, written by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams:
After my surgery, I was given the task of using a spirometer to measure my lung capacity. First, I would exhale, then with the tube in my mouth, I would inhale the deepest breath I could manage. The goal was to get the ball to 4,000 to show that my lung capacity was back to normal. For several weeks, I couldn't take a deep breath. How strange it was to not be able to do this! I realized I had taken something so "simple" as breathing for granted. I remember the day I finally succeeded and took a full, deep breath. Victory! Since that painful but refining experience, I've had a lot of time to reflect on how much of a gift it is to breathe deeply, and what the source of my oxygen really is.
While in the hospital and during my recovery time, God gave me oxygen through a variety of ways: friendly faces in my room (some who had traveled a great distance to see me), my Mom who hardly ever left my side, my Dad who provided comedic relief (even though it hurt to laugh), kind and hard working nurses, cards, flowers, emails and prayers from family, friends & strangers. He gave me oxygen through my youngest sister (who had a newborn at home) driving through a blizzard to rush me to the ER, my other sister washing my hair and doing my make-up in the hospital, a brand new nephew that I could snuggle in between hospital stays, and a cute boy who flew from Massachusetts to PA to help take care of me. God continues to give me oxygen through snuggles with our puppy, a slow Saturday morning, visits to Jamaica, sunsets on the Susquehanna, a meal around the table with family and friends, a smile from a niece or nephew, late night talks at Aiken Acres with my sisters, or a tight hug from my husband.
While these things are all blessings and God-given, they will someday fade away. What gives me great hope and peace is knowing that God's WORD is the ultimate source of oxygen and it will stand firm forever and ever. We are reminded of this in Isaiah 40:3-8:
During the lung saga, it was God's word that gave me thumbs up moments, hope and perseverance. It is God's word that I find myself clinging to during uncertainty, doubt, and the joyful moments, too. The scars on my side are a tangible reminder to inhale God's word and breathe it in deeply. What a gift. May you cling to His word, no matter what circumstances come your way.