It’s been a number of days since I’ve provided an update on Mary’s recovery from aortic valve replacement surgery on November 1.
In general she is making good headway but we’re learning that there’s a lot more to this experience than a one-time two-hour operation on the heart itself. Along with the primary incision to access her heart the surgeon made a number of other incisions for various other related purposes. One incision was used for post-op chest drainage and to channel a set of wires running directly to her heart. Mary said that pulling out those wires, which were still attached to her heart, on the day of discharge (five days after surgery) was probably the most painful moment of her entire stay in the hospital. That wound has still not healed and, because she is on Coumadin, it has continued to bleed. In fact, yesterday she needed to report in person to the doctor’s office for it to be examined. There is no infection or totally out-of-control bleeding as of this morning, but the surgeon’s office and Mary’s PCP are actively monitoring developments (a number of phone calls again today) and we will certainly appreciate your prayers that this situation will soon resolve.
Otherwise Mary is gaining strength, walking regularly (inside because of all the snow and ice), showering daily, and even entertaining a few friends who have stopped by for a brief visit. We’ve been blessed with plenty of food and grateful for all of the many gracious expressions (cards, comments on blog, phone calls) of concern and support. God has blessed us through the kindness of family and friends like you.
Vin Upham, AIIA board member and retired minister from New York who had made himself available as our caregiver, continues to work hard every single day — laundering, chauffeuring, cleaning, snow blowing, cooking, picking up the mail, baking pies and homemade bread, running the wood stove, grocery shopping, and so much more. He is always promptly available when we need him and he does all that he does with a cheerful spirit.
Without going into a great deal of detail (that might take a book) I will say that our normal space, privacy (I’ve always been rather intensely private), and my personal male dignity have all taken a hit during this time. Most of that is just unavoidable and perhaps even serves some greater purpose. But it’s been hard at times. If you’ve ever been physically vulnerable or dependent you know that it isn’t easy. I’ve been in the hospital many times but somehow what isn’t such a big issue there is more so here in my own home. Why is that? Our schedules and lives have been — and still are — significantly altered. But we’re all buoyed by the fact that this is time-limited, and mindful that for so many others that is not the case.
Because Vin Upham is on AIIA’s board and has spent a lifetime in Christian ministry, he shares my interest in theology and apologetics. That has made for some interesting conversations over the breakfast and dinner table. Yesterday his cereal was getting soggy and my coffee was getting cold as we conversed with much animation about everything from the doctrine of election to exactly what we Christians mean when we say that Jesus is “real” in our lives. Mary had long since excused herself to get on with the day.
Well, if you’re still reading at this point you must be more than casually interested in our lives — and very patient. That is also an encouragement. Thanks for being “with” us in this journey.
Daryl E. Witmer