M.J.

I ended up in a sad version of a partial backbend in the darkness of my hospital room. I couldn’t bare the lights post-op. My oh-so-brave husband was struggling with the pink plastic bed pan. A two-time-Iron Man who could run, bike and swim- my living hero on all fronts- simply. could. not. figure out the ins and outs of urinating in a mobile, unsecured pan. You understand in those moments that men… have it easier.

He asked, “Isn’t it slanted? Won’t it pour out?”

My cloudy, post-op head just knew one thing. No peeing-the-bed. Otherwise, I didn’t have a clue, and so he muscled it around… his hands clutching each side of the bedpan and his face… well, you can imagine where it ended up. It wasn’t pretty. We Laughed. It felt good. But then an alarm started sounding… The IV in my hand wasn’t a fan of my current position.

We had been married less than 72 hours at that point.

What a trooper.

We were on our honeymoon of sorts without the honeymoon. There were no fancy, lace pajamas for me. No pina coladas or a villa by the water. The sun beating down on our skin. The ocean breeze.

Tim set off two other alarms before it was mom’s time to see me. He had leaned on one of my leg compression sleeves. A man typically so precise…sleep deprived and stumbling around trying to make it all okay. His mom is a retired nurse. She didn’t teach him much in this arena… but his love. His desire to give. Help. And Fix…Is unmatched. Even in that tiny hospital room where I was only pieces of myself days after our wedding.

I questioned my thoughts. I was afraid to close my eyes, but they closed anyways. I was worn out. beat up. Just plain tired. I gave myself orders to move this or that… but I made a mess of it, and the right words seemed too difficult to speak in my attempts to ask others for help with the most basic tasks. Acceptance.. of my current state only came with the faint sound of a loved ones voice as I opened my eyes once more. I am not alone.

And, then all of the sudden, there’s what feels like a crowd. With my hearing altered… two or three voices boomed like a party of 5 in a celebratory restaurant. It is the kind of attention that made me want to sit tall for family and medical staff who cared for me hour after hour. I wanted to be okay and say all the right things to make everyone feel better… to feel at ease. I tried to be funny to lighten the mood. The air felt thick. I’m not really funny though…

This was my proud answer to hospital personnel about how I was feeling:

“I feel like I drank too much Jack Daniels. Ended up in a fight. Took one to the side of my face near my eye and three to the jaw. But I think I won.”

Insert yellow face emoticon with hands over eyes.

Comic relief… in the moments afterwards when you add up how I may have looked and sounded.

In the before…  I resorted to shallow breathing and a calm acceptance as they wheeled me through the catacomb of hallways towards the operating room. I just saw glimpses of bodies in hospital gowns rushing here and there as we rolled on. Someone mentioned coffee. It was early.

Too early I thought for loud music… But in the operating room, Michael Jackson sang strong. I am not a fan. Sorry guys! I know there are die-hards out there including the gift of a man who married me and Tim. Nick, Tim’s childhood friend, has many talents including total domination of a karaoke microphone… as he performs his impeccable MJ moves. Tim says he has been practicing his shtick since they were boys. We laugh and enjoy each performance as if he hadn’t performed it before.

And in that moment… as I felt swallowed up by my hospital gown. The bed. The bright lights. The reality of the next few minutes.. hours. Days. Weeks. The unknown….

I saw an image of Nick in our condo doing Michael Jackson proud. My closest girls and I laughing on the couch like teenagers… each kissed by a beautiful wedding weekend. I catch a glimpse of my husband leaning on the kitchen counter as he chats up his best friends from across the pond who had joined us for our special day.

He sees me. We connect. All is well in the world. Then and now.

It had to be.

I laughed to myself as they lowered the breathing mask towards my face blocking most of my vision.

It was time.

Take deep breaths… she said.

***A special thank you to Nick for making our wedding day a true fairy tale. Thank you for loving Tim as you do. Thank you for being you.

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