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Archive for the ‘Heart surgery and procedures’ Category

. . . waking in the morning to the sound of much-needed rain,

sharing a breakfast at our local “good old boy” restaurant,

stopping at the library and leaving with 2 heavy sacks of books,

celebrating the progression of summertime in our gardens,

sitting in “our row” in church with 10 great grandchildren—ages 6 and under,

gently stepping back in time at the antique barn up the road,

eating ice cream on the patio, 

sleeping, waking, breathing in and out!

Sweet savor offerings of praise are going up each day!  For five weeks Joe and I have been at home.  This is a record.  Since September, 2010 when I had spinal fusion surgery right up until mid-June, 2011 when Joe had a heart emergency we have not been out of a hospital for more than a month.  The one-month break happened only once.  For the rest of that period we averaged a hospital stay every two to three weeks—with each stay lasting from 2 to 10 days.

I’m not clueless enough to believe this blessed hiatus will last forever.  We live one day at a time, and when a crisis comes we find peace and joy in the midst of whatever God allows in our lives.  But at this moment we are enjoying peace and joy at home, doing “normal” things!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot

Like the famous Prufrock, I’m measuring out my life—only not in coffee spoons, but rather in those pink plastic containers every patient gets upon admittance to our hospital.  The “pinkies” hold toilet items:  toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap, lotion, etc.  The hospital disposes of them after each patient, but I always take ours home because they are infinitely useful for holding plants, collecting garden weeds, containing water and Murphy’s Oil Soap® for scrubbing floors, corraling puzzle pieces, etc.

Like Prufrock, I’m measuring out my life—not with T. S.Eliot’s existentialist despair*, but rather with the divine assurance that “all things work together for good, for those who are in Christ Jesus and are called according to His purpose.”  The pink containers which I’ve brought home from hospital stays (both Joe’s and mine) also serve as a scoreboard.  We have accumulated 16 pinkies since October, 2010.

Our latest pink container has settled into my storeroom.  Last Thursday, Joe had a heart attack while sitting in his reclaimer at home.  We were taken to Emergency in a shrieking ambulance, and Joe was admitted to the hospital.  A defibrillator/pacemaker was inserted to prevent future arrythmias.  His arteries are severely clogged, he has had 6 by-passes, and he’s “stented out”; his vessels cannot accept more angioplasties or stents.  Joe also has diabetes and high blood pressure.

I’m measuring life—while treasuring each day and letting the pinkies keep score.  J. Alfred Prufrock was a kind of walking Ecclesiastes, but without a knowledge of the Lord; Prufrock’s life was weary and meaningless.  How thankful I am, to know and believe God’s Word and realize that we are pilgrims on earth—destined for eternal glory with Him!  Because of our Lord, we never cease to hope.  Because of Him, every moment is pregnant with meaning!  Even our most abject sorrow has a purpose!

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

*Poet T. S. Eliot’s life did not end in the despair expressed in his fictional character, J. Alfred Prufrock.  In 1927, Eliot became a Christian, and left wasteland of existentialism.  Eliot’s last years reflected his newly discovered faith.

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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On June 20th, Joe and I will be celebrating our 58th wedding anniversary—God willing.  The above picture was taken at our northern home, at our 50th anniversary gathering.  One granddaughter was missing at the occasion because she was on a mission trip to Mexico.  Since that day, 17 more people have joined our family.  An additional 2 will soon join us—one through birth and one via marriage.

Many Junes, many moons.  The years have catapulted inexorably forward since June 20th, 1953.  Now I look back through albums of photos, documents, and poetry across an immense deja vue—more than one lifetime can hold.  And yet I have held it all and preserved it for posterity. 

I have archived past joys and sorrows in Creative Memory® albums, showing how God’s Grace has prevailed.  As the Psalmist says, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” 

Photos embrace individual moments in a long life, ardently lived and loved.  Pages of documents preserve objective history—recording people, places, and events.  But my poems record the deeper things that cannot be put into words that all the world can understand—simply because there are things which all the world will never bother to understand. 

Poetry is the place where the life underlying photos and documents is pared to the essence and fearlessly addressed—in a few concise words.  Poetry speaks only to those who desire to read between the lines, those souls who—having experienced much—are still vulnerable and willing to experience more.

Meanwhile current joys and sorrows are accumulating, soon to be arranged in new albums.  The joys of family and friends, my garden, and my Pembroke Welsh corgi will be preserved.  Also archived will be the heart attack which Joe had 2 days ago, and his newly inserted defibrillator/pacemaker which we pray will give him renewed life and energy.  

Joe is now recuperating at Aurora Summit Hospital with me by his side.  Meanwhile we’ve received word that, due to serious illness, a beloved granddaughter has been admitted to another hospital just a few miles away. 

Archiving life!  Photos and documents can skim the surface of these latest events.  But there are times when, like prayer, only a poem will do!

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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“To think to know the country and not know

The hillside on the day the sun lets go

Ten million silver lizards out of snow!”

Robert Frost, A Hillside Thaw

Of all my many favorite poets, Robert Frost is probably my MOST BELOVED!  And undoubtedly, A Hillside Thaw ranks alongside Frost’s Reluctance in the category of my MOST BELOVED POEMS. 

Along with much of the midwest, we are clearing out of a doozey of a blizzard.  Joe and I went to our local hospital in an ambulance on Monday, as Joe had his coronary artery symptoms—more severe than ever before.  The storm was brewing then, and the timing was good.  Joe was securely tucked into his hospital bed—with me at his side—for the duration of the blizzard which was just beginning and hit in full force the next day and night.

From commodious windows, I watched the storm beef up and then rage during the nights we were in the hospital.  On both nights, plows ran continuously around and around the parking lots and entrances—keeping the roads clear for emergency vehicles and hospital employees.  At one entrance the American flag whipped frenetically over the scene, as if to symbolize the many storms our nation has weathered through the years.

While hospitalized, Joe had 2 more stents (he is the KING OF THE STENTS!) and he is feeling much better.  Now we are home again, thankful beyond words for medical technology and a cozy home—our earthly shelter from storms.

I just took the (above and below) photos of a mountain which has covered Dylan’s play yard.  (For new readers on this site, Dylan is our sweet and whimsical Pembroke Welsh Corgi.)  Mountains have appeared all around our condo complex, as the village snow removal crew kept our neighborhood accessible throughout the blizzard. 

As I snapped the photo, I thought of Robert Frost and A Hillside Thaw.  The lizards certainly will not break out today, as the temperature is near zero—and probably not tomorrow or any time this week.  But it is February 3rd!  Normally in Southern Wisconsin, redwing blackbirds can return any time after February 24th!  And the lizards come before the blackbirds!

The snow is gorgeous.  The snow is breathtaking.  The snow is something wonderful to behold.  But I have to admit that I am now watching for those silver lizards, thawing and slithering out of Dylan’s mountain!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Three weeks ago today, Joe and I drove to a nearby city anticipating a hearty breakfast at a favorite Greek owned restaurant.  After letting me off at the restaurant door Joe suffered a serious accident, which has impacted our lives in making each moment we have on earth more infinitely precious even than before! 

Life was always precious to us, but the treasure of our time together has reached a new, heretofore undreamed of level!

Joe suffered no broken bones or internal organ damage from the accident, and no other persons were involved.  The remaining challenges consist of a 3rd degree burn on his left leg (which will eventually require surgery) and a considerably damaged shoulder which may respond to physical therapy.  The burn is painless, because nerves were destroyed, and the shoulder grows less painful every day.  Also, Joe had a coronary artery incident last week and that has been treated as well. 

Joe and I have received grace upon grace, and blessing upon blessing in a short span of 3 weeks’ time.  We have been moved to tears by the kindness and generosity of our family members who have dropped everything to cart us to appointments and help with our daily household needs.  Since I am only a few weeks out of lumbar fusion surgery, help at home has been a lifeline.  Our daughter, Debbie, who lives a mile or so from us has been a constant cheerful worker!

We are amazed at the caring, personal quality of the doctors and nurses who are tending Joe during his crisis.  He is receiving the best of care, just as I have received for my surgery and recovery.

Meanwhile, the quiet, “darkling days” are upon us.   The demise of daylight savings has descended with a thud, reminding me of a curtain falling on a stage—signifying the end of a drama, in this case the drama of 2010. 

Summer born, I’m a creature of light.  The onset of darkness makes me cling to that small bit of remaining light—as well as to the fact that in just 6 weeks the winter sun will be moving back to the north and our beloved daylight will slowly, inexorably return.

Joe and I are resting.  Our little patio garden is resting as well.  In a low alcove, protected from all but the east wind, the herbs continue to flourish—several frosts notwithstanding.  The garden will provide fresh sage for a turkey dinner.  Garden mint for my tea will sustain me, bringing me closer to that moment when the sun resumes its northern climb.  

I gaze out at the patio, where I lounged most every afternoon during our long hot summer.  The poignant sweetness of summer lingers in my heart, with an undercurrent of sadness.  But the promise of spring in my garden brings a spirit of joy, and a prayer of gratitude. 

Joe’s accident reminds us that, in our personal lives, we never know what lies around the next bend.  Our envisioned breakfast out can turn into a day of sorrow at the nearest Emergency Room.  Dreams can become nightmares in just a few seconds.  Humanly speaking, this very moment is all we can be certain of on earth!

But eternal truth prevails as expressed in a favorite hymn based on Lamentations 3:22-23:  “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God my father . . . Summer and winter, springtime and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses above . . . .”* 

Healing requires time and patience.  Winter requires time and patience, at least here in Wisconsin.  But our Lord is faithful!

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

*From Great is Thy Faithfulness, by T. O. Chisholm and William M. Runyan

(For a recently penned ode to the darkling days, please see the “Paintings and Poems” page on this site.)

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We came home from the hospital on Wednesday, after a 1 night stay, and by-passes were not needed—just 1 more stent and some repair on past stents.  Much praise!!!

Joe is feeling great, and collecting worms for fishing.  He took a great-grandson fishing yesterday. 

We are walking, smelling the lilacs in the park, and rejoicing in the sunlight on our little patio.  Each day is a gift!

Margaret L. Been

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Tomorrow we make the 45 minute trip to St. Luke’s where we will spend a couple of days.  Joe is scheduled for a heart cath—and then whatever else needs doing:  perhaps more stents, or a scheduling of by-pass surgery.

St. Luke’s is a good place to be in these circumstances, as that hospital pioneered heart surgeries and procedures decades ago.  We have been hanging out there on occasion since 1987 when Joe had 7 by-passes.  At that time, Joe shared a room.  Since then, the hospital has expanded and built a huge area called the Patient’s Tower with 2 floors of private rooms for cardiac patients. 

Now when Joe goes for stents or whatever, I can stay with him in his private room.  A comfy roll-away bed is supplied, and I can gaze down through the spacious windows at Milwaukee.  Last summer when we were there, I sat on my roll-away and had a fantastic view of the fireworks on opening night of Milwaukee’s famous Summerfest.

Being able to be with Joe when he is hospitalized makes a tremendous difference in my comfort level.  I bring a book or two and a sketch book, but mostly I knit.  For me, knitting is a great tension reliever when it’s hard to focus on anything else—and it’s productive as well. 

Last winter when our daughter, Judy, had her cardiac arrest we rushed to the hospital without taking time to gather any supplies.  There in the ICU waiting room was a wicker basket with yarn, needles, and directions for a simple-to-knit prayer shawl.  Anyone who was waiting could pick up the project and continue where the last person had left off.

The prayer shawl—placed there by some church group—was a great comfort to our daughter-in-law, Cheri, and me as we waited for news of our loved one.  We took turns knitting a few rows, adding some favorite pattern stitches along the way.

What a blessing to have yarn and needles at hand during those tense hours!  The church ladies who placed the basket of knitting in the waiting room knew that. 

Knitting has been my constant companion for most of my life in joy and sorrow—on road trips, while visiting with friends and family, and in countless hospital waiting rooms.  I begin nearly every day with at least a few rows of knitting—and sometimes a few inches.

Tomorrow will be no exception.  As I pray through Joe’s procedures and stay with him in his hospital room, I will knit!

©2010, Margaret L. Been

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