It’s been some kind of week — full of peaks and valleys. I feel like I’ve been “rode hard and put up wet.”
Last Saturday, we had a fall family gathering. 41 people showed up to eat chili and coney dogs, bounce in the bouncy house, discuss personality types around the fire and debate gun control around the living room. A great time was had by all. My dad was particularly in hog heaven, as he was presented with various hardware valves (including a spigot) and flexible tubes (including one with a light on the end) for his upcoming heart surgery. I managed to respond well to the crowd (I usually hide in my room), and felt very energized by the event.
Sunday I crashed. I missed church, and spent most of the day with my head buried in the television. This is one of my coping strategies when I feel a depression coming on, but it’s not a very good one. Basically, I become numb and rather than face my feelings as they arise, I suppress them for later and they come out more aggravated, often attached to physical symptoms.
Dad went in for surgery early Monday morning. A friendly chaplain (a nun, I think), was one of the first on the scene and she offered a lovely prayer. Dad’s friend and pastor Marvin arrived with a deacon from his church, so he was well prayed for. The procedure lasted about four hours. They implanted a pig valve and transplanted a vein from his leg. I wrote to Dad’s Facebook friends that, when he felt better, he would be “dancing on the inside and be happier than a pig in slop.”
My mood imbalanced started to come out as “mixed states.” These are like having porcupine quills all over your body, with nerve endings on the tips. When people try to relate to you, you both get hurt. I laid down in the family waiting room with my ear buds on, listening to soothing story songs and simply apologized for not being responsive.
I slept fitfully Monday and Tuesday nights, experiencing what some people call “night terrors.” Mine come in the form of regrets over past decisions and images of a lonely, hopeless future.
Dad likewise had a tough row to hoe. His heart went into “A-fib” and they put him on an IV drip. It took nearly 24 hours before it was back to a regular beat. He said it felt like he had run a marathon. To add insult to injury, they had to put him on an IV-drip of Lasix, so he could only sleep in 15-20 minute intervals before having to pee.
By Thursday, dad was again making progress. So was I. I finished a project at work. I did an update video for our Delight in Disorder indiegogo campaign, and had a very positive meeting with my pastor about membership. He had read and enjoyed my manuscript. My mood had leveled off by week’s end and I was looking forward to enjoying some Sabbath rest on Saturday and worship on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it didn’t come to pass. Again, I slept fitfully and wallowed in bed nearly all of Saturday and Sunday morning. Dad made progress, though, and we brought him home Sunday afternoon. This (and the smell of apple crisp my sister was baking) boosted my spirits some and I was able to write this thank you note (below) to those who had attended our party last weekend –
Dear family members,
We want to sincerely thank each of you for coming to our family gathering last weekend.
As you may well know, Dad is a man who enjoys the simple pleasures of life –
… the taste of a fried bologna sandwich.
… the sound of George Jones singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today”.
… the sight of a hummingbird feeding on Connie’s homemade elixir.
Nothing pleases Dad more than the taste of a family feast, the sound of children playing in the bouncy house, and the sight of loved ones surrounding him.
As a token of our gratitude for your participation in this special day, we are including a CD of the great photos taken by Andrea. We hope they might bring a smile to your face as they have to ours.
Dad has a big heart, and now, thanks to his new pig valve and transplanted leg vein, it should work as good as ever. If not, thanks to your generous gifts of valves and hoses, he’ll have plenty of spare parts.
Thanks again and God bless,
Now, after downing a delicious dinner of jambalaya and fresh salad, I feel almost human again. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. Or right enough for the time being.
“Van Gogh” from Harry527