It has been almost five weeks since I've felt quite right and since I've posted any new content. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that this isn't normal.
But, here I am on a Saturday night to say "I'm back!" And I'll tell you why I've been gone.
And no, it is not because the dog ate my homework or any excuse like that. . .
Over a month ago, I found myself in a Oklahoma hospital preparing for emergency surgery. I hadn't been feeling well for quite some time, but I seriously thought it would pass. But, after going to the doctor finally, the reason for my troubles came to the light. But I must insert here that the truth took 2 different misdiagnosis and 2 ER visits to come out.
Before surgery, there was a bit of a scare that my illness could have come from cancer: not cool! But, when the pathology report came back from the lab afterwards it was determined that my painful condition was not a long-term problem (no cancer) and the surgery had cleared me of infection. It was just a freak event. All of this was great news, but simultaneously, I faced a couple of months recovery process.
Life certainly took a different turn than I expected in August and September. And my October plans have been altered too.
When folks have heard what I've gone through I've felt a lot of pity. "Oh, my God. I'm so sorry" has been the most common response. So, I tell you all of this not to seek your pity or well wishes (honestly, I don't find comfort in a person's pity), but to focus on the positive and say that this time has been life-giving in its own way. And, I have a lot to be thankful for:
Most of all, I'm alive and don't have cancer.
Without much time to research doctors or hospitals, I felt like I got great care where I landed on August 21st. I was in good hands with the surgeon given to me.
Kevin was not out of the country when I got sick but by my side the whole way (even sleeping at the hospital on a cot for a couple of nights!). He doesn't just run a large non-profit, he's my husband and an amazing one at that!
Help came when I needed it the most: my mom flew in from Tennessee and one of my best friends flew out from several states over to Oklahoma too. They were gifts to our household especially as Kevin still had to work and I wasn't ready to be on my own.
The flowers I got from Feed The Children employees, DC friends and other folks made my hospital room and then our small apartment smell amazing. (And made the hospital staff in particular keep telling me-- you must be loved).
Dear ones became even dearer to me these past several weeks-- a friend from Africa called me every day just to talk me through the loneliness, friends from all over the country called to pray for me or let me cry when I needed to process how scary this entire ordeal was, and my one Oklahoman friend Susan brought the actual presence of joy to our apartment with her visits and often brought yummy food that Kevin enjoyed (even if I didn't feel like eating).
I even got one of those amazing Washington Plaza Baptist "get well" cards that I had signed for countless other people during the years I served as that church's pastor, but this time it was for me.
And now as I'm able to get up and move around a bit more, I'm more grateful than ever for the gift of life's simple pleasures.
Driving my car is a big accomplishment of the day, not a chore.
Being able to shower and even shave my legs (finally) by myself is a joy, not one more thing to do in the morning.
Having enough mental energy to write words on this computer screen is not mundane task, but one full of delight.
Gaining enough strength to fly on an airplane to my home in DC was not just an average day, but one to be celebrated!
Why? Because I simply could. A couple of weeks ago I could not.
Early on, I needed help brushing my hair, dressing and getting propped up in bed. I could not go to the bathroom without being watched. I could not eat food without asking permission. In all of this, I received lessons in being served by loved ones and strangers alike.
Prior of all of this, I was eating well, taking vitamins, and working out, doing all of the things a doctor says "healthy people do" and without any known medical conditions. But all of a sudden, I wasn't well. My illness came on strong. And I was out. I hardly felt like texting or talking either-- two of my favorite things.
Most of all this is what I learned: never let age keep you from being grateful for your health. This 33-year-old named Elizabeth Hagan is excited about her recovery and feeling strong again. And maybe one day I'll write more about it.
But for now, I'm going back to the couch to keep "doing my time" in recovery to be good as new soon. And when I am, certainly know I'll be even more grateful.