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August 10
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BuffyW's Links

AUGUST 24, 2009 5:11PM

To Grow; Sometimes You Have to Shrink.

Rate: 56 Flag





Sitting in CCU gives you plenty of time to think.  It’s odd, the last time I had this much time to think was a year and a half ago when my husband had his open heart surgery.  There are huge differences between then and now though.


The heart surgery, though major and invasive, we understood from the beginning what we could expect.  When an illness suddenly strikes your loved one (in all of its sneaky unpredictability) it leaves you in a strange state of confusion; wondering how something so insidious could have snuck up on us becoming so virulent this quickly?  It made me question myself, something I hardly need to be doing.  


Sometimes things are not as you imagined them to be.  It doesn’t make it your fault because of anything you did or did not do, see or notice the nuance of.  Everything is new...at least to me.


It’s far too easy to blame yourself, ”I should have known that tiny cough...I should have known his fever was....” .  Should haves.  What a complete waste of time if you think about it, at least more than the initial thought crossing your mind.   I’m no doctor, but I got him to one quickly as I saw he was not improving.  No fault, no self blame, I am human and so is he.


You don’t get fast and easy answers.  What you get is a sore throat from breathing in oxygen, dry skin, an aversion to “ constant unfamiliar noises”  (the clown horn sounds, alarms etc.), pains in places you never thought about, chair-butt, tight calves, a renewed appreciation for patience, so-so food, little time to tend to your pets or life have any time alone, the heartaches from the frustrations of realizing you can do absolutely nothing but wait.  This is the worst part, sitting there day after day, holding his hand, trying to block out the whirr of mind snapshots which are not all that pleasant and keep replaying despite what you do.


I have discovered I am a thousand percent better helping others go through these situations than I am when it is me.  I’m humbled into recognizing I am just one small person in the universe, one who needs to ask for help from others.  Guess what?  I have.  


Oddly enough I have always been confident and secure in times of crisis.  I know I am very strong.  I got my father and our family through my mother’s death and the aftermath.  I took charge.  I got my husband’s mother through similar times with her husband.  I took charge.  The list goes on...but now it is me who needs to ask for help, and it is a strange feeling.  I feel as though I am shrinking.


Whereas I would walk into a room and feel  myself to be “large”, now I see myself differently, as a woman markedly smaller, completely vulnerable.  


I caught a glimpse of myself in a glass door reflection... it was shocking to me.  I saw a little girl, not the woman I am used to being where I stand up and take control.


It was confusing at first.  It really got me to thinking how much of our “persona” is based on what our self-image is.  I have always felt mine to be a good, strong one.  I don’t let things get to me very much.  I am calm in the midst of a storm.   I also recognize if the “sunshine” inside of me is working, I’m good to go.  I surround myself with positive people.  I have little room or tolerence for negativity.  Neither should anyone else.  It eats away at your reasoning, your natural self-esteem.  You begin to question your feelings.  Chomp-chomp...not a good feeling to have your brain be eaten away from the inside out.  Nope, not going to go there. 


Last night I grabbed ahold of life again.  I worked in my garden, I played with my dogs, I cooked for myself, and I spoke to the few people I want to speak with.  I found my happiness, my womanhood again. 


This morning when I called the hospital I got some more “good” news.  Of course it is all relative, to the day or even hour before.  I can only take and appreciate moments in time, and I’m discovering this is probably how we all need to take it.  You can’t change what has happened, but you can make a difference in how today, or even the next hour will be.


I was shrinking in part because I let the feelings overwhelm me.  Now I see I need to change, to take control again of the things I am able to.  I put on a colorful sundress today, the bit of makeup I wear, and a little attention to things like his favorite perfume.    


It’s Monday, a day of renewal and growth.  Already I felt more “normal” even in the midst of the odd chaos around me. I have made peace with myself, and order of the world I can control.  


When Lance sees me, he will not see the shrinking woman, nope...he will see his wife, the one he depends on to take care of him emotionally, to mind things while he is busy getting well.  He will see the woman he chose to see him through this life, in sickness and in health. Sheila’s back and has no room for doubting.  I am growing back into myself again.  I can feel it, and feeling is a good thing.  






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Good luck bump for my love...
You go girl! We're all cheering for you and Lance - wishing, hoping, praying, sending all kinds of backup through the ethers. You are an inspiration - take good care of your fine, strong self!
"I found my happiness, my womanhood again."

Still searching here, think it is i the back of my closet- or the trunk of my car.

"You can’t change what has happened, but you can make a difference in how today, or even the next hour will be."

Profound. I think I am having a religious experience. (Wink!)
You could have stopped right there, but I am glad that you went on because the ending is nice. Congrats!
Please know how much Lance and you are in my thoughts and prayers. I guess in this thing we call life, we all have are trials and tribulations that knock us down. Reclaiming one's self in the midst of a crisis is a major step. Your strength does inspire many.
This puts a smile on my face that will last the whole day long. You are an exceptional woman Sheila and it has been an honor to call you "Friend." Love to you and Lance.
As our friend Scarlett is wont to say, "GOOD ON YOU!"
You are right-on, Lady! You take your moments ... as you need them ... and let the uncertainies and insurmountables wash over, then wash away ... as they will; as they have. because you, Shiela, always rise to the occasion. It's just that every so often you need a moment to yourself. No big deal for one such as you.
Dear Sheila,
none of us can be "big and strong" every moment. And of course it's hardest when serious illness strikes so close to home - your very nearsest and dearest. Still, I'm glad you have had some good news (even if only relatively good) and found your big, strong woman self again. More and more of my thoughts and prayers for you and Lance!

You are a woman's woman. It shines through in the strength of your words and your commitment to empowering your self so that you can be of help and service to others. Damn good stuff.
Your voice does sound refreshed and renewed; it´s fantastic how some simple things: playing with a pet, cooking a meal, allow us to find that which is true and genuine in ourselves. I´m sure Lance will notice that perfume. Great, Sheila!
Your strength is humbling, Buffy. Best wishes to you and Lance alike; I'm keeping you both in my thoughts. Blessings.
Glad to see you back in full fighting form. I never doubted it.
So meaningful and wise. All good things ahead to you and Lance.
I keep thinking: this is not how it was supposed to be. When we were young, we were invincible, or so we thought. You're doing a great job, Buffy. Keep it up. Hang in there.

The best to good friends. You are a rock!
Sheila, you are my hero! Can you come live with Linda an me...we could use your energy. My very best to Lance...tell him "HI" for me.
sending positive thoughts your way . . .
Sundresses are the best!

I must be an occassional idiot. My earlier post that was suposed to be whimsical and comical sounds like "Horrors from the deep" when I reread it just now and it is in print.

What I meant to say is, you amaze me with your strength.
(my earlier comment, not post! Gadzooks!)
I suspect all of us are better at shepherding others through a crisis than we are at handling them ourselves.

You ARE strong, and you will get through this just fine. You, the medical team, and the prayers, thoughts, and love of your many, many friends will get Lance through his time of trial.
After reading this moving post, I see that you are still that woman who helped your family through the death of your mother. You are still the strong woman that helped your husband through his surgery. You may shrink, but you won’t lose that spirit!

- rated with prayers
Rated with love and support for numerous reasons that you know so well already. That *you* know is all that matters. My love to you and Lance. Again and again and again. xoxo
Sheila, you are not only being strong for Lance but a shining example for us as well.
You left a little gem which I'm sure will affect others, also, but was good for me to hear today.
"It really got me to thinking how much of our “persona” is based on what our self-image is."
I can't imagine you as a shrinking woman, at least not for long anyway. I'm sure you made him feel better in your sundress and his favorite perfume.
Hugs to you and Lance,
YESSSS! I am woman hear me roar!

I like your tone Sheila, you're like a racehorse who has suddenly found her legs.

I don't know Lance of course, but when my father was hospitalized he told me (later) how grateful he was that I had taken it upon myself to read aloud the daily newspaper, and selected magazine articles. He said that hearing my voice meant so much, even when sometimes couldn't necessarily concentrate on what exactly I was saying.

Best wishes for blue skies ahead for you both.
It's uplifting to hear you sound so resolute in the face of fear and not knowing. You make me feel strong too, and I'm sending that strength down the line to you, and Lance, redoubled.
Some day maybe I will know a love as strong as what you and Lance have. You are the vision of strength and love to me Sheila.
Shrinking? Not at all...

God bless you and my prayers for you both.
We always come back to our true selves, Sheila. In your case that is one formidable lady. But even a rock may show a small crack. It adds an element of character. Allow yourself your human vulnerabilities for within them we discover our strengths. You may have felt yourself shrinking, but I sense you've grown immensely. You can't control events, but you can control your reactions, responses and outlook. Your sweetie is a most fortunate man. Sending love your way.
Sundresses and serenity, Sheila! Thank you for taking the time to post this. I'm glad you took a break to re-orient yourself while on crisis bedside duty; of course this is taking its toll on you, too. And perfume! You know that the sense of smell is the most powerful in stimulating memories, right? Lance's favourite perfume will help you both, linking the present to positive past experiences. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
Another amazing insight Sheila. I'm happy that things are going better for both Lance and you.
For some, it is so much easier to help than to ask for help. This is me...so I get it. I'm glad to know you've managed to gather yourself, gather strength from others, and get ahold of the day; for you and for Lance. You will both benefit from your growth. I hope for the same tomorrow. If not, ask for help; I know there are others who want to help you. XOXO ~ With love, Angela
I am inspired by the love you have for your husband, Sheila... and I am humbled by your spirit.
This was so good to read, your renewed strength and focus shine through. Continuing to keep you both in my thoughts.
Yes, take control of those things you can control. The rest is up to the universe.

You are a wise woman, Sheila. Keeping you and Lance in my thoughts and prayers.
We're living parallel lives today. Good hopes for your husband!
Good for you.....and him too!
I never doubted your ability to cope or your staying power. You got all the right stuff lady, and Lance is one fortunate fella. All my love to you both!
Very inspiring. Thank you.
Powerful images: "shrinking" and "growing back into myself".

Continued strength and prayers from denese.
You're doing just exactly what you should. I'm very proud of you. Stay strong.
When that feeling of helplessness overcomes our personal strength, we revert to what we all really are, children. The power to control our destiny fades in the light of the realization that nothing is in our power. Illness is a frequent cause of this since it is so threatening and we can do so little to affect it's outcome. We reach out for help and comfort and don't know how or when it will come. Holding tight to hope is our refuge. That this is so doesn't make us weak, it is a sign of personal strength. Take some small comfort in knowing that so many are with you, even if you feel alone. Tell Lance that i wish him well and for yourself I wish for strength to face the challenge, and, remain confident that all will be well for you both.
Glad you are making a come back. But really, you've been strong all along. Your strength is an inspiration. Here's hoping your strength and Lance's, continues to grow. Beautiful words! Beautiful woman of strength.
You never fail to inspire me and countless others.
Beautiful post. You are so strong and amazing. You rock. Cheering for you and your husband!
We wax and wane with the times. I'm praying for continued waxing on your part as you watch your husband recover fully. Lovely post. God bless you both.
"Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength." ---Frances de Sales

Be strong--as you are!
Buffy..you have a gift for picking yourself up. And it is easier to make these revelations with strangers, like us. Seriously, it's like bouncing an idea off someone before you fully embrace it. Cool read.But, sad, that illnessand deathhad to affect your life when you were so young.Hugs. cin