Tag Archives: CHD

Positive Thinking, it’s not what you Think

I’ve been thinking about this post for about 2-3 weeks now and with tomorrow being 4 weeks since my surgery, I thought I should probably write it.

Where do I begin?

I guess I will briefly mention that heart surgery is my fourth major surgery since 2002. The first three (gall bladder removal and 2 c-sections) were not the best experiences (UNDERSTATEMENT!) and I’ve been dreading heart surgery ever since. Not the actual surgery – but the recovery.

I tend to over think, over analyze, over plan, worry, get anxious, and spend all together too much time anticipating negative things.

Because of this, Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Why? Because generally speaking it’s all about Joy.

Paul is writing from chains and he can’t “shut up” about being thankful and full of joy. He is excited about all of the things God is doing in spite of (or rather because of) Paul’s difficult circumstances.

The book as a whole is the antithesis of my negative normal.

Looking at specifics, Philippians has many powerful verses that remind me God is good and he commands me to rejoice. He commands me to not be anxious. He commands me that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” I should think on such things (Phil 4: 8).

When I was in college, I wrote the following, in large print, on paper:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7

And then I stuck it on the ceiling over my bed. It was a very helpful reminder and many nights I stared up at it, repeating the words in my head, letting the peace of God calm my anxious heart.

I’m not bragging here. I’m telling you I have a REALLY hard time being positive and joyful. And I’m constantly challenged by God’s best for me, as spelled out in Philippians. He doesn’t give any exemptions or qualifiers. He just says “rejoice”!

What I don’t mean

At the same time, this joy, not being anxious, often also seen as “positive attitude” or “positive thinking” is NOT in the same as when people say things like “I’m sending you positive thoughts (or vibes or whatever)”.  There is not positive energy that exists in the universe as some type of currency we can pass around to each other.

This “rejoice” God commands is also NOT some type of guarantee that things will go well, here on earth. It’s not a magic formula. Think positive and you will have a wonderful life. Paul, writer of Philippians, is an example of that as he was probably killed for the faith. (See more here)

So what does all this mean in relation to heart surgery?

I am extremely grateful for the timing of how everything went. I’m thankful for the support network surrounding me. I’m thankful for the circumstances and the results.

I don’t specifically think I automatically am having a good recovery because I’m more joyful. At the same time I also don’t discount that perhaps God commands us to rejoice because he knows he built our bodies to respond better (scientifically speaking) when we are positive.

God loves us more than anyone can even wrap their mind around. He loves me more than my parents love me. He loves me more than my boys, or than JJ, love me. His commandments are an out flowing of that love. Because he is the definition of love and everything that is good, because he is all powerful and all knowing, because he wants the absolute best for me – he commands me in ways that are sometimes very confusing and backwards looking to me. Yet, I trust that he is who he says he is.

He wants the best for me. And in Philippians, he commands me to rejoice in all things and in all circumstances.

In summary – Positive thinking is not what you think. It’s not because I want things to go well. It’s not because things are going well. It’s because He loves me and he commands me to rejoice. And – in opposition to my negative normal – it is Christ in me, from which the Joy overflows.

To His Glory, forever. Amen.

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Almost pain free

I’ve entered a more frustrating part of healing.

I’ve now gone over 24 hours without any pain meds. Thank you Lord!

However, this also makes it more difficult to remember to stick to my restrictions. 

I’m only 35. I’d rather not do something dumb, mess up my healing chest bone and then regret it for the rest of my life.

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Two weeks

Today marks two weeks since heart surgery. I am so glad to be on this side of it!

I still have a long way to go though. Specifically, I have 4 more weeks of limits in place to allow my sternum a chance to heal well.

For example, this morning I was able to take a shower almost entirely by myself. However, I cannot turn the water on and I cannot properly dry myself off. These two things are part of the limits in place.

I cannot turn the water on because I am not supposed to reach, stretch, turn, or pull with much force. Other activities that fall into this are opening my medicine bottles (create too much in my chest). I can’t drive (turning to see my blind spot, pulling the stearing wheel at short notice, etc) or even sit in the front seat (if on even a small accident, airbags would be terrible).

I cannot dry myself because in addition to the reasons I just mentioned, wet towels are extremely heavy. I can’t lift more than 5 pounds (it was 2 for the first while). I may be able to get a small towel to lessen the weight, but then the temptation to reach and stretch increases.

It’s going to be a tough 4 weeks because as I feel better, I become complacent. 

I’m so thankful my mom is here, doing the “heavy lifting”.

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Making progress

I’m making progress – slowly but surely.

Yesterday and today, I was able to very slowly do my own hair, which means use a blow dryer and a comb. I tipped my head over so as to not need to lift anything too high in the air.

I’m also able to wear larger t-shirts, so I’ve been able to set aside JJ’s button up shirts. This is very nice because I’m tired of switching between a bright orange shirt and a loud red, Hawaiian shirt. 🙂

And today, I was able to take an almost “normal” shower with just a little assistance.—> This one is huge because it finally feels good to stand in the warm water and let it loosen up my back muscles.

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Post Op

I had my post op appointment this morning and it went well.

Steri-Strips are off. Sutures are out. All of my blood work looked good. Chest x-Ray, also good.

And I was feeling well enough and strong enough that after my appointment, we went to one of my favorite burger joints.

Finally, as expected, Z was pretty impressed with the train display at the hospital.

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Figuring it out

We are still trying to figure out this one pain med, trying to find the balance between enough to help but not burn up my stomach lining. That’s probably why I’m awake right now – had to take the new adjusted dose. It’s been 12 and a half hours since the last and I just couldn’t push another hour trying to get the med back on a 6am/6pm timeframe.

So while I sit here waiting for the new dose to kick in (and hopefully go back to sleep), I was thinking,

God is so good. This recovery has highs and lows, but God is consistently, unchanging and Good. I like consistency. I don’t like change. I’m glad I can trust him.

Some examples of good he keeps sprinkling into this last few weeks:

*Z has been unexpectedly sweet and generally understanding that I’m fragile. His normal is “I squish you!” And then he jumps on me. Yesterday his play time consisted of playing “Dr” and setting a pillow and towel on my feet to keep the germs away.

*E has been sleeping through the night more than ever. Not always, but there is a vast improvement. He often does 10 hours. This started while I was at the hospital and it’s one of my recent prayer requests.

*My long legs and surprisingly stronger than expected abs have allowed me to conquer standing up out of chairs, beds, and couches much better and quicker than I thought it would be. This gives me a little independence and it also allows my husband to sleep though the night when I have to pee. 😝

Kinda small things when looked at by themselves out of context. Kinda huge things all put together in context.

God is good.

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A week +

I cannot believe heart surgery was a week ago yesterday!

I have to say – the people at Dallas Children’s are amazing. I could never be a nurse – but all of you nurses – hats off to you. I’ll probably miss a few names, miss spell and leave people out completely by accident (I was a *little* drugged… but here is my best attempt…

Tiffany, Taelor, and Caitlin…my ICU nurses. Amazing. Helped me when I couldn’t move, were compassionate and treated me with dignity. Thank you as well to the various techs and other nurses who occasionally popped in because a dead-weight, woozie Debra is a difficult thing to move.

On CH8 – Thank you to Lauren, Mary, Brooklyn, Sarah, and Anna. Again – so thankful for all of you ladies. I don’t know how you do it everyday, especially since most of your patients are crying, sick little babies. These nurses were also assisted by several techs. They helped with various tasks like wheeling me down to xrays and other, yuckier tasks. Thanks for making me smile and not feel dumb.

And I don’t want to leave out the floor PA’s Amy & Caitlin – thank you!

I’m obvious thankful for Dr. G (surgeon) and Dr. Turner (anesthesiologist) as well as their teams. They literally (which is often used to mean figuratively, but not in this case) had my life in their hands.

I was in and out of the hospital so fast, Z never had a chance to visit! I’m looking forward to going back on Friday for a post op visit and showing him around – to the important people. It’s hard to find the words to really say thank you. Thank you for keeping this momma alive and improving my heart heart health so that I can be there and keep up with Z & E as they grow.

And also – I’m excited to show Z the “train room”.

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