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Posts Tagged ‘New England Baptist Hospital’

Two weeks ago to the day, I entered New England Baptist Hospital in Boston for a total knee replacement.  My right knee had deteriorated (I have no memory of an injury, but something must have happened) to the point where there was, essentially, no cartilage left; there were plenty of bone spurs and the situation had become painful and pretty much unacceptable. Add to this the fact that Ben and I are planning a once-in-a-lifetime 20th anniversary trip in the fall to Paris and Rome with Ben’s brother and his wife, and you’ve got a knee that needs fixing.

I am an upbeat person, positive and in general, pain-tolerant.  I knew that that procedure might hurt; I knew that it was not going to be a good time.  But I was clear that it was the right thing to do.  And so it happened, at one of the best orthopedic hospitals in the US if not the world, and so far the outcome holds promise.

Over and over, as I moved closer to surgery day, people would ask me if I was nervous.  “Aren’t you concerned?”  “Don’t you worry?” my well-meaning friends would ask.  To all, the answer was the same:  “No.  No worries – just ready to go to the next chapter, to try to make myself whole.”  Send me your good thoughts, I said; your prayers if you pray; but know that I feel held by all of you.

That image, of being held, was the most powerful vision I had, both before the surgery and now.  I could see myself in the center of a clear space, and all around me were people.  Some of them I could identify, some of them were anonymous to me.  But as in the trust exercise that you hear about some youth groups doing, to bond and merge and come together as a group, I, the person in the center, was being held — ever so delicately — by the fingers and hands of all around me.

It was, and is, a beautiful and comforting image…and it is not only imagined.  So many have been there in so many ways that I can not begin to name or thank them all.  One friend, who has had a disability since birth, took me under her wing to tell me what I would need to know about how to successfully use a walker, then crutches, while she ministered to my psyche at the same time.  Another just showed up, repeatedly, with the Frappucinos that are almost the only thing that tastes good.  Still another called many times to check in and immediately produced the heating pad I desperately needed when my back and hamstring muscles went into spasm. And another, too far away to visit and wrestling with her own health challenges, undertook a ‘ministry of get well cards’ that arrived, day after day, to remind me that I was indeed being held by my friends.

And the food…all the people who, whether intimidated by the idea of feeding an experienced cook or not, have showed up, night after night with wonderful meals, made with love.  The “pot of spring” (daffodils) that arrived with another friend, the folks who brought scones and frozen meals for later, the DVD of “Downton Abbey” that arrived to amuse me, the buckwheat-stuffed heart that, when frozen, cools my hot surgical incision.

This, and so much more, has carried me through; reminded me of what community is about; illustrated – in case I needed a reminder — what we offer to one another through good times and certainly through bad.  A former minister of my congregation used to remind us, weekly, “No matter what you are going through in this life, my friends, you are not going through it alone.”  I could not have had a more clear example of what that means than over these last few weeks.

Several suggested to me, as they cared for me, that I had been generous to others and so it was my ‘turn.’  Maybe so.  But when we commit to live in true community with one another, it means that we will show up in whatever way we can.  That’s all I’ve ever tried to do, and it’s what these amazing people are doing for me, right now.

As I wrestle with the pain that will not leave me quite yet, I try to think calm and peaceful thoughts at night as I talk to my body, to tell it to relax into sleep.  And each night, lying next to Ben – who has done so much and continues to do so much to support me — I can almost feel the others around me, gently lifting me up, holding me.  It is a blessing.

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