I’ve been lucky enough to have only ever stayed one night in a hospital, not counting when I was one of the last babies born at the old Holzer Hospital in downtown Gallipolis (so I’m told). I don’t have regular medications to take and if I wanted to walk, ride a bike, travel or jump in a kayak, I was free to do so – only constraints on my time or motivation, not my body, prevented me from doing so for the most part.
Then, this summer happened.
I had a health scare and that required surgery and a hospital stay, followed by returning home with “extra hardware” to manipulate when dressing, bathing and even moving. I used a walker for a bit to steady myself because my body was still healing and I’d get tired, so tired just walking around my house. Though the physical challenges were difficult, for me, the emotional hurdles were the hardest. I didn’t move like myself, I didn’t look like myself and I cried a lot because all those thoughts and realities had nowhere else to go. In those moments where you sit and think “what now?” even if you are lucky enough to have someone bear that weight with you, there are parts you bear alone as you sort out your new normal. Maybe this is what leads people to prayer, to a deeper faith or completely the opposite. But, being in that arena alone seems a necessary one to moving forward because this is where you decide how to deal with what has been given you. This is the birth of Plan B or Plan XYZ, depending on your journey’s specifics.
During my “what now” stage, I started receiving a few “get well” cards and notes in the mail. Nothing much at first but still appreciated. Then one day, I got a large stack of cards, then another and another. This went on for weeks and I started to suspect my friends at Ohio Valley Publishing had something to do with this phenomena via a card shower announcement. The amounts ebbed and flowed but the cards and notes have been steady up until the writing of this column. They were from old friends and readers from Mason, Meigs and Gallia counties, many of whom I hadn’t heard from in years and many who only knew me as a name on a page. Still, they took the time to let me know I was in their thoughts. I’ve placed probably hundreds of card showers in our newspapers for other people without a second thought to their actual purpose, until it served a purpose for me. Besides reminding me that people cared, it reminded me of who I was, despite the fact that I moved different, I looked different and I had that hardware attached to me. I started looking forward to the mail coming each day and I was never disappointed during my “what now” month of July. To everyone who took the time to send me those notes of encouragement, I want you to know, I read them all and I saved them. I am also aware of many prayers that were said on my behalf. Thank you seems inadequate but thank you…and you know who you all are.
I returned to work this week, much stronger and much further past July, though I will be having another surgery at the end of this month. I had hoped to come back only when everything was “fixed” but that’s not life, is it? Life and our bodies are not perfect or even cooperative with our schedules, at times. There are also those times you have to make the choice to go on in spite of things, not because – this leaves you “wore out” or grateful, or all of the above, for the opportunity to make a new plan. Maybe you spend Monday on the couch binge watching Netflix but by Thursday, you’re ready to take on the world. That’s life, too. Is it a Higher Power that kicks our “behinds” into motion? Perhaps. A wise person once told me “free your ‘behind’ (only they didn’t say ‘behind’), and your mind will follow.”
The action and intent behind those card showers work. Messages and texts to someone who needs to be reminded that they matter, matter. (Thank you to those who also did this for me.) Find that person today that needs your good thoughts. They are out there. And, if you’re that person who needs to hear words of encouragement or acknowledgement of your struggle, I’ll leave you with what a 65-year subscriber to the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, a woman I have never met, sent me in a note on a day when I really needed it, “Just get well soon and keep the good thoughts. You are loved!”
Pass it on.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.