This is a guest post, written by one of my beautiful friends, Sanchal Bjerland, on the one-year anniversary of her heart surgery (yesterday). She and I both missed our kids’ first day of grade one, as we were both laying in hospital beds, hours and hours away from home. You can find my reflection here; hers is below.
Today marks one year since my heart surgery.
Last year at this time, I was devastated to be missing my boys first day of grade one.
I was watching a little girl about my boys’ age be wheeled into heart surgery with her mother by her side and thinking babies have heart surgery, but they don’t really understand what’s happening to them at the time. This little girl, she realizes exactly what is happening to her and she is probably terrified. I felt so much empathy for her.
I was listening to an odd screeching sound in the holding room of the OR with my family, waiting for my surgery and then realized it was the sound of the saw that they use to cut open the breast bone, which was about to happen to me.
I was coming out of a heart surgery that took 5 1/2 hours, 1 ½ hours longer than expected. My father, sister, and husband waited in agony throughout the day. Tyler said the surgeon looked so wiped when he came out of the OR, he thought he was coming to say I had passed away.
I had my mitral valve repaired and unbeknownst to me also had my tricuspid valve repaired.
I was lying in a dark room in ICU kicking the end of my bed, because I couldn’t find the call bell and was gagging on my intubation tube and in pain.
I was spelling out “love you” on my leg to my husband because I couldn’t speak.
Little did I know I was going to have to endure the pain and learn to get out of a bed like it was my first time and struggle to walk down the hallway, never mind a bathroom.
Little did I know my taste buds would change so much that when my favorite foods were offered to me to help give me some strength, they would never taste the same.
Little did I know that my incision would have such painful scar tissue that I would be unable to wear my diamond heart necklace that Tyler gave me when we were dating, because it lands right on that area.
Little did I know I would be out of breath just trying to read my children a bedtime story when I came home.
That I would have such tremendous passionate care given to me from my nursing friends and health care family … that they would even go as far as to come out to my house and lie in my bed with me while I had my IV medication.
Little did I know that my mother would take such tender care of me like I was a little girl again, including tucking me into bed at night with shivers so bad I didn’t think I’d ever fall asleep …
I wish I knew that …
When I came home to Hudson Bay, I would have an outpouring of love and support from those around me, affirming that small town life is like nothing else.
One month later I would be able to attend my first front row seat at a concert.
Three months later I would be back to work, and back making growth charts and other things that I enjoy.
That my husband and children would keep me so motivated. If I wouldn’t have had them, I would have sunk into a depression I’m sure.
That I would survive a winter of hockey practices and tournaments, but be unable to tie hockey skates because of the muscle required.
But 11 months later I would be able to beat my boys in a barefoot race in the grass from our house to the end of our driveway.
I would be able to blow up those ridiculously large floaties while camping this summer using my own breath.
I never cried going into surgery, I never wrote my children letters like I had originally wanted to, I never updated my will or crossed items off my bucket list. We hosted a reunion on my side only two weeks before my surgery and only a handful of those people even knew I was having surgery.
I knew I was going to be okay. I knew that God was watching over me and would take care of me.
If anything, this journey has been a renewal of faith.
I am beyond grateful to anyone who has helped me along the way this last year.
Most of all I am just thankful to be here. Period.