“I just want to wake up and find out I’m alive,” were Dane’s last words before heading into the surgical suite. After hearing his surgeon graphically describe the steps involved in performing open heart surgery, I think we were all echoing his wish! Dr. Miller explained that during the 5-6 hour surgery, he’d make a chest incision, spread the ribs, stop the heart, place Dane on a heart and lung machine which would keep our son alive, then repair the leaky heart valve. Whew! Even though in some ways it was helpful to hear, I think that was more information than we wanted to know! This was indeed scary stuff!
Seven hours later, we entered his ICU room. Dane’s eyes were closed, a breathing respirator down his throat, and his hands were fastened down, lest he inadvertently pull out one of those life-saving tubes. Perhaps needless to say, that was hard to witness. And even though the surgery was successful, I did wake up in the middle of the night replaying the day.
My night-time ruminations made me reflect about others going through such helpless times. As a counselor, I’ve seen people survive emotional heart surgery, only to awaken to bed-side visitors of fear, anxiety and worry.
Their last words before such surgery may have sounded like, “Please don’t leave me,” “how will we pay the bills,” or “I just want to wake up and this will all be a dream!” Being in the emotional-intensive care unit often limits one’s field of vision to blackness of present circumstances, as well as a feeling of hands being tied. On top of that, emotional heart surgery patients often feel God has abandoned them.
However, as Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” David penned the famous words of Psalm 23 which state, “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”2 Timothy says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind!” When recovering sufferers grab hold of these God-sent promises, what happens next can be as powerful as what occurred in Dane’s recovery room.
My husband joyfully leaned over and spoke directly into his son’s ears – “It’s over, and you’re alive, son!” We weren’t sure he really heard that for a minute, but then we noticed movement under the covers at the foot of the bed. It looked like one of those trained seals at Sea World moving its flippers. And then we realized, Dane was
clapping with his feet!
Even though he couldn’t speak or respond normally, Dane was applauding, letting us know he was glad he was alive! Tears ran down our faces as we rejoiced with him. And from that praise grew hope, which morphed into encouragement, and then a rallying cry from deep within, “No matter what happened, I’m still alive – I’ll make it!”
If you ever feel discouraged by events beyond your control; if you’re feeling sorry for yourself because things aren’t going as you planned, and you feel your hands are tied, your voice is silent and your eyes tightly shut, just remember: You’re still alive! And if the enemy of your soul tries to tell you there’s nothing you can do, keep this in mind – you can still clap with your feet! Let praise be your avenue to healing and hope; the strength to carry on.