Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Holiday to Remember......

<Warning--- this is a bit wordy and personal so read at your own risk....>

It all started on a chilly Thanksgiving morning when I decided to make my super delicious chocolate chunk banana muffins.  And even though I know how this all transpired a month later, I would do it all again - well...  maybe!!

What I didn't tell you when I posted that recipe, is that I had a minor calamity that day.  No cook wants to admit that they had an accident in the kitchen, but I did.  At the time it seemed like no big deal.  The muffins were beautifully cooked and I was taking them out of the oven.  Then my quiet smugness at this success turned quickly to agony as the potholder that I thought was firmly around the muffin tin slipped.  In a nanosecond I had to make a decision that was barely a conscious one.  Do I drop the muffins to the floor and watch that perfectly melted chocolate chunk that adorned the top of each one leave its imprint on the kitchen floor, or do I become the hero and sacrifice a finger to rescue them??  Clearly I didn't think that all through as there was no time, but I did brace the pan against my left index finger and  rapidly and deftly maneuvered it to the counter.  Mere seconds passed and I felt so successful - that is until the pain in my finger consumed every fiber of my being. OUCH!! That was one nasty burn and I instantly had a good sized white blister that felt like my badge of courage for the day. Cleaned things up, put a bandage on and as the day went on the minor catastrophe dimmed.......for a short while....

Days later I presented at the urgent care with a rather nasty infected finger.  Darn it all -  the funny thing was that even the doctor said she would have saved the muffins.  I felt vindicated but still foolish that now I had a bothersome problem.  The infection turned bad and required two courses of antibiotics. Still no big deal, just a nuisance - right??  Oh how I wish.  During this time I was planning to go on a cruise with friends to the Bahamas over the new year. We were to fly to New York Christmas night, have a few days there to experience the beauty of the holiday, and then board the ship and be on the water for seven days. I was so excited. I have only been on one cruise, but I LOVE them! So I am still thinking at this point - no problem. It's a silly burn.

Ummmm...not so silly.  A week before I was set to take off on this adventure, I had to cancel all plans. :(  <insert sobbing and a mild temper tantrum>.  I was not happy but the antibiotics were not playing nice and my doctor said I should not leave the country . Well pooh.  So I was grounded and alone as everyone else had made holiday plans. Well, fine.  I would use the time to catch up on the house, clean my office, do some crafting - no worries.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it??   Well that game plan was about to be abandoned as well.  Will spare you the gory details, but Christmas eve found me en route to the emergency room and just about midnight I was admitted to the hospital. I remember crying thinking "I can't spend Christmas day in the hospital!!"  Yes, I was a bit of a baby about it.  I was so not happy.  But even then I thought I would get things under control and be out in a few days as my daughter and two granddaughters were coming to visit and I had so much planned to do with them - a whole five days of enjoying them.  I was beyond excited.  But that plan was squashed as well as I spent the next TWELVE days in the hospital, primarily savoring ice chips on a good day, underwent surgery, and came home finally last Sunday night.  Luckily I have been a volunteer there for many years as well as a patient so I know a lot of the staff. That made it a tiny bit better, but it was so not how I ever imagined I would spend the holiday.

I suppose there is a lesson in all of this as I now have been home for five days laying low and trying to get my strength back, but I am still searching for that lesson.  Maybe it is as simple as no matter how much control we think we have over our lives, we are clearly not the ones with the master plan.  Do I understand why all of this happened?  No - no clue.  But can you imagine if I had been on a cruise ship thousands of miles away from civilization and needed medical attention??  OMG....... talk about a nightmare.  So I find myself full of gratitude that I paid attention to the roadblocks carefully placed in front of me and was able to get the care I needed in a safe environment.  I am grateful to family and friends who held my hand when I was scared and made me laugh when that was the last thing I felt like doing.  I watched the true spirit of Christmas as nurses and doctors cared for the sick, never complaining, always trying to make each patient feel comfortable and well.  I saw families pull together in hospital rooms and hallways bringing cheer to all they encountered.  I felt blessed, and loved and cared for every minute of the day.  

Is it how I would have chosen to spend this holiday season? Certainly not.  But it taught me so much that I would not have learned otherwise - submission, humility, gratitude... how to find peace in the midst of adversity and strife; how to be thankful for every single minute of every day; how something as simple as a smile or a kind word can make all of the difference in someone's life.  Each person I encountered while there was put in  my life for a reason.  I laughed, I cried, I prayed, I got angry, I felt helpless and hopeless, and then felt full of belief wrapped in the safety of prayers that embraced me from so many of you.  Sometimes people say they are praying for you and you never really know - but I truly felt the power of all of them because they lifted me up and carried me through the times I felt the weakest.

I hope none of you ever has to spend a Christmas or any special time in a hospital or away from family and friends.  But if you do, I hope you have a chance to open your eyes a little wider and see all of the blessings that will be there for you.

I look forward to cooking and crafting again soon and sharing a lot of fun with you in the year to come. Thank you for joining me on this journey called life.......
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