The Orthodox Church offers such wonderful sources of comfort in times of sickness. Yesterday morning, before we left Memphis for the drive to Nashville, we stopped by St. John, our parish, where Father John Troy Mashburn, our pastor, said some prayers for healing and anointed my husband with holy oil, and then gave us some oil to bring on the trip. As we stood in front of the icon of Christ on the solea (the raised area in front of the altar) listening to Father John say the prayers, I had a moment of dejavu—of remembering a similar scenario seven and a half years ago, just before my surgery for cancer. It was just before my 50th birthday. I was so afraid, until Father John said those prayers and anointed me with oil and told me everything would be all right. And it was.
So, he said those same words yesterday, just a few days before my huband’s 60th birthday, and then we drove to Nashville for his surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
What a beautiful day… we arrived in time to eat lunch on the outdoor patio at my favorite place in Hillsboro Village—Jackson’s Bistro. Then we headed to the medical center for an afternoon of appointments with anesthesiologists, nurses, and doctors for all the pre-op stuff, which was over by 5 p.m.
Just in time for a lovely evening with Father Basil’s first cousin, Ben Benoit and his wife Betty, who live in Nashville. They took us to an old Nashville restaurant, Jimmy Kelly’s, which was just a few blocks from our hotel.
It’s inside an old Victorian house… great atmosphere, delicious food (the cousins both had a rack of lamb… a nod to their New England roots—their grandparents were from Concord, Massachusetts) and we shared a couple of bottles of really good red wine and lots of memories and laughs. Betty’s an officer at bank, so we talked about how to fix the nation’s financial crisis… for about 2 minutes. Ben’s an entrepreneur… always cooking up marketing schemes for folks and we talked about writing books, designing web sites and other fun left brain stuff.
By 9 or 9:30 we were back at our hotel and on our way to sleepy time. [Note to self: always drink red wine the night before surgery.]
We arrived at Vanderbilt at 7 a.m. where more really smart, really compassionate people continued the admission process, and by 10:30 a.m. he was on his way to the operating room and I was on my way down 21st Avenue looking for a coffee shop with wi-fi. What a beautiful day! As I walked I prayed, “Holy Mother of God, protect my husband.” My anxiety from the day before was considerably lessened, and I found a place to enjoy the sunshine with a latte just down the street from the hospital—Bruegger’s Coffee shop with free wi fi. and a great view of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop which I managed to avoid, by the hardest.
So you’re thinking, your husband is in surgery and you’re at a coffee shop on the internet? Well, yes. But I can quit any time I want to. I just don’t want to, okay? And besides, what else could I be doing for 2 ½ hours? The surgery waiting room is no place to spend a beautiful fall day… and the nurse had my cell phone if they needed me. I got back thirty minutes before the surgeon came out to tell me the good news—everything went fine and we can go home tomorrow (Thursday) morning. So I call Father John Troy to tell him and he’s not surprised. Didn’t he tell me everything would be okay? He’s quick to add that it’s not his doing, but the prayers of the Mother of God.
Now my prayers are just thank you thank you thank you… like Anne Lamott says—she only has two prayers, help me help me help me and thank you thank you thank you. Keep it simple.
Now for those inquiring minds who have been patiently waiting all this time for some juicy medical information, here it comes. My husband’s procedure is called laparoscopic fundoplication. Here’s a site with good information and drawings about and here’s a site with an animated video, on the bottom right of the page.
So, now we’re looking at 2-3 days of a liquid diet and then 4-6 weeks of a “soft” diet… he’ll probably lose 10 pounds and I’ll gain it, if we have milk shakes and creamy soups every day! Anyone with recipes for low-fat creamy things, please send them my way! I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of business at Sean’s Deli on Union … best smoothies in the world. #8 is best—Mango—32 ounces but only 365 calories, no fat, and 5 servings of fruit. Sounds like a staple lunch for the next few weeks…
I’ve been back at the hospital for a few hours and just now returning to the coffee shop for a salad and to post this report before heading back to our room for the night.
Dr. Holzman came into the waiting room to tell me the surgery was successful, thank God, and that he’d be in recover for a couple of hours. While I was waiting for him to wake up, another of those wonderful Orthodox blessings just came our way… Father Stephen Rogers, pastor at St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin (near Nashville) came to the hospital this afternoon and kept me company in the waiting room for a while. Then when Fr Basil woke up we both went back to see him together and he said a beautiful prayer with us… part of it was asking God to give him “patience for his healing” … which was such a good reminder to both of us to accept whatever that healing process is going to look like.
It’s 5:30 p.m. and the patient is in a bit of discomfort, swallowing is difficult, but no intense pain. Dr. Holzman will be by to see him again in a little while, so I don’t want to be gone too long. I’ll post again on Friday. For now, I give thanks for the Protection of the Mother of God, and for all our friends and family who are praying for us, calling, emailing, and just showing how much you care. Much love to all.