It’s not very easy for me to get up early in the morning during the winter. I’m talking about 5:30 AM when it’s still dark as night outside. When it is summer it’s not so difficult to do. But I had no choice. I had a doctor’s appointment at 8 AM, at Georgetown University Hospital. It was the earliest availability they had and I had to take it.
A week before, we noticed that the flange we extending out from the tracheostomy tube that holds it with the blue tie collar around my neck had broken, cracked and split down. Although I know that it‘s not going anywhere because a lot of force is required to pull it out, we secured it using mom’s ingenious method of using another tie to hold it in place by inserting a hole in the middle, pushing it through the tube and tying it backwards. Still, even with this makeshift solution, the situation was an emergency that needed to be resolved right away. So when they said that the doctor was available at 8 o’clock in the morning, I took the appointment without hesitation.
Interestingly, this is not the 1st time that the trach broke in this way. It happened last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. I don’t know where they are making these things or what kind of cheapening of materials might be going on. It is even more interesting and completely astounding that each time it breaks is around the 6th month mark when it is due to be changed out the old anyway. It was changed in July and was due to be changed in February.
The night nurse had to help me get ready, and I had to skip some things. By around 6:30 I was in the wheelchair. The day nurse had arrived by that time, having been scheduled to come in early. After a quick breakfast and meds we were on the road at 7. It was raining outside but it was in the upper 40s. I didn’t feel cold at all. Mom was anxious about getting there on time but I felt that we would pull it off. Of course we would. I gave it all to the Immaculata. She would take care of everything. And she did.
As we made our way into DC, there was hardly any major traffic. During the ride I felt that mother Mary was there with me. She brought with her such an overwhelming peace, bestowing it down deep within me. It was the peace of the Risen Lord, calming every possible anxiety. After my dad had dropped off the nurse, mom, and myself at the entrance, we made our trek down the lengthy corridor to the elevator. It was around 8:15 AM when we stepped into the doctor’s office. Because I was the very 1st 1st patient that morning, I was seen immediately.
I have observed that the apprehension that comes with thinking about the procedure before it actually takes place is where the pain is. It is a shadow, it is an illusion, the anticipation of something that is not actually as scary as I might think it is. This is why it is so very important to practice living in the present moment. The sense of peace, which I experienced in spite of myself, is what kept me grounded in the present was an assurance that all things with be well. The Lord of Hosts is with me, a Mighty Stronghold surrounding me, why should I be afraid?
My doctor, a very good pulmonologist and professor at Georgetown asked me how I was doing. And then, before I knew it, and in the blink of an eye (metaphorically speaking, even though it was pretty fast!) the doctor and pulled out the old tracheostomy tube and pushed in the new one. There was very minimal pain that lasted for a few seconds. And there was no blood at all, my white T-shirt having been spared. Everything went so quickly… The doctor jokingly compared it to a pitstop and asked if I needed my tires changed!
The biggest pain is that which we imagine it to be. There was absolutely nothing to fear. There never is. With Jesus and Mary at your side, tensions are reduced. And there was a little bit of that during our trip to the hospital so early in the morning. When we arrived, we were right in front of the chapel. I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered that he was in the Tabernacle looking at me.
If anyone reading this is facing a threatening situation or procedure, please know of my prayers among with those of other readers. I encourage you to try to take one moment at a time so as not to suffer unnecessarily, in advance. You will find that you will conquer. Place everything in the hands of Jesus through Mary––every anxiety, worry, pain, and sorrow, yes, but every blessing, joy, and consolation as well. If I have learned anything, (and I have learned quite a few things in my life) it is this: you will never regret throwing yourself with complete and reckless abandon into the arms of Jesus and Mary––give them everything, absolutely everything, holding nothing back! There is nothing else to do. What is necessary is acceptance, with the trust that Jesus and Mary are never outdone in generosity. We will find peace and rest for our souls, even though outcomes might not be like we imagined. The Lord knows what he is about.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
St. Bernadette, pray for us!