Sunday, March 2, 2014

You'll never find rainbows if you are looking down, or will you?

"You'll never find rainbows if you're looking down." I love this quote from Charlie Chaplin.  But today, this past week, and in the past two weeks, I have found a different meaning to these words.

Why? My husband is an automotive research engineer and I am a high school principal.  Some days we see some of each others, and others, hardly any. But at 36 years of marriage, we have fulfilling lives and careers and each exercise regularly.  We are still madly in love,  love our family,  and by all undeniably  external indicators, young for our age, in body, mind and spirit.

And then two weeks ago, without warning, in one day, the retina in my husband's right eye, detached, a large tear.  Emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day, and our difficult odyssey began.

Do you know what the recovery regimen after detached retina surgery is?  Certainly we didn't know, and really hadn't even thought about it.  That is the way life is.  One minute we are sailing with positive momentum, certainly grateful and appreciative for our love, family and life, and the other we are drawn into the medical world of unknown ailments, where surgery is performed through a microscope trying to reattach something so delicate and small that it is difficult to conceive.  Its importance-- consequential.  What is the price of sight?

After detached retina surgery, the patient must spend at least 45 minutes of every hour looking down, with only a respite sleeping at night.  Imagine.  My husband spent virtually every waking hour looking down for about 10 days.  In the surgery, the physician repairs the tear with laser surgery and inserts a gas bubble in the eye.  The patient must look down in order to have the gas bubble rise to repair the retina.  Who ever thought of that idea-- whoever it is surely owns his/her own Caribbean island, right? Torturous but certainly worth it to make this surgery successful, for a lack of success means compromised vision.

The surgery was on Valentine's Day and for 10 days he was home most of the time, looking down, not being able to drive or go to work.  We eagerly looked forward to last Monday's appointment to release him back to driving and work.  We had followed every doctor's order; surely success and freedom, a return to normalcy, was imminent.

But right when the surgeon took a look we both knew something was wrong.  Instead of experiencing elation and freedom, we were told fluid was still present, meaning either a hole had been missed in the surgery, or another tear had developed.  We were stunned.  Disappointment would be a euphemism.  After three more appointments last week and having him lie on his side to see if the liquid would cease, we received the devastating news that he must again have emergency eye surgery.  Anticipated elation to nightmare.

With every surgery comes the increased chance of compromised, damaged vision.  How can this be happening?  And so, since Thursday, my dear sweet husband has been sentenced to looking down, but this time it is even worse.  A bigger bubble and a serious second surgery now requires him to look down virtually 24/7 for another 10 days, even while sleeping at night.  Another 10 long days to see if this surgery is successful.  He is eating looking down, sleeping face down, listening to music face down, trying to read face down, with extremely swollen eyes, puffy face, eye discomfort, minute after minute, hour after hour, day in and day out.

Our new existence is tortuous for both of us.  He is sentenced to another 10 days in the house; I worry and come home to fix lunch and put eyedrops in four times a day.  No meals out, no social life, an eerily quiet existence as he often naps, still recuperating from the arduous surgery. Our previous normalcy seems distant.

 But with every storm comes the possibility of a rainbow. How can we see rainbows if we are looking down?  The rainbows are the prayers and positive thoughts of our friends and family.  The rainbows are the home-baked breakfast loaves of bread, the made-from-scratch bean dip, and the humorous and uplifting greeting cards left mysteriously on my desk and chair.

The rainbows are having my daughter Jennifer and her husband Ryan come and visit us Friday, Saturday and again tonight, just spending time as a family.  The rainbows are the gift cards for restaurants, symbols of hope for the future, one given by my entire World Language Department and another by my administrative team.  Rainbows of texts from old friends wanting updates and rainbows are prayer chairs.  Rainbows of homemade chicken noodle soup and deciding to have blueberry waffles for a Sunday lunch.  When and why did we ever get too busy for this scrumptious treat?

And so, in these difficult days of my husband looking down, I find myself longing to see his beautiful hazel eyes, unbruised and unswollen.  To me, that would be a rainbow. And just to correct Charlie Chaplain,  you really CAN find rainbows if you are looking down, thanks to love, good friends, and family.

15 comments:

  1. I love how you took the rainbow quote and applied it to this situation! You and Daddy have certainly taught me to find the rainbows no matter what.

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  2. This gave me chills! You are a beautiful writer. I didn't want your story to end because I was so enthralled by your writing. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. You turned a scary experience into a beautiful story full of hope.

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie, for your very kind words. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and inspiring reply.

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  3. Awe Cathy I love you optimism!!! I hope you continue to find rainbows and your husband continues to heal.

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    1. Lennye,
      Thanks so much for your reply-- thanks for your caring nature.

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  4. I can now totally understand where Jennifer gets some of her "spark". You are a courageous woman. Prayers for complete healing coming your way!

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    1. Thanks so much for your reply and for mentioning the "spark" of our lives-- Jennifer. :)

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  5. I am a firm believer that those who look for rainbows are the ones who find them. I wish you and your husband the rainbows you dream of, even if he has to look down for a bit longer to find them!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kim, for your thoughtful and caring reply. I truly appreciate it.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your story. Your positive perspective is a challenge to me to believe and look for the best in all circumstances. I, too, believe strongly in the power of prayer and I am sure that God will strengthen you both and draw you closer through this difficult ordeal. Prayers for a successful and speedy recovery.

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    1. Thanks so much, Colleen. I so much appreciate your response and for all of your prayers.

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  7. Oh Cathy, this sounds so hard, for both you and your husband! And yet you are continuing to find rainbows and joy! Sending lots of prayers for complete healing!

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    1. Carol,

      I appreciate your reply and for all of your prayers. We need them!

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  8. Jennifer mentioned and even shared a picture last week, & I assumed that all was better by now. I'm so sorry that the first surgery didn't go well. I love your attitude, and personally know that one step, one little hour at a time is a good way to go, and it sounds like your husband is gritty enough to do it! Hugs and more chicken soup for you both! I'll be thinking of you often!

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    1. Linda,
      What a difference a week makes! Thanks so much for your caring and thoughtful response. He loved his chicken soup today!

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