As you will find, it is not enough to survive death. The Lord, you, your family and your rescuers did an awesome job of getting you to the point of navigating your solution. Continuing to survive and not fall victim to your event is going to be arduous and require intentional effort.
As a forewarning, recovery can take a lot more effort than you would initially anticipate. Personally, I had to somehow make sense of the physical as well as the emotional ramifications of being a 21-year-old in a hospital bed. Being in the same bed, getting my blood drawn multiple times a day (those with a fear of needles and blood will understand), and having to see everyone around me worried and just as unsure as I was . . . it was easy to allow myself to become a victim rather than a survivor.
It is completely understandable to get discouraged, and for many the entire grief cycle will need to be navigated and re-navigated. A really good analogy for grief is comparing it to a big, slobbery dog:
Imagine having a big, slobbery dog as a pet. Sometimes he will be in your face making a mess commanding your full attention, other times he will be asleep on the floor just within sight and at times he will be in the back yard. On the days he is in your back yard, you might even forget all about him. The first day you bring the dog home, you will not know what to do at all. Sometimes it takes weeks of socializing him before you can bring polite company over, and no matter how well behaved he may be . . . you still have a big, slobbery dog in your house. The name of that dog is Grief.
I imagine my Grief as a Great Dane because it matches my level of coordination and lankiness. Physical recovery can vary depending on your solution and your situation.
Emotional recovery can vary just as much. So for the times your blood is getting drawn, the times where the doctors use the word idiopathic, for those times where your recovery makes you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to just be taken, and for the times your big, slobbery dog is not the pet you asked for, here are the things that helped me the most.
On my very first plane ride I had a woman and her daughter ask me about my additional screening due to my ICD. It was the very first time I had shared my story. I told her I was going to Florida to share it at the ECCU (Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update) and she gave me this slip of paper at the baggage claim in Orlando. To this day I wish I had asked for her name so I could thank her. Thank her for allowing God to use her to give me the strength and courage to continue sharing my story in hopes of helping other people in need of a reminder. A reminder that God still works miracles, that He is still present in the lives of His people and that He reigns holy, holy.
- Remember the verse from Isaiah 41:13. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” The Lord is a great and powerful Father. Remember when you were in elementary school and everything was repetition? That was because repetition is one of the greatest teaching tools for children. As a child of God, He used the repetition of this verse from my ambulance ride, to my nurse in the first hospital, to the second, the third and even the first time I shared my story with a stranger on at an airport.
- Find your solace in the people around you. The people nearest your hospital bed are the same people who can afford you strength, courage, hope and in times of need, a reason to keep going.
- Enjoy the small victories. For me this meant forgetting everything bad in the world the day they said I could have stuffed crust pizza. Feeling like a superstar getting to shower after a week of just using wet wipes. Feeling as independent as the day I turned 16 and got my driver’s license when I got to close the door completely as I went to the restroom. All victories should be celebrated. I promise it will help.
- Realizing that this big, slobbery dog is not just an imposing pet, but a source of great strength. He also protects you, empowers you and helps you to grow in ways you could never imagine. Ask any survivor and they will share with you a story of adversarial growth. Check out the links ~> Adversity — Adversity Cont. — Resilience
- Enjoy being a survivor. Initially this will sound silly, but once you turn your fear into your strength nothing can stop you. The worst life can throw at you is death and you have kicked that. You have purpose and you have life.
- Humor, humor, humor! Laughter is the best holistic medicine around, provided you don’t have broken/bruised ribs from when they did CPR.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for surviving or being a part of someone else’s survival. It is a great blessing that I get to share my story and perspective. Have a blessed day!
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Next Blog: ‘Feeling the Lump’