Blank space. Lots of blank space. An empty glass of egg nog (the good kind) and an empty Word document…Where to start….. It’s time to write this year’s Christmas letter. It’s one of my favorite parts of the season! But I’m not feeling it yet.
I start by reviewing last year’s Christmas letter. I feel like this year didn’t happen. We are right back where we were last year – preparing for a major surgery for Cooper. Is this it the rest of our lives? Will we be continually preparing for the next big surgery? (Catch up on how this is Groundhog Day on Cooper’s Caring Bridge site, look for June 3rd’s post titled Curveball. But the Cliff’s Notes version is this – Cooper was supposed to have hips, legs and ankles surgeries last summer. We got to the hospital and found he had the beginning of spinal cord damage, so the surgery plan switched to spinal decompression surgery. Now this summer is approaching and we’re “back to the future” preparing for the surgery we were supposed to have last year.)
I tell ya what, I’m ready for it. Well, I don’t think I’ll ever be READY for it, but I know it needs to happen.
Cooper and Campbell are taking ice skating lessons. If you hear Cooper talk about it, he calls it “training”. Ya know, because this kid has NHL (National Hockey League) written in his heart. Lessons are 30 minutes, once a week. Campbell is doing really well, loving it and ready for more advanced lessons, hockey pads and a stick. Sweet Cooper is having trouble. His knock-kneed stance, incomplete hip structure, misshapen spine and large chest cavity prove to be hard to accommodate on ice skates. Getting up from the ice by himself is near impossible. He can do the move on the living room rug, but can’t get it to work on the ice. Tonight was the first night he repeatedly fell to the ice on purpose, just to rest his legs. The instructors offered to help him up, but he chose to sit there for a long while. My heart broke. He’s been able to overcome, or we’ve been able to accommodate, everything so far, but not here. Not yet.
So my heart knows this next surgery, to correct Cooper’s hip shelves and align his knees and ankles, is a necessity to give him the mobility this active kid desires.
I have so much anxiety about the whole damn thing. And again, it’s right where I was last year. At least I have one out of state surgery under my belt from our adventure this summer. I know the hospital and when the cafeteria closes. I know where to order the good Italian food from. I know a Wilmington Blue Rocks baseball game will cheer us all up. I know to keep track of the pain meds as close or closer than the nurses do, because they are very busy and Coop isn’t necessarily their number one priority. I know not to buy plane tickets for the trip home until we know when we’ll be able and comfortable to fly. I wish I could say I knew where to stay. The condo we called home last year has had management changes and is no longer doing short term leases. So I’m on the hunt for a new place to stay near the hospital. Must have full kitchen and ample space to accommodate the family, two of us who will bring work along. Must have exercise facilities. Must be wheelchair accessible. That doesn’t seem too overwhelming. Why can’t I get over it?
I think the unknown part of recovery still has me on edge. True, we’ve done recovery with a neck brace, but Cooper was playing mini golf eight days after surgery! Time to do recovery in a body cast this time. The travel will be challenging. Cooper’s seven weeks in a body cast will be the most challenging. But we have such great support, family and friends who would stand on their heads to entertain Cooper if I asked them.
I’m coming to the realization that I need to hand this preparation anxiety over to God and let my heart rest. That’s hard for me to do. I have too many spreadsheets and checklists and where does God fit in? I can pick up planning again in February and do the leg work, but I need the rest. I need the happy elf-like Chris full of Christmas spirit and optimism to show up and write my Christmas letter. She’s around here somewhere…..
Thankfully my friend Amber’s elf provided inspiration for our elf’s toilet paper snowflakes tomfoolery tonight.