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01 October, 2015

Forever Grateful

It almost feels like we have hit a button to turn on turbo boost as we pull out of the round-a-bout where our forward movement was so slow it felt like were stuck. Now we are whizzing ahead on our road of recovery as Jeff makes great gains.

Five weeks post-surgery the cardiologist found the reason for Jeff’s fevers and lack of forward progress. Pericarditis, indicating the problem lies in the sac surrounding Jeff’s heart. Of course, the pericardium had to be cut in the surgery and early in its recovery it reacted strongly, setting up an intense inflammatory response as part of its efforts to heal. Once the cardiologist identified pericarditis Jeff started taking the prescribed medication to combat the inflammation. Ten days later we assessed his progress.

Fevers gone. Heart rate gradually inching down toward normal. Chills less frequent and only very slight. Stamina gradually increasing. Sleep improving little-by-little. At his cardiac rehabilitation sessions he is able to increase the incline on the treadmill, increase the weight he can lift and his pulse doesn’t rise as high during his monitored workouts. On the days off from rehab Jeff is tolerating walking longer distances without “crashing” when done. Today we made it 3.3 miles as we walked outside, enjoying the fall foliage and bird songs.

Our hearts are full of gratitude. Our minds are amazed as we look back to where Jeff was and see where he is now. Eight weeks ago we were going through the pre-op checklist with a fine-tooth comb to make sure we were doing all that needed to be done before surgery. Today we walked miles outside, enjoying scenery and conversation. We are finally at the point where our every thought, every conversation no longer centers on open heart surgery. Medication isn’t the main intake of the day. Pain no longer governs activity. We are forever grateful.

The anti-inflammatory medication will be a requirement for the next few months. Cardiac rehabilitation will remain on our calendars three times a week for many more weeks. Rest periods will continue to punctuate our days. But our eyes are forward, our gait is picking up, our hearts are lightened and our sites are already set on Uganda and serving with our colleagues (by the end of this year, we hope).

Once again we are thinking about luggage, about parting from family, about ending well, about getting home. A strange mix of looking ahead and glancing back, of being excited to go but dreading separation. All very real as we move forward along our road of recovery. Even so, we are forever grateful to be on this road. Forever grateful we don’t travel alone. Forever grateful.