Life, they say, is full of surprises.
Oh boy, is that the understatement of the year… especially this year with all the lifestyle changes brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic: sanitizing everything, mask wearing, business closures, and Zoom gatherings with our loved ones. Not to mention the unprecedented wildfires we had in the PNW with evacuations, and homes lost to fire damage. And to cap it off, a crazy election where we could plainly see the great divide within our nation.
I’ll bet most of us have felt disconnected over this last year in more ways than ever before.
But, during all this, we move through our day-to-day the best we can, and life proceeds with it’s normal rhythm.
Until it doesn’t.
On the third of December, just after finishing with my morning patients, I had a stroke.
In an instant my left side went flaccid, and I was slurring my speech.
But this isn’t a “woe is me” story. In fact, I was surprisingly unafraid during the whole event. Instead, I was fascinated, and found myself providing commentary on the whole thing. “Look, my leg just slid off the table! Now my arm! Wow, I’m slurring my speech, do you hear that!?
Then, incredibly, a minute or two later my left side seemed to reconnect, and I regained control of that side of my body again. More commenting again with sheer fascination, “Hey, look! I’m reconnected already!”
It was while I was at the hospital that I began learning about connection though. I was really just partially reconnected: my L arm and leg were weak, I was numb, and I’d lost my peripheral vision. As I lay there in the ER, the magnitude of the event began to kick in, and I had a sense of fear and sadness and loss.
From that moment ‘till now – more than three weeks later – has been a lesson in patience, with new “surprises” every day, new challenges to rise to, and gradual healing. But that same time-span has also brought lessons in what is the most important thing in my life.
Connection. Full stop.
I cried with happiness and sadness when I saw my wife at the ER. Same thing when I spoke with my children. And with my siblings, and parents. And friends. During each call I could feel, stronger than ever before, the importance of all of my loved ones in my life. And I could feel the preciousness of those connections.
Then the flowers started coming. And sweet gifts of food. And cards, and phone calls, and assistance with errands. Never before had I experienced such an outpouring of love and concern. And never before had I felt such a sense of gratitude.
So, disconnection between my brain and my body really did teach me about the power of connection in my life.
My hope for you this holiday season is that you nurture the bonds of all your loving connections.
I’m so grateful that you’ve entrusted me with your care when you were having difficulties in your life. And I cherish the connection I’ve made with each and every one of you.
Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021.