Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Open Heart Surgery

Did I mention to any of you that awaiting my cornea transplant is forcing me to withstand 90 days of 'emotional' open heart surgery?  The waiting is stretching me and I've had some tough days.  Due to a setback several weeks ago, my surgery has been postponed from January 16th to March 27th.  

There are tons of positives with the date change...more predictable weather for driving to follow up appointments, more time to prepare my house, make meals in advance, organize 'to do' lists for the kids...blah, blah, blah.   However, there is one huge glaring negative, I can't see and I'm tired of pretending that it doesn't faze me.  It does, and I'm sick of it.  The only thing I hate more than not being able to see, is hearing myself complain about it.

Here's where the 'emotional'  open heart surgery comes in...
back in 2004, Scott and I ran the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.  I hate running. I've run a marathon, a half marathon and a variety of 5k and 10k races....I've hated running every single one....I'm in it for the socializing.  Some runners (most!) are interested in their time, their form and their hydration.  I'm interested in the people and their stories.  I can't stand to run alone and my favorite thing to do is to run alongside strangers and get to know them.

On Mother's Day of 2004, as we huddled in our stall stretching and pinning on our bib numbers, I asked my dear husband to make me a promise.  I asked that no matter how much I complained or whined or cajoled, that he please not run ahead without me during the race.
Please don't leave me, I begged, no matter how mean I get or how many times I tell you I  can go it alone - I won't mean it.
With a quick kiss to seal the deal and an adrenaline rush as the starting gun sounded, we set out 
shoulder to shoulder awash in a sea of 35,000 runners.

Ordinarily, I would never make a request like that, but on that day I was feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead.  It was as if my words were giving a warning like a canary in a coal mine about what was yet to come.  They were prophetic and as the race got underway with temps soaring 10-15 degrees above normal, I began to get feisty.  At mile 5, I started mentioning that the run was harder than I thought it would be.  I began to complain and by mile 8 I insisted on adding walking breaks every few blocks.  Scott remained the steadfast optimist and encouraged me to celebrate how far I had come and to keep drinking water.

It felt as though someone had kicked on a furnace as we entered the stadium surrounding the Indy 500 Speedway.  I began to encourage Scott to run ahead as we took the black asphalt track that forced us to run on a slant. To Nascar and Daytona 500 fans, the track was like being granted access to Mecca. I felt like I was in Hell.  The heat was oppressive and I was fading fast.  We exited the raceway and followed the course back towards the city center.

I was fried.  I felt overwhelmed by the heat, the run and the fear that I was holding Scott back from reaching a PR. (Personal Record). Again I began begging him to run ahead.  He refused and began the familiar routine of trying to distract me with conversations about our kids or our post-race plans.

As mile 12 loomed ahead in the 13.1 mile race, I was done.  In tears, I begged him to run ahead and to leave me alone in my misery.  Then I got mean...have you ever heard of women in labor saying mean things?  I had a really fast delivery with all three of our kids and never had time to say mean things.  I save my outbursts for running in the heat at mile 12.  Rational thinking  had left me and I was mad.  I was yelling about what a dumb idea the race was, why anyone in the history of mankind ever thought of racing, how angry I was at Scott for taking my pre-race pact so seriously....you name it, I ranted about it.

As I was yelling, my husband had me do an amazing thing.  He bantered with me and he kept me moving.  My anger, pain, fatigue, heat stroke, irrational behavior pushed me across the finish line and at the end, it felt amazing.

That race has become symbolic for us in our marriage.  There are many times when I've felt overwhelmed by life and I have to fight the desire to go it alone.  Yet if I can muster the courage to whisper in Scott's ear, "no matter what I say, please don't run ahead"- it elicits a connection and he can tell instantly what I'm anticipating. He can see through my bravado and he knows without fail that I need him more than ever.

As March 27th closes in, I am blessed beyond measure by the number of friends and family praying for me.  I'm not good at accepting help, but I have no choice.  As I expose my open heart to you with these words, please lean in close as I whisper in your ear, "no matter what I say, please don't run ahead."

"The more we surrender to God, the greater our ability to SEE His hand in our life." ~ anonymous 


  1. Emily... We are all running right along beside you... The wait has to be agonizing. You have to believe that it is God's way of getting you ready. Stay strong and know that we are all with you... Love you, Sherrie

  2. Emily, Stay strong and lean on all your friends and family that won't "run ahead." I love this story and the strength it shows for your marriage and the unspoken pact you continue to have. I pray that this waiting time will fly by and that you will SEE everyday that God is in control. Love you!
    P.S. I noticed you wrote this post at 1:09AM.....get some rest!!! Hugs!! Beth Manzella

    1. Emily, we may not be able to fix the challenges that you are going through but we can at least make sure you don't have to face the challenges alone; with that being said we are running right along beside/with you! You have been in our thoughts & if its the thoughts that counts then we have been doing a lot of counting as you are important to us and we love you. Prayer makes the impossible... possible & you are in our prayers! With love & care, Maryellen & Bob xoxo