09 April 2017

Flip and float

To prevent toddlers from drowning, swim instructors often teach youngsters to "flip and float": get access to air and save one's energy until help arrives.

It's a powerful life-saving strategy.  It also might best describe the way I've approached life these last 8 weeks since Bennett's surgery.

When we got home from surgery in February, I tried to keep up with life as usual, despite that Bennett now had a colostomy and would be out of school for 2 months.  "Just keep swimming" I told myself.

But over time, I began to realize I just couldn't keep up.  In addition to it all, Brian's job has been very demanding making it hard for him to be able to help.

Several weeks ago, as I felt life was coming to a roaring crest and my effort to swim against the tide was much too weak, I decided to flip and float.

No more swimming against my life.  No more trying to go the opposite direction of where life is taking me.  "If life has me herehere I will be," I decided.

I started reorganizing my life...identifying my priorities...refocusing my time, resources and efforts. What has to get done right now? What can wait until tomorrow or next month or next year?  

For the past 8 weeks, lunch dates and replies to emails have had to wait.  It's been easy to feel like I'm not a good friend.

Work I have passionately participated in has had go without a leader.  It's been easy to feel like I'm not a good co-worker.

Fundraising for Bennett's Walk has gone very quiet. It's easy to feel I'm not a good CF mom.

I recently turned down a really exciting speaking opportunity this summer.  And I decided not to attend the CF Foundation's annual Volunteer Leadership Conference this weekend, even as it was only 2 hours away from my home.  These decisions were hard.  I shed tears over the changes I have had to make.  But I knew I needed to significantly slow down.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by what I'm not doing because I'm buried by life.  And yet, I have found that "flip and float" has helped me concentrate on one single goal: keeping access to air and saving my energy until things calm down.

I have worked to forgive myself for not being all things to all people.  I have trusted my friends know I'm buried and I'll come back just as soon as I can.  I trust my co-workers in the projects I'm involved in understand my passion is still there but my time is more limited.  I trust that Bennett's Brigade, all the people who love Bennett and our family and who have supported us in finding a cure in the past will understand why I'm quiet and will carry the energy forward even in our absence.

What I know I am doing is taking care of my kiddos, educating my son, taking care of his colostomy, giving him breathing treatments and tube feeds, taking him to doctors appointments, making sure my kids are fed, tending to my home, nurturing my marriage, getting appropriate amounts of sleep and giving myself breaks.

These last two months have tested my coping skills.  At times when the future has felt daunting, I have focused on the present week, or on the present day, or in the present hour, or even in the present minute... each time reminding myself not "just keep swimming" but "just keep floating. I'm ok."

Bennett is scheduled for surgery next Thursday morning at Children's Medical Center in Dallas for his colostomy reversal.  He is expected to be in the hospital through Easter weekend.

We hope that once he returns home, he will be able to get back to school and our life will slowly return back to a pre-surgery normal.  At some point, I hope to swim a little faster.  The world feels much too exciting to just float.

But, although I'm floating on my back right now, I don't feel in crisis.  Instead, I feel quite peaceful.

The thing is, when you're stuck floating on your back, you begin to notice new things: like blue skies and white clouds and a warm yellow sun.  Who knows, maybe I will choose to stay here for a little while longer...

1 comment :

  1. Hugs! I'm glad you are finding a way to say no and slow down. I hope his next surgery goes really well


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