I marvel at how authors reflect what I am feeling, often reminding me of important life lessons; each of us is on a personal journey, but we are often connected by a common theme. I have taken great comfort in sharing Elizabeth's experience with you because it allows me to express our feelings as well as keep her family and friends around the world in the loop; this blog has allowed us to be transparent about her health and has kept us connected to others, and yet, this journey has also been one uniquely our own. There have been quiet moments. There have been tense moments. There have been anxious moments. There have been angry moments. There have been thankful moments.
One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou wrote, "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently." She does not define courage for us, but she reminds us of how centered it allows us to be. Elizabeth has certainly shown courage over the past few weeks, but others in this hospital and in our own circle of family and friends are as well: the friend whose father is fighting for his life, the neighbor who is a breast cancer survivor, the teacher who taught my child to write beautifully fighting pancreatic cancer, the dear friend living with her three children two states away from her husband because of their work and life circumstances, the sister diagnosed with Chron's disease, and other family members and friends with their own personal struggles. Each of these people and each of you is courageous. Each of you.
It occurred to me tonight as Brian and I slipped away for supper that maybe I haven't given you a full picture of our story. Earlier, I posted several pictures of Elizabeth from this afternoon. These pictures show her Facetiming with one of her best friends, posing with a Danish flag, and a few others. One might look at these pictures and have the sense that everything is "hunky-dory." I certainly don't want to give the Leave it to Beaver feeling despite how I feel about the Cleavers. The past few weeks have been filled with great fear. We have had our arguments rooted in anxiety. While we have been brave and confident in our plan of action, things have also not always been gone as planned.
Shortly after posting those pictures, Elizabeth's head began hurting - badly. Her pain medication had worn off, and the tight turban she is wearing to keep the swelling down began pinching her ears. Almost immediately, the smiling young woman from the pictures melted into the young child I remember needing comforting when she fell or had her feelings hurt. Grabbing her ears and pulling at the turban, Brian and I stood frozen for a moment not knowing how to help. Fortunately, nurses have a sixth sense (or great hearing), and Elizabeth's nurse was in the doorway checking to see how things were. She was able to cut the turban a bit to relieve the pressure. She was also able to administer two oxycodone and Tylenol to kill the pain. This was a not so gentle reminder that Elizabeth's recovery is not going to be immediate.
Earlier today, Elizabeth had all of the wires and monitors removed and she was moved to the top floor of the hospital. Out of ICU, we are relieved at how great she is healing, and yet, the incredible pain she felt reminded us that she is not Wonder Woman; although we believe she can do anything at this point, she is still a vulnerable young woman. Her courage has been great, but that courage has had its ups and downs just as everyone else's. Tomorrow, though, is another day, a brighter day, and we are one step further into this journey.