Excuse me while I use this blog for a moment to record and reflect on a small step in my personal world today.
Two years and five weeks ago, I ate my last normal meal while laying on a hospital bed. About five hours after I put down my supper fork, I had the crippling stroke that has changed my life. Melanie was at the bedside. My first words to her were, “I can’t swallow.”
One week later a feeding tube was punctured into my stomach. For a year and a half, my nutrition was poured into that tube. Last summer, Melanie cautiously migrated me to drinking the nutritional shakes by mouth. She also tried out Jello and flan and soups as semi-solid foods for me to try to swallow. Where liquid could be poured into me in about 15 minutes, trying to teach my tongue and throat to swallow again came slowly, using a large tablespoon. Even when I managed not to choke, mealtime was an ordeal lasting an hour and a half, three times a day.
Lately, I sometimes go entire days without choking or gagging on the food. It’s progress.
Today Melanie laid something new before me: a slice of quiche. And, for the first time in two years, I once again used a fork.
Not too neatly. My hands are still only partly obedient to me. And I could only manage very small bites. But I did finish an entire slice that included some spinach Melanie grew in her garden.
The doctor has agreed to finally remove the feeding tube next month. I don’t look forward to any return to the hospital. But that’s the trade off to get it off.
I can pray quickly but these changes have come slowly, by my timetable. I have wondered why plenty of times.
So perhaps it is no coincidence what happened with one visitor who dropped by the house this morning. This friend had run an errand for us and stayed to chat. He mentioned that his agenda that day included a phone call his son in college had scheduled with him.
“He’s never done that,” said my friend, a bit nervous about whatever it was his son wanted to discuss.
There was time before my friend needed to leave to receive his son’s phone call in private. I suggested we pray. My speaking voice was also severely damaged by the stroke, but I made the effort to say a few words to our Father in Heaven on behalf of my friend and his son. Then my friend was on his way.
After he left, a thought returned to my mind that has showed up a few times.
This brief opportunity to pray with a friend came about only because I was at home, with little chance to be anywhere else or do anything else. Whether I liked the way it happened or not, God had arranged my availability for even this fleeting moment with a friend who was holding his breath, wondering what was coming in the next hour. I could believe God had not wasted the moment, however unexpected to His servants, as they came up to another fork in the road.