Tim McGraw says he is going to live like he is dying in his 2004 hit song. We have all heard, “We should live every day as though it were our last.” Unless you are one who has been given a certain amount of days until your death, you are probably like me and cannot even begin to imagine what you would do if you knew you were living your last week, your last weekend, your last day. I know we would answer the question of, “What would you do if you knew it was your last week to live?” with, “I would spend time with my family.” “Tell everyone how much I love them.” But, I am going to be real here. While I would want to do those things, I would also want to clean out my closets, make sure anything that could embarrass me or show some unknown side of me was disposed of, clean my bathrooms so people coming over after my death did not think I was nasty, and give everyone very specific directions of what to do because, I mean, I still want to be in control, even after I am gone.
My point is, unless we have ever experienced nearly loosing our life, it is difficult, if not impossible, for our minds to even begin to fathom what we would truly do if we found ourselves living our very own count down.
I have been on a count down that I do understand. I have been saying this is my last week of… this is my last weekend of… this is my last Monday of… I am currently on my last day of walking with my God given left ankle, and on my last day of walking for several weeks. I am beyond blessed that God has been gracious enough to allow me to walk nearly fourteen years on a leg that many medical professionals said I would never walk on again. However, the pain has grown stronger than my pain pills and my ankle is too often refusing to support me. In God’s continued grace, there is now an option of a procedure that was not practiced in the United States fourteen years ago. Arthroplasty, ankle; with implant (total ankle). At least that is what my pre-op paperwork says we are doing. While this is not a procedure often done on younger individuals, and yes 40 is still considered young in this case, a very experienced Orthopedic Surgeon who was actually one of my original surgeons following my accident, told me in December we could try the procedure if the plastic surgeon approved us cutting into my soft tissue damage. Borrowing from the words of Boys to Men, my ankle “has come to the end of the road.” The plastic surgeon agreed to assist in the procedure and feels confident my skin grafts, muscle graft, and soft tissue (again, whatever that means) will be able to heal. So trusting Duke University Hospital, my team of surgeons, the all important anesthesiologists, and God; I am having operation number 18 on a leg and foot that only by the grace of God was not thrown into the trash can fourteen years ago.
I would be lying to say I am not anxious. Spending even one day unable to walk petrifies me and floods my mind with unwanted memories and emotions of fear. But… my office is the cleanest it has ever been, I have left my co-counselor detailed instructions so that I still feel some control (you are welcome, Latrieva), and I have given those closest to me at work tissues to dry their tears of surviving weeks without me. I have cleaned out two closets and finally packed away the Christmas decorations that were in the corner of the garage. My guest bed that will be occupied by my mother for a couple weeks, has a new mattress cover and freshly washed sheets. And before I go to bed, my bathrooms, along with baseboards, will be scrubbed. Disclaimer: if anyone comes to visit me and my house is not clean, it is totally Jason’s fault! I am leaving it clean!
Tonight, my last night, I am walking! I am pushing through pain in a gym class. I am spending at least an hour on the elliptical. I am taking Gracie for a walk around the neighborhood. I am walking. I am walking. I am walking. I will keep telling my anxiety and fears, “God has brought me this far. God has always been better to me than I deserve. Nothing can happen that God and I cannot handle.” Tonight, my last night, I am giving God praise for every step He has allowed me to take over the past fourteen years. I am thanking God that His grace is more than my salvation. His grace is my survival.