Guest Post by Mim Jacobson

Today is June 24, 2021. It is two weeks ago today that I had the second of my two surgeries within one week. The first was Sunday, June 6, an emergency appendectomy that began with a slight fever about 3:00 a.m. I took Tylenol and set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. to make asparagus strata that needed to be refrigerated for several hours. We planned on having a friend over for brunch and Marian would pick her up after playing organ at the Presbyterian church. After Marian left for church I began to have chills and was shaking so much I could hardly take my temp – it was somewhere between 101 – 103, so I took Tylenol, put on a jacket and blanket, and finally fell asleep. I left a message on Marian’s cell phone that she should come home right after church and not go to pick up our friend for brunch as planned. By noon we were on our way to the ER for my first visit ever as a patient. They confirmed what I suspected (I’d left my jewelry at home and had not eaten). By 4:00 p.m. I was having an appendectomy and the next morning was ready to go home.

All went well until Tuesday afternoon. I had taken two Tylenol at 4:00 p.m. (that was my scheduled pain med), and at 4:45 p.m. I felt like I was getting a fever. Took my temp. It was 101.2. I called the surgery clinic per instructions that had been sent home with me from the hospital, and was advised to come to the ER. I resisted going, called a nurse friend to discuss whether or not I should go to the ER, took a tepid shower – and my temp went up to 102. I took two Ibuprofen, and finally listened to Marian who said she’d rather drive me to the ER during daylight than at midnight. So off we went to the ER again.

The long and short of this second ER visit was that I had cholecystitis and needed to have my gall bladder taken out. I could not believe it, and said to the doctor, “I know I’m fat, female, fair, and more than forty, but I’m not having any abdominal pain.” I agreed to spend the night in the hospital, but wanted to wait to have surgery until I had recovered more from my 2-day-old appendectomy . The surgeon on call this time was excellent – she was willing to collaborate with me and postpone surgery. I was scheduled to be discharged Wednesday, and we had worked out a follow-up plan. Before leaving I ordered lunch (I was hungry and hadn’t eaten for 24 hours). I had salmon, steamed broccoli, and mashed potatoes. It all tasted good, and I got dressed and was ready to leave as soon as the resident came to see me. But by then I felt like I was getting a fever again, and just didn’t feel good. So I said, “Fine, you can take out my gall bladder.” Surgery was scheduled for 8:30 the next morning, Thursday, June 10. 

All went well, and fortunately I had asked Marian to bring me the book I’d been reading, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr. I say fortunately, because I was wide awake that evening and spent from about 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. reading and thinking about how this surgery business is good preparation for death. Not that I had any feeling or premonition about dying, but the loss of control, putting my life in the hopefully competent hands of other people, and waking up with the worst cotton mouth I had ever experienced, made me realize physically what I know intellectually, that one day I will leave this body. But for now, I am just grateful for laparoscopic surgery as well as the competent and kind care I received. 

However, I hope that these are the end of my trips to the ER and surgery. I am also taking the advice I give other people – just because you are sent home within 24 hours after surgery doesn’t mean your body is completely healed in 24 hours. As of today, I feel so good I can hardly believe I had two surgeries two weeks ago.

The person who probably had a worse week than I did was Marian. She made nine trips to the hospital or clinic between Sunday noon and Friday noon for either me or our friend who was two weeks post-op for a hip replacement. Marian also was taking care of Floey (our dog), herself, and anything else that needed to be done at home, plus being a bit worried about me. Today is her birthday, and she has been rewarded with her favorite dessert – schaum torte topped with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries picked by another friend.

My experience over the past couple weeks, along with reading Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward, reminded me of a short essay I wrote several years ago for our church’s Lenten devotional booklet. Here’s part of what I wrote referencing Luke 23:46, 

“Jesus crying with a loud voice said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this he breathed his last.”

Having been a nurse for 40-plus years, I have been with many people as they have breathed their last. I have also been present for a few as they have come into the world, taking their first breath. In between our first breath and our last breath is what we know as life – our human experience. There is, for me, a sacred mystery regarding both our first breath and our last breath, and I am always humbled to be a part of the end of someone’s life journey.

A quote that comes to mind for me as I think about this is by Pierre Teilhard de Chardon:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Jesus’ cry in today’s verse, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” reminds me that we are indeed spiritual beings that will once again be united with our Creator and Redeemer.

Dear Jesus, I am grateful that you have gone to prepare a place for us, and that you will be with us as we breathe our last breath, as well as every moment that we breathe during our life on earth. May we also commend our spirits and lives into your hands, today and when we breathe our last. Amen.

18 thoughts on “Guest Post by Mim Jacobson

  1. Such an ordeal for you both! I am so happy to hear that you are healing and feeling so well. Sounds like some wonderful reading and I am going to try to check a couple of them out.
    I embrace the idea that we “practice” dying. In these types of experiences, that allow us time for reflection, reading and sharing, we have a true gift that allows us not only to die a “better death” but also to live a richer life.
    The following is a quote from ‘Graceful Passages’ and was written by the Very Rev. Alan Jones, “In my tradition we try to practice dying every day so that we may be fully alive. What I understand of my prayer life is to place myself on the threshold of death, to participate in my dying so that I may live each day and each moment as a gift. What I cultivate is a grateful heart; each moment then becomes a new thing. My gratitude comes from from the sheer gift of life itself. “

  2. Thankfully, most of us are blessed with good medical care. Listening to our bodies and medical advice are among God’s gifts to us.The older I get, it seems we hear of more of our friends (and ourselves) needing that expertise. And, yes, we are practicing for leaving our earthly bodies behind.

    • Thanks for your comment. We feel surrounded with your love and concern. We’re thankful for long-time friends like you to share our experiences with.

      Mim & Marian

  3. So glad to hear you are recuperating, Mim! Remember seeing you & Marian in the Emergency Room reception area that Sunday. I spent 6 hours there on June 5th and 4 hours on June 6th, finally diagnosed with an insufficient fracture of the right leg tibia and a tear in the Meniscus near the right knee. Slowly recuperating. Thank heavens for my daughter, Susan for spending all that time with me in the Emergency Room and now my daughter, Marsha who is helping me every week at home.

    Take care of yourself and “hi” to Marian and Floey!

    • Thanks for letting us know about your ER experience, too. We’ve been wondering about the outcome of your ER visits. Glad to hear your two daughters are being so helpful. Floey is glad to have me home again, and I’m sure your animals are glad to have you home, too. Hope to see you in church soon.

      Mim & Marian

  4. Oh, goodness!!! I’m so thankful you both have each other to lean on. So scary! Glad you’re feeling better and thank you for sharing this in your blog, Marian!!

    • Thanks for your comment. We feel very fortunate to have each other, and we’ve also felt surrounded by the love and concern of our friends.

      Mim & Marian

  5. Well my goodness Mim and Marian…. you certainly have been through quite an ordeal…. I am offering prayers of thanksgiving that you are on the other side of this challenging experience!!

    And I love the prayer you offer in the end… thank you for sharing… Some good words to ponder as we live our life on this earth…. I will share with other friends!

    Thanks again for posting Marian…. So thankful Mim is ok….

    Love and hi to Chloey!!

    Love, Linda

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Thanks for your comments. Enjoyed hearing from you. We’ve felt surrounded by love and concern from our friends. Hope you’re still enjoying the life of traveling. We’ll look forward to being able to visit face-to-face when you’re in the area again.

      Mim & Marian

  6. Thanks for your post, Mim. Much to be grateful for in your account, and much to think about in your concluding application. God continue to bless you with complete recovery.

    • Thanks for your comments. We’ve felt very surrounded by love and concern for us during this whole experience, and we are thankful. Hope you and June are enjoying the summer.

      Mim & Marian

  7. Mim! For whatever reason, I hadn’t seen this post in June, and read it just now. You had to muster a great deal of trust and courage to go through what you did. I’m so glad you came through it all well, and that your body has adjusted to the lack of those two body parts! (does that sound a bit crass??!!) I sure miss seeing you and Marian from time to time (seeing you again is on my “bucket list!”), and pray that retirement is a blessing for each/both of you!

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