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Jon walking on Route 22 this morning
Jon walking this morning

I knew Jon was doing well when, on her third visit to the ICU, Jon was encouraging his heart surgeon, who wants to write a book,  to start a blog.  Jon went from patient to teacher two days after Open Heart Surgery.  On the third day, yesterday, we came home.

Lots went on at the farm when we were gone.  Deb took care of the animals and even got Frieda to go for a walk, our farrier Ken Norman found and treated an abscess on Lulu’s hoof, the house was cleaned, a chair was moved into the living room for Jon to sleep in, the fridge stocked with food, the lawn mowed, air conditions put in the windows, loving messages offering support and help were waiting.

Jon was in the hospital for eight days, but hospital time is different from home time.  It seems like we haven’t been home in months and that we never left at the same time.  And being in the hospital I found I forgot what home was like, how good it feels to be there.  The hospital room becomes it’s own world, where day and night are interchangeable and the natural world doesn’t exist. It’s a place of connection in some ways and complete  disconnection in others.   On the ride home  Jon couldn’t believe how green everything was although it was no greener than eight days before.  But he had been staring at beige walls and curtains for over a week.  And home, the house, the animals, the earth underfoot, it’s the most healing place there is.

So now it’s healing time.  For the next two weeks, Jon will need my help doing the most mundane things,  no pushing, pulling or lifting for three months or so.  I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s tired of me reminding him how he’s supposed to get in and out of a chair, not to pick up his camera, or to take his pills, and I’m tired of reminding him.    I’m curious to see how well I do, what I learn and how well we do together.  A couple of things we have going for us is that we love each other and know how to talk to each other when things get difficult.  There’s also Jon’s determination and independence and creativity.

So for the next couple of  weeks, I’m putting on my Nurse Rached hat.   I’ll keep drawing, of course and blogging, somewhat of the caretakers blog I suppose.  I know I can do the Rached part, but I’m not as sure about the nurse part.

24 thoughts on “Back Home

  1. I’m so happy to hear from you that you are back home and all is progressing well!
    Best wishes for a smooth return to your new normal.
    With love to you both,
    From Fran

  2. Maria, I’m really loving these longer posts from you. You really seem to be blossoming as a writer. I look forward to reading more about your coming journey.

  3. Maria, you will be fine. I truly believe this, knowing how much you and Jon love each other and how determined he is to LIVE! Home is where the heart is for sure. He needs you to remind him ~ he’ll get distracted and forget. And so will you. But you will get through this ~ both of you. At least it happened in summer when you can get out and walk. I’m so glad you are back where you belong to no one but yourselves. And grateful for the updates from both of you.

  4. Maria, it seems as if every time I write, I forget to press the submit button, and I have so much to say.
    I am thrilled that Jon is doing so well, is out of the hospital and home. Home, what a wonderful word, filled with all of the meaning that it offers when it is filled with people who love each other so much and communicate with each other the way that you do. You are blessed with close friends who are there to offer the support that you might need. I am happy to see that all of the things that you need have been placed there to help you and Jon on this journey of health that you are beginning together. Care for the animals, food in the fridge, treatment for Lulu, a walk for Freida, lawns mowed, air conditioners put in, a chair for Jon to sleep in and the house cleaned for your return. That is love, and it shows how much you mean to so many.
    You are not really Nurse Rached. You are a woman who is strong and in that strength, you give Jon what he needs even if he grouches a bit.
    You have just been through a life changing event together. I can only imagine the creative thoughts that have already arisen from this event.
    A friend recently sent me an email taken from an interview Oprah Winfrey did on the occasion of Maya Angelou’s 70th. birthday. Some of the ideas seemed quite meaningful and I thought that I might share some of them. Ms Angelou said that she had “learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” That seems appropriate because now you and Jon will be able to share that “better tomorrow.” He will be able to take those walks that he loves, long ones, without shortness of breath and with you and the dogs alongside. Ms Angelou also said that she learned that “making a living is not the same thing as making a life,” and that “life sometimes gives you a second chance.” Jon must have known that when the wrote his last book about how the two of you came together, along with Freida, to begin your life together. You have proven that second chances open you up to making the kind of life that you might always have wanted; one of creativity, art and openness to all that you want to be in that second chance life.
    Your description of the sameness of a hospital, what I call the browns, greys and beiges of that time where time becomes no time is really one that paints a full picture of that busy, place where strangers can sometimes become such a meaningful part of your life.
    When my father had his quadruple bypass so many years ago, I thought it might give him the chance to stop and smell the roses. He, instead, reminded me of a cowboy who couldn’t wait to get back on the horse after falling off.
    I suppose that Jon would want to get back on that horse soon, but I also suspect that he will also want to stop and smell the roses because as a photographer as well as an author, he might see things in a different light–perhaps an even brighter one.
    You are fortunate to be able to walk this path, this new beginning together. I wish you good thoughts, and good health to speed you on your journey. I’m sure that your personal therapy dog, Red, the lovedog, Lenore, and Freida, Jon’s dear sweet friend will be there to help. I imagine that Simon’s bray to life will herald all the bright days that lie ahead. Minnie and Flo, as well as all the other animals in your Peaceable Kingdom known as Bedlam Farm will round out the loving brigade that will welcome the healthy life that lies ahead for you both.

  5. Hi, I am an old friend of Luanne’s. I was very moved by your blogging here. You will do fine, I can tell!

    I SO relate to what you say here! About 6 wks ago, I had back surgery – nowhere near as serious as open heart surgery, of course, but for the first 3 weeks or so, I was totally dependent on my husband, for EVERYTHING; couldn’t get up by myself, couldn’t take care of myself on the toileting department (if you catch my drift), or bend to put on my own underpants. We went to the Mayo clinic, 4 days’ drive from home, so it was really just the two of us. Interesting situation, when you can’t wipe your own bottom! I am a fiercely, almost aggressively so, person, and normally this wouldn’t have gone over well with me, but having to work together so closely, needing to be that dependent on him, was a strangely strengthening experience for us. Normally, I would have snapped his head off, but in this time I was able to be the one who is being helped, instead of the helper. The experience gave me confidence that as we grow older and perhaps have to face more of these challenges, we can cooperate and appreciate each other through the process, something I quite honestly couldn’t have been sure of.

    Best wishes to both of you – it ‘s a process and an adventure, albeit not maybe one you would have chosen. It will be OK, and all shall be well again, I know!

  6. Good luck with the nursing part. When my dad had surgery and started to argue about resting etc. they had a code word. Which basically meant you are being a pain, stop arguing and do what the dr said. It stopped a lot of arguments. It will be kind of fun, you can send him to his room! So glad you get the chance to do this. Best wishes, Kate

  7. Okay, Maria, where the heck did the heart shape come from in decorative arts that is supposed to look like a heart. I didn’t see a heart shape in Jon’s heart….which BTW, was fascinating once I got my mind focused on looking at it and not saying…SCARY…three days after surgery like that and he’s out walking the roads…I don’t believe it. That’s amazing. But I loved your insight into being in the hospital and how it is a world of its own and not of colour. Home is the most healing place for you both now and what wonderful friends you have, the frig stocked, a chair ready for Jon, can you believe how rich your lives are now…how wonderful…and now for the recuperation time and dealing with what may become an antsy man…I loved your comment about more oxygen getting to Jon’s brain….deadly with a creative person, a creative mind never shuts down from being creative. It’s been quite a journey, these past eight days…from the dental chair to new arteries in his heart…
    SandyP in Canada

  8. Maria,

    Wow! Close call. So happy things worked out so well. Speedy recovery to Jon. Hang in there.



  9. Take it easy and understand that we care about you both so much that missing the blog is a small price to pay for a full recovery. Take care and we’ll hear from you when we hear from you.

    God bless,

  10. I know you two will get through this just fine. Sometimes the best nurses are the ones who aren’t too accommodating. I was pleased to see that my subscription to Jon’s blog was automatically paid yesterday. Also, your cards arrived – my Kickstarter reward. I am thrilled with them! Many, many thanks!

  11. Just be yourself and all will be well. Forget the Nurse hat…nurses don’t wear them anymore!!!

  12. I have been following Jon’s recovery……you will be great Maria! You are a strong and independent women,and the most important you possess common sense. You will take excellent care of Jon, I have followered his blog for about two years, and yours also. I was an ICU nurse for 30 yrs, and I met alot of people, and I. Get a real possible feeling between the two of you. You love and respect each other, and that will help Jon to heal. Just remember, that you Maria will need to take “breaks” , for your well bing also. P eople are offering to help…..let them. I. Always said, you find your real true friends, when times are though! We need to leave our pride at the door……and help Jon get well. Each day he will be a little stronger. From what I have seen on both your blogs, you guys do communicate well with one another.hang in there, and just take one day at a time. Kissing “donkeys” is very theraputic

  13. Technology……sent too quickly!
    Wishing you you the best
    Napping with dogs is also very healing
    Michelle Martin

  14. Wonderful news that Jon is home and doing so good. He will heal much better in his own environment and he will be up to no good before you know it. Love to you both.

  15. I’m so glad that Jon is better. Having taken care of Tim when he had surgery to repair a bad break I can tell you that the nursing part seems to happen without any thinking. When you love someone you do what is needed to help them come back to their healthy being. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but remember to take time for you. I found out the hard way that if I didn’t do this I would get resentful. You can’t keep taking from the well if you don’t stop to fill it up on a regular basis. Blessings to you both.

  16. What I’m reading is that a condition that would have killed Jon just a few years ago, is barely slowing him down. Out of the hospital after 3 (!!!) days. THREE! It’s a wonderful time to be alive.

    You know, I think Red can take care of lying on his belly alone for a while. Truly, you can trust him to handle it. It wouldn’t hurt any for Maria to practice herding with the dog, either, and might be good for Red. I’m sure he can train you, Maria. 8->

  17. Apologies are extended as I have a feeling that my last two replies are repetitive.
    Reading Jon’s blog today, I can’t help but be concerned as I sense that he is realizing that the healing process after something like this can be quite daunting. I know that with time, your loving support and the support of all of your friends will help him deal with this.
    The heart is, in some ways, something like our very soul and when it is shocked (something akin to open heart surgery) we begin to see and question life in a different light; I think fear can be a part of that as well as dealing with all of the changes we go through. I know Jon has the strength and fortitude to deal with these changes. It just takes time. Stay strong. My best to you and your man.

  18. He’s going to be a hard one to keep down!! Ha ha. I just bought a nice camera, but I still enjoy the iPhone and different photography apps one can play with. I also saw an advertisement for lenses one can attach to the iPhone. It might appease him for a bit and obviously a very light camera. In so happy everything has gone smoothly so far. Can’t believe he is walking down country roads already. Wow. (And I love that he started encouraging the physician to embrace her creative side.

  19. I am so excited that jon is home It will take time to heal even though he wants to do things you just can not My husband Had a huge back operation last year he has more nuts and bolts and rods and things than a hardware store I had to do everything shower him toilet he only wanted ice cream walking therapy hecould not lift anything for about 6 months oh boy sometimes he would get mad that he couldn’t do things but it does get better there is light at the end of the rainbow you are so amazing take time for yourself every day it is so important go to the yard under a tree and just listen life is good have some ice tea even if only for a few minutes it isimportant your the best hugs Regina

  20. It’s so interesting how connections are made. I just recently came across your blog posted by someone else on FB. I have been enjoying your needle work and discovering your blogs. Then I saw the open heart surgery mentioned. I too have had open heart surgery for a new valve,it’s a bovine one and her name is Bessy and a by pass to fix an anomaly. My surgery was in March’09. I can’t believe the wonderful difference it has made in my life. Anyway, all this is to find out what your surgery fixed. How is your chest healing. I remember the walks, started not going very far to making it down to the mailbox and back. I was back on my bike at 6 weeks! Anyway if you’d be willing to share I’d love it. Thanks:o)

    1. thanks for reading Karen. I didn’t have open heart surgery, my husband Jon did. You can get to his blog at the top of my page it’s Bedlam Farm. Best to you and Bessy!

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