When Ava was a toddler “Ya Ya do it” was one of her favorite phrases. She used this expression as an ongoing declaration of her independent abilities, whether she was actually able to “do it” or not. She has always been a determined, strong willed child with a somewhat exaggerated sense of accomplishment.
This “can do” attitude has lead her to excel in many areas over the course of her eight years, and has contributed to her enthusiastic sense of adventure. She has always been willing to try new things and has generally worked hard at mastering new skills. This sense of independence, pride, and accomplishment will hopefully serve her well in the coming years.
I have been contemplating Ava’s example along with the relationship between independence, pride, and humility as I work towards recovery from my recent surgery. Almost 5 weeks ago I had the implant in my left hip replaced. My initial implants were put in 27 years ago (please see previous post for details) and now require revisions. The plan is to do the right one in 6-12 months after my left is completely healed.
The surgery was successful, and after spending four days in the hospital I am now on the mend at home. My wife and daughters have been excellent and diligent nurses and have been incredibly helpful in my recovery. I have been back at work for the last 2 weeks and I am beginning to feel more productive.
However, my recovery has been much longer and more difficult than either I or Jen had anticipated. When the surgeon went in to replace my plastic socket with a new one he discovered that there was not enough bone to attach it. The plastic that was originally put in almost 3 decades ago was made up of a chemical which gradually ate away at my bones. As a result, before replacing my hip, my surgeon first had to do a bone graft, making my healing much more of a careful and fragile enterprise. I have ongoing weight bearing restrictions and movement limitations and I have yet to be cleared for physical therapy, though I am hopeful that this will change soon.
These past few weeks have been especially hard on my wife. Jen has not only been attending to all of my needs but has in many ways been acting as a single parent. She has been doing many things for me that I would naturally do for myself, including making my meals, helping me to dress and shower, and helping me up and down the stairs to my office (the lift does not work) on my crutches. She has in addition, had to take over my usual household chores. My nephew has been mowing our lawn and some of our neighbors and relatives have been helping out with the kids. We have also enjoyed some timely cooked meal donations from friends and family.
All in all I have been incredibly blessed by the ongoing help, support, and encouragement of my wife, daughters, family, and friends. However it has been very difficult for me to be so dependent. I have found it to be humbling, and in some cases humiliating. Many simple things like dressing or showering independently are still beyond my reach. Being in a place of humble dependence, regardless of how eager folks are to help, is a difficult place for me to be. It runs completely contrary to my “can do” prideful, independent sense of myself.
I also realize that none of my real successes have been independently achieved. There were always teachers, friends, co-workers, or family members helping me along the way. And of course all of my gifts are ultimately God bestowed and my ultimate dependence is that of a creature to his creator. But this realization has come into sharpened focus generally in times of clear weakness and pain.
I find that I am much like my daughter. I have this “Patrick do it” attitude which has helped me throughout my life, but it also may bring with it an exaggerated sense of accomplishment and prideful independence. I am thankful for the lessons of humble, weak dependence, and my hope is that their effects continue to tenderize my spirit, as I become stronger in the coming weeks and back to my usual course of activity.