By April Johnson
This Christmas season was a particularly turbulent time in the life of our family. My 9-year-old daughter, Gloria, needed to have hip surgery. This was a complex surgery, and although the orthopedist explained it was one she needed sooner rather than later, it was a hard choice to make for her. It did not hit me until she was being wheeled away that we were deciding to give her pain. Deciding to give her a painful recovery and choosing to put her life at risk. As they gave her a sedative before wheeling her away, she said, “No, I don’t need to, I’m fine. Mommy, I don’t want to.” I wept. I wept a lot. I was crying so much the nurse offered me extra time there in the pre-op room. I took a big sniff in and decided that other people could see me emotional and that was just fine. As I walked to the recovery area, I was struck with how little control I had over that day and the events around me. I prayed hard. The surgery took close to 10 hours, and I was very excited to see her in the recovery room. The next few days in the hospital were very challenging as Gloria had lost a lot of blood, she was on continuous oxygen, her heart rate was very high, and she could not sleep enough. It was decided on the third day that she would get a blood transfusion. Although all these complications were normal post-op, it all felt like a big deal. I was so relieved when she was perking up, and within hours of her transfusion she was off oxygen and her heart rate lowered. God was there through it all.
I was so thankful to head home on day five. She would need a lot of assistance at home and, fortunately, Gloria’s dad (my husband, Josh) and I are very experienced with lifting her. She tops 80 pounds with the casts and immobilizers on. At home we had a hospital bed, a commode, and a wheelchair, and this would get us through all the physical obstacles.
What got us through the emotional and spiritual obstacles were the family and friends willing to love us as they love themselves. My sister-in-law gave up several days of vacation and slept on our couch. She did dishes, emptied Glo’s commode, played with Glo’s siblings, helped care for Glo, and was there as a major support. She loved her neighbor.
Our church gave us two weeks of meals. One of the women texted me the day she was signed up for and said, “I am blessed to offer you a meal; what time would you like me to drop it off?” Each meal was a tremendous blessing as a lot of money was spent on parking at the hospital, traveling, and buying hospital food. Also, we were very tired after many nights of interrupted sleep and inferior sleeping accommodations. Our church family loved their neighbor.
My family offered support through encouraging phone calls, visits, and prayer. This was a tremendous support. My family loved their neighbor.
A teacher at Gloria’s school made audio recordings of many people greeting Glo and sent me all the precious messages. Another teacher brought us a meal and sat down with Gloria and played with her for an hour. These people loved their neighbor. In addition to this the school took a few donations to help us with the cost of travel. What a wonderful and unexpected blessing!
I have been involved in meals ministries before, but until I was a recipient I did not realize what a wonderful blessing it could be. I want to encourage you ladies — do not think for a minute that an encouraging note for someone in recovery is not worth a lot. Do not think for a minute that a meal is not much. A phone call or message checking in makes a big difference. I know this experience made me want to reach out more in the future.
He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
April Johnson is a full-time stay at home (although, she is never really home) mom. April met her husband of 15 years at a Christian summer camp when they were teenagers. Together they have three children. April has recently been very busy juggling typical household duties along with some other roles, including: coaching soccer, being a room parent at school, babysitting an infant, and driving the kids around like a taxi driver. In 2003, April received her BA in media studies at the University of Southern Maine. She loves writing, and would love to publish a novel someday. For fun she likes to run, strength train, raise backyard chickens, and play the guitar.