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Tapped Out ~ Life: Unmasked

The nurse explained, “He’s on the phone with the surgeon discussing the options. He’s concerned about the right side.”

I frown. “I thought the issue was with the left side. I didn’t think he’d do anything anywhere else.”

smiling doctorShe paused. “I don’t know. He’s done all his measurements and they are concerned about the right too.”

She left, and I sank into the hospital-grade loveseat, confused and worried. He’s talking with the surgeon. They’re concerned about both sides now. My stomach had been twisting and wringing for days (I call it “stress stomach”) but now it sunk as if a brick had dropped inside.


It was the last thing we wanted.  Of course we wanted the best for our son, but we didn’t want the best to include surgery.

Two hours later, the doctor walked into the waiting room with a huge smile on his face. It had looked grim, but the surgeon and he agreed to give some things a try and those things were wildly successful.

“His numbers are the best they’ve ever been,” he glowed.

“So, he doesn’t need surgery?” we asked.

“We’re optimistic that he’ll be able to wait at least a few years.”

We wept prayers of thanks after he left the waiting room. I could feel the tension flooding out of me and relief pouring in.

Maybe it’s my age – I’m twelve years older than I was when we first started this journey as parents of a child with a chronic medical condition. I can’t bounce back from a night of hospital-bad sleep, a week of pre-op preparation, or the months of waiting for a procedure and its verdict. Maybe it’s that we have three kids now, and they’re all much older and have feelings and worries and fears of their own that we are trying to help them through, in addition to our own. Maybe in a sick sort of way, I need the constant state of tension and readiness to keep me going.

Or maybe I can no longer hide from the other parts of our lives that remain unsettled.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been a wreck since we got the good news last Friday. All the good nights of sleep hasn’t been enough to restore my energy. Instead of joy, the prevailing mood has been discouragement and despair.

It doesn’t make sense. We got good news. But I am tapped out.


Life: unmasked buttonOn Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, take off their mask, and write naked. I believe being real about our hard days has tremendous capacity to encourage others who are struggling. Life isn’t perfect all the time, but we can help each other get through the tough times when we acknowledge that and come alongside.

If you’ve written anything unmasked, link up below! Please link back to this post so your readers can find others willing to bare it all, and then make sure to visit at least two others and leave them encouraging comments.

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  1. That’s rough, Joy…I can’t imagine how hard that is, but God IS faithful to comfort and grow us through impossibly hard times like these.

    • Yes, He is. He provides friends to be the arms of comfort and care, and we’ve been very blessed by that.

  2. Elijah was tapped out after his victory too. It happens to everyone. God’s rest and energy will bring you back full swing. Praising God with you for the good news.

  3. I think it makes sense – you’ve probably been running on adrenaline (literally) and now your body is crashing.

    • Yes, I think there’s a very real physical component to this. I’ve always had a bit of a low after something significant, especially if it was something planned/anticipated.

  4. I totally get this. I mean, I’m with you in that I don’t get it, but I’m there with you. I agree with the adrenaline theory, and I also think your history makes you react and prepare for things so deeply and emotionally that you deplete yourself way more than you think you have. I have you in my prayers, friend. Hope you can shed some of the emotional weight soon and enjoy the spoils of good news.

  5. It sounds like you’ve been holding your breath for a while and you’ve needed a giant exhale! Glad surgery isn’t imminent!!!

  6. Oh, friend, sounds like your body is screaming for rest–soul filled quiet. Saying quiet prayers for you.

  7. Joy, my heart goes out to you. God’s promises to you in Christ, as the Word says:

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

    That is especially true when we face confusing times internally and externally.

  8. You know what, sweet Joy? I think this makes perfect sense. For all the reasons listed in the comments above and for some of the ones you alluded to in your post. Your initial response at the hospital was relief and gratitude. But man alive, this has been such a long, twisting journey that I completely get the washed out, discouraged piece of this. May I just say, as tenderly as I possibly can, that you never.ever got that relief with your beautiful girl. Never. And it is hard to trust it when it does come. I recognize this, Joy. I really do. My daughter, after years of struggle and pain and loss, is happy. So I am happy with her and for her. But there’s a piece of me – a piece that I’m not proud of sometimes, but still… a piece that is waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next hard thing to whap us upside the head. And that feeling comes from experience – just like yours does. I think the key is admitting it – to ourselves, to trusted others and most importantly, to God. And somehow offering strangled, tangled tears of both gratitude and pleading. So…I’ll offer a few of those for you when I offer them for our family. Deal? Lots of love to you.

    • Waiting for the next shoe to drop — you nailed it. That’s exactly how I lived caring for Elli, and I think I haven’t let it go with our son (or the other two kids) either. I remember saying to someone that we’re not dealing with a biped — it’s a centipede with countless shoes that could drop and any moment. Thank you Diana — it’s really nice to know that others have been there.

  9. rejoicing in good news for your boy. rest well, friend. there are no *shoulds* in feelings or grief. peace and joy to you.

  10. I had a very similar experience when I went into remission in February. I have no idea why I had such an overwhelming grief. I think it was partly due to the release of that steam that had built up but I carefully bottled inside. It wasn’t until I was “safe” that I could really admit my deepest fears to myself. I also experienced grief over everything we lost during the 4 year battle – there may be an element of that for you as well, as you mourn that these type of doctor visits have to happen AT ALL for your sweet son.

    Your linky isn’t up…but here’s my post about my odd reaction to my remission news:

    • It’s nice to know others have experienced this kind of response to good news. I do think some of it is letting go of all the tension and sadness that I wouldn’t let out because I didn’t want to worry.

  11. this tapped out. hard to understand sometimes. stopping to pray for you right now….

  12. In my own way, I understand this. And now all I can give you is an honest prayer each morning for the next few days. Peace He leaves us, but sometimes the peace gestates slow.

  13. Oh my dear. I don’t know what to say. But I’m here.


  1. I Like You. says:

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