Abby’s Diary | Counting Sheep!

My post-op visits to get the final pathology report and have the stitches removed this week led to new doctor’s orders of bed rest with leg and foot tightly wrapped with Ace bandages and raised by pillows. I guess my Sunday outing to the Jaguars game and tailgate party took a toll on my leg just 11 days post-op and gave me a wicked case of “kankle”(one swollen ugly foot and ankle). So when I asked the surgeon if my beach walk scheduled for later that afternoon was out of the question his pithy retort was “if you think walking on it helps the swelling ok, otherwise seat on chair, and I will see you in two weeks.” Story of my life, a life of “oh wells then”, prepare to be bored out of my mind for at least a week or two! In my mind I am now on house arrest, no ankle bracelet, it’s much too swollen to fit! Heck my foot doesn’t fit in any shoes either.

Now the first day I was really good after I got home I did what he said but every waking moment felt like the worst case of insomnia I’ve ever had. What does one do when they are alone and supposed to sit all day long? It’s not like the laundry jumps into the washer and then fly’s over into the dryer by itself. The lettuce also doesn’t lay itself neatly onto a plate and turn itself into a salad ready to be eaten. The dog doesn’t take himself out. Forget him. Who is going to go to the bathroom for me? So I mentally and physically tried to prepare myself to sit still by gathering a laptop, I-pad, books, pen and paper, cell phone, and all the cords necessary for re-charging, fixed an iced beverage, and then wrapped my foot as instructed, before I finally sat down mid-day. I watched a little TV, read a few passages out of a daily devotional given to me by a friend, binged watched the remaining episodes of House of Cards Season 5, called some people and wondered how I’d do it again tomorrow. Finally I sent a text to my children asking them to give me their best creative idea for my blog topic this week since I was on lock down and short on inspiration. Alexis suggested “how to practice stillness” but I could only think of a one word blog….painful. Travis, my son-in-law, however is quite creative for the brilliant engineer type. His suggestion was to write about the history behind the phrase of “counting sheep” and why counting an endangered animal is a bad idea. Justin wisely chose not to respond at all knowing I would take the Travis challenge.

Since every minute on that couch was like counting sheep I will start by sharing what I learned. Did you know there are exactly one thousand four hundred and forty minutes in a day? How about eighty six thousand four hundred seconds!

Counting sheep is defined as a mental exercise, a distraction technique used to combat insomnia.(Meaning you are supposed to bore yourself to sleep) The concept of counting sheep arose in Northern England from Yan Tan Tethera which is a traditional numbering rhyming system used by shepards to count their flock, dating as far back as Medieval times. Why sheep? Why not badgers, squirrels, or endangered species like the Jacksonville Jaguars? I am guessing since farming and herding was so important at that time and sheep are preyed on, the count was necessary twice a day in the morning and evening to make sure none strayed.

While the concept of counting sheep still bored me it did make me think of my dad and some of the old songs he used to play and the classic Bing Crosby song that goes something like this “when I’m worried and cannot sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, then I fall to sleep counting my blessings” popped into my head. Then I reflected on the last thirty days, and everything that has happened, the fear, the unknown, the waiting, the emotion, and the faith that I drew on to get me by and how many people prayed for me, called me, sent me cards, brought me dinner, took me in during the hurricane so I could shelter my kids at my place, gave me gifts of hope and encouragement and it was then that I realized being still was the next step in healing physically and emotionally to realize just how many blessings I actually had. I am praying now with gratitude and asking to be shown the way I am supposed to use the blessing of this experience to help others.

The next day I gave myself the gift of going out for a short while to take my dad for a ride to his favorite place. Of course since I am not following doctor’s orders Juan calls and I get busted immediately. I promise to go right home after I drop my dad off but I stop for lunch, and then head to Publix to pick up something for dinner. I never shop at this particular location so a dear sweet friend of mine was shocked when she ran into me. She was going to her dermatologist to find out the results of two biopsies she had on her face, and of course knowing my story she burst into tears when she saw me. She asked what I was doing there at that moment, and how scared she was for her doctor visit and I simply told her that God knew she needed me to be there to give her a big hug and tell her everything was going to be okay. It was. No melanoma.

I will close this week by saying that the scar on my leg is hideous. I call it my shark bite. My older sister mailed me postage stamps for my Christmas cards this year with pictures of all kinds of sharks. I laughed when I opened them. But here is the point “Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you” physically or emotionally. Count your blessings and move on to fight another day!

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