Have you ever tried to grow an orchid? They can be tricky. Even when the label says they’re the easiest type of orchid to care for.
This particular, ordinary orchid has taught me an incredible lesson recently. One that centers around both patience and trust… two things that I am currently putting all of my faith in.
I came across this video on a friend’s Facebook page of cochlear implant patients hearing sounds and the voices of their loved ones for the first time. Within seconds, I was bawling at my computer. Because I have witnessed this kind of incredible first for myself. Because hearing is something so easy to take for granted. Because miracles are possible.
As a boy, my dad contracted an illness which settled into his ears and caused him to gradually start losing his hearing. He starting wearing hearing aids when he was in his mid-twenties. A decade or so later, he was forced to quit his job as a teacher and counselor because his hearing was just too poor for him to interact properly with his students.
He has worn two hearing aids for my whole life. Growing up with a practically-deaf father was the norm in my house. While we didn’t need to use Sign Language, we did need to look directly at Dad while we were talking to him (he became an excellent lip-reader), and often found ourselves raising our voices or repeating our conversations so he could catch all that was being said.
Before Tom and I got married, my father finally decided, somewhat against his will, to get a cochlear implant. His audiologist told him he was a perfect candidate, and we urged him to do it. Even though he was never completely deaf, there were clearly tons of sounds he hadn’t heard in 40 or 50 years. I remember the first day his implant was hooked up… on the drive home we were at a stoplight waiting to turn. Dad asks, “What in the world is that clicking sound? Do you hear that?” It was the turn signal. He’d never heard the turn signal sound before.
It’s moments like that, and the touching moments in that video, where you realize just how much you take your hearing for granted. The chirping birds that wake up you a little too early on a Saturday. The laughter and shouts of the neighborhood kids playing outside. The sound of coffee brewing in the coffee pot. These daily soundtracks are easy to overlook. But some people never get to enjoy them.
Are you still with me? Do you want to know why I’m telling you this story?
I found out in January that I have a tumor in the inner portion of my left ear—around my cochlea. It’s called an acoustic neuroma. And while it’s a benign tumor, there are still risks associated with it, given its close proximity to my brain. So, it needs to be removed.
In the middle of April, I’ll be having surgery to remove it. I’ll be in the hospital for several days, and recuperating at home for several weeks. One of the side effects of this surgery is that there is a 50/50 chance I will be deaf in my left ear following surgery. I know I’ll still have a functioning right ear (that so far, looks clear of any issues), but this has still been a difficult diagnosis for me to hear (yes… I see the pun…)
My whole life, I’ve wondered if I’d end up losing my hearing like my dad. I thought, being in my 30s, that I was in the clear now. So to discover this random, rare tumor has been a bit of a shock, but also a confirmation of something I’ve always wondered about. There is a teeny tiny chance that this tumor is related to genetics; I will probably be having testing done to figure out if it is for sure.
I’ve also never been in the hospital overnight, so to say I’m not completed freaked out by this surgery is a total lie. I’m super nervous. But, I also have tons of trust in my surgeons and know I’ll need lots of patience to get me through the recovery process. Much like I’ve had to have in this orchid.
I bought this plant sometime in the first year or so that Tom and I were married. It was covered in beautiful blooms when I brought it home, and I diligently moved it all over our condo to try and find the best spot for it. When the blooms died, I read up on how to care for it, how to prune back the stem, how to put it into a dormant state, and how to revive it to encourage it to bloom again.
But it never did.
It grew new leaves and roots like it was nobody’s business. But despite my fertilizing, trimming and repotting, it just couldn’t be convinced to bloom again. Yet I didn’t want to give up on it. So I stuck it in the best place I could think of when we moved – the master bathroom. Where it got plenty of indirect sun and tons of humid air. Once a week, I’d wipe off the leaves with a damp paper towel and water the soil. And lo and behold, after years of patiently waiting… a few weeks ago it finally sprouted a new stem. Then little buds formed. And slowly, they began opening, one by one.
I’m glad I didn’t give up on this orchid. I’m glad that I waited to see if this plant had more beauty in store. And I’m glad I had the patience to trust in Nature’s process. Because it all worked out in the end.
Hey lady, I’m thinking of you! And don’t hesitate to call if you need anything. I can provide good food and a change of pace!
Thank you, Theresa! I really appreciate it 🙂
Love you sweet friend!! You are strong and courageous.
Thank you, Kate! I am lucky to have such amazing friends 🙂
Just when I was bemoaning my taxes and website issues, I read this! You have a heart of gold and I am sure you will come out of this with flying colors! I am so glad we met at Haven and have continued to keep in touch! I know you will have oodles of people praying for you and sending you good thoughts – I will be one of many!
I’m so glad we’ve kept in touch, too, Candace! Every day, I am thankful for all the new friendships I’ve made through blogging! Thank you for your sweet thoughts & prayers. Every single one is very much appreciated 🙂
Emily, please know that the whole VRAI Magazine family will be hoping and praying for the best! Be strong and know that we are thinking of you!
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Thank you so much, Danny! I really appreciate it 🙂
Emily I am so sorry to hear the news! I can certainly understand what you are going through. It is a frightening and ominous feeling to have something like this. My oldest daughter had a brain tumor (prolactenoma) in 2012 and had it removed in 2013. Thankfully it was benign but it was causing the most horrible symptoms and we knew she couldn’t live like that. Although there were a few health issues as a result of the brain tumor and surgery, my daughter is doing very well and is back to college. Breathe easy and rest assured it will be ok. You are in my thoughts and prayers… and I so wish I lived closer so I could come cook for you and your husband during your recovery! Hugs to you Emily!
Karista, you are the sweetest! I am so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well. I know as surgery day draws closer, I will be a nervous wreck, but it helps to know I have so many good thoughts and prayers coming my way! They are so very much appreciated 🙂 Thank you 🙂
My dear friend, I am deeply saddened to read about your impending surgery. I will be praying and thinking of you from this moment until you give the “thumbs up and all is well” sign… and then probably some more after that. Lots of love and hugs and smiles and laughter and good books and happy thoughts to you!
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Michele, thank you so much for all of your sweet wishes and hugs & smiles! They mean so much to me! I am planning to post updates here as well as on Facebook as I’m able & feeling up to it. Your prayers are very much appreciated 🙂
Dear Emily, My wife, Nadia and I, hope and pray that all will go well for you. I am a friend of your dad’s from our first year at
UK. We have kept in touch ever since, and we have occasionally visited each other. I think the world of both your dad and mom. They are great people who have raised a wonderfully gifted daughter. Your writing is superb. I enjoy your blog for its written quality. I appreciate you for your many achievements.
I know something of the dread that you feel about the coming surgery. While I didn’t have surgery, I was in the hospital for a week when I had a serious eye infection back in 1959. It was a frightening experience. Just trust in your surgeon and staff. You know that you have the love of your husband, your parents and the rest of us!
Our Best to You,
George and Nadia Yount
Please know that we will be with you in thought on April 15, as well as every day before and after.
Hello George! Thank you so much for your note. My dad has often talked of you, and I’m glad you’ve been able to keep in touch! Thank you for your encouraging words; I know I will be in very good hands during and after my surgery, though that doesn’t make me less nervous!
Thank you for sharing what you are going through in such an informative and yet personal way. You know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Sounds like you are in good hands and someone you have confidence in as well.
Your blog is great. I will be a more regular reader now for sure.
I know your Mom will keep me informed and will be a help to you along your journey back to full recovery.
Marty & Dave Winters
Marty & Dave, Thank you so much for your thoughts & prayers! All are greatly appreciated 🙂
Thinking of you tomorrow! Hope everything goes well. Sending some good vibes and prayers your way.
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Thank you so much, Michelle <3
Hi Emily. I am not sure how I missed this beautiful post. I love so many things about it: how your father regained his hearing, how the orchid came back to life and how it all worked out in the end. It will work out in the end for you too. I hope your surgery goes well and that your recovery is swift. Hugs!
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Thank you so much, Kelly <3
My eyes are fills with tears to read this post. I think it may have been my Facebook post with the video you reference (I remember your comment on it), and I loved hearing more specific details about your father’s cochlear implant. That turn signal moment gave me chills. I also am so touched by your generosity of spirit in this post to share so candidly about your tumor…about the emotional roller-coaster you’ve been going through…and about the incredible hope your orchid plant has represented for you. Such a beautiful and apt metaphor for this journey you are on.
I am lifting you up in prayer today, Emily, as you undergo your surgery – – for you to have peace in your heart and for the doctors to have clarity and focus. Whatever comes, I know it will become a beautiful part of your life story. You are just one of those people who I know will bloom in any circumstance. LOVE comin’ atcha!
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Hugs and kisses to you, Lauren, for your sweet thoughts and prayers. It was indeed your Facebook post; I’ve seen it circulating again this week and cannot help but get teary-eyed every time it comes up in my newsfeed. I am very happy to be home now, but know I still have weeks and months of recovery time ahead of me. One day at time, as they say! xoxo