Orange expressions in bloom at University Hospital Anschutz gardens. I visited recently, contemplating my own admission at an open-heart surgery patient. Who would be praying for me in these lovely spaces in July? How would I cope with such a life-altering surgery? It was sobering to consider the same aortic graph surgery Dad had one year ago I’d now need!

When I met with my Cardiothoracic Surgeon this past spring, my March CTA noted significant aortic aneurysm growth. A summer surgery was imperative! I was shocked and devastated, but found solace in the encouragement of loved ones.

Later that day, I saw a dear friend in Denver who was a tremendous blessing to me, and gently reminded me:
It was going to be okay, I was greatly loved, I’d still be the same Caroline after surgery, and God would give me the peace, strength, and hope I needed.

This summer has been filled with meaningful moments, especially with my three daughters. These teenage years I’m leaning forward, engaging, intentional. We’ve held phenomenal moments with a holiday in California, and adventures here in Colorado, at parks and hiking, swimming, exploring, reading, writing, living well. I hoped my girls would navigate my surgery well; JP promised to coordinate everything (while working and in grad school full time)!

Last week I returned to Denver for another CTA to measure aneurysm growth at the 3 month mark. After all, it’s a balloon which doesn’t deflate! When I met with my surgeon again this week, we talked about our summer and what’s happening in life. He’s calm, gentle, assuring, and one of the most gracious doctors I’ve encountered.

And then he told me the scan from a few months ago, scanned at a different hospital, was measured at the wrong angle and my current scan is about the same size as my first scan 16 years ago. Instead of pre-op plans and emotional prep, my surgeon happily urged me to have a great school year teaching and that he’d see me next spring! No surgery planned, hopefully for a long time.

My entire life trajectory shifted and my narrative was rewritten. I’m humbled, moved, and deeply grateful for this miracle! It feels like I’ve been given a tangible gift of grace!