Monday, January 14, 2013

What I have Learned from Surgery

I'm not even sure where to begin.  When I last posted on this blog I believed my life was about to change.  I believed it would be an incredible emotional roller coaster finalizing what I feel is the depth of womanhood being taken from my body.  It sounds so dramatic now, but in truth I was incredibly overwrought with hormones from the tumors giving me Way too much estrogen to deal with the grief of losing my uterus.  

Today I had my 6 week checkup from my surgery.  The past six weeks have been both a blurry unattainable dream followed by slow agonizing and isolating days. . . Again this might sound a bit dramatic but my life has become something I had never thought possible.  

Well, I had the hysterectomy, but apparently I surprised everyone by having a ton of scar tissue connecting the bulk of my lower organs all tangled together.  This explains so much unexplainable pain over the past few years.  In the process of removing that, as well as my uterus, the doctor wound up slicing my bladder.  I spent 4 days in the hospital as my fever wouldn't subside and I wasn't able to eat nor control my pain level.  I was released with a catheter and the next couple of weeks were blurry.  I know I talked to my doctor twice a day as something was wrong but no one seemed to know what it was.  I went back to the hospital several times for tests.  Back and forth to the doctor's office.  Eventually landing in a urologist office days before Christmas.  They rushed me back into surgery that night to put 2 stints into my ureters as one of them had also been cut during the surgery and it was dumping urine into my body cavity.  There was so much in there that it was cutting off my other ureter and severely affecting my other kidney.  I remember two days after Christmas thinking that I had finally woke up.  All the days before that just seem like a dream of suffering and confusion and blurriness.  

I've had a catheter these past 6 weeks.  Who would have thought that was a blessing when I was unable to get out of my bed and my husband would (as we now joke) go to the bathroom for me (aka tend to my catheter).     Currently I am going to the hospital every 2 weeks for a test to see if the ureter is still leaking.  Until it stops leaking I will have to keep the catheter in.  Then if all heals well, in 3 months I will have the stints removed.

I'm certain I will talk about this more in time, but I want to document it and state where I am today.

At 6 weeks - this is what I've learned:

1.  I have no control.  You know, by now I truly thought I would have learned that lesson do the depth of my soul. . . but apparently I still have another level or two, or thousand to go with this lesson.  I have been unable to take care of myself.  Even when I had meningitis all those years ago I still could go to the bathroom by myself!
2.  God gave me my husband for this time.  I am an independent woman.  I truly love my husband but we were married when I was in my 30's and him in his 40's.  We both had lived quite a bit and had our own places.  We had friends, lives, and habits well established in our individual lives before we ever met.  Now there is truly no one I would rather spend time with then him.  However I did not know the man I had married to this level before now.  In the almost 7 years we have known each other I did not know he could cook (other then grilling meat).  I did not know he could keep the house almost as clean as me (okay probably cleaner in some areas if I'm being honest).  Although I knew he wasn't lazy, I did not know his level of tireless commitment to me.  He took an entire month off tending to my every needs as well as the household.  He cooked, cleaned, and still wakes up in the middle of the night to take care of my catheter so I  can get more sleep.  I have never felt so helpless, and therefore have never realized how much I have not allowed my husband to be a helpmate to me.  I'm sad it took this to find out his gifts. . . also sad that I've been over cooking the fish all these years (he reads directions and the fish is Amazing!!!).
3.  I am Terrible at every aspect of the word "Patient."  As the past couple of sermons from church (thankfully ours is shown online so I don't have to miss it) have been about grace, I realize I have NO grace for myself.  I am ready to move on and get off of this couch and out of my bed.  However every single person (not to mention the doctors) are begging me to sit still.  I do, but my attitude has lacked at times.  I sit for a week and then expect everything to be better.  The doctor says I'm healing way faster then he expected - and all I can hear is "I'm not healed yet."  What is my hurry?!  What is this life I need to hurry to get back to?  I have had time to build up some of my friendships that I have longed to work on.  I have received love, prayers, and support showing me that God has provided me a support system that I didn't even realize was so vast.  What is so bad about "patient?"  

I'm certain this lesson and time of learning will be ongoing for months. . . the doctors have told me due to the extensiveness of both surgeries that I will have to take it easy (I'm not even allowed to walk - which is bizarre) except in basic activities.  So consider this the first installment of my life so far.  

At least God has already brought forth some significant life lessons to let me know as always He is forever molding me through His Loving Transformation. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The End is Near but I'm still being Held

It's getting close.  I've spent so much time in constant communication with God lately that I've long since lost the beginning and end of my prayers.  I think this is the closest I've been to the concept of "prayer without ceasing."  I thought I would be more desperate at this point.  I know this is where I belong right now.  I'm incredibly uncomfortable.

Currently my ankles are swollen, my tummy is distended and painful. . . and sleep eludes me until I'm at the point of exhaustion.  I've cleaned, scrubbed and gone through more then a year's worth of magic erasers!  Speaking of which those things are great but when you scrub with fervor - they tend to quickly disintegrate right in your hand!  It's not that I need to scrub with fervor - it's that it feels better to.  My husband has been a trooper through it all as he's just followed with whatever list I have in my mind or on paper at that moment.  I have successfully stocked up the house so that we can hold up in here like a bunker for months!  I have reorganized and reprinted all my files at work.  My desk has never looked so clean and that's in the middle of the work day!

I know what I'm doing. . . I'm trying to control what I can.  The truth is even as I'm scrubbing doors (yes, I said doors!) - it makes no difference.  The end is near.  No amount of scrubbing, cleaning, organizing, planning, wishing, dreaming, hoping, nor praying will change that fact.

At now 37 years old I know for a fact that in life there are many beginnings and there are many endings.  I have never really been fond of the ending even though it inevitably brought a beginning along with it.  I've said this before that there needs to be death for there to be life.

For now I don't know the exact picture of "life" on the other side of the death of my hopes and dreams of my own biological child.  What I do know is that He promised to be there for me.  I know He's been here recently holding me up, encouraging me, and loving me in spite of my emotional battle within.

What I've been thinking about is all the promises that He did not make.  He did not promise me biological children.  As I sat at a table of dear friends the other night who happen to have the common bond of all being labeled "infertile" by this world and circumstances, one of my friends mentioned that she felt like she always knew.  One by one we went around the table and each admitted something we hadn't spoken before - at least not in group.  We all admitted that as long as we could remember we had strong "intuition" that we would not be able to have biological children.  It was really unusual.  We have this common bond but we don't usually all agree on something so profound.

I firmly believe God has been taking care of me each step of the way to prepare me for what is about to happen.  I had dreams, but somehow they always seemed like someone elses   People said I was being silly that they are mine and He will fulfill them.  The thing is - He never said that.

One of my favorite songs that just came to my mind is Held by Natalie Grant.  It's a wretched song of great loss and deep sorrow.  It's also a song that will take me from extreme, deep, sadness to sitting soberly.  The overview of the song is that though terrible things can and do happen like loss - but that He will be there to hold you.  How profound is peace when you are being held in the midst of a storm?  That's what this is.

That's what He is!  I'm not saying He doesn't redeem, but He will not "rescue" me from this situation if it's in His greater plan to bring life to me in other ways.

For now I will remain "Held" and look forward to tomorrow. . . tomorrow!

HELD  by Natalie Grant
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To Think That Providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
Were asking why this happens to us
Were asking...
Who have died to live, it's unfair

Chorus:
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

Chorus:

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tomorrow's Troubles

Thanksgiving came and went.  We had a good day with friends and food.  I cooked the most un-stressful Thanksgiving meal ever.  I didn't have one disagreement with my husband in what usually comes out in the stress of the preparation.  Everything came together quite easily.  

As I've been saying, this is not my first serious surgery, and this is the third time I have faced extended bed rest.  This time feels so different.  I don't even feel like I care about the fact that I will have to check out of my life for 4-6 weeks.  In that way past experience has taught me that all will be taken care of and life will be able to survive without me.  I'm not even being as unbelievably picky as the last time having prepared all of my own meals in advanced to make certain I had the perfect nutritional sustenance to recover the best and fastest.  That's ironic as I have more dietary restrictions by far then I did the last time.  Here's where I stand. . . 

Part of me is so numb to the excessive crying, the black cloud of "why me", and just so over this whole situation all together. . . that I'm ready to move on with my life.  I want to skip this part, get my house finished, and get our family started. 

Ultimately I do not want to finish the hard part of this time in my life.  It's like the multitude of "projects" I have in my house.  I get to a point of difficulty.  I actually try several angles, and all to often give up for a time.  

I realize major surgery and the forever inability to have biological children of my own does not look like it should relate to home improvement projects but it's pretty similar   There's a lot of gutting out the old stuff, trying and failing multiple ways of fixing the problem, seeking wise advice, giving up on what seems hopeless, looking up written instructions, and then lastly having a solution that only could have come from God.

I recently read a blog post from Jennifer Dyer http://jenniferdyer.net/  She wrote, "I wanted tomorrow’s words today, tomorrow’s trouble today."  

Wow how that statement is so true for me.  It's been true for me too long.  I want to just skp the hard part and have tomorrow's words today.  I wan the benefits of life's lessons which with Gods' help would produce a wise and wonderful future.  Except that I want it now without the troubles, the trials, and the actual homework it takes to have that wisdom in times of trials, that knowledge to address a new trial.   

I Certainly do not want the second part first.  I do Not want tomorrow's trouble today.  Let's be honest I could not actually handle tomorrow's trouble today.  I've thought of that a lot.  If I had been told in 2009 that my only option left was a hysterectomy, I know I would not have been able to handle it.  I had high dreams for my family but no where in there was the "no, never" of the biological aspect of it.  We've always wanted to foster and adopt but just as real as that is so was the dream of the biological saggy diapered child in my heart and mind (last blog post)  


Matthew 6:34 ESV

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  I would definitely agree with that!  I do not want tomorrow's troubles on top of what I'm already dealing with today.  I can't imagine that plate full!  Today I will pray and work with God on these troubles and allow myself the time to deal with them, so when tomorrow's come - I will at least have today's taken care of.  

Thankfully still learning through His Loving Transformation. . .  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Can't Breath

I feel like I can't breath.  I know it's in my mind.  I know it's emotionally based.  It's just that right now it feels very real.  

This past week I have two very good appointments.  Apparently I do not have anything wrong with my kidney, nor is the bacterial infection active.  In fact the doctor said my body fought it off.  On that news alone I should be on cloud 9!  I have not heard a doctor say one positive thing about my body Especially fighting off infections since having Meningitis all those years ago.  

So I took the next step to schedule the surgery.  They only have one date open in December.  It's barely before Christmas.  I'm still waiting to see if I have secured the date for sure.  Hopefully they'll know on Monday.  

When I spoke to the nurse she asked me if I had delivered any children.  I said, "no."  She said, "oh good!"  - You can't make that stuff up, it caught me off guard how happy and flippant she was about it.  I have thought about it (of course).  I was thinking it was because the date is right before Christmas and she was concerned I wouldn't be able to take it.  

Christmas. . . I prayed so hard this whole year that we would at least have children in this home by this Christmas.  It feels like I've been praying that prayer for a lifetime.

My husband turns 47 on Monday.  Why does the time keep racing by while I stand still without the ability to change any of it?  I love him so much but feel so heartbroken that this body is so broken.  I wanted to believe the lies.  I created a whole little world of what could be like, in my mind for our little family.  But that's a lie. 

My reality is that all too soon any fleeting hope will be gone.  All the thoughts of who our child would look like, which characteristics their personality would take after, who's vision issues, sporting talent, and intelligence they would take after will be discussions that I know for certain will never take   place.  

It's incredibly hard being a woman without a womb.  The doctor said I would feel so much better.  In fact he said better then I had in many, many years.  While I agree with him physically, I'm struck emotionally with the finality of the end of a dream.  

My husband is the baby in his family.  I swear ever since I've met him, before I ever heard the stories of his youth, I've seen our son.  I saw him running around with the saggy diaper and the big, round, bald head laughing and playing with whatever ball he can find.  I've been dreaming about him for years.  Now I feel like I was just told he died.  I can't describe the grief as it's so deep. . . it's just that I can't breathe.  My sky has turned cold and grey.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

How can Death create Life?

Have you ever really thought about compost?  It's things that are to be thrown away.  It's garbage!  It's the rotting and death of food, leaves, and things that were living and are already dead - like paper.  It's the oddest thing as compost is what is recommended to use to grow things.  When you read gardening and plant books they talk about compost all the time.  How is it that death is used to create life even in plants. . .


I've been thinking a lot lately as "everything" is going on right now with my health.  I'm still a bit surprised that I'm not depressed.  I've said this before but this is not my first go around.  I have had two other major illnesses in my life that put me on bed rest.  The first time I was so ill I had to crawl to the bathroom.  I went from running around every single day of the week like the crazy twenty something I was.  Then going to nothing, just pain, weakness, and silent bed rest.  At that time I thought of it as the greatest torture there ever was.  

I learned a lot out of that time period in my life, one of which was the world is not being held up by my arms alone.  People, social events, and committees went on without me.  My new position at work went on without me.  

I remember going to the doctor for my weekly appointment and asking her when I could go back to work.  At one point she finally looked at me exasperated and told me 'until I could skip into her office, then I had no business being anywhere but in bed.'  I was so mad at her.  The life I had built was moving on, but she didn't care, her main focus was on my health.  Truly I was so ill I was barely making it at times and she kept threatening to put me in the hospital for the duration of my recovery if I didn't just get some rest.  I didn't want rest. . . I was a fool.  I look back now and know that I was an arrogant fool. 

I didn't think I was someone amazing.  At that point I had been in a helping field, volunteering, and in helping positions for years.  I truly believed I was the only one who could fill my role.  I wasn't wrong. . . in that God has a plan for my life and He has a role meant for me to fill.  However I am not a savior.  I am not some amazing healer that can solve all the people's problems.  I am unable to heal their hearts.  I can not meet the needs of all.  Those I do touch I do know that God is the healer, I am merely His earthly tool.  

What I learned during that time is that everything I believe to be important is nothing.  Everything on earth (besides the Holy Spirit) is fleeting, including life.  On this earth all that I hold dear can and will be taken away from me.  If not now, then in death.  

I almost died in this illness.  I suffered greatly during as well as many years to come.  

It changed me.  It molded me in a way I had not known before.  

It did not define me, nor am I identified by it.  

The only reason I stand here now, changed, grown, better because of it - is because of God.  He is the only One who can make something meant for death and use it to create growth, to create life.  

Sometimes it is necessary to be surrounded by death in order to produce great fruit.

In His continual Loving Transformation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Strength in Peace

17 


She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong. Prov 31:17 ESV

I'm starting to feel like that ice-breaker game we would play in youth group.  You know the one where you sit in a circle, each person stating their name and some previously specified subject about them (such as favorite food, etc).  Then the next person is supposed to repeat in order all the previous people who have stated this information.  That is until the whole table has had a chance.  The key to this game is to be able to be one of the first people giving the information that way you don't have to remember everything about everyone else.

I have currently completed my second doctor's visit, 1st specialist  with 2 out of 3 tests results returned.  Each doctor's visit as well as each test result has proliferated into another specialist, and more extensive as well as evasive testing.  As of tonight, I have a beautiful Kelly Green flex binder (that matches my current nail color) filling up quickly with results and appointments.  It has already become scheduling madness!  

This started only 1 week ago today. . . 

In the past when I would receive a bad diagnosis, I would cry, a lot.  I would wallow in my "why me, this isn't fair."  I have no idea why but this time is very different.  As the diagnosis keep getting more complicated, and a little more grim - I feel more peace.  I know this isn't denial because at this point I refuse to live like that.  There have been some tears but not the 'overwhelming snotty nose can't breathe kind.'  Mostly the 'I'm sad about this aspect' kind.   

The thing is this is kind of confusing to me.  It's as if each added doctor, and each degree of diagnosis makes me feel stronger.  Is that possible?  In my mind the other day I actually thought to myself, "bring it on - I've been through bad stuff before and this won't keep me down!"  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I think after spending most of my adult life battling a major illness every few years, I've learned a few things.  I've learned that He will provide.  I've learned that pain can be very real but doesn't last forever.  I've learned that I have a lot of people around me to support and love if I allow them to.  

I know that there will be some very bad days.  I also know there will be some incredible growth.  I'm certain there will be a real "breaking point" along the way.  At least there usually is.  I'm so thankful I don't have to figure that out on my own.  

As for the circle of names analogy - guess I'm going to be the one sitting in the last chair of the circle by the time this is over - I just hope this notebook keeps me remembering everyone's name and procedure!!

As this journey goes on, I know that the peace I feel now might later feel very far away.  I'm writing this to remember that no matter what diagnosis, no matter what test result, no matter the outcome - He will take care of me.  My strength comes from Him.    

In His Loving Transformation. . . 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day Two

Have you ever noticed how when you make a definitive statement about trusting in God, especially in light of bad news - that it appears that satan takes it as a personal challenge to increase the odds so that we'll turn away?  Well he has some talent in this area I'll give him that!

After the bad news yesterday, and the noticeably altered mood of my husband we decide to go to a feel good movie this afternoon to do some cheering up.  You know the kind - one where it's based on a true story and looks hopeless but in the end it all works out.  It's the kind you go to in order to be renewed of hope.  I thought some outside media intervention of God's divine intervention might be in order for this day after the bad news hit.  

The day was going very well.  Husband was a bit edgy and not wanting to talk about it - but that's how men deal with grief, they internalize it, process it, then eventually move on (I'm sure there's more, but from an outsider's view that's what I see).  Oh, and somewhere in that process they try to "kill" something (via video game, rooting for their favorite sports team, grilling a fresh piece of meat, etc - not sure how this applies but it truly does seem to work!).  Between last night and today it was no different.  

As I said, the day was going very well.  Then wouldn't you know it but the doctor's office I go to happens to be open until 6pm on Saturdays.  I actually didn't know that until today.  Today, when they called me at 4pm to tell me the results from what seemed like a simple urine test.  The one I didn't want to take (they're messy and gross and I don't like them).  It's one of 3 tests I had and to be honest again, I didn't think the results would be back until this next week (why is everyone working on the weekends now and in so much of a hurry to find things out??).  Lets just say my never had a bladder infection still holds true!  One for the record book - yeah?!???  Instead all those nasty red and white blood cells told a drastically different story.  

Have you ever had one of those moments when the doctor comes in, and starts telling you what's wrong and you hear them, but you don't understand?  You understand it's not good because of that tone they get, but you can't understand or even quite make out the words.  On top of it doctors talk in languages they think everyone knows.

I asked the same question probably 8 times.  "I don't understand, can you explain it again?"  I just could not grasp what he was saying.  I knew it was something bad, but I'm standing in my potential new running shoes at a store, on the phone, talking, but feeling like I'm in a different world?  I think my husband thought I was talking to a friend (as I can keep a light voice in a dark conversation - chalk it up to 15 years in the mental health field).  He walked away at that point, and I felt like I could concentrate a little better.  He mostly kept saying I needed to come back in and I could do it today before 6pm or Monday.  Neither would work and that's where I was getting stuck.  I concentrated enough to ask him to spell the diagnosis for me and quickly got off the phone.

As my husband wasn't back beside me yet, I quickly typed to my sister in law (the never-ending encyclopedia of medical issues - via personal history and good researching skills).  She quickly starts typing back info, she told me the other day about this but I honestly ignored her as I couldn't fathom the possibility.  Apparently the wise doctor ran the test for some strange bacteria that I've never heard of out of a hunch.  To tell you how much I love this doctor's office is an understatement. . . but after past serious health issues, I don't really like going there - they're terribly accurate about bad things!

Okay so day two. . . now how do I tell my husband this?  I just hand him my phone as words are unpronounceable and ask him to read.  He's mad.  I can understand that.  I'm surprised I'm not yet?  I have been in the past, but I guess at this point I just want to know how much longer until my kids?  How long with this one take?  You know, when they talk to you about preparing for children, they talk about logistics, but then in foster care training they really talk about your insides, your emotional and mental health so you can be strong for these kids.  I knew I needed to continue to work on that area.  I did not expect to have an overhaul on my physical health.

The good thing about both of these diagnosis is that if they are taken care of, then I might actually stop being sick for the first time in most of my life.  Today's diagnosis explains issues I've had for the bulk of my life.  I actually thought to myself that it almost sounds like I've been in a lifetime long HOUSE episode and someone just walked in the room and figured out what the problem has been.  

I'm hoping that this all works out, I have to.  Satan so wants to weezle his way in and be the center of this, making it into his tragedy.  I won't, I can't let it.  I've given him too many credits in my movie of life already.  I have to Hope that there is a greater plan for this pain, and the future pain that will inevitably come from the necessary surgery.  

He never said I had to enjoy the trials, He asked me to endure them - with His help.  All during His Loving Transformation of my life.