The Lounge Lizard has finally flown the coop! Twenty-five days post-surgery, and I am slowly stretching my lizard wings. I even drove my daughter to mall on Friday! I still have to take it easy, which can be frustrating when I *think* I feel well enough to do something but then learn halfway through that I’m not quite ready. My trip to Target late last week left me in tears because I wanted to do more, but my body couldn’t handle it.
A friend of mine mentioned the other day that my journey through this process has been a glimpse of my faith. I’m ashamed to say that I have not taken the time to really reflect on the solid ways the Lord has been with me. It’s way past time to take a look at my walk and give thanks to the One who has pulled me through. I pulled together some of my blogs during my journey and have found these to be a representative timeline of my journey. Be warned that this is a long post. At 4021 characters, it may be the longest post I’ve ever written. But the words on it are not new. Rather, they are quotes from some of my previous blogs.
I begin experiencing extreme pain every month. The pain became so severe that I became anxious and fearful about the next episode. We vacationed in Florida and experienced torrential rainfall and storms but still had an amazing trip. Being on the beach, surrounded by beauty, made me realize this: “Whatever storm may be pounding you, rest assured that it will pass by. I’m left with a peaceful realization that the storms the Lord is allowing in my life are shaping me, just as Hurricane Charlie shaped the coastline of Captiva. To my Creator I am an expanse of sand just waiting to be made into something that glorifies Him.”
I struggled with anxiety through having a CT Scan because of some health issues I’d been facing. I wrote this entry about Luke 20: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” I used to pass over that verse thinking that it didn’t apply to me, but now I’m not so sure. I looked up the Greek word for “falls” — and one of its meanings is to fall prostrate before someone. Perhaps it means that those of us who follow Jesus, who fall at his feet, are the ones who will be broken to pieces. Perhaps we have to be broken to pieces so He can remake us again. If that’s the case, he has a regular Humpty Dumpty on his hands with me today, because I feel broken and bruised, physically (from the anxiety attack earlier — sore neck, weak, shaky legs, extreme fatigue) and emotionally (why didn’t I feel Him?) Fortunately, the fact that I didn’t perceive Him is irrelevant. He was there. My King WILL put me back together again. Someday.”
The Lord walks with me through another CT Scan…this time, without the panic attack. About the technician, I wrote, “Then I looked up at him and noticed he was wearing a beautiful cross around his neck. His eyes were kind. And right then I knew that with my family waiting outside the room for me, the Lord with me inside my soul, and this Born Again Christian inserting my IV and working the machine, I was indeed in very good hands. I’ve had many IVs in the course of my life, and I have never had anyone insert it so gently as that man did yesterday. Thanks be to God, He shielded me from another panic attack by his Word, by the prayers of my family and friends, and by his Presence. I was tended to by a like-minded Christian. I had my family with me, supporting me. So even though I was terrified, even though I dreaded another CT scan, the contrast dye and the subsequent metallic tang in my mouth and flushed feelings, I faced them all. My heart pounded wildly, but my legs did not shake. I sensed the full armor of God flanking me, keeping out the obsessive thoughts. Yesterday, his armor protected me from myself.”
December 29, 2009
I wrote a post about my eager expectations for the coming year. “Perhaps these medical trials are merely paths God is using to teach me to trust him. He is there for me. He provides me with all that I need or could ever hope for. He fills my empty places and heals my wounds. He satisfies me when I am restless. He is the Source. His word fills me.”
My OB/GYN doctor suggests that I have a diagnostic laparoscopy. My response was to find a new doctor because I was afraid of surgery.
Blood work reveals chronic inflammation somewhere in my body. Again, endometriosis is suspected, and surgery is recommended. In this post about my anxieties, I wrote, “Tomorrow I have an appointment with a doctor who will hopefully help me figure out the strange blood test results. I’ve already had two doctors tell me I need surgery to determine whether I have endometriosis and to remove it. My response was to not go back to either one of them. I kept hoping that maybe menopause will come early — no period, no pain, right? I can deal with severe pain a couple days of month.” (yeah, right. That’s what I thought!)
As chronicled here, I want to die so I would not have any more pain. The night before a pre-op appointment for a diagnostic laparoscopy, I felt the Lord had abandoned me to my fears and to my pain. I wrote, “I’m considering a decision to NOT have surgery and learn to live with the pain instead. I just want to be normal, please? I am sitting here feeling furious with the Lord. I feel like He has abandoned me. He has lowered me into a slimy pit, and at this moment in time, I’d just really rather not be here. On this earth. I’d rather be with Him in a place where there is no pain and fear is absent.”
The pre-op appointment gave me a lesson in faith, and I decided to postpone my surgery. I wanted to be healed by God’s own hand rather than through surgery.
I’m still believing Jesus can heal me, if he will only say the word. I thought, “Just say the word, Jesus. That is my plea, too! I want to be healed of endometriosis, of fibromyalgia, and of anxiety. I DO have that faith. I know nothing is impossible for Jesus…and I also know that there may be times in my life that he allows me to suffer so He can mold me and shape me…so I can learn something, so I lean on Him. Just say the word, Jesus, and I will be healed.”
I experience one of the worst episodes of pain in my life, to the point of wanting to die. For the first time, I contemplate having a hysterectomy and not just a diagnostic laparoscopy. I’m still waiting on God for healing, believing for a different solution than surgery. “I seek healing and wholeness from the True Physician. He heals ALL diseases. No matter what it is that is causing my pain, He can make it go away. So why hasn’t he yet? I don’t know. But I hold onto the word YET. Because I know He loves me. I know He died for me. And I know He has victory over this pain. Perhaps he allowed me to go through this dreadful weekend so that I will be more likely to face my fear of surgery and go through with it. May He give me the grace and the faith I need to get through until my healing comes.”
I travel — by plane, alone, without my hunky husband to hold on to — to a pain clinic in south Texas and begin receiving treatments using an experimental electrical stimulation machine. I was excited that the Lord walked with me: “I still can’t believe that I journeyed there by myself without the sturdy hand of my husband keeping my anxiety at bay on the airplane…yet, in a way, I can believe it, because the Kingdom of God is IN me. Jesus’ strong hands carried me through the week. And although I was lonely, I was never alone.”
The experimental treatment appears to be working! I feel excited and hopeful that this is my answer…that the Lord brought me on a new path towards healing that didn’t include surgery. As I documented in my blog, “For the first time in over a year, my bad cramps were stopped. They started up around noon, and I ran a special protocol the doctor had given me…and the bad pain eased! This is so amazing that I’m still pinching myself to believe it.”
I’m again experiencing tremendous pain and a great deal of anxiety and brain pain. “All that pain is wearying. Yet there must be a reason in the madness. God is Sovereign. He created me and knows why I experience such anxiety and pain. One day He will restore me to perfect health, of that I am certain. This life of mine on earth is temporary.”
Depression weighs me down. The flu season and the snow have me longing for spring…for new birth, and for healing. “Lord. You give us beautiful seasons…and you also take them away…and I praise you for the spring only You can see that is lying dormant under the earth.”
Another bout with massive pain hits me. As I wrote here, “Little men holding wrenches are pinching various places on my body: my ovaries, my lower back, my hips, my rear end, my upper thighs, my head.” It’s been two steps forward and one step back, and I wonder if the electrical treatments are still helping.”
My suffering with fibromyalgia impacts the whole family. “She (my daughter) told me, with tears in her eyes, that she missed the me I used to be. She asked me why I always look so sad and depressed and why I seem to have no more joy. She said she wanted her old mommy back.” Yet I still offer praise to God.
I am still in a downward spiral of pain, depression and anxiety. As I wrote, “…yet my soul inexplicably weeps. I am so weary of feeling poorly that I have just about given up. I don’t even remember what it feels like to have a good day. I feel ashamed of the state of my soul….as for counting it all joy? The joy before me is beyond my horizon, but I have to believe it is coming. Somehow, someway, God will make me better than new. He will make me mature and complete, not lacking in anything. I can only hope it will happen THIS side of heaven!”
I’m still waiting on the Lord for relief from pain but believe my healing will come. I mused, “Many times I am asked how I am feeling. Usually I respond, “fine,” because I don’t want to bore people with a long list of what looks like a hypochondriac’s nightmare. Lately, it’s become more a question of what doesn’t hurt rather than what does hurt….The only real Controller of my life is the Lord. Even if I am hurting everywhere, I am still “fine,” because I continue to believe that my healing will come. I don’t know when…I don’t know by what means or even where it will happen…but it will.
Once again, I contemplate the reality that maybe the Lord’s plan for me IS surgery for healing. “Again…I need to adjust my “shoulds” into the reality that I don’t want to face: the Lord may not heal me with natural methods. I might have to clear the fear hurdle and have surgery, but I can’t keep living this way, arranging my whole life around my cycle and the associated pain. Tonight my legs literally shook from weakness as I washed a few dishes. I don’t make this stuff up. It’s real.”
The Lord leads me to write a blog about Naaman’s healing and to look at his story in light of my own. “When I compare my journey to Naaman’s, I am still on my way. I know my healer is Jesus. I have knocked on His door. Like Naaman, I have not seen my healer’s face. I haven’t yet heard his prescription for my healing. But I’ve asked, and I know that I will receive.”
I look at who the Lord has placed in my life to help me endure the pain. ” I’m not sure I can respond that way (with joy)…at least not in my own power. But what I can do is see what –and who — the Lord has placed in my life that helps me endure: His word that lights my path and assurance that one day I WILL be healed. A Christian doctor who is working to find a cause for my pain so I can be healed. A hunky husband who cooks his own supper and does the dishes while I wilt on the couch. A beautiful daughter who tucks me in instead of asking me to walk up the stairs to tuck her in. And a delightful nine-pound-fluffball who clicks her way up onto the couch and into my heart.”
I admit to myself that God’s plan for me might be surgery. “For the last two to three years, I have been on a health journey of my own. I’ve prayed and asked Jesus to heal me. There is no doubt in my mind that He has the power to do so…he conquered the grave, after all. And the New Testament is full of stories of Jesus healing many people — some, like the woman who had the bleeding problem for twelve years, just touched his clothes and were healed. So when my doctor trotted out the idea of a hysterectomy a couple of years ago, I was so offended that I left his practice and got a second opinion. And a third. And now a fourth. It’s as if God is herding me….well…to the south, towards surgery…..In a way, God has already moved me to the desert. While I am here, He will not abandon or forsake me. He will take my hand and lead me through to the other side…to the land flowing with health and vibrancy and energy. He will take me through this crushing anxiety. As surely as I trust gravity to keep my feet on the ground, I will trust the Lord to set my medical plans in place as He intends them…”
I’m again wounded by pain. I’ve just about reached the limits of my ability to cope with these thorns in my flesh. “I just thought of another reason I may have so many thorns pricking my body…maybe God is nudging me ever closer to the decision to have the hysterectomy. After all, I did ask Him for a sign. I just didn’t think it would involve a jungle of thorns.”
I’m resolved that a hysterectomy is the way the Lord wants me to go. “I’ve touched Jesus’ metaphorical robe and have believed that he WILL heal me of ALL my suffering — emotional and physical. Yet I perceive through the twists and turns of my path thus far that the means by which He will heal me will be through medical science. So the way I touch Jesus’ robe today is in believing that He will supernaturally — dynamos — guide the surgeon’s hands. This will not be another dead end for me. This surgery will be the Lord’s way of healing me through the hands — and prayers — of my medical team. ”
I compiled a list of verses to help hold me up as I faced anxiety about surgery.
I called the doctor to schedule surgery. “I still cannot believe that I picked up the phone and dialed TOSCHEDULEMAJORSURGERY. I am sick of being sick and am ready for healing any way God chooses to bring it….hopefully in this life and in this body, so I can serve him again for His glory…but it is HIS timeline, not mine.”
Twenty days from surgery, I pre-registered with the hospital. “Yet I am hopeful that I will reclaim myself and that God will use this experience to demonstrate to me and to others His grace, His protection, His mercy, and His healing. Back when Jesus walked the streets of Galilee, physicians did not have the expertise to surgically correct conditions that they now can. But God had the power then, and he still holds that power today. I am adjusting to the reality that His way of revealing that power in my life is through surgery. So…with 872 words, I’ve convinced myself again that yes, in my particular case, a figurative medical sledgehammer is appropriate…in twenty days.”
October 8, 2011. My feet have grown not just cold about the surgery, but FRIGID. Yet I remain resolved, writing, “If only I can get through these next 18 days without having a nervous breakdown! Pray for me, please! This battle I’m waging against myself is every bit as horrific as a real battle with weapons. I guess it’s not against myself, is it? It’s spiritual warfare. It’s against the powers and principalities. They will NOT win.”
October 13, 2011. I reflect on ways the Lord is preparing me and taking care of me. “So this afternoon I am grateful for friends and family who stand with me…and especially for the Lord who has ALL OF THIS MESS that is me in His capable, faithful hands. My wise friend who has walked in my shoes reminded me to BELIEVE.”
October 16, 2011. Some hiccups occurred that may have postponed the hysterectomy. But God took care of the details, as I wrote, “I saw a twitter posting the other day that really resonated with my belief that I need to JUST BELIEVE. It said if you pray for rain, be sure to carry an umbrella! In other words, act as if your prayer has already been answered. For me this means that I need to act as if God already has all the bases covered for me. His will for me will be done. If surgery is still His plan for me for October 26, then there will be room for me to get an appointment. God is the God of everything, including high maintenance patients, patient appointments, surgeon schedules, and surgery countdowns.”
October 17, 2011. I learned that I have to have an endoscopy, a procedure that scared me to the point of giving up. “I want to give up. I want to cancel all doctor appointments and my surgery. This burden is too big for me to carry. I’ve given it to the Lord but it doesn’t yet FEEL like He has it. I believe He has everything under control, so why do I FEEL so anxious anyway….So this afternoon I am checking out for awhile. Heading to the “broom tree” to sit and pray. Not for death, but for courage that comes from outside of myself as well as an angel or some Word that will give me strength for the journey ahead.”
October 18, 2011. I find courage and peace through the Word and through the prayers of my friends, family, and dear readers. “Please keep praying because I can literally feel it! Several times since I’ve been home sandwiched in heating pads, I’ve felt an odd — but very calming — peace steal over my body, coming out of nowhere. I know it must be due to somebody’s prayers for me that the Lord is answering. Lift me up, please! I need that peace that passes all understanding to guard my heart — and especially my mind — in Jesus.”
October 20, 2011. I experienced the Lord’s peace through the endoscopy procedure. “My prayer is that the Lord will grant me that same peace of mind and heart from now through next week’s surgery and beyond. I am eager to get this “Itis-Girl” chapter of my life written so I can embark on a whole new story.”
October 23, 2011. I post a wish list of things I can do after my hysterectomy and remark on the wonder of the peace I am experiencing. “Looking ahead to this weekend, I thought I would be jittery and scared to death. Yet so far that is not the case at all. I am experiencing that peace that passes human comprehension; it can only be the Lord guarding my mind and my heart. In fact, I am starting to fantasize about all the fun activities I will be able to do once I cross over this surgery hump and get over to the other side of health. Pain has limited my life to such an extent that sometimes I feel like a little old hermit, tethered to the heating pad. I thought it would be fun to list some of the things I’m looking forward to, post surgery.”
October 26, 2011. I had a hysterectomy!
I posted my first post-op blog. “Well…I’m alive! One week ago today, I was having surgery. It’s hard to believe that I am already one week post-op, but the calendar doesn’t lie. Your prayers for peace lifted me.”
I became anxious about the antibiotics I will have to take to eradicate H Pylori from my body. “So…for me to casually pop twelve pills a day down my throat….will take a miracle. Literally. Please pray for me to do the right thing. And for there to be an alternative therapy for me. I want to be well. But at what cost?”
I realize this has been a novel, not a blog post. But there is healing and life in taking the time to reflect on the specifics of how the Lord led me from the desert to the edge of the Promised Land. When I wrote way back in 2009 that the Lord would use the storms in my life to shape me, I had no idea that I was about to embark on a medical odyssey that would take me to an oncologist, a rheumatologist, several gynecologists, a pulmonary specialist, and eventually force me down the road to the decision to have a hysterectomy.
Looking back, I see that it would have been so much easier for me to:
- Go to the doctor about my digestive issues. I should have done this as far back as January of 2010. Instead, out of fear of what I’d find out and fear of having to endure another endoscopy, which I had to have anyway, I put myself through needless suffering. All because of a lack of faith.
- Have the hysterectomy a long time ago.
Yet I am reminded that God’s will IS done. He will not be thwarted. Debilitating pain finally persuaded me to face my fears…and I found that the Lord was with me all along. He was standing there, before and behind me, a Pillar of strength and of peace. If I actually believed that with my whole self instead of hiding away and denying the road marked before me out of fear, I could have saved myself and my family a great deal of pain.
And that’s what life is all about it, isn’t it? Free choice? God gives us the choice to make decisions, but He is still sovereign and knows what is best for us. Now if I can only hold on to that truth about my H Pylori infection and about other anxieties in my life, I will be truly changed through this process. I hope and pray I will let go of fear driving my decisions and will instead look to His Power to drive me down my timeline, from this point forward.