Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Recovery...My Therapy???

Grandad came by this morning and picked up my "littles" to go visit their cousins so it is just my very self-disciplined 14 year old and me at home!  What that means is a day off for this momma!

I should be cleaning or one of the other 101 chores that needs done, but then I decided I better conserve my energy to go out with some homeschooling friends tonight.

I'm not just using that as an excuse!  Really!  I am still recovering from an urgent surgery that was deemed necessary on April 24 (at least I think that's when it was!  My days have morphed together.). 

I'll warn you...this post is probably more for my own therapy, but it will also be good for my boys to be able to look back and understand more about this whirlwind that occurred in their lives in the spring of 2012!  It will also fill in the gaps for many friends who have been trying to figure out what happened to me.  (Men: you may not want to keep reading if you are sensitive to female issues!) one Wednesday I start feeling like I have to urinate constantly.  My urine is cloudy, which is super weird for me because I LOVE water.  By Thursday night, I have developed a dull pain in my right lower side.  The pain continues to intensify until I figure I have had another ovarian cyst rupture like I did 3 years ago.  I see my doc and she puts me on an antibiotic for a UTI and she agrees it is most likely a ruptured cyst.

The pain continues.  I finish the first antibiotic and start another.  The pain continues still.  My doc is waiting on my insurance to approve a CT scan, but that night I couldn't take anymore.  The pain had radiated across my entire pelvis and lower back.  We were concerned maybe it was my appendix at this point.

I speak to Tom who is away in Maryland for work.  We decide I should go to the ER.  Tom, who is ALWAYS Mr. Calm for me, freaks out a bit being away and calls my pastors.  They show up in their pjs to check on sweet is that?  My parents come to take me and my friend Amanda comes to stay with my boys. Later I will find out that my sweet Daddy fell out the door trying to get to me and fractured a rib!

In the ER, the CT scan reveals a 4-inch cyst, NOT RUPTURED, but growing all around my right ovary.  Because of its size, it is pressing on my ureter and slowing the flow of urine...which was causing bacteria to grow, thus infection and pain.  I also hallucinate at this time because of the demerol I am given for the pain.  FUN.

The day after the next, I go to the GYN to figure out what to do.  After getting to endure a complete pelvic exam and vaginal ultrasound (yes, I do know this is more info than you probably need, but I don't was a horrible day, I need to let it out, and this is REAL life!), the ultrasound tech is kinda gasping and saying, "HOW big did they say the cyst is?  Because I am getting 6x7x9 cm!  And, it looks to be more solid than fluid-filled."

OKAY!  Stop the crazy bus and let me off please!  What???  Why did she say this to me?  Why is she letting any reaction show?  Aren't they trained to keep it cool and let the doctor give any news?  

So then...after what I can only describe has pain you never want to go through as a woman, I am sent back to WAIT in the waiting room.  Does solid mean something bad?  I immediately text my friend Sandy who is a nurse and knows all kinds of things!  She texts back that solid may be a better deal, as they usually are less cancerous.  That helped some.  We text a couple more things.  I decide I just need to quit letting my thoughts run.  I open the Bible app on my phone and up pops Psalm 23...perfect!  I start reading it over and over and over...and over.  Sandy texts me again, and I tell her what I am doing.  Just as I hit "send," another text comes from her that says Psalm 23...  WHAT A KISS FROM GOD IN THAT MOMENT!

By the time I get back with the doctor again, I have tears running down my face and try to explain that I am just exhausted after being doubled over in pain for days at that point and enduring all the exams.  She lovingly explains that the cyst is probably filling up with blood and if it twists and cuts off blood flow, we will have a whole new set of problems so it's time to go into surgery.  This was a Friday and surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday.

The pain continued through the weekend.  I couldn't stand or walk much.  I pretty much spent 12 days on my side curled in a ball.

The morning of my surgery, I awoke at 4 A.M.  I would lay by my husband for an hour before we needed to leave.  I spent the time counting every blessing of my life.  From the simple comfort of my husband's warm body and steady breathing to holding my babies to seeing Alex come off that ventilator back in December...  

So many memories of a life blessed.  So few memories compared to all the ones I still want to make.

I hate the term "simple surgery."  No surgery is simple to the person who must face it.  How many "simple surgeries" have ended with a doctor telling a family, "I'm sorry.  Something went wrong."

I try to focus on Scripture and keep myself positive, but when you are faced with the unknown...when it is YOU that will be waiting for the pathology report to come back, it's a whole new ballgame...and one you can't really prepare for ahead of time in my opinion.

One of the loneliest moments of my life will forever be the minutes after they prepped me for that surgery and left me to wait before I could see my husband, mother, and friend, Laura.  My head was saying, "You will be fine."  My nerves were saying, "You never know."

I can honestly say that my faith in God has never been stronger than it is at this season of my life, but still I felt frightened.  Honestly, it made me mad.  I couldn't even pinpoint what I was frightened about!  But I did know the Spirit of God was right there with me.  I did have comfort in the midst, but I can't deny I was battling fear.

The "simple surgery" turned into a 2-hour long one that would (again, sorry, but I am keepin' it real) keep me in stirrups the entire time...which is STILL causing me hip problems.  The surgery was done laproscopically thankfully, so I only had 3 small incisions.  

What they found was endometriosis, which I had no idea I had.  It had grown on not only my ovary, but my uterus, intestine, and pelvic bone.  It all had to be scraped off.  There was also tons of scar tissue where cysts had formed and ruptured over and over... UGH!

Also, if you don't know, they pump your abdomen full of air when you have laproscopic surgery.  I think it is so they can see everything better.  Great for them; terrible for the patient.  It gets trapped in all kinds of areas inside you for days after and IT HURTS.  

Another aspect:  medications.  Friends, I can't take a Tylenol without feeling sleepy.  Nope, not even kidding.  This "simple surgery" is supposed to be a quick, outpatient procedure.  They gave me morphine and Dilaudid and thought they could get me up and outta there!  HA HA HA...won't happen with this girl!  I couldn't wake up for a while.

On top of the air pain, the surgery tenderness, and the aching hips, my sides burned with pain every time I had to move.  I have never known pain like that...NEVER.  Not even after birthing 3 babies...2 of them just shy of 10 pounds.  

Pain.  Horrible pain.  All I kept thinking was how did Jesus endure the cross?  HOW?  I can't even imagine the level of pain He felt?  At any moment He could have called down a legion of angels to rescue Him from that pain, but He CHOSE to endure until the end...  FOR ME???   FOR YOU???  FOR ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO WOULD CHOOSE TO RECEIVE HIS SACRIFICE???  

It's more than I can fathom.

Turns out I had developed pneumonia and a partial collapse of my right lower lung.  More antibiotics...which breaks down the good bacteria in your intestines, which leads to more issues you really don't want to hear about.  I had a reaction to the pain med I was sent home with; it made me itch all over!  I also developed pleurisy, which is basically inflammation in your cavity and lungs.  I will just say from my neck to my hips...I have endured a lot, and I am still getting over it all.  It still hurts to take a deep breath and sit for long.

Simple?  Not to the one who walks in the shoes...nor the ones who have to take care of her!

This week, however, I started taking long walks again, stretching, and doing deep breathing exercises.  I can teach my boys again.  I can enjoy family time and cook meals.  I can clean for a bit, except too low or too high.  I can laugh without hurting!  I can lay on both my sides.  Everyday gets a little better.

Oh, and I am BEYOND relieved and happy to say the pathology report came back benign.  

What I have learned is:  another reminder of why we should never take our health or life for granted...that it is hard to ask for help and no one wants to have to...that I miss my military friends and the family bond we had...that I need to work harder to be a good friend to others, especially in their times of need...that life is too short to be too busy...that I am beyond blessed to have a husband who upholds his wedding vows and completely and totally "washed my feet" through this entire ordeal...that maybe two of my boys got behind in math this year, but none of the 3 of them ever left my room without asking if I needed anything or laying their hand on me and praying for me and THAT is what matters most...that my parents' love for me knows no bounds...that a pastor who will come mow your grass knows what Jesus was really about...that there is much more I want to do in this world before I leave it...that I am thankful for all the lives God has brought into mine...that waiting for a pathology report and wondering if your life will change in one phone call is torturous...

...that in the grand scheme of things, I am in control of nothing...that my body can do things I am unaware of and incapable of stopping...and that when I leave this earth, nothing will matter except that I am loved by God and others and that I love God and others. 

None of this journey has been "simple" for me...not the surgery, not enduring the pain, not feeling helpless, not the humility of having to have someone else even change my underwear for me or clean up my vomit!  NOTHING!  This has been life-changing and heart-altering, and unless you have experienced something similar, no words even seem to explain what the mind and emotions go through.  

I guess "simply" put, I'm a more grateful person now.

Boys~what I hope you take away most from this last six weeks...what I pray is imprinted into your memory how your dad laid down his selfishness and served his bride.  In this life, you will have opportunity to give your word, to pledge your promises.  It is much easier to say you will do this or that than to truly walk the walk and carry out the tasks.  I pray that your dad and I are doing a good job of walking all our talk out before your eyes.  I hope you see the commitment between us and how we take very seriously our covenant with God and one another.  You live in a time when marriages are falling apart all around you...when men and women are quicker to act on their feelings than their convictions to the Word of God.  Don't give into this!  It is a trap of the enemy of your souls.  Stay strong in the Word.  Cling to Jesus in relationship every single day.  Do what you know is right to do and not what you "feel" like doing.  The reward that awaits you in eternity is far greater than the fleeting pleasures of this short life.  As you have learned, be driven by eternity for this life is but a vapor and then it is gone.  Be men like your dad...faithful, loyal, selfless, honorable, loving, kind.  I love you boys.