Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Story: Part 4

Here's my story of a battle with a major illness and surgery. The story that made me, me. The part of my life where God became real in a tangible way. Read Part 1, Part 2 , and Part 3 first in this series.  

I woke up after being rushed into emergency surgery with only four hours to comprehend what was about to happen to me. Even though the doctors had said that it was likely to happen, we were far from it happening, or that is what I had thought. Waking up from surgery, I was groggy like most and due to the time of day, Hart had to get back on the road to SC. His day trip up to see me was pretty eventful, but I was so thankful that he was there. 
I was pretty loopy on meds as he was saying goodbye to me and giving me a hug. I told him I loved him for the very first time! We had only been dating for about 2 months at this point. And that was pretty fast to admit, but I guess the truth just comes pouring out when you are pumped full of pain killers! He told me he loved me back and then left for SC. As, you can tell, we had a pretty abnormal start to our relationship! 
still pretty sick in this photo, after my first surgery

Honestly, I don't really even remember much after my surgery. I think I was so shocked that on my stomach, I had some of my small intestines poking out (a stoma), and a bag that felt like it needed to be changed like a poopy diaper. I remember the nurses trying to show me how to change it and empty it and I couldn't even look at it. They told me that I would have to learn before I left for home, because I would have to learn how to do it by myself. 

It felt completely overwhelming. Several days later, I was released to go home and my dad was able to drive me home! He had made it back from overseas in time to take me home! I remember he bought me a DUKE sweatshirt that I still wear around most of the time!

I got home and for the first 2 weeks I just moped around lying in bed watching tv trying to recover from my surgery. My AMAZING surgeon Dr. Ludwig, had told me that my colon was one of the worst he had ever seen and that he really thought that I had Chron's disease, not ulcerative colitis. So, he didn't do anything, but take out my colon. If things had looked good inside, he could have created something called a Jpouch out of my small intestine and eventually I would have been reconnected inside and able to use the bathroom normally. 

I completely disagreed! No surprise there. I think for me, I just KNEW I didn't have Chron's Disease or maybe I should say that I claimed by the Blood of Jesus that I did NOT have Chron's Disease! There is power in the name of Jesus. The Bible says that "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord". That His name is higher than any other name and I knew this. I claimed that by His Power that I would NOT have Chron's Disease. I truly believe that God kept me from having that disease. 

When everything seemed so crazy around me, it was that truth that I was able to cling to. I knew that while God didn't just reach down and heal me from everything prior to my surgery, that believing in His name was why and how I am still here today. 

My surgeon said he would send my pathology reports to a friend of his in the Cleveland Clinic to get a second opinion on if I could qualify for the reconstructive surgery.

While waiting, I had a lot to talk to Hart about. Hart took me on our first real date! He had planned dinner and a ballet. I could barely muster the strength to sit through the entire ballet, but we were so happy to be doing something a normal couple would do! I was still in a lot of pain from my surgery and I had lost so much weight prior to my surgery, that I was thinner than most ballerinas on stage. I think I weighed about 99 lbs at the point before my first surgery. 

WAY TOO THIN considering I was almost 5'8''! 

Hart and I had to be blatantly honest from the beginning. We were thrown together and went through a hurricane whirlwind from the start, and after going through all of that, we knew we would be getting married, despite the fact that I was only a Sophomore in college!

If Hart was going to be with me, then he needed to know a few things. 1)I may never get reconnected. Was he really okay with being with a girl with a bag of poop on her stomach? 2)Was he okay being intimate that way one day and with the realization that I may never be able to have children with him due to all the scare tissue and damage to my uterus. 

He was okay with all of it and said that we would face each issue when we came to it. He was amazing to me. Despite so many other things being torn away from me, he was given to me as a gift, almost a reward to walk through this life with from God. My mom used to say that he didn't have a belly button, because he was too much of an Angel! ahaha! 

Hence, why one of the reasons why adoption has always been close to our hearts. We had to talk about adoption if we ever wanted to have a family. Yet, above all, we knew that God is the giver and taker of life and the one that opens and closes the womb. So, if I were to ever have children naturally, then so be it! 

I would say that I was bitter for the first 2 weeks of being home. Some never fully recover from this type of thing and the bitterness takes root and grows down deep and chokes out any joy that could happen. 

I probably would have been this way, but God became real to me in a moment that I will never forget. 

I remember I was lying on my mom's bed looking out over the lake. I looked down at my ostomy and couldn't understand why God had done all of this in my life. I was 20! In college! My whole life ahead of me and it felt like it had stopped in so many ways. I asked God why and then I asked him, HOW WAS I BRINGING HIM GLORY LIKE THIS with this ugly thing on my stomach?!?! HOW!? 
And His voice came piercing into me and he said, "YOU are bringing me glory by just being YOU. By breathing. YOU are my creation and I love you."

It was enough. It was all I need to know. I suddenly understood God's love for me and it was incredible! That even though all of this had happened in my life, He had never EVER stopped loving me! I was His creation and I was beautiful to him, with an ostomy bag or not. I couldn't DO anything for God at that time. I couldn't even say I had been a decent or nice person, because I had been quite the sassy little patient! God didn't require ANYTHING from me! He had done it all on my behalf! My very breath glorified God and even though I couldn't do anything or go anywhere, He was receiving glory! "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6 

My bitterness was gone and I started to see myself differently. Understanding my place before God gave me the ability to look at my body in a beautiful way. I actually started liking my stoma and gave it a little name, something like Dot, I believe! haha! I got my shipment of opaque bags to wear, so I couldn't see any poo coming out and that made me less paranoid and less gross feeling. And to correct any sort of misunderstandings, ostomies are actually quite clean and they aren't stinky while they are closed wearing them, and they can't be seen under your clothing either.
So, it actually wasn't that bad, and I was alive and well and I could live life this way. It was different, but it was life and I could live it FULLY in Jesus!

I'm not quite done yet...there's a little more! Stay tuned for hopefully one last segment, then I may open it up for questions and answers, if you have any! This has taken a lot to talk about freely, but I hope it is blessing you or someone you know! Feel free to drop me a line...