Apologies in advance for how long this is.
I have never in my life been so glad to be home. Ever. It was as good and smooth a trip as it could’ve been, but man. There is truly no place like home.
First of all, I’d like to say how much everybody’s comments, prayers, notes on Facebook, emails, letters, you-name-it, have meant to my ENTIRE family. No really – you have NO idea. The power of prayer and encouragement is HUGE. I have been greatly encouraged, and I know it’s because as the Bible says, we were surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.”
Let’s see, where did we leave off in this great tale of The Great Colonic Purge of ’09? If you’re a Twitter follower, some of this might be old hat, but I want to document this for myself and any other family members who might be reading. Don’t worry – I’m not one of those people who needs to post gory photos of the aftermath. I like pretty — and trust me, none of this is exactly pretty. So who wants to look at that? ::shudders:: not me!
My surgery was on Wednesday, December 2nd. The day before we were scheduled to meet with the surgeon. I was in a pretty dark, stormy moody for those few days ahead of time. I think I was pretty mean to everyone, Simon and my parents. My anxiety level was pretty high and frankly, I just didn’t want to be there. We got to see the Aunt Cheryl lady from last time, and that was really nice. She’s so calming. Everyone there is, come to think of it. She put us at ease and was so kind. Our meeting with the surgeon was fine, if a little … cool? Well, maybe just not super personable. And then we met with the WOC nurse (wound/ostomy care) whose name was Lisa. Praise Jesus for Lisa – she was AMAZING. But that’s when I really lost it. She was showing me all the pieces to my ostomy appliance, and marking my belly for surgery with a Sharpie, and I just started sobbing like a baby.
“I don’t think I can do this. I just really don’t think I can,” I said.
“I know,” Lisa soothed. “Nobody does. But the fact is, you CAN do it. I see teenagers — cheerleaders and wrestlers — that do this every day permamently. But for you, it’s only temporary. Nobody likes it at first. YOu have to give yourself the right to cry, scream, and get out all those feelings. And then you’re going to be okay.”
So I sobbed it all out right there, and then it really was okay. We could move on with the presentation. As we walked out, we were all pretty somber. Mom was crying a lot, and I was just really angry. I told Dad that if there was ever a time in my life that I wanted a stiff drink, it was now. Now, if you know my family at all, we are not the drinking kind. Ever. So you KNOW that I was feeling a little rough around the edges! I can totally see (although not condone) why people want to use drugs or alcohol to deal with ugly feelings. Sometimes they suck. THey’re ugly, they don’t feel good. This was one of those times. We were ALL fearful.
That night, I had to do a delightful bowel prep, much like preparing for a colonoscopy. We watched a silly movie to get our minds off things, had another terrible cry, and then went to bed. At 8:30 the next morning, we reported for duty. I was taken into a room, given the typical gown and ugly socks, and we just sat there and waited for them to take me to pre-op.
Finally a nurse came with a gurney around 10:30, and wheeled me back to pre-op. I said goodbye to everyone and went to sit with all the other surgery candidates. I really didn’t like the idea of being alone already. But this is where I feel really strongly about the power of prayer. Because I know that we had SO many people praying for us, my fear began to melt. I was calmer than I have ever been, maybe ever in my life. The Bible talks about how Jesus can give us a peace that passes all understanding, and I am here to tell you today that it is real. I can hardly sit here and type this without feeling emotional about it. I have no doubt – no doubt at all – that Jesus was right there next to me in that little curtained nook, comforting me, calming me, and giving me the peace that He promised to His people. Jesus keeps his promises; He is faithful, especially in our greatest hour of need. He was totally there. At some point after surgery, I remember in my drugged stupor trying to tell Simon and my folks about it and I think I scared my mom to death that I was looking into “the Light” or something. No, hahaha, it wasn’t some kind of weird drugged-out experience; I was IV and drug-free at this point. And no, there wans’t any kind of shining light or longhaired man in a robe and Jesus sandals. It was just a simple quiet, a calm amidst the storm of pre-op preparations.
I’ve been a Christian since I was 15. It was a life-changing experience then and it has continued to shape my life as I try to follow HIs unique plan for me. But HE continues to amaze me with HIs love and faithfulness, now nearly 14 years later. Jesus is as real to me today as if He were standing here next to me while I type this. He gave me the ability to change my circumstances in regard to my health, and the strength and power in which to do it in. Neither were things that I could do on my own. oh, how I wish I could let each and every one of you know personally just how deeply I feel about it. It’s almost the kind of thing that I can’t really begin to speak of; it’s something that is felt, very deeply.
So surgery lasted several hours. I, of course, was in lala land. As a vivid dreamer, I fully expected to have some crazy technicolor dream, but none of that was to be had. Finally after a few hours of recovery, they took me on up to my room.
Looking back, I have next to no recollection of the first two days after surgery. THat’s probably a good thing. Pain meds are also a good thing – Morphine, I’m lookin’ at you, sister. As far as pain goes, it really was similar to having a c-section. Incision was similar, size-wise.
The nursing staff at Mayo were incredible. If you’ve ever been in the hospital, you know that there are good nurses, and then there are bad nurses. There was not a bad one in the bunch at Mayo.It was like they were all the cream of the crop and took great care of me.
The only one that kinda threw me for a loop was a younger nurse. If you’ve ever had surgery (or childbirth) they’re really concerned about your bowels waking up after surgery. So they’re always asking you about the state of your bowels, if you’ve (ahem) gone yet, etc. This one poor nurse came in — I think she just wasn’t up to speed on my case yet, because after introducing herself, she says, “And I also wanted to check: have you had a bowel movement yet?”
Now, me being colon-free, this just wasn’t going to happen obviously. “Um, no,” I said. “And I probably won’t, either. I just had my colon removed.”
“OH,” she gulped. The look on the poor girl’s face – it was priceless. I kinda wondered if the other nurses had put her up to it, like it was some kind of new-nurse hazing or something.
I was released on Sunday and we went back to our hotel and made arrangements to prolong our stay. I just had no energy to get back on a plane and travel. It was an emotional few days. And to top it off, a blizzard hit. An honest-to-goodness blizzard. The hotel also had a convention coming into town and needed our rooms, os they ended up making us a deal and putting us in the hotel’s presidential suite (because otherwise, there was no room for us in the inn hahaha). This was truly the biggest blessing because we could all be together.
The real heroes of this story are my parents and my precious Simon. I could NOT have done any of this without their support. No way, no how. Their emotional and spiritual support is unparalleled. Simon is my rock, entirely. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve him, but I know that I got the last good man on planet earth. He is incredible. We’ve had a crazy year, and there are plenty of people who would’ve jumped ship a long time ago. He’s just not that way; he’s amazing.
So how ’bout since coming home? Being home is another huge blessing. We’re staying with my parents because Simon’s gone back to work and I need help with Jude. I’m not going to lie – it’s been a really hard recovery. REALLY hard. I think I was prepared for the physical pain, but it’s the emotional toll of it that I was not fully prepared for. I have cried every single day and I have a general feeling of, well, hating the stupid ileostomy bag. I feel icky, tired, sad. I feel totally useless right now with Jude because I can’t lift anything over 10lbs for 6 weeks, and that’s a lifetime in toddler time. UGH. Jude is so busy and he’s also so snuggly. That’s where I’m struggling — I just want to be able to pick up my baby when he wants to be comforted. I want to pick him up out of his bed if he needs to be comforted in the middle of the night. Heck, I want to change his DIAPERS!
The silver lining in all of this? I can’t go grocery shopping for 6 weeks. The cart’s simply too heavy to push! I might get a hernia! darn! ;)
Today we went to visit the local ostomy nurse at the big hospital here. WOw. What a drastically different experience from Mayo. It was not a bad experience, per se, but as we walked out, I had this very distinct feeling of gratitude for our experience in Minnesota. I don’t know if it’s something in the water up there, but it is just different. Better. More personal. More relaxed. Sharper & more focused. I really am thankful that my parents made it possible for us to go up there.
Friends, once again, thank you for all of your prayers, notes, phone calls, etc. We can only begin to express how thankful we are. Please continue to pray as we are all adjusting and settling into a new normal. Pray for me as I’m struggling emotionally and am seeking a good attitude, realizing that all of these hardships are temporary. Pray for my mom, that she has enough strength to help keep up with a precious but precocious toddler. And for Simon as he goes back to work and for Dad as he is supporting all of us as we need it. I love each one of them so very, very much.
Ok, and a gold medal to YOU if you’ve made it this far on this post! Whew! Long!