Tuesday, March 25, 2014

God, I Need You

Once again finding myself on the wrong side of the hospital bed

I know I haven't posted about my trip to Cancun yet, but I will.  One day.  You'll have to bear with me because I have had a very eventful life since my trip.  So, forget Cancun for now and let's move on.

This past Friday I had what was supposed to be a very quick, in and out, simple surgery.  Back to normal the next day.  Supposed to make my life better down the road and give me back the energy I have been lacking for months/years.  Friday I came home and was feeling pretty good.  They told me they didn't give me any pain medicine in my IV so I was like, wow, this surgery was easy!  I can pop a few tylenol and go about my life.

Saturday I woke up around 5am in the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my entire life.  In the hospital they always ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  My pain was at 1000.  It was worse than all the pain I felt with 2 c-sections, 1 normal delivery and appendicitis put together.

I was warned that I might need narcotics for a few days for the pain.  I brushed that off because I'd gone through those 4 other experiences needing nothing more than tylenol.  But Saturday morning I started to think that maybe I was just a big baby who couldn't handle pain.  I laid in bed for an hour going back and forth--is this pain normal for what I had done or is something wrong?  I really hate that argument that goes on in your head when you debate if it's serious or if you just need to toughen up.

After an hour of rolling on the bed, gripping my stomach for dear life, being in so much pain I wanted to die, I finally decided I wasn't a baby and that the pain wasn't right and reached over and woke Hubby up and told him to take me to the ER.  I got out of bed to get dressed and had to run for the toilet.  Not one of my finer moments as I knelt on the floor tossing my cookies, while bawling my eyes out and calling my mom to come watch the kids.  From there I had to crawl to the living room because walking was beyond me.

We ended up calling an ambulance because I didn't think I would make it in the car.  Overkill?  Probably.  But by that point I was beyond rational.  I just wanted the pain to go away.  And I was pretty sure I was dying.  Day after surgery?  Pain this bad?  Fever and vomiting?  Something went wrong and I am dying.

Then came the blessed relief of morphine to dull the pain as we raced down the very pothole filled streets to get me to the hospital, every bump bringing me a new wave of agony.  But we made it, they wheeled me into a room right away (the big bonus of arriving via ambulance is that you bypass triage and go right to a room--looking back I definitely made the right choice.  I'm not sure I would have made it through triage as I nearly passed out the last time I went that route with my appendicitis and that pain had nothing on my current pain).

Many hours and many tests later it was determined I had a post surgical infection.  My abdomen had lots of fluid in it and my white blood cell count and c-reactive protein counts were up (guess that all means I was infected).  They gave me lots of good drugs, IV antibiotics, and a bed in the hospital.

The whole situation was funny.  Ironic.  God ordained?  However you want to choose to see it.  See, on Wednesday, two days before my surgery, at my pre-op appointment, I asked the doctor about the risks.  Infection.  Perforating vital organs.  Etc, etc.  We talked in length about all the things that could go wrong because I was pretty sure something was going to go wrong.  I prayed against the feeling but when I was in Cancun, I had this pretty strong sense that something was going to happen.  I figured that the routine biopsy they do with pretty much every surgery would show I have cancer.  Or the surgery would fail.  But I felt pretty strongly that my trip was the respite before the storm.  I'm not normally a doomsday sort of person, but the sense just would not leave me.

Maybe I should have postponed the procedure, but I went forth trusting the Lord to take care of me.  The day before my surgery I was praying and an image of a tall, lush, green-leafed maple tree filled my mind.  I felt the Lord tell me that my tree will go on and that it was not done growing.  An assurance that I was not going to die.  Good.  Proceed.

Also prior to my surgery I read in a book about how we can all do missionary work wherever we are--in prison (like the Apostle Paul), in slavery (like Joseph), even in hospitals.  So there I sat in the ER, in pain, unsure of what was going on, but I knew one thing--I was supposed to take on this experience with a cheerful heart and shine light on whoever I encountered.

Apparently I did that because one of my nurses told another nurse that I was the best patient on the floor.  My first roommate had incredibly bad untreated sleep apnea with a snore that could raise the dead.  EVERYONE who came in the room commented on it and expressed shock at how I could stand it.  I honestly didn't even notice it throughout the entire day as she fell off to sleep pretty much all day long.  It wasn't until bed time that I thought maybe a different, private room, may be in order for her.  She was moved.

My second roommate was a little old grandma who only spoke Spanish and she just cracked me up.  I think maybe she understood more than what she let on because when the nurses were helping her to the bathroom and telling her what to do, Granny walked by me with the most devilish grin on her face like she was pulling one over on them.  And when the nurses found her eating before they'd had a chance to test her blood sugar, telling her she couldn't eat, and then the nurses left to do something else, the second they were out the door I hear a "rip" and there Granny went eating her entire dinner as fast as she could.  I just snickered.

Stealing Mom's dessert and enjoying every bite of it

I ran into a few old friends by chance who sat and talked with me for a while.  I had very nice nurses.  Nice techs.  I was even nice to Trange who woke me up at 3am both nights to take my vitals.  It's not my favorite thing in the world to be woken up from a sound sleep so someone can take my blood pressure and stick a thermometer in my mouth.  But I smiled and said thank you.  By Monday evening I was doing well enough to go home with a collection of new medication to take.

So, in all this, I asked the Lord.  What are you trying to do through this situation?  Why am I here in the hospital with an infection and something else that has yet to be discovered (later conclusion is that I developed gastritis at a really coincidental time, oops)?  Sure, I can be a light of cheerfulness in the hospital.  I can throw in some references to God and prayer and church.  I can help keep an eye on non-compliant Granny.  But what is the real point here, Lord?  Are you doing something in me or through me?

And I think that God told me that it was both.  I don't know what the through me part is, I may never know, but the in me part I can say that God wanted to show me that I need Him.  Really need Him.  All the time.  To make me more like Jesus, who depended on His Father for every breath, every act, everything.  Jesus--God--prayed.  He fasted.  He did not do anything in His own strength, but relied on His Father for everything.  How much more do I need to do likewise.

I need God.  I can do nothing on my own.  I can't heal myself physically and I can't heal myself spiritually.  Only God can do that.  I can't direct myself and hope to find God's will for my life by chance.  I need God to direct my steps.  I can't change my heart to be more like God's heart.  Only God can change my heart by working in me.

So I see my freak illness as a test--really, two freak illnesses in the past 4 months, but who's counting--a test to see if I will hold fast to my trust in the Lord and His workings in my life.  If I will stay hopeful and joyful in all circumstances.  Will I make it through the refiner's fire and come out better and stronger?  Truthfully, tests suck.  But the other side of them is oh so sweet.  After my appendicitis experience, God moved mightily in my life and I saw huge strides in my walk with Him.  I only pray the same holds true for this round.

God, I need you.  And I will praise you in this storm, no matter what.

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