Recovery: Was God saying, “Slooooow down, my child?”

Have you heard the old wives’ tale, “God sits back and laughs when you make your own plans?” It’s human instinct to attempt navigating life on our own. In undergrad, I was so young, immature, and naïve, I thought I had my entire life planned from who I was going to marry to my career. Those plans quickly fell apart one by one. I gave up quite some time ago on making my own plans and therefore, my motto is living one day at a time and living each day to the fullest. Now, my weakest virtue is patience and to simply “be still.” Funny how God had this year all planned…He knew exactly how to slow this child down.

Disclaimer or fair warning: This is the 3rd part of my LENGTHY, personal series focused on recovery and the next steps, which is not for everyone. These messages are written with hopes of helping others facing any unknown or questionable issues that are hard to define or diagnose. Please do not use this information to self-diagnose or make any presumptions. Links are provided for additional information and always talk to your doctor about any medical questions.

Post-Op
The day of surgery was a blur. I suppose being out for 3 hours will do that. I vaguely recall waking up reaching to my stomach, “I’m cramping.” But, I was conscious enough to shout out, “I just need Ibuprofen, please!” I continued to refuse pain meds. The nurse placed a heated blanket over my stomach and handed me a pill. I remember saying it looked like a horse pill wondering how I was going to swallow it. She was about to try to cut it in half then I said, “oh, I’ll try it.” I saw my husband at the foot of the bed smiling and my first question out of surgery was, “what was it??” He said, “Stage 1 endometriosis” I remembered feeling so disappointed and shouted, “that’s it?!” He laughed and reminded me that Stage 1 pain can be just as bad as stage 4. As I grew more alert, I asked my mother-n-law (MIL) to show me the pictures and results. My doctor took photos throughout the surgery and drew results on them to make it easier to understand them. The results: stage 1 endometriosis and a questionable polyp in my uterus, a biopsy of the uterus, wedge resection of each ovary, clear tubes, and a weird shaped uterus which is no big deal.

After a few trips to the bathroom in my recovery room with the nurse attempting to confirm that I peed (apparently, I kept closing the door then flush the toilet before she could look), I was finally cleared to head home. I don’t even remember how I got my clothes on, but I do remember a request for my college go-to of Ramen noodles. I sat on the couch for the rest of the evening chowing down on the entire package in a bowl. The anesthesiology has clearly taken over for I didn’t seem to care about the sodium content! The orders were to lay low the first 3-4 days (off your feet, lying down). The orders of lying low, being off work for 2 weeks AND no working out, was very HARD for this girl to process. In fact, I was like a kid asking a million “why” questions driving my husband batty. He had to simply tell me, “can you please enjoy just being off?”

Recovery
Prior to surgery, I stocked up on the following based on tips I received from others who went through laparoscopic surgery:
1)     Gas-X
2)     Stool softeners
3)     Miralax

Basically, poopy magic, but those who may have to go through this will thank me later. Aside from being a teeny sore at the incision sites, no pain appeared to be present and the worse of recovery was the air remaining trapped inside. It was challenging to lie flat without air bubbles compressing on my lungs. That means, yes, a lot of burping for this southern gal. I said “excuse me” what felt like a million times a day with my MIL  jumping for joy every time like I’ve never burped before. The only time it’s acceptable to have these manners is as a baby or when you have surgery.

The morning after, my husband had to work a half a day. I thought, “hey, let’s walk to that store down the street.” It’s literally right next door…like 100 feet. My nurse, MIL, said, “absolutely NOT!” My response, “O-KAY….nurrrrse!” Instead, She gave me the option to walk the halls of our condo, and we did. Yippee, my breath of fresh air was within 3 halls of our condo. Evidently, this is why we had my MIL here for the first 3 crucial post-op days. After my husband returned home, I convinced them both to go to our Garden Glow in the Botanical Gardens. It was opening night and the last night my MIL was here. They hesitated but said we could go under one condition. I must ride in a wheelchair. I accepted and was thrilled to get out! That night, I truly enjoyed the brisk, cold air on my face while my MIL and husband took turns pushing. I appreciated this tour as an occupational therapist. I don’t think I ever paid attention to accessibility of this event until I toured from the lens of the wheelchair. They added temporary ramps at every location there were steps.
Day 1 post -op: inside the beautiful tunnel of lights from the wheelchair.
The 2 weeks went by faster than expected, with parts of it during Thanksgiving break. I was well enough to fly 5 days post-op to visit in-laws on the east coast. I could always tell when I did too much walking feeling a little light headed or just not right. As much as I wanted to walk more or push, my body somewhat stopped me. As much as I wanted to go, go, go…my body stopped me. I feared I would do damage for I have always pushed my limits and never know what’s abnormal. Therefore, knowing that I had internal stitches on 3 organs, was enough to scare me to sit down or slow down. I kept envisioning the stitches coming loose at one of the organs or 5 incision sites.

My in-laws in Virginia, gave us a beautiful
tour of the Historic Colonial Triangle
starting in Yorktown.
What I found and what I learned
During this time off, I found life without stress (minus the medical bills pouring in even though I met my deductible). I found what God was trying to get me to do for many years. I felt so much pressure lifted off my chest (except for the airy bubbles), that I felt more relaxed than I ever had (no, I was never on pain pills). Well this certainly doesn’t top the relaxed feeling we had on our belated honeymoon in Bora Bora. A piece of my discovery, was actually hearing how much my husband liked having me home. I complained about not driving for 2 weeks and he said, “could you just enjoy riding?” I hushed after that and realized, maybe I should just enjoy the ride and being still. He would come home from a long day of work and take me out at night to get some fresh air. Obviously, I don’t accept help very well. But, I learned to let go quickly and have truly been blessed with so much local support from friends who visited, gave me a ride to run errands, brought food, goodies, and more.  My new sister-n-law even came in for a visit. I felt like I was in the Ironman all over again with the sense of prayers pouring in from family and friends all over and my husband updating a list of them in text messages, phone calls. It was a peaceful and comforting feeling.

I learned a lot during my quiet time. Prior to surgery, I removed Facebook from my phone. It wasn’t necessary for me to scroll my newsfeed during every break I had throughout the day. Plus, my surgeries were before and after the presidential elections. This girl has always been traumatized by worldly evil from wars, riots, violence, and hatred among people. It felt nice to walk away and simply pray. I didn’t even feel any withdrawals nor do I miss it. I also learned, life isn’t worth overcommitting. It’s hard for me to say “no” because I absolutely love helping EVERYone, being involved in EVERYthing. This was the final nudge for me to slow down, literally. Each day, I caught up on some work projects, personal agenda items, and more. I made a list every day and it felt good to check off my personal agenda items. Who knew you could get so much done just being in a condo with driving privileges removed. I did do some walking to Target for some Christmas shopping behind our condo the 2nd week and paid for it. I really tried hard to enjoy my time off and surprisingly, I did.

What next?
During my post-op visit, my doctor reviewed the outcomes and all the lab results showed everything benign. Of course, I’m so relieved and hoping this truly helps with my monthly pain. I still walked away with mixed emotions because of all the next steps. There are a lot of unknowns in life especially with infertility. After each of my appointments, I feel puzzled and would ask a million questions. Did you know women have a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy each month? Combine that with infertility and imagine the complexity.  A woman’s health is SO complicated and costly (as if anyone hasn’t figured that out by now). Nothing can be planned. I wish I could schedule certain days of my cycle to complete specific steps of the fertility process. I can’t even schedule regular appointments during my completely packed work week. Again, patience is my weakest virtue and I’m terrible at “being still.” Not that I want to become pregnant today or even tomorrow, in fact, being pregnant and having kids scare me. However, it’s the whole game of waiting for a certain day to do bloodwork, to do a surgery, to get ultrasounds, to take medicine, to…well you get the idea. It’s nearly impossible to live your “typical” life AND make spontaneous appointments based on the timing your body decides to do things. If you mess up on something, you must wait for the next cycle. It’s simply exhausting but in the end, I see a lot of strong women with incredible endurance.

Strange, I know, but I see all this as a blessing. In fact, since these messages have been shared, I have heard so many beautiful testimonies and stories and many stories of strong couples clinging on to hope. For us, we may or may not have a long road ahead but for some, it’s been a very LONG and persistent journey but not without the world’s largest roller coaster of emotions. I see so much contagious faith in all these couples that brings hope to others facing daily trials and tribulations. Regardless of the outcomes, we all discover beautiful new things. This is a journey I’ve learned that is hard and my husband and I hold back a lot of emotions to protect our hearts. However, sharing a part of it, opens so many doors of connections with overwhelming support and comfort. Where there is faith, there is hope, and there is Joy.

Stay tuned for the last part of this series…

Resources
We are still learning more each day about infertility and resources. We were unaware, but for those facing infertility, there are many support groups around the country or in your own community. In addition, there is some help out there financially. During my little investigation, I found 15 states that mandate some kind of infertility coverage (MO or KY are not included): insurance coverage for fertility. My insurance covers a certain percentage of all my medical procedures (surgeries, ultrasounds, etc) and bloodwork, however, when we were about to start IUI (intrauterine insemination), 4 days of medication would have costed me $100 for each cycle. We’d always ask about costs up front. We were told the cost of fertility treatments such as IUI, would vary from one insurance company to another and more likely would have had to pay out of pocket. We were fortunate to switch doctors last minute who evaluated me a little further and found possible underlying issues prior to moving forward with fertility assistance (as mentioned in previous post). Click here for some information in regards to average costs of fertility treatments.

An inspirational website I fumbled across this week: 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility

Quote of the day: Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity… ~ Gilda Radner


Bible verse of the day: I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ~ Ephesians 3:16-19

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