Waking up in the recovery room I had just one question for the doctor who sat next to me, “how many incisions?” I had sat across from him for a few different pre-op appointments and heard the same thing. “I’ll only make one incision to look around and if I don’t see anything I close you back up and we’ll all go home! If I see anything concerning I’ll make one more tiny incision and remove some tissue for a biopsy.” I went into surgery with that in mind. One incision we’re good, two and we might have a tough road ahead.
I woke up with no sense of time, of course. I had no idea that seven hours had passed since they first wheeled me away from John. I had no awareness of the fear and agony he’d been experiencing. I just wanted to know one thing. How many incisions? I don’t remember much from that first, groggy, conversation but I will always remember his concerned smile when he gently told me, “four.” I knew that something had gone terribly wrong as I slipped back into a post-surgery sleep.
What was supposed to take 30-60 minutes had taken five hours. What should have been about 45 minutes in post-op (before my husband could come be with me) had turned into two hours of post surgery complications. And what I had expected to be a fairly quick recover and easy “fix” turned into several painful weeks of healing and long months of treatment with no real solution and a lifetime of chronic disease.
It’s been five years this month since that awful day and the diagnosis of severe endometriosis. With hard treatments I’ve found some relief, but not much. The treatment itself caused weight loss, hair loss, hot flashes, insomnia, and a host of other side effects. But I was pain free for those nine months, so it was worth it. When treatment ended the pain returned and in the not too far future I’ll need another surgery followed by another nine months of treatment. Sometime down the road I’ll likely need a hysterectomy, but my heart isn’t ready for that just yet.
I have pain every single day – sharp pains, cramping, and frequent ovarian cysts. Something as simple as turning over in bed causes searing pain in my side. As you can imagine, this does a number on me physically, and sometimes emotionally. I am tired most of the time and have to rest a bit more than most women. I have to be careful what I eat as some foods “feed” the endometriosis. I have learned to live with the constant physical aches, and found coping mechanisms when it gets bad. But for the disappointment and discouragement that sometimes floods my soul I’ve learned there’s only one thing I can turn to for relief… my faith in a loving, faithful, and trustworthy God.
Having a broken body has taught me that I can do nothing apart from Christ. In the early days, after my surgery, I’d lie in bed and watch Women of Faith videos over and over. One thing rang through the screen – God is good. Always. God is faithful. Always. God is trustworthy. Always. When I am weak God is strong. Those months of quiet healing led to a beautiful strengthening of my faith and relationship with Christ. My heart was bound tighter to His in ways that are difficult to explain.
All alone in the quiet of the day I would just talk to him and I found such a sweet fellowship. I know my endometriosis is a gift. For without it life wouldn’t have included weeks of bed rest pre and post surgery. I wouldn’t have had hour long drives to the doctor each week. All those hours and days of quiet rest allowed me to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Still today when I pause to wait for a wave of cramping to pass, or stop for a sharp pain to subside I am reminded of those months of quiet fellowship with my God. Life as a mother of two small children doesn’t allow for those long hours of reading, and watching, and listening, and praying … and I am so grateful God interrupted my life to force me to lean on him.
So instead of thinking of my chronic disease as a curse I see it as a blessing. This comes with the truth that God created me – fearfully and wonderfully he stitched every piece of me together and wrote my story before I had taken my first breath. (Psalm 139) He is good and his plans for me are good. Even in the pain and even when it seems just a little bit broken, I know that God can be trusted with all of my days.