Archive | December, 2015

Pause and embrace

9 Dec

Please give me the opportunity today to share with someone else what You so freely entrusted to me”.  The opportunity to pause and embrace the spirit of Christmas. Pretty much the extent of my devotions today. I turned the page… did I miss something? No, that was it. Short and simple in its nature.  Sounds easy enough… but is it…?

I’m not getting out much at the moment, you see in the last week I’ve had two rounds of surgery. So the opportunity of sharing seemed a little out of my reach – perhaps not so easy. Then I remembered I had this forum… so, if you’re willing, I’d love to tell you about the last week of my life…

Exactly one week ago I was beginning preparation to have surgery. This isn’t particularly new to me, I’ve had a few laparoscopies in my time (five now to be exact). I had to physically prepare for this one 24 hours before. I have a history of severe endometriosis – you know, one of those female “issues” that no-one talks about but so many women have (1 in 10). Endometriosis isn’t life threatening but it can cause a wide range of annoying and often painful (excruciating) symptoms and the best treatment is a laparoscopy to clean it out (or tart it up again as my gynaecologist stated) – so that is where I was headed – again. As I prepared for this surgery, I had a fair idea of what I was in for, and hoped to be back at work about one week later.

The morning of my surgery, the written prayer in my daily devotion included the following “Nothing I face today is more powerful than You. You are the solid ground beneath my feet. Thank You for surrounding those who surround me. Give me peace in the presence of my enemies, knowing that You see me and defend me in Your love” (Waiting Here for You – An Advent Journey of Hope, Louie Giglio). At church the Sunday before, a group of lovely ladies pulled me aside to pray with me, and I know I had family and friends praying and thinking of me as I underwent my surgery. I can honestly say that as I waited, dressed in classy theatre attire, and as I was transferred into the holding bay, I knew nothing but peace. I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t concerned, I honestly felt at peace.

In the blink of an eye I was awake again… what a blessing anaesthetics are! Regular observations, and a bit of discomfort made for a fairly average night of sleep.  But oh how I was looking forward to eating again (my last meal had been 48hrs prior). Dave said he hadn’t received a call from my surgeon post operatively and a quick call to him by the nursing staff revealed that he would be by in the morning, 0600hrs, as he preferred discussing his findings in person. But alas, I was not to eat, I was to remain on clear fluids waiting for review by a colorectal surgeon…the first sign that things were perhaps not 100% okay. As morning dawned, Dave arrived early 0550hrs to be there for the surgeon at 0600hrs.  My surgeon informed us that he had done well with what he had to do, but during my surgery had asked for additional expertise in the form of a colorectal surgeon who had reviewed me during the surgery. The endometriosis was effecting my bowel to the point it was narrowing it so severely they thought that bit of bowel would need to be removed.  It was agreed during my surgery that I was not really properly consented for that to occur so they had decided to finish the first operation, wake me and discuss the options – for which there really were not all that many. Friday morning I met a colorectal surgeon who was cheerful as he explained to me that it was best he removed part of my bowel (about 10-12cm) in what is known as a low anterior bowel resection – and he had lined up for it to occur at 1400hrs that day… The idea of food was again removed… My reasonably straight forward surgery had just turned into 2 surgeries in 24hours. 1 night hospital stay to 4 nights, and a probable 1 week off work into 1 month… I have to admit at that point I felt a little bit flat but agreed that it had to be done. As an ICU nurse I tend to see the patients that have the complications following these surgeries so I would be lying if most of those complications didn’t flick through my head.

I sent notification out to family, and replied to a couple of friends to let them know the latest update.  Shortly after a call came through from my Pastor. Marty was able to touch base with me, see how I was feeling and importantly, prayed with me. I distinctly remember during his prayer he prayed that Christ would be my rock, which lined up nicely with the devotions from my previous day. His encouragement came from Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? … Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord”. Again, as I faced surgery round 2, exactly 24hours after the first round, I did not feel afraid. I woke very slowly from the second surgery and in a fair amount of discomfort and pain. However, I can report that almost one week on, both surgeons were happy with their work and I am on the road to recovery.

There are plenty of reasons I can think of to not be thankful right now – let’s see…

  • I really want to be out exercising, and I watch my friends’ activities with a pang of jealousy…
  • I love my work, it’s busy and I can’t help – I can’t answer their call for an extra shift… I can’t even do my rostered shifts…
  • I feel like I have continually been kicked in the guts – 5 laparoscopy sites and one 7cm (ish) incision make sleeping, coughing and moving a little difficult…

However, there are so many more reasons TO be thankful….

  • I was able to have both surgeries in a quick timeframe meaning a combined recovery rather than more surgery in the new year
  • I had skilled surgeons take time to help improve my symptoms by doing what they do best, and wonderful care by the nursing team at the hospital
  • I’ve got a supportive network of family and friends checking in with me, thinking of me and praying for me – especially Dave
  • Mum has flown up from Adelaide to be my carer (AKA personal maid 😉 ) for a week or so, having recently finished her degree (timing was perfect), she has put her life on hold for 10 days to keep me company
  • I received a card in the post from my friend in SA – to let me know she was thinking of me – right at the time of my surgery (she had no idea I was having the surgery) – I don’t think that was a coincidence!
  • Readings and support from unrelated people have delivered consistent, encouraging messages
  • In the midst of facing two surgeries and quite a few unknowns, I didn’t feel afraid, because I have a God in whom I trust journeying with me.

So, as this Christmas season fast approaches, and as I had more time to reflect that perhaps I normally would… of this I can be sure: In times in life when things don’t quite go to plan, when there is every reason for concern, I intentionally change my focus to trust, faith and thanks. After all, my days are in the hands of the one who created me, knows me, and knows my future.

Over 2000 years ago, a baby was born, Christ, coming to the world so that He could relate our experiences (although he didn’t have any laparoscopies he sure endured his fair share of pain!). But more than that He was born to save us. He came so that He could die – a substitute for us, so that our sins would be removed and we could boldly enter the throne room of grace.  So that we may find everlasting life rather than death. Heaven rather than Hell.  It’s what I believe – even when it isn’t always easy. What a joy to be able to celebrate, in a few short weeks, the birth of that Saviour.

I wanted to share that with you – because I can’t do it in person right now even if I wish I could. I’ve had a big week but I’ve never been alone. The God of Angel Armies has been before me, with me and behind me. He can do the same for you.