I haven't written a blog post since June! Summer camp ministry will take over one's life. And it did for about five weeks. We had a great summer staff this year, and things were going so well! Read on to hear how my life got flipped, turned upside down right in the middle of summer, and God really stepped in to give me just what I needed.
It hit me hard. I still don't know what "it" is, but it took me out hard. For the entire last half of the summer I experienced excruciating stomach pain. I was in and out of work at the camp, more out than I wanted to be. I couldn't eat any solid food without incredible pain. Doctors said it was inflammation from a "virus" I caught and sent me home with medications that probably exacerbated the problem. Fast forward to the week after camp ended, I needed to go to the ER. The pain had gotten worse and I was getting weaker and weaker.
My husband took me to the ER on a Tuesday where we waited in the trauma bay (not frightening at all) while I drank some nasty contrast so they could do a CAT scan. After more hours of waiting, during which my poor husband had nothing to eat or drink, some SURGEONS finally came into the room. They had found an egg-sized something in my intestines and they would operate tomorrow. Operate. I was nervous, but I had been in so much pain that I was willing to do whatever it took to fix this.
I was admitted into the hospital that night, and we got our own room! There were so many huge blessing that went into this whole process, I will definitely give them their due in this post. Wednesday came and went with no surgery. Sadly, they had a huge trauma case that required all the surgeons.
We were bored. My mom and my husband came and went as I laid in a hospital bed, taking in the pain medications dripping into me. That evening one of the surgeons came to speak to me looking exhausted. She said they thought my intestine had folded in on itself and they were going to remove that part of the bowel. I was not happy with this news, removing any part of myself should never be the only option, but again, it seemed like the only way to fix it.
The next day was surreal. They wheeled me off to the short term waiting area for surgery while my husband tried to text everyone we know. My best friend, Kirsten showed up shortly before they took me away. When I saw her, I immediately started to cry. I hadn't seen her in a long time and I was scared. Anything could happen when you're cut open.
Enter blessing #59: our friend, Rachel, was one of my OR nurses. She was exactly what I didn't know I needed in that operating room. Those rooms are stark and scary, and Rachel simply stood by my side, holding my hand as I went out.
Now to tally up the blessings and straight up miracles. Firstly, they did NOT have to remove any part of my intestine! When they got in there, they found a rock hard something that was the size of an egg! Our intestines are around 3 cm around, this thing was 4.5 cm around and 6 cm long. Ouch! The surgeons simply removed it, explored the rest of my bowels, as far as they could, and deemed them "beautiful." Their words, not mine. Relief and joy flooded me when I heard this news. They still had to cut my intestines open to remove the Thing, but that was preferable to removing parts of me. They still don't know what that Thing is, just a foreign body that they suspect has been growing inside of me for years. What? And how? No one knows. They could see growth rings in it though. Super weird. It will remain a mystery.
Nurses and CNAs are actually heroes. I don't know how they do their jobs day in and day out. Every 12 hours of being in the hospital was a shift change and I would get a new nurse and a new CNA. Most of them were just amazing. One nurse I particularly fell in love with, but she was only there for 2 days, sad. But one CNA I was extremely blessed by was there every day I was until the day we left. She had just the right sense of humor I needed, and compassion. We are now friends and I'm so grateful.
Speaking of sense of humor, Zack and I were able to keep our spirits up and our humor alive throughout this ordeal. This is only the work of God, there is no other explanation. I think we were a breath of fresh air to a lot of the hospital staff. Every other patient on that floor was easily over 65. Just broken hips all around us. That's not funny, it was pretty depressing.
We felt so loved and cared for by our family and friends. Our friend, Adam, drove quit a ways and got to the hospital around 11pm just to bring a charger for my phone. We had come to the hospital completely unprepared. Another friend drove all the way from camp and brought Zack some clothes. I was sporting the fashionable hospital gowns.
I could wrote an epic poem about how wonderful, loving, and patient my husband was through all this (and continues to be). Throughout our seven years of marriage he has proven his love and commitment to me time and again, often because of my own health issues. He has been so thoughtful and gentle, and at my side the whole time. He went out to get real food a few times, but each time he hated to leave me. While in the hospital, he had to sleep on a horrible pull-out cot/spring mattress thing. I felt so bad for him, but he never complained. He has helped me shower every day (even shaving my legs for me!). He's helped me sit up, lay down, tended my incision, stepped up to do all the housework, while going back to work himself. A lifetime of words can't express how thankful I am for him. God knew I would need this man in my life.
Everything went so smoothly, only God can be thanked for how well it went. Being young and healthy doesn't hurt either. We were released from the hospital on Saturday, after having the surgery on Thursday! It was amazing to be home, back in the mountains, away from the sounds and smells and pokes of the hospital. All the poking! My mom went ahead of us to do our grocery shopping and clean our house. That was another huge blessing. We were able to relax in our clean house, and sleep well in our own beds.
For a week after the surgery I had a med vac over my incision which drew blood to the surface to help with healing. When that finally came off, after an hour of patient coaxing from Zack and reading to distract myself from the pain, I was able to move much more freely. We covered the 8 staples holding my abdomen together (gross), and everything looked healthy! I am still on a pureed foods diet and have lost more weight. But tomorrow I will get the staples removed and I can talk to the surgeons about advancing my diet! I'm so excited for this next step as it will mean another level of freedom and healing. It will take time to get my energy and strength back, but I'm willing to put in the work to be potentially the healthiest I've ever been.
My abdomen will never be the same, but I'm trying to see it this way: I have so much physical evidence of God's grace and provision in my life in the form of scars all over my body. They each tell a unique, God-glorifying story.
Thank you for reading the full story and for sending all the prayers and love our way! We have felt it for sure. Today I read Psalm 77 and was blown away by how perfectly it spoke into my circumstances. It's a beautiful one, go check it out.
As for writing and book news: I'm hoping to follow up with the bookstore owner who hosted me back in June to set up more events in the Central Oregon area! I'm not going to lie, I need to find my gumption again, but I will.
AND I will be working on a sequel to No Way but Through this fall and winter. I'm SO excited to get back into that writing saddle, and a little nervous because I now know what I'm getting myself into. Thanking God for this blessed life.