About two weeks ago I was in too much pain to sleep. I had been nauseous for a couple of days (my husband teased me about maybe being pregnant; ha ha, not funny!) and then one night the nausea turned to painful, buckling over cramps that made me feel like I was not only pregnant, but doing into labor!
That’s when I should have gone to the ER, but I didn’t. I hate the ER. I wondered what we’d do with our kids in the middle of the night and I imagined sitting in a big, sterile room, waiting for hours, only to find out I had gas. So I soldiered through the night, the pain worsening by the hour.
The next day I went to my doctor and after poking around some she said, “I’m 97% sure it’s your appendix; it may have ruptured and you’ll have surgery today.” Huh? Now my head started to spin. I wasn’t scared; if surgery meant the pain would stop, then so be it! But I was kind of in shock that, all of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I was going to the hospital for surgery! (I mean, I’ve never even had my tonsils out!)
It took until that night for me to actually be rolled into the operating room and when all was said and done, three hours later, the doctor told Marvin that mine was one of the worst appendix ruptures he’d ever seen. My stomach had been full of gangrene and it was a good thing they got in and out when they did.
All of a sudden.
I spent five days in the hospital taking truck loads of antibiotics and pain medication: more pain, now from the incision site and from the fact that the surgeon had to move my insides around to clean me out. And then I finally felt ready to come home, though I wished I could create some sort of force field around me so that my precious boys wouldn’t tackle me in the middle like they usually do.
I’ve been at home for a week now and I’m finally able to do a little more than sleep and eat little bits all day. I’ve weaned off of the narcotic pain meds and I’m actually hoping to get the a-ok from the doctor to drive. Oh happy day!
Through this ordeal, I’ve learned five simple but important things:
- I’m not a wimp, and I should have listened to my pain. Throughout my stay in the hospital, the staff who attended to me commented on my pain threshold; they couldn’t believe I stayed home and endured an entire night of my appendix rupturing, and then drove myself to the doctor’s the next day. “That kind of pain brings most people to their knees,” they said. So they were both a little in awe of me, and they also thought I was a little dumb: Why didn’t you come in sooner?! I don’t know. I agree; that was dumb. God created pain for a reason: IT’S AN INDICATOR THAT SOMEHTING IS WRONG! Don’t ignore it. I won’t ignore it again. By the way: this includes emotional pain.
- Having the right spouse is crucial during crisis. Throughout this whole thing, Marvin has been a gem. For a week, he shelved his work and ran back and forth between the kids at home and me in the hospital, attending to everyone’s needs. At home, he dresses my wound, waits on me, keeps the house clean and dotes on my progress. Trials prove the metal of a man and Marvin is tried and true. When I was single, a minister came to my church and said that God wanted to clear all the gliders from the runway of my life so that He could bring in the 747. Here’s the thing: gliders have no engine (heart). They float around on the air, up and down with no stability, bumping among the clouds. But jumbo jets have a huge engine (heart), with enough power to drive the plane 30,000 feet into the air, high above all the clouds and rain storms. Marvin has proven, once again, to be my jumbo jet, lifting our family above this turbulence and keeping us safe amidst the storm.
- My husband had a crucial role during this trial, but so also did friends and family. Some friends visited me in the hospital, bringing soothing lotion to counter the dry hospital air and yogurt to help my body deal with all the antibiotics. They brought encouragement, compassion and reassurance. They took my kids for entire days so that Marvin could visit me and keep his head above the water. Other friends brought meals to our house while I was in the hospital and after I came home. They brought dinners and soups and flowers and chocolates and cookies and pies. Marvin can cook, but to add meal prep to his burden might have been the breaking point. How wonderful to have loving friends arrive every night with something warm and delicious. Others sent cards and texts and emails and Facebook messages, which encouraged me so much. My sister checked up on me and my mom helped in so many ways. We need community, in the good times and the bad. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to care for one another when we’re down and out.
- God is full of grace. He is so much bigger than our mistakes and He’s the Healer. Like I said, I should have gotten help sooner. Simply removing an enflamed appendix via laparoscopic surgery would have been so much easier, and I would have recovered by now. Once it ruptured, it was a much bigger mess. But I’ve never once felt God chiding me, just teaching me and proving, as He has so many times in the past, that He’s so much bigger than our human foibles. He expects us to get it wrong sometimes and He’s right there, rushing in to our rescue.
- Life is fragile. A few days before this happened, I was going my merry way, hoping to avoid jury duty, with not a lot of care in the world. Who knew that an insignificant organ was about to rupture and seep a deadly poison in to my body. God knows our length of days but we don’t. I’m grateful to be alive; I think there’s more for me to do and enjoy on this earth, and I hold life more precious and more dear as a result of this ordeal. I take it all much less for granted.
This is what I’m singing in my head right now:
“I love the Lord; He heard my cry. And pitied every groan; long as I live, and troubles rise, I’ll hasten to His throne.”
Whitney Houston — Preacher’s Wife