In all honesty, recovery has been kind of brutal up until this point. Laparoscopic procedures are considered minimally invasive, but let’s be real. Any time you get put under and cut into, it is bound to take a lot out of you. (Haha literally–they took things out of me.)
Three surgeries later, I’ve noticed something pretty great about the first week of recovery: it sort of blurs into one long day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a doozy to be sure. Stumbling into and out of an anesthesia hangover is no skip through the park. But, hey, one day is much better than seven.
In that first week, movement is pretty restricted. You really don’t think of how much you use your stomach muscles until they’ve been cut through in three places and you’re trying to sit up. Or walk. Or roll over. It just doesn’t happen. At least not without help.
My dad was my go-to guy. We had it down. When I needed to sit up or stand up he would come over and grab my hands and pull me upright so I didn’t have to strain against my incisions. The only thing I had to do was signal him. When I needed help, I simply shot my right hand straight up in the air. Since I was in a constant state of lying down, this would make just enough of my pale arm visible above the back of the couch. A silent request for help. In seconds he was at my side and I was on my feet.
The first part of recovery is a physical game. Don’t twist, walk slow, sleep as much as possible. The second part is mental. Mobility is back on the table, but healing is still in the works and the couch is still home.
And that’s the worst part.
I live a fairly busy life and I’m thankful for it. I work full time, I lead worship at my church, I’ve got a dog to take care of, some rad friends to hang with, and a little house to manage with my sister. It’s not crazy by any stretch but it keeps me occupied.
This last week and a half has been the exact opposite. And the more I recover, the more restless I get. And yesterday it got me.
It hit me all at once. Anything I could get down about slapped me right in the face. There I was with all this time on my hands and all these things I had so efficiently put out of my mind. So, naturally I just broke down and cried in a little pansy heap in the corner.
The bleakest of these dang thoughts was this: it came back.
The goal of this surgery was to go in and block off a group of varicose veins in my pelvis. Their stretching and swelling accounted for my newfound pain, my doctor theorized. He didn’t see any endometriosis or effects of endometriosis on the ultrasound and he was hopeful it was not the problem this time around.
“But I’d like to take a look,” he said, “and while we’re in there we’ll take care of anything else that might be causing trouble.”
They found more endometriosis. Not a lot, but it was there both on and inside my right ovary. Invisible to the sonogram and undoubtedly the primary source of my pain.
So I sat there yesterday in this slump, because this stupid disease won’t quit. And I began to wonder if this is what my life would look like: a bunch of cuts into my stomach and a bunch of hoping this thing wouldn’t come back and a bunch of being wrong. I cried until my mom found me and did her wizard thing and got me on my feet again and I honestly felt pretty good that night when I went to sleep.
But I woke up the next morning slumpish and dragged my butt to the couch and stayed there until 1 pm. There’s something cozy about being sad, but I think it’s also a trap. Before long you’re spiraling downward and joy sounds almost uncomfortable.
Again. It’s a trap. That’s when I realized it was one of those moments where I needed to stick my hand up in the air, like I had so much the week before, and get pulled up on my feet again.
But this time not by my earth dad.
“Okay, Jesus,” I thought, “Let’s do this again.” And I let him grab my pale little hand and pull me up and I got moving. I literally walked away from the couch and got ready for the day. Somewhere in between brushing my teeth and bumping my happy playlist (appropriately dubbed my Kitchen playlist) I remembered something my doctor said at my post-op.
“We couldn’t see what was really going on through the ultrasound. It ended up being perfect timing for this surgery.”
And it hit me like a pile of bricks. If it weren’t for that fluke swollen vein, that cyst inside of my ovary could have gone unchecked and done some serious damage.
I don’t believe in coincidence. I do believe in God’s perfect timing. And I do believe He’s been particularly tangible in through all of this.
I’ll say it every time if I have to: it’s all perspective.
Sure, I have a chronic disease. Sure, it might be back again next year. Or, at this very moment, I could be healed for all I know. With this disease there’s a lot of not knowing. But I do know that every round has been another episode of God showing up and God orchestrating and God pulling through in the right time and with the right doctors and the right support. And as much as this thing wants to drag me through the mud He just won’t let it.
Through this disease, I met Jesus.
His presence became personal and particular and obvious and tangible and radical and comforting. My relationship with Him became real. Going to Chrisitan school all my life didn’t do that. Leading worship since high school didn’t do that. This thing did that.
And you know what, if that’s what this looks like, then so be it. I get to watch Jesus move. I get to watch Him hulk-smash some pretty serious fears and carry me through unfamiliar territory. I get to watch Him mold death into life.
I get to hold my hand up behind the couch and let Him make disease into something good.
“Remember who created you, O Jacob? Who shaped you, O Israel? See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back. I have chosen you, named you as My own. When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; you will not be engulfed in raging rivers. If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
“But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us. We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)