Just warning you — this is a long post!
I had somewhat promised an account of how things went after surgery, and I’ve put it off long enough. And I do not plan to be extremely graphic, here, but it won’t be the kind of thing that you will want your kids to read.
I told about the terrible pain that I experienced in the hospital right after surgery. And I told about how it seemed that the prayers had turned things around for me so suddenly. That was more of a miracle than I realized at the time. But I will tell more of that later. They did keep me an extra night, but things seemed to be progressing pretty much the way they were supposed to. I came home, and settled into the “doing nothing” routine fairly well and everything seemed fine until the Wednesday night after I got home. I was still having some pain, but almost no bleeding. I had gone into the computer room and used the desk computer for the first time since my surgery a week before. I felt like sitting on that chair wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world,but that was pretty much the story of my life in those days post surgery, but when I stood up, there was a sudden rush of blood, and I realized there was something drastically wrong. I could tell that the blood was “old blood” and that I wasn’t hemorrhaging, but it was, nevertheless, disconcerting. Deborah insisted that I needed to call the doctor. When I tried, there was no answer, but there was an answering machine, since it WAS still office hours. When no one called me back, I became a little worried. I called again, and this time, I got the answering service. It was almost 4:50 and the helpful gal at the other end told me that my doctor was taking call at five and advised me to give her the message, and she would wait until five to call. That was such a pleasant surprise an encouraging help to me.
When I told Dr. Killeen what had happened, he said that I should just keep an eye on how things were going and he would see me in the morning.
So, I headed into his office in the morning and the news that he told me was mostly good.
“Things like this happen sometimes,” he said. “I am really, really pleased with most of the surgery. Support is good, and things are healing. The bleeding indicates that things are healing, so as long as there is some bleeding, you can be assured that things are still healing.”
So I came on home and settled back into waiting. And waiting. And being careful. And taking sitz baths three times a day. And nothing changed, and I continued to have a considerable amount of pain. The thing was, I was really hoping to attend the graduation of our daughter in law on the Saturday that was two weeks post surgery. From what I had read, it didn’t sound like that was an unreasonable expectation, but as the days passed, and there was no change in my condition, I began to lose hope. Jessica was receiving her Master’s degree from Eastern University in Philadelphia, and I was so proud and happy for her, but I finally decided that I shouldn’t attempt to be at the graduation.
It was almost more than I could bear that morning, watching my husband and Middle Daughter going off to Philadelphia, but by the time the day was over, I was more than happy that I had stayed home. They had to walk a very long way from parking to the graduation. Also, it was a very warm day and the grad was held outside. I know I would have been miserable and besides, by the time that day was over, I hit the lowest point emotionally that I had experienced for a very long time. I was so lonely, for one thing, with my family gone, and it seemed like the pain was just staying so constant, the bleeding wasn’t getting any better, and by the time they finally made it back, I had pretty much convinced myself that I would never heal without more surgery, and that Life, as I had enjoyed it heretofore, was changed forever. I also decided that I was going to call again on Monday morning and see if maybe the doctor would see me again. Maybe if I went in, there would be something he could do to ward off the further surgery that I was sure that I was going to need. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Monday morning dawned, and I called the office. The receptionist put me through to the nurse, and the nurse pulled my chart. She came back on, listened to my tale of woe, and all the symptoms that I was sure was going to convince her that I really was in dire need of some kind of rescuing, and then she said, “Mrs. Yutzy. These symptoms are to be expected with the complications of your surgery.”
“Your chart says that you have a hematoma, and it just takes time for these things to heal.”
“So you mean to tell me that I can expect this sort of thing for a while yet and it is normal???”
It seemed to me from her answer that there was no “normal” for this sort of thing. So of course, I got off the phone and googled it. That might have been the wrongest thing to do! That really blew my mind. Apparently, hematomas are not all that rare following a traumatic birth — especially one where forceps are used, or the birth is precipitous. I also was more than a little comforted by the fact that the horrible pain from the first night post op finally had an explanation. One point that recurred over and over in the discussions about vaginal hematomas was the horrible pain! I also realized that my recovery time was, in fact, something that was not predictable. Women talked of months of recovery. It sounded daunting to me.
I was exceedingly despondent! “I’m going to be,” I said one evening to my long suffering husband, “just like that woman in the Bible that had an issue of blood 12 years!” He laughed, but I wasn’t exactly joking. I had begun to think in terms of this never getting better. (I know, I know. More ridiculous drama. But honestly! I didn’t see how this was ever going to turn out okay!)
I began to think about what that woman did with her infirmity, (Luke 8:43-48) and was comforted by the fact that what she did was to quietly seek out Jesus. She didn’t stand up somewhere and make a public spectacle of it, she just took her private sadness, and touched the hem of His garment, and she was healed. I thought about how, in that society, it was an even more taboo subject than it is in our day, and how lonely she must have felt through all those long years — especially in the Jewish society that isolated women who were menstruating. I thought about how long she suffered, and about the money she spent, and how turning to Jesus was pretty much a last resort, and yet, she had faith that Jesus could heal her. I wonder how long it took her to make up her mind to even try Jesus for this. She must have wondered how to ask Him for healing for such a delicate issue, and how incredibly joyful she must have felt when she came to such an unobtrusive solution. And then, how embarrassed and frightened she must have been when he said, “Who touched me?” even though she knew she had been healed! The joy must have given her courage, even as the tenderness of his words, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” reassured and comforted her.
And so, I decided that I could come to Jesus and ask Him for healing. One morning when all the house was quiet, and I was alone, I chose some praise and worship songs that spoke to my heart and the direction that I truly wanted my heart to go, and I came before the Lord with my fear as well as my desire to hear His voice and to ask Him for wisdom and courage and peace — and healing, if that was His will.
I started with one of my personal favorites, “Blessed be your Name”
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
. . .
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name . . .
I wept and prayed and sat, surrounded by praise as I sought to make the words my own. And I told God that I really needed help in my attitude. “I really didn’t want to have this surgery,” I told Him. “I was so afraid that things would go wrong and I would be worse off than before. I don’t like this pain, this bleeding, all the ‘don’t lift this, don’t do that’ business. If it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have gotten it done, but I was trying to please my husband and the doctor pretty much promised me that it would be simple and almost painless, and that it could, in fact, be fixed! Ever since the beginning, it hasn’t gone the way it should have. Please, help me!”
And then, the words to “Praise You in this Storm” began to filter through my tears.
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away . . .
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth . . .
I gradually felt the familiar peace of acceptance and even anticipation of what God had for me. I did not have any confidence that this was going to turn out okay, but I did realize that I wasn’t alone. I kept thinking about the verse from Psalm 139:14:
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
I thought a lot about these bodies that we’ve been given and how they usually heal. I really wanted to claim that verse for complete healing, but I kept remembering, too, the fact that this body of mine has been ticking away since 1953, and that I can’t expect that it will run (or even heal!) like a much later model. I came to realize that the bottom line here was my sense of mortality, and the fact that the time was going to come when whatever was wrong with me couldn’t be fixed. And that someday, it wasn’t just going to be something inconvenient, it would be something terminal. This caused me some reflective moments, to say the least.
Life goes on, they say. And it does. I needed to go to Lewes one Monday morning to take Nettie in for a counseling appointment. My doctor has office hours in Lewes on Monday mornings, so I decided that I would stop over there and just see if he could reassure me a bit. He had told me to feel free to call at any time with any question. Nurse Daughter asked if I wanted her to go along. Did I? Absolutely! So we got into the office and discovered that Dr. Killeen was out for the day and Dr. B. was covering for him. Yikes! I’m not a big fan of gyn doctors to begin with, but when Dr. B. offered, and Deborah insisted, I decided to have an office visit.
Dr. B. is a very kind doctor. He was encouraging and honest. “You’ve hit a bump in the road,” he said. “The important thing is this: The surgery is very well done and has healed very, very well. You have great support, and tissue is healthy. The thing that isn’t so nice is that the stitches have come out where the hematoma was, and that has to heal on its own. As long as that is healing, you will have pain, and you will have bleeding. You WILL heal, but it will just take a little longer.”
We discussed, then, about lifting and doing the things I wanted to do, and when I said that I wanted to shovel and work in the garden, that I wanted to do my usual household things, he looked thoughtful and then he said, “You can do all of those things in time — by the time Summer actually is here, I think you will be well enough to do anything you like. For now, you can do most of your household things that you want to do, take care of your ladies and such, but just wait on the heavier work until later.”
He was a bit concerned about the situation, though, and thought that I should come back in a week to be evaluated. When I went to make the appointment, the front desk said that I had an appointment in just a little over two weeks, did I just want to keep that? I suddenly thought, “This is going to take another six to nine weeks. I might just as well keep that appointment, and then see from there when he wants to see me back . . .” so I said, “Just leave it the way it is. I will come in when I was previously scheduled.” And I went home to wait again.
And then the strangest things started to happen. I woke up two days later feeling vastly, inexplicably improved. It was phenomenal! I just felt so much better. A few days after that, the bleeding diminished, then diminished some more. About a week later, it stopped altogether. I kept feeling better and better and better. Energy levels were a bit unpredictable, and some days I felt like some large, inert lump of humanity, but, for the most part, I felt like a functioning, happy part of the human race.
I began to think about the upcoming appointment, and tried to steel myself for the news that I was almost certain was coming. I figured that I would need at least an extra three weeks of recovery, but I honestly felt like that would be better than what I had originally anticipated. So, one day before the six weeks (from the date of surgery) were actually up, I found myself in the doctor’s office, awaiting for the verdict.
“Mrs. Yutzy,” beamed Dr. Killeen, “you are healed. Totally recovered. Everything looks great. No restrictions!”
I must have looked as startled as I felt, because he went on to recount how everything had turned out so much better than expected, how he was so pleased, and how he expected no complications. I sat there on the exam table, and felt this incredible wellspring of gratitude that bubbled up inside of me.
“Dr. Killeen,” I began, “I just want to thank you for what you’ve done for me –“
“Now you hush,” he said, taking both my hands in his, and leaning over to give me a peck on the cheek. “You run along and I hope to not see you again for a year!”
Well, when I went to tell my Heavenly Father “Thank you!” He didn’t tell me to “Hush” neither did He tell me to run along. I had a lot to tell him, and I had so much to be thankful for and about. I knew that my recovery was nothing short of a miracle and I felt relieved, humbled, ecstatic, and just so very, very grateful.
Nine weeks ago today I had that surgery, and I rejoice every day in the health that I’ve been granted. This week I had a follow up appointment for my knees and when the results from those X-rays were in, there was another beaming Physician’s Assistant. “Perfect!” Exclaimed Jennifer, as she looked over the films. “Your knees look great! I don’t see a single thing wrong with them! They are exactly how we like to see them!” That was music to my ears, of course, but there was another thing that really, really pleased me about that visit.
For years, whenever I had to get up on an X-ray table, I had a pretty serious problem with incontinence. Embarrassing, I know, but for some reason, whenever I had to scoot around on a hard surface, it was pretty important that I didn’t forget some sort of protection. But this week, there was no problem whatsoever. I was delighted with the good report from my knees, but I was even happier with the proof that my most recent surgery was truly a sucess.
Lord Jesus, I give grateful, humble praise!
And that is all I’m writing about this. I hope to not mention this subject again.