Yesterday started out like any other Monday. I was woken up by a sweet kiss from my husband as he headed off to work. While my body slowly began to wake, my mind quickly registered the level 8 pain & glaring need to pluck myself out from under the warm sheets & begin my regimen of medicines followed by IV fluids.
As I made my hot tea & grabbed my pills I played through yesterday’s Instagram stories (no shame here.) Suddenly my phone lit up with the name of my nurse at the GI Motility Clinic. I hurried to answer this much awaited phone call.
“Mrs. Jenkins, I’m calling to let you know your insurance approved…”
My squeals cut her voice off.
“That’s a great reaction! The surgeon actually has an opening for next Monday, as in one week from today. We will see you then for your surgery..”
Okay so the typical response to setting a date for a major surgery doesn’t usually involve squeals. But if you know anything about my history you can imagine why I’m pretty jazzed about an operation. It means taking a step FORWARD. It means this new new plan that I’ve been hoping & praying would happen is ACTUALLY going to happen. It means NEW plans which could lead to BETTER days & a HIGHER quality of life. Need I say more?!
On Monday December 5th, I’ll be undergoing an abdominal procedure for the placement of a permanent gastric stimulator device. In the same way that a pacemaker uses electronic pulses to help the heart beat, a gastric stimulator (pacemaker) essentially shocks the stomach into functioning better than it does on its own.
Because of my severe GI issues (gastroparesis & low motility resulting in malnourishment & the inability to eat solids or much of anything) I need this device to function for my stomach, to make it move, contract & work instead of being paralyzed & sluggish. While this device is not a cure for the incurable gastroparesis, it is a treatment proven to be effective in many patients by lessening miserable symptoms like extreme nausea, vomiting, inability to eat most foods, & malabsorption/nutrition.
This will by far be the least invasive, shortest surgery in my serious medical history, but it is still real surgery. Real surgery as in knife to skin, cut open & big scars. We are hoping this will also be my shortest hospitalization ever as the plan is to send me home with a pain pump, eliminating the need to stay inpatient for pain management.
I’ll be down for a while. And by down I mean in bed, not leaving the house, Tyler totally caring for my every need, not texting, not blogging, probably not doing much of anything. For someone like me it’s almost impossible to really predict recovery time. I know that my body is constantly fighting through many things & I have to be patient with every long process.
Also, the eating stuff is not going to happen right away. And we cannot predict to what level it will improve.
Again, it’s a long process. It can take awhile (possibly many months) before the patient notices the help of stimulator because the settings are adjusted once a month until it reaches a level that helps. I don’t expect to ever eat like a normal individual. My goal food…a fresh salad with tons of delicious veggies. I believe I will get to that point someday. And the thought of that, a few bites of a runny egg over white rice, an apple, a bowl of oatmeal, grilled chicken, baked potatoes, non-puréed foods… makes me really really excited for the future.
As always I’m asking sincerely for your prayers. Thank you in advance for your faithful requests to the Lord on behalf of my family and me. It means the world to us.
As if the news of having surgery in ONE WEEK wasn’t enough excitement for this Monday, I had a divine encounter, a new God moment I had never experienced before.
A few weeks back I got rear ended while I was stopped at a light. Nobody was hurt. And I was really lucky that it wasn’t worse. The insurance company of the other driver was great to work with & very swift to access the damage & get me a check to cover the cost of repair.
More than anything it was inconvenient. I was a little shaken, especially because this was probably the fourth time I had been behind the wheel in over a month. I thought, “Of course, this is just my luck. One of my chances to have a little freedom & this is what happens.”
I wanted to have my car repaired right away but I had to wait until after Thanksiving because of the short work week.
So, I took my car to the body shop yesterday & waited for the rental company to pick me up. When we arrived at Hertz I walked in & began answering questions in order to get my rental car. The branch manager, Sherri struck up a friendly conversation during the process. She commented that Hinton’s Body Shop was one of the best, everyone had great things to say about their work. I agreed with her & told her I went to church with the owner & his family.
“Really? That’s great…I’m hoping you can help me figure out the name of a former customer of mine. He’s been on my mind and I have to know whatever happened to him.”
“Okay,” I agreed, “I’ll do my best.”
She began to tell me the story of a man who rented a couple time a few summers back. He was making trips out of state, to seek treatment for his sick daughter. She had some type of awful illness that her KY doctors weren’t sure how to treat.
The man always rented an SUV…you see, he needed room to fit the large pole that the girl had to be hooked up to. Plus she had bags of medicine & a wheelchair & she needed to have room to be comfortable for the long trip.
Sherri remembered the way this man loved his daughter. She remembered the tears in his eyes as he tried to explain the pain his girl was going through. She felt his worry & despair, she went into her office & cried then prayed after talking with him.
She remembered their conversation & that money was tight with all the medical bills & unexpected costs… large vehicles are expensive to rent. Sherri always worked to find him an affordable rate, she wanted him to be able to get his little girl to the treatment she needed.
As she told me this story I began to tremble, with goosebumps all over my body, I felt as though I would pass out at any moment. I grabbed my phone… I had to find a picture.
Sherri continued, “One day the man stopped coming to rent cars. There was one trip he was supposed to take but ended up canceling…& that’s all I know. You see, I’ve been trying to find out what happened to this man & his daughter. I’m worried. Worried that he stopped renting cars because something happened to that girl; she was so sick, in really bad shape & I’ve wondered if maybe she didn’t make it. I’ve worried & prayed for these people. Do you know who they might be?”
I turned my phone, showing her the picture I found.
“Is this the man?”
She zoomed in & her eyes widened.
“YES! How do you know him?”
Shaking, crying I answered:
“That’s my dad…I’m the sick daughter.”
Sherri looked back at me in total disbelief. In fact, I think she almost fell out of her seat. She put her hands over her mouth in shock & cried many tears. Both of us were short of breath, partially laughing, but mostly crying. Trying to make sense of what had just happened.
I could see her brain processing the entire conversation, analyzing & processing me. I began to tell her a small bit of my story from where it left off two & a half years ago as she gathered herself. We hugged, multiple times. We took a picture together. We talked about my dad & the lasting impact he made on her life.
We talked about faith.
We talked about how this moment was so clearly orchestrated by the Lord. If I had never been in a wreck we wouldn’t have met. If I had chosen another rental service, we wouldn’t have met. If I had been able to have the repairs done last week, we would not have met because she was on vacation.
Even one different choice, however meaningless it may have seemed, and we wouldn’t have arrived at this moment.
We would have missed out on this divine, God filled, God centered moment.
Many tears continued to fall as we finished the actual business of issuing a rental car. But both of us were distracted by the goodness of the Lord & His perfect timing, His perfect way of bringing all things full circle.
I began to pray in thanks to Him for this Holy experience. I thinked Him for working through my story touch & impact the lives of others. I thanked Him for the geneority & prayers of total strangers, like Sherri who blessed me in ways they will never know. And I praised him for how far He has brought me; thank you that those worst days of all seem so far in the past. I’m guilty at times for feeling stuck in my present suffering/sickness & failing to acknowledge how much worse it all used to be.
I don’t quite have the words to illustrate the magic of that encounter. I wish I could make you feel that crazy-cool feeling which surged through my system when I realized I was hearing a story about my life.
I wish I could show you a video of her reaction upon realizing who I was & the genuine love I felt in her hug.
My God is not a God of circumstance but a God of intentionality & perfect planning followed by flawless execution. He knows what He is doing. And when you trust in that truth, He will reveal Himself all around you one ways you never ever imagined.
My God is certainly a God of magical moments & magical days like this Monday. He knows when, how, & where to answer our prayers. Tonight I go to bed with an anxious, courageous, & full heart for all the things that were & all that is to come.
Thank you for your love & prayers, especially as I prepare to head into surgery. And if I don’t get a chance to write to again before next week, I wish you all a Merry (Jesus centered) Christmas & a Happy New Year!
See you in 2017, friends!