I think I might finally be able to close this chapter of my life. On March 15, 2012, I had MALS surgery. The surgeons used four incisions across my abdomen and one cut in my belly button to release the pressure of my diaphragm on my Celiac artery. Dr. Dodson and Dr. Wulkan came out to my parents after they closed me up and they were apparently beaming. As soon as they cut through my diaphragm, my artery immediately popped back up and they saw the blood flowing normally again. I came out of the anesthesia and looked up at my mom. I told her my stomach hurt- but I didn’t feel my old pain anymore. It was gone.
I ate a few bites of food that night and I noticed that I wasn’t nauseous anymore, either. It felt like a miracle. One simple surgery, and it seemed like everything was fixed. Granted, I still have some follow up appointments regarding any issues with my adrenal glands and a possible auto-immune thing, but my pain and nausea are gone. I was afraid to admit it at first. I thought I might jinx it. But I think that eleven days post-surgery, it is safe to say that I don’t have them anymore! It only took the doctors 23 weeks to get their act together….
But that’s okay. I realized that had none of this happened, or if I had the surgery when they originally planned it in November in Cincinnati, I never would have had the chance to meet some amazing people. Throughout all of this, I learned who my true friends really are. The ones who visited and kept in touch and went out of their way to make sure I wasn’t lonely will have a special place in my heart forever. The FCA group at Allatoona High School (especially my Bible study girls) are amazing, and I believe their prayers helped God work some healing miracles within me. I got closer to Lizzy, who I went to middle school with, but never talked with much. I got closer to Allison, who I hadn’t talked to as often as I did my freshman year. I grew incredibly close to Jessie, who is my ginger sister :) I met a girl at Scottish Rite who has Behcet’s disease- a rare auto-immune disorder that is a possible diagnosis for me. I have grown amazingly close to other friends that I already had, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The nurses and doctors that took care of me were wonderful, and I think I will be friends with some of them for a very long time.
Today was one of the most perfect days I have had in a very long time. I saw my GI doctor who started taking care of me not long after all this started. She got very choked up when she told me I didn’t need any follow appointments and that I was cleared from her point of view. I walked over to Scottish Rite and got to visit all the amazing nurses who cared for me for weeks on end. They were all very surprised to see me up and about and in normal clothes. But I think the moment that I will remember for a lifetime is when I walked into the band room at Allatoona. I got butterflies in my stomach as everyone in band clapped for my healing. Mrs. Markham and Mr. Gurnow gave me huge hugs, and I couldn’t have been happier. There are times when marching band is grueling and I wonder why I march through the intense heat. But, when I saw how everybody welcomed me back, I remembered why- these people are not just my friends, they’re my band family :)
My faith was put to the test during this trial. There were times I wondered why God wasn’t fixing me if so many people were praying for my healing. There were days that I cried because I didn’t understand why He let this happen to me. All I wanted more than anything was to be in school with my friends, going to marching band competitions on Saturdays and football games on Fridays. I mean, what teenager wants to be stuck in a hospital room for weeks on end, not able to go to the movies or go shopping? Certainly not me. I didn’t understand why God would let me suffer through months of pain without even a slight indication of when it all might end. Of course, I had my good days when I thanked God for letting me feel a bit better. But deep inside, I was still upset that I wasn’t completely healed. But, the feeling of sadness and confusion went on for a long time, and the feeling I had when I was better made it all worth it. God had me suffer through pain to build my confidence and to make me stronger. During difficult times, we often feel like He has abandoned us, and then when our life is going wonderfully, we forget that He is the one who made this possible. Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to that. Through my pain, I did not feel very close to God, because it did not seem like He was answering any prayer I had. After surgery, I had an incredible surge of gratefulness that He had finally healed me. And now with life feeling so wonderful, I forget that I should be thanking Him for these happy times. I believe that God allowed me to recognize the weaknesses in my faith in order to build it up even stronger. I am by no means perfect, and I cannot guarantee that my relationship with God will be perfect, either. But I know that anytime I am doubting my faith, I can look back to this time and see how faithful He truly is.
This week I am going to start taking some online classes to make up my classes. I still want to graduate with all my friends, and I plan to go back to school in the fall as a junior. Plus, as soon as i’m done weaning off of the narcotics, I can get my permit and start to drive! Eek! Exciting, but pretty scary… I still have my hospital bracelets on… I thought I would have wanted them off as soon as possible. But, I realized, even though I’m home, I’m still on pain meds and healing from surgery. My own personal measurement of when I am completely healed is when I am able to go running again. When I can run the two mile loop that I ran almost everyday last year, I can finally say I’m better and I will cut them off. It’s just my own little cheesy symbolic thing :)
I am still going to continue to draw and paint, for that is something I discovered that I truly love. I am going to go running as soon as my body will allow me to. When I go back to school, I am going to get more involved with the drama department, because I was actually supposed to be a part of Beauty and the Beast at my school before I ended up in the hospital- I realize I like to act, too. I am still going to be a clarinetist, because I love being a part of the band family so much. And I am always going to remember everything that this experience taught me:
- There is always someone worse off than you; be thankful for what you have.
- The love of family and friends is extremely precious; don’t take it for granted.
- And, no matter what, God will never ever abandon you.
This is a bittersweet ending… But I think it is finally safe to say I can move on to the next chapter of my life… I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my future <3