Lessons from Surgery: Part Two

Personal Growth

(Jan. 11, 2015) It's taken awhile for me to fully integrate what I've learned from my second surgery. On October 31, 2014, I had an open abdominal myomectomy to remove fibroid tumors that were causing me health problems. In total, the doctor removed 11 tumors, the largest of which were 7 cm, and in total they all weighed 6 lbs. I got to see a picture of them at my two week check-up, but I will spare you the image. Needless to say, it was pretty amazing to witness what the body can grow, and what doctors have the power to remove.

Going into the surgery, I was pretty much the most scared I've ever been. The one good thing is that I had a milder, less invasive surgery a month earlier that mentally prepared me somewhat. I had already gone through the surgery prep routine, the waiting room, being put under anesthesia, and waking back up. This time, I would be put under general anesthesia a second time, with a breathing tube, and also numb from the waist down with an epidural. This brought up huge control issues for me as someone who rarely even takes ibuprofen, and I really had to surrender and trust that everything would be OK. Plus, I had never been cut open before, and it seemed so overwhelming and unimaginable that I couldn't even fathom it. Again, I had to surrender. I asked as many questions as I could because knowledge seems to calm my anxiety, but in the end, there I was, walking down the long hallway to the operating room. There was no escaping it; this was something I was going to have to go through.

The other unimaginable thing for me was the eight week recovery and how on earth were we going to get by if I couldn't do anything? No work for eight weeks, no driving for two, no lifting my four year old who is very attached to me. In fact, I would be in the hospital for at least three days, and even that seemed like a long time to be away from her. What I learned about this was that it can be done, as hard as it was for me to imagine. As mothers we often believe we are the center of everything, and if we aren't able to do things, who will? The answer is that the right people will show up in the right ways, and that I don't have to be the brain child for every thing that happens. Also, there was a grace and focus that showed up each day to let me know what was most important.

First order of business was usually getting my daughter to school, which my son helped with daily. Then it was the matter of what we would eat....my son typically went to the store and got lots of frozen meals, but with fresh fruits and veggies. I ate a lot of "self care trays" which included meals, water, tea, and vitamins and made it a point to stay nourished and hydrated. Luckily after leaving the hospital, I didn't need pain medication, and took only ibuprofen for a few weeks. Other than that, a shower, clean clothes, and a straightened up house made me feel good. Once those things were done, all I needed to do was lay in bed and rest all day until my daughter came home in the evenings. There was a spaciousness in this that was delicious. So much time. With the important to-do's checked off, there was time to think, nap, watch TV & movies, read....and later when I could sit up, paint. Time to dream, feel, vision and think about the past and future, what was truly important to me, who I could really count on, and what kind of life I want to live. I felt truly connected to God in those slow moments, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

In wasn't all fun and games of course. During that time I required an immense amount of patience. Patience with the process, myself, and what was possible. It wasn't time to implement plans, it was time only to be present and vision what would come once I felt better. It was a long, slow process, and I had to get used to that. The funny thing is that I noticed as I felt better, the more I engaged in life, the busier I got, the less focused I was, and truly the more difficult things became. My self care got less and less, and my priorities became jumbled. So I reflected back....how on earth did everything get done in those early days when I could barely walk? And I remembered that it was extreme focus on what was most important and getting it done quickly to leave plenty of spaciousness for healing. Now, of course I can't live every day that way, but I can take the lesson with me into my "regular life." I can be more patient, more accepting of what is, more compassionate with what I can accomplish, more focused on what's important, and less stressed by what comes up.

All in all, the lessons I've learned through my season of surgeries were worth the pain I went through. I am braver, stronger, quicker to surrender, more patient, and have a better perspective on my life. I look forward to carrying these lessons into 2015 and seeing what develops on the horizon <3

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