By mid-April, I was six weeks post-op. I wrote a “final update” to my friends and family. Though my long days of convalescing from surgery were coming to an end, the reality is that this was only the beginning of the story. This was just one tumultuous chapter.
During my early recovery days, a rather thoughtless extrovert informed me that “ostomies are GROSS!” As an inner-world processor who never has a clever come-back, I was surprised by my response for him: “Having an ostomy is better than being dead!”
Recovery from the surgery was a physically and emotionally painful process, but I survived. I lived to experience more days; I can receive each day as a gift. I am reminded of a quote posted by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation,
“I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.”
~William C. Hennan
There was no “resuming normal life” following convalescing. There was a new normal, a different normal to be learned and experienced and embraced. I wrote of that time:
“Waves of grief over what I lost mingle with gratitude that I am alive. Throughout the last week I’ve had three different conversations with loved ones when they shared that during the first week of my hospital stay, they feared that I would not survive. The reality of what I endured is sinking in, what my body suffered and fought through. I know others have not survived this, but I did. I have a calming peace that reminds me that I am okay, but I also feel immense sorrow that I will never be the same. I cling to the Word of God that reminds me that every day of my life was written before one of them came to be (Ps 139:16); none of this took Him by surprise. Yet there is a part of me that wants to push back and scream, ‘THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF MY STORY!!!’ I shake my head in disbelief and wonder. I put my hand on my abdomen; the crinkle of the plastic pouch and rigid feel of the appliance awakens my senses and affirms that this is real. This is real. This is real, and I’m okay. It doesn’t always feel real, and I don’t always feel okay. I must remind myself that it is so. If the goal of grief work is acceptance and adjustment, then I must continue to embrace the grief. This is not a life change that I would have chosen, but this is part of my story. And I’m okay.”
This is part of my story. I wouldn’t have written a chapter this way; if under compulsion to write such an ordeal, I would have wrapped it up quickly and moved on. However, I am not the author of my story. My loving heavenly Father is the author of my life.
In His mercy and love for me, He is using this pain to shape me. This is not a theological statement about whether God causes or merely allows tragedy in our life; this is a reminder of the promise found in Romans 8:28. He will work all things together for my good.
He is using my frailty to renew me. My continual prayer is that He empty me of myself so that I can be filled with Him. If illness is His means, then I need not resist. He is using my brokenness and suffering to shine His light into my own darkness. It is my prayer that the words I compile here will bring honor to Christ, and that He will use these words of vulnerability to shine His light into the lives of others as well.
This is only the beginning, and there are more chapters to be written: one about my liver and one about a vicious bacteria. I am not well. I do not know when I will be well again, but this is part of my story. And I’m okay.