Brighter Days After Surgery

Hello all!

Well, it’s been a pretty wild couple of months since I last posted–I battled more unexplainable/unstoppable bleeding in May, plus a lot of stress concerning a couple of people at church. It was very hard to feel positive about anything when I felt drained by blood loss, overwhelmed with grief, and harshly judged by folks I thought I could trust, plus I was facing so much uncertainty concerning my health.

But in late May, I traveled with my dad to Chattanooga, TN to see a highly respected gynecological specialist, Dr. A., and she got more done for me in 4 hours than had been done for me in 7 months!  She was able to get ultrasounds done the same day I arrived, and those scans revealed 2 important findings:  1) my left ovary was all but taken over with a suspicious-looking cyst, and 2) my endometrial lining was far too thick for my own good–it was literally outgrowing its blood supply and causing the crazy bleeding I’d been suffering for four and a half years. Dr. A was VERY kind and broke the news to me gently that my left ovary was likely going to have to be removed surgically, and that a D&C was going to be required as well to test the endometrial lining for cancerous cells. I had hoped to avoid surgery, but when she went over my records with me point by point and showed me how serious the situation was, I understood we had to act fast. Dr. A also advised that even though she would be happy to do the surgery herself, she was worried that the cyst was cancerous, and if it was, it needed to be handled by an OB-GYN who specialized in gynecological cancers. She also didn’t want me to have to travel many hours back to Chattanooga for surgery in a few weeks.

Once we got back home to western NC, Dr. A found a great cancer OB-GYN surgeon, Dr. S., in Charlotte (much closer to home) . I was able to get a surgery consultation with Dr. S almost immediately after getting home, and when I met with her I felt like God had led me to her–she understood and answered all my questions, and eased my mind quite a bit. (It was SO much better than the last surgery consult I had had earlier in the year, where the doctor made fun of my concerns!). Don’t get me wrong, I was still scared of surgery, but I was more scared that my left ovary could be cancerous…so we got laparoscopic surgery scheduled for June 25th.

Aside from intense anxiety over the breathing tube possibly damaging my singing voice, I was remarkably calm –I had the feeling that we were exactly where God wanted us this time.  This time, I sailed through all the surgery prep that had felt overwhelming before, washing myself twice with a scrub that smelled and felt like a cross between hand sanitizer and school lunchroom dish liquid, avoiding anything but clear liquids after 10pm the night before surgery, and drinking apple juice to keep my blood sugar up on surgery day. When it came time to be prepared for surgery, I got the nice little gown that doesn’t quite cover in the back (LOL) and some nonslip socks, plus an IV to keep me hydrated while I met one last time with Dr. S and with the anesthesiologist (the latter of whom assured me he would do his utmost to keep the breathing tube from nicking my vocal cords by running a small camera down my throat to check the tube’s position).  By the time I was brought into the operating room, they had also given me a calming substance that kept me from bouncing off the walls with worry, and I don’t remember much after getting into the operating room.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the surgical waiting area, my dad wasn’t alone–my fiance and his family, plus several of my good friends, kept him company.  This turned out to be a good thing, as the surgery lasted about an hour and some, and the waking-up period lasted nearly as long again!  I took an incredibly long time to wake from anesthesia, because under its influence I met with my mom and a man I recognized as Jesus.  We were in a beautifully sunlit room with ivory walls and soft purple furnishings–Jesus and I sat on opposing couches and Mom was in an armchair very close by me.  I know that Mom and I talked for what seemed like hours, and we discussed things about my future, things I would soon be doing, but upon waking from anesthesia I could not remember anything of what we talked about.  The most striking thing was that Jesus never spoke to me, only smiled kindly…and every time I looked at Him, He looked different.  Sometimes he was a young man, and sometimes he looked like an older man; sometimes He even looked like a younger or older female, and sometimes His skin color and features were changed.  But no matter what, I never questioned this was Jesus–the sheer kindness and compassion in His eyes was the same no matter what He looked like on the outside.

Eventually Mom patted my knee and said, “Robin, you’re going to wake up soon, and it’s going to hurt—I can’t do anything about that, and I can’t come back with you, but He will be with you.  He’s been watching the whole procedure.”  Then I understood that Jesus had been quiet because He had been taking care of every little thing that happened during the operation.  I started coming back into consciousness a little after that, but I really wasn’t interested in staying awake–I kept falling back into a not-quite-sleep to see Mom and Jesus again.  I’m not sure how many times I did this, but Mom was ever patient and kept encouraging me to wake up, that I could bear the pain and I would be okay.  Everything felt so real in that room with them, though, and waking up in the hospital gurney felt so lonely, achy, and chilly by comparison; I wanted to stay and talk to Mom some more.  But finally I regained consciousness enough to be wheeled back to recovery, and eventually I was able to get dressed and hobble into a wheelchair to go home the same day.

After the procedure, I learned that they did in fact have to take my left ovary completely–there was no more normal ovarian tissue, just a big ole horrible mucous cyst.  (Crazy thing was, when Dr. S checked the right ovary, it was covered in little cysts too, symptomatic of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome–this had not shown up on any scans previously, though I’ve long had severe trouble with weight loss, plus some other symptoms that usually go along with PCOS.)  However, the pathology report on the left ovarian cyst and the endometrial lining came back all negative for cancer (found that out yesterday), and the recovery at home has been really good, all things considered.  I’ve had to move carefully and slowly, and I can’t do as much for myself as I’m used to, but that will pass in time.  I just have five small stitches in my belly where the laparoscopic instruments went in.

I’m really glad the surgery’s behind me, and I feel much more level and happy now that this uncertain health matter has been settled for the moment.  Time will tell if the bleeding issue comes back, but at least now I feel like I’m with the right providers who will handle my problem correctly and compassionately.  It’s much easier to turn toward day when I’m not besieged by uncertainty from every angle…and it’s much easier to be happy when I’ve had such a beautiful experience as I had under anesthesia.  I don’t know whether it was a mere dream, a vision, or what, but I do know it felt utterly real and lovely, and I didn’t want to leave. ❤

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