The beginning of September I got a sore throat and felt a little achey, and then September 16, 2017 I went into the OR for major surgery. To say that this was unexpected is a major understatement. I am a generally healthy person, I haven’t ever really had any recurring major health problems (other then a occasional bout of food poisoning/stomach bug, I’ll get to that in a minute) and so to get a sore throat and then find yourself in the hospital two weeks later was a bit of a shock. I’m writing because I want to share what I went through so maybe other moms can relate or even help themselves in a similar situation.
Usually when I get sick I don’t even go to the doctor, and if I do go, usually it’s under worst case scenario type circumstances when I can no longer stand being sick so I force myself to go. So it was a little out of character for me to come down with a sore throat and achey body and go straight to the doctor. But the truth is…I had been tired. I had been SO tired over the past month and the thought of being sick for a week or more was about to send me over the edge. So optimistically I thought if I went in right away maybe my doctor would give me some meds and I would be on the mend before I was even really sick.
But of course that wasn’t what happened. My doctor was concerned, but she wanted me to take some vitamins and get some rest and see if I could fight it off myself. In the mean time she said if the symptoms persisted we would need to run some tests. The problem was, there was something in the back of my mind nagging me that was making me worried. I tried to look at all my stats from that day and figure what was going on. But I got worse, really fast. Basically over night I started feeling nauseous, throwing up, having stomach pains and feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck. The biggest flag for me was my blood pressure. So I called her and asked her if she would do a blood test to rule out pregnancy (even though it truly would have had to have been a miracle from heaven for me to be pregnant). She did, and the test came back negative. The next week was a bit of a roller coaster of feeling better and then worse, but overall feeling so tired and out of sorts, it was hard to get through the day. Then I got new symptoms, I had a low grade fever one random day, was fine for a day and then I woke up the next day and had a low grade fever again. I also had a really swollen stomach, and I felt even weirder than before. So I made a followup appointment, which landed about ten days after my initial appointment. I went in trying to go over my medical history like a rolodex so I could try to fill her in on any possible thing that this could be tied to from my past. When we went over my symptoms over the last ten days, she was VERY concerned. She didn’t really have any ideas off the top of her head but she was determined to get to the bottom of it. She did more blood work that day, and then scheduled an ultrasound for the next week that would look over all my organs and stomach. So I left feeling a bit optimistic that I would have answers, I would just have to stay patient and hang in there.
That night, I started having some sharp pain on my right side, in my ribs. This was another new symptom. I couldn’t figure out if I had pulled a muscle that day, or did something else to cause this pain…but it felt different than the stomach pain I had had over the last two weeks. By morning the pain had traveled south a bit, my whole stomach area was sore and tender and I did not want to get out of bed. But I did anyway. I thought that if I just made it to my ultrasound that everything would work out and I would be good as new. So I braved it through dropping Sean off to school, going to my one class that day (Amen for canceled classes) and then headed home to rest. Let me try to describe how I looked walking across campus. To say I was walking slow was an understatement. There was also a lot of foot shuffling, heavy breathing and hunching over going on. This is not normal Sarah walking behavior. When I got in my bed at one in the afternoon the angels sang I was so happy. But the pain was still there. Derick was not a happy camper and really wanted to take me to urgent care when he got home from work, but I had my doubts.
Have you all ever had doubt set it? Even though you are so sure of something, you have prayed to God for answers and clarity and all the things…you still doubt yourself in some deep down way? Let me tell you something friends, I want to MURDER that doubt. I really do. Because if there is one thing that I have realized this week, it is that we are letting DOUBT take away so much from us: joy, happiness, health, faithfulness. So I let the doubt set in, and I told Derick that if he took me to urgent care it would just be a waste of time and money, and I didn’t want to come home after six hours with nothing but a laxative in hand (I have had this happen numerous times). I told him I would call nurse-on-call, see what they said, and go from there. I called nurse-on-call and they recommended I try some antacids, some Tylenol, and see how I felt in the morning. If the pain was not better or if it was worse, I needed to be seen.
The next morning was Saturday. Enter a ninety year old grandma version of Sarah. The hunching is now into the realm of full blown osteoporosis, the walking is soo slow, and I can barely get out of bed without crying out in pain. I stayed in bed half of the day praying the pain away, and then finally broke down and told Derick he would have to take me to urgent care. My dad came over to stay with the kids, and as he lifted my legs in the car, the pain was so bad the tears were immediate. When I said goodbye to the kids, I tried to smile, I tried not to act scared or freak them out. So I acted light hearted, gave them gentle hugs and small kisses. In hind sight I would have hugged them each for five minutes at least and given them kisses till they shouted Mercy.
When we got to urgent care the doubt was still very present, but at this point I decided to just pray for doctors and nurses who would help us find answers and take good care of me. The first thing they said to me was, nothing to eat or drink. Great! After two weeks of eating possibly a combined calorie count of 2800 and being dehydrated from being in and out of bed, the thought of no water was like a final blow. But I prayed anyway. The best part about this whole experience was that God answered my prayer ten fold! My, my did he show up with some sweet people. There was one wild card in there who will be named “Bad Cop” but she will not make an appearance until Part 2 which will be the funnier sister to this story.
My doctor at urgent care was my kind of doctor. I liked her voice, she had great bedside manner and she did not have a gruff or mean bone in her body. She also got right to it. She wasted no time, and that is also a trait I love to see in doctors. She ran tests and did not stop until she got answers. The answer was found in a CT scan, which is some pretty cool technology but all I really have to say is that drinking that cold contrast drink about froze me to death. The CT scan showed that I had a mass in my intestine that was created from my intestine twisting. Ok then. They said the only solution was surgery, and they had a call into the OR at the hospital to get me a room and a surgeon. They would let me know when we got to the hospital when the surgery would be.
At this point it dawned on me that I would not be going home before this surgery, and I realized I would be in the hospital for a while…and that I wouldn’t be seeing my kids for a few days. Basically my heart shattered in two in that urgent care room. The thought of not saying a proper goodbye to my babies and being gone from them for a few days without them knowing what was happening was one of the hardest things to get through. I cried from that moment until I went under for surgery.
When we got to the hospital, Derick wheeled me up to my room, and my surgeon was there within thirty minutes. He explained that they did not know the cause to this part of my intestine being kinked, but it was likely ovarian cancer. Um, what?! He said this in a lot less scary and blunt way, but that is the gist of it. He said an OB would be scrubbing in on my surgery to check everything out and possibly do a full hysterectomy. He said I would be coming out with a huge scar. Within about fifteen minutes after that, I was in OR prep and they were going over everything with Derick and I, and then it was time for him to go to the waiting room.
In the minutes that I laid on that table, after my husband walked out…that is the closest to Jesus I ever felt. The thoughts of death can do that to you, am I right?! The thing is that I laid there and my prayers sounded something along these lines:
God if it is your will, let me go home and kiss my babies one last time. To be able to say goodbye, a proper goodbye at least, and then if it is in your time, you can take me home. But, if it is your will I would really like to live, and just be able to care for my babies God.
And then I let go. I trusted him, and I believed that he would do what was best for me. I still went into that OR scared, but I was at peace with what God was going to do with me in that room.
As it turns out, as soon as they opened me up and saw the mass they had seen on the CT scan, they saw a spleen instead of a twisted intestine. WHOA. A spleen?! You heard me right, my spleen was wandering around, and was swollen and had settled up by my large intestine. The technical term is actually “wandering spleen” and I am case number 501 in medical history to have this happen. So basically this was a Grey’s Anatomy moment for my Dr. He took that bad boy out, and made sure everything was ok, and for good measure took out my appendix which was visible and is procedural. My spleen was like that when I was born, and my doctor said it was a miracle that nothing had ever happened to cause it to rupture. He said one dive in volleyball in high school and it could have ruptured on the spot, since it wasn’t attached and protected.
I came out of that OR singing praises to my Mighty God, and I have ever since. Because to me, God gave me a wondering spleen, and to me, it felt like the gift of life. Compared to cancer, or to death, it felt like a gift of life to keep being a mom to my babies and a wife to Derick. I felt like I was given a second chance, to live life to the fullest. So every day, I thank God for that weird spleen, and that I get to live another day. And honestly, every day my goal is to try to be as close to Jesus as I was on that operating table, because if we truly trust him, we should trust him all day every day, in all circumstance.
Please join me next week for Part 2.