As I was being wheeled into the operating room that Friday morning, I had two thoughts running in my head. The first one was, “This is it pancit.” This is what I’ve been preparing for a whole month. The second thought was, “I wish my mom were here.”
I guess that’s how life is summed up anyway when we’re cornered into those big, somehow uncertain, defining moments: the truly important things come out like sparkling diamonds. Things, as in relationships like family and friends. Relationships. A big word that is more than just a word.
I underwent two operations called Laparotomy and Abdominal myomectomy last Friday to take out a myoma/uterine tumor that was accidentally found last January. I was in the hospital one Saturday morning when I decided to take a Kidney-ureter-bladder ultrasound because I wanted to find out if I still had kidney stones. Fortunately, everything came out clean in the kidney and bladder department but then I was found to have an enlarged uterus and a 5.6cm mass.
From then on, I sought my mom’s counsel and those that have had the same condition. In our family alone, you can count the women who’ve had this so I wasn’t on unfamiliar territory. I was, however, conflicted when it came to deciding whether I should have a surgery or opt for natural treatment. I decided to go for the latter because in good faith I believed in natural treatments. I still do.
Somewhere along the fourth month since finding out, I was beginning to feel some changes in my body. I was skipping periods, which rarely happen to me, and I was feeling the lump grow bigger. I knew it was only a matter of time before I confront this unwanted enemy again and be back to the drawing room. Surgery or natural treatment?
The third ultrasound revealed what I should do. From 5.6cm, it grew to 7.8cm in just three months. What’s more, where it used to just be characterized as subserous (hanging by the uterus), now it had intramural component, or in layman’s term, it was latching itself onto the uterus. Not a good sight for someone who still wants to save her uterus for a possible pregnancy in the future. So we prayed about it, and then it was decided.
Last Thursday, before admitting myself to the hospital, I asked if I could check the rooms that were available. I wanted to get a room that was cheery enough to not make me feel so away from home, and big enough to accompany all my friends and family who will be visiting come Saturday on our birthday.
Even then, I was still thinking of how to accommodate friends and family. It was primarily for my comfort so that I feel as home as possible, but it was also for their comfort so that everyone feels right at home. Relationships are such big part of my life that my decisions are largely influenced by them.
I didn’t really ask any of my friends to come and stay with me at the hospital prior to my operation, but two of my former colleagues at work who are big sisters to me, volunteered to stay two nights with me. They were such big help. I was alone that Thursday night until Mamu came and lightened up the room with her perky stories and our picture sessions and all her comforting words to ease me up. Before she came, doctors and nurses did their rounds and they repeatedly asked me, “wala ka bang kasama?” I assured them a friend was coming. I sure needed company and it was comforting to know that friends took the initiative to look after me.
The next day was the big day and as I was being transferred to this operating bed, Mamu held my hands, looked straight into my eyes and said, “breathe. It’s going to be okay.”
I wish I could tell you how comforting that felt like, but deep inside I was really scared and about to tear up. Not for lack of company, but just for fear itself. This time, no friend could face this for me. It is a major operation and I’m not so tough as I look. I was never a fan of blood and hospitals anyway. The verse that came into my mind was Philippians 4:13, which said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I wasn’t alone in the operating room. God was there with me.
The surgery started at 8:30 and when I woke up, it was 5:30 in the evening. I was in the recovery room for five hours and I had that twilight moment where I just woke up, saw lights above and asked myself, “where am I?” I was seriously dazed.
And then I was wheeled back into my room and Mamu was there. Another friend, Ate Malu, was on her way to take over. She was as much a big help as mamu. She looked after me when I was in pain, held me up when I needed to go to the bathroom, and I tell you that was such an ordeal, just trying to get up from bed.
By Saturday, I was again celebrating another milestone. It was my 27th birthday and my first greeters were actually the student nurses who did their rounds. Word spread quickly in the hospital that it was my birthday thanks to that patient’s record. And one by one, my friends started coming. The hospital was very far and most of them endured the long traffic, but again Mamu reminded me the night before that no hospital is too far for a visiting friend. Wise words. At one point, the room had no seats left to accommodate everyone and I was really happy because they all came to celebrate with us. Keren had arrived sometime that evening and stayed for the night until I got discharged the next morning.
It still feels so surreal that I just had that surgery done. Maybe in another blog I would tell you what I felt when I was in the operating room, still fully conscious. It was surreal when I woke up that the myoma was gone. It was even more surreal when I found out it was bigger than I or any of my doctors expected. How could something so big fit into my small frame? Even the nurses were baffled as I looked so thin.
One lesson I bring with me from this surgery is, you have to choose to be present in the lives of people you care about. There is no such thing as passive friendship. And my friends showed me that. They didn’t just say it, because nowadays we let Facebook do all the talking. They showed in it action. It was love that walked and moved. And that was my take home gift for my birthday. The realization that love is truly shown in action.
Another lesson I learned was that God, true to Hebrews 13:5, “never leaves nor forsakes you.” He took care of all my worries, from the finances down to the last centavo. He gave wisdom to the doctors and channeled kindness through them in that they really took care of me. He took care of every little detail —from who was going to stay with me in the hospital, to who will bring me home, where I should stay, how best to recover. He just never left and He’s never forsaken His children. This was probably the best birthday I’ve had because I literally felt the newness of life. And God is just Sovereign in that everything was under His control, and He was just personal in that He gave me everyday the Word I needed to hear to calm me. The day before the surgery it was Psalm 103:2-5 and I would like to share it with everyone.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Those are the benefits we have as His children. He heals our diseases, forgives us, redeems our life, crowns us with lovingkindness and tendermercies. He satisfies us with good things —things like relationships.