I wrote this a couple of years ago (August 2011) when things were very different. I wanted to post it because it was such a remarkable journey for this human. My thoughts and feelings were of a different time, and I'm feeling like they were from a different person. So much has changed. It is very personal and raw and some of it may make you uncomfortable, but trust me, not as uncomfortable as it made me. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is one woman's journey and it contains conditions that a typical female may endure. Hope you can get through it. I did.
Here you go.
And then there’s my story. When I moved to the suburbs after meeting my wonderful husband Jimmy twelve years ago, I needed to get new doctors for the various upkeep of my human body. I had had some ear problems over the years so the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist came first, then the Dentist and lastly, with very little time left and with no urgency whatsoever, the ob-gyn.
The ob-gyn. Does anyone really fully understand what goes on at the other end of the table when one visit’s the ob-gyn? We are at our most vulnerable, completely helpless staring at the ceiling, literally half-naked, barely breathing and then, nine times out of ten, the Dr. is making some small talk about shoveling her driveway that morning and some new instrument that just arrived that she’s trying and then you see something introduced above the paper sheet like a mad scientists puppet show, her elbows move and you feel a sharp pinch, someplace deep within. The top of her head moving is all you see. But you can feel it. To say the least, the physical sensations are invasive, wet and cold. How come they don’t offer the patients a mirror like at the Dentist? Is there something going on down there that we shouldn’t be seeing or knowing? It isn’t surgery, but it sure feels like it when the dignity-less paper covers your belly and your knees and nothing more.
It is a mystery. It’s a horror. It’s a necessity.
Nine months ago, I finally began my quest. Obviously, several years had gone by, so I was due. I say with very little time left and with no urgency because I was unaware of what my body was about to go through. It began with an uncontrollable and very painful, monthly bleeding problem. I likened it to the story about the woman with the “issue of blood“ as mentioned in the Bible, more specifically Mark‘s gospel:
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
When the woman, who had bled for twelve long, miserable years touched the hem of Jesus‘ robe, she was healed. Jesus proclaimed that her faith had made her whole. My faith would not be making me whole.
However, my new ob-gyn would be sending me for several tests after the initial physical examination including an ultrasound.
Diagnosis: two fibroids three centimeters each located in the lining of the uterus. Treatment: Drugs. Hysterectomy. Do nothing until menopause.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The fibroids were non-problematic before I knew they were there. Initially I thought I only needed to find a new ob-gyn because I was in need of a yearly pap smear and mammography exam. That was all. I had no bleeding issues. No symptoms. No problems. But as soon as I was diagnosed, shortly thereafter, the bleeding began. Perhaps the fact that the fibroids were noticed, observed, poked at, prodded and acknowledged was all they needed to make them stronger. Make them stand up and be filled with existence and blood because now, they will not stop bleeding.
After undergoing several different types of treatments including progestin, I realized that the hormone imbalance that that was causing was only exacerbating my condition. As the months went on and the bleeding continued and the treatment produced no positive result, I decided to get a second opinion.
That’s when I was referred me to Dr. Fernandez. He was a true life saver and came highly recommended.
(Interesting to note here that Mrs. Fernandez has brain cancer and is being treated by my radiologist Dr. Vialotti. I do not know presently how Mrs. Fernandez is doing, but I hope she's okay. It didn't look good at the time.)
I set up an appointment and went in for an examination and consultation. Dr. Fernandez also diagnosed the fibroids and suggested a D&C and Cauterization. This same day procedure was going to put an end to these uncontrollable bleeding issues. The procedure was scheduled, and like a very obedient guinea pig, I showed up and assumed the position in the operating room. Luckily, I was knocked out and shortly after regaining consciousness, was able to go home to rest.
Five days after the D&C I actually started to feel better, I even exercised a little, but the next night something changed. I started to experience very bad pains in my stomach and wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I told my husband that something was wrong. The next morning, I went back in to see Dr. Fernandez. Diagnosis: Infection. Why? Who knows? I wanted to blame the hospital. I wanted to blame the Dr. I wanted an explanation. I wanted to be getting better. These things I would not be getting. I did however, get a script for an anti-biotic and for the next week I would be taking them.
But, and this may sound familiar, a few days after starting the antibiotics, I started to feel better. I started to feel like myself again and thought the worst was behind me. The D&C and the cauterization and the infection were all behind me now and I was on the mend. I am healing now and ‘everything will be fine’. That’s when I believe God laughed. I didn’t exactly hear Him laugh, but you know the expression ‘you make plans and God laughs’. Well, on the seventh day, one week after beginning the antibiotics and two weeks after the D&C, the issue of blood RETURNED reaching way beyond biblical proportions and becoming life threatening.
Thankfully at around 10pm my husband Jim returned home after coaching football practice. I went into the bathroom because I had the sensation that I was bleeding- like I had had prior to the surgery and infection. The sensation that had plagued me for months and months. That horrible sensation was back but this time the bleeding will not stop. It was a little under one hour before I, we, realized that I was literally bleeding to death. Unless something or someone stopped this bleeding, I was going to bleed to death in my own bathroom while my husband tried in vain to convince me it was fine. He had no idea. No way to gauge what amount of blood is normal and lethal. I was so scared and horrified by the plum sized blood clots that were pouring out of me, I began to get upset and started to panic. Deep breaths, crying, asking Jim to get me orange juice because I remembered giving blood at the Red Cross and afterward, graham crackers and orange juice were the common fare. He ran to get the juice which I chugged. It did not help. I thought I had better call the Dr. service to get some advice. My Dr. was not on call, but the Dr. that was listened as I rattled off my conditions and symptoms and he began to describe the symptoms of going into shock. Shock? I hadn’t thought of that. I had been bleeding for months. Why hadn’t that occurred to me? He suggested I get help if that happened. I hung up the phone and that’s when the room started to spin. I was in deep trouble. I cried to Jim to get me help and that’s when he called 911. The operator told him to get me on the floor to prevent more of my precious life source from pouring out of me. I crawled to the floor and began shaking uncontrollably instantly breaking into a soaking wet sweat. The police and the ambulance service arrived shortly thereafter. They assessed my situation and quickly and efficiently removed me from the safety of my home and brought me to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, that was not Dr. Fernandez’ hospital, so the resident ob-gyn came down to examine me. His name was Dr. Fischer. His diagnosis: Fibroids. Treatment: Emergency Partial Hysterectomy. What? Did he say I needed another surgery? But what about the D&C and Cauterization? What about the infection. This all just happened in the past two weeks. How can my body withstand another surgery? What about all the blood I lost? It didn’t matter. These fibroids were going to continue bleeding. The D&C and the Cauterization were supposed to cut off the blood supply so what happened? Dr. Fischer described it this way “The fibroid has to die off in your body and eventually it will, and will be expelled on it’s own. In the meantime, it looks like they are going to bleed a lot. A lot? I’m anemic now. My hemoglobin was an 11 (a normal level) it’s now a 5. I’m so weak and I barely have any blood left to bleed.
Jim and I made a critical decision to leave that local hospital on our own and drive up the highway several miles away to the hospital where Dr. Fernandez resides. That was the decision that began to put this nightmare to rest. I arrived and was greeted by the night nurses who dutifully administered an I.V. and tucked me in my hospital bed. It was now 3 a.m. I turned toward my husband who was as white as I was and said “You need to go home now and get some rest. I‘ll be okay”. My emergency partial hysterectomy surgery was scheduled for 2pm the next day. He reluctantly kissed me goodnight and made his way home. He did not want to leave me there. I did not want him to go.
As I lie there awake in my new surroundings knowing I‘m never going to fall asleep, I cannot help but reflect on the past two weeks. Wow. How did I get here? What was tomorrow going to look like? I’m so weak, how can they operate on me again? I wish I knew that woman’s name in the New Testament.
The next sound I hear is the morning nurse coming in to take my vitals. Blood pressure very low. Blood count very low. My skin is now a sick color of green. I have no veins that I can see. I cannot eat or drink anything until after the surgery. I really didn’t want anything. I really just wanted to go home. Jim met up with my mother and my best friend Debbie and they sat with me, starring at me.
The next thing I remember is being pushed through the hospital hallway to surgery. Two right turns, that’s all? It has to be a longer ride. No. The operating room was right next to the elevator door. Convenient, I thought. They pushed me into the cold, sterile room which seemed smaller than I thought it should be. I noticed at the foot of the table, on the floor, the floor was stained. What was that? Beta dyne? Blood stains? Oh and nice utensils on the table that the nurses seem to be putting in some barbaric order. Way too much information. They transferred me over to the table and began to administer the elixir that will bind me up for a week. And I was out. And it was over. They took my uterus and left my ovaries so I wouldn’t go into instant menopause. That will turn out to be a great decision down the road, but for now, recovery is the order of the day.
Recovery. Agony. A six inch scar six inches below my belly button straight across my abdomen. Well, almost straight. Dr. Fernandez got it a little wrong on one side, but I always had an eye for a straight line. I could have cared less about that though at the time. The morphine drip was the only thing that got me through the worst of it. That, and of course, my family. It is a very barbaric operation to be sliced open and have organs removed. It’s surreal. Until you try to get up out of bed, then reality sets in. You can barely stand, head spins from the anemia. I’ve never felt so weak in my life. It felt like death. But there’s a little light off in the distance that you’re drawn to. Every day you feel a little bit better, but so little at times too small to measure. It would be weeks before I would feel like myself again. It’s November now and I still have some tenderness on the left side of my abdomen where my incision is. This is a long healing process. I do have my energy back though. I exercise again. I’m alive again. I don’t bleed anymore and that is unbelievable! I’m so grateful to Dr. Fernandez and the nurses at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. They are truly God’s servants and healers and I was blessed to have such competent brothers and sisters administering to me.
This year God has truly shown me His mercy. He spared my life when clearly it could have gone, in an instant, the wrong way. I could have died this year but God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to spare me and give me a second chance at life. Why? Who knows but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why. It probably has something to do with sharing my story. My story always has something to do with God. He alone is my salvation. Thank you Lord for everything this year. For my healing. For this I am thankful and truly humbled.
-- That was then. This is now. I am currently re-reading Deborah King's "Truth Heals What you hide can hurt you". She states over and over again in the book that you need to speak your truth. She goes on to say that the conditions I have suffered from are directly related to my heart and throat chakras which are out of balance. Holding on to past hurts leads to dis-ease in the body. That's a fact. As I look back at my medical history I am astonished that this has fallen on my deaf ears, that is until now. Deborah is very frank in her book describing her turmoil and some of it is awful to read but I can relate. I am very thankful that she wrote this book, that I have a copy of it and that I'm not afraid to speak my truth. Thanks Deborah.
When she signed my book she wrote: Maria, Just take care of you! Exclamation point! When I saw that the other day I couldn't believe that I had just either overlooked it, or just continued on my path which was to fix everything, everyone, all the ills. I didn't take care of myself, at least until now. I've had enough ill in my life. I've been through so much turmoil and I am responsible for most of it as it pertains to my lifestyle, thought habits, stubbornness, inability to let go and Let God. All of this is changing for me. I will re-read this book again and again if only to remind myself that I am important. I matter. My feelings are important and they matter. Forgiveness is for self. Healing is for self first. You must heal yourself before you can help anyone else.
I'm truly sorry if my life path at this point does not include you any longer. God gives and God takes away. My heart is open and I am available. My phone is on. If you have any issues that you want to drag out into the light, there is time to do so. I am not the same person. How could I be after enduring so much physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual turmoil.
He that is in me is greater than any turmoil. My healing begins today. I will not return to the bad behaviors and patterns that caused such chaos in my body. I hope that these words that I've written illuminate your heart, bring you to your knees and allow your heart to open to the oneness, and importance of harmony and unity. Discord is not the way.
God's healing and blessings for you always, even if we don't see eye to eye. We will always be soul to soul however. If not in this life, in the next.