Last Tuesday (June 18th 2019) I entered Grand River Hospital Kitchener for surgery.
I am no stranger to operations, having my first at one month old. Over the years I've had several eye surgeries, my appendix taken out, dental surgery, two c-sections and other procedures for my chronic illnesses. I know the protocol very well and know what to expect each time I enter an operating room. However, in my current health state (which is quite poor) this surgery posed a number of possible complications. I needed an exploratory laparoscopy to get rid of adhesions and endometrial tissues throughout my abdomen as well as an ablation. Two procedures in one operation that was hopeful to be short and simple.
Over the years I've learned to become my own healthcare advocate. My medical history is extremely long, detailed and complicated. Some wouldn't believe all the procedures and treatments I've done or been on, and with having to see several different doctors in different specialties, I've become quite proficient in the medical world. I know my body and I know what works and what doesn't.
For this surgery we did everything we could to prepare for anything out of the ordinary, but you can only prepare so much. I met with as many of the doctors, nurses and staff I could that would be taking care of me, to fill them in on my history and together come up with some precautions to prevent complications that have happened in the past.
My body does not create enough antibodies and therefore I have a poor immune system (Common Variable Immune Deficiency) making infections likely and healing slow. We also factored in my need for steroids (Addison's disease) and my lupus, that has been causing issues for months. With all these factors, they planned to give me extra meds, keep me overnight (although it was day surgery) and watch me carefully.
It's been 11 days since my operation at 11:30am and what a crazy week its been! I went into surgery nervous but grounded in my faith knowing God was in control. Thankfully the whole procedure went well (I assumed, because the same surgeon never came to talk to me afterwards or give me a review of what happened). I woke up in the PACU with a very sore throat and throbbing pain in my stomach. Once I returned to day surgery, I could start to talk again and sucked on a popsicle while the poor nurses on that floor had to figure out the logistical mess the PACU nurses created. Papers were missing, instructions got lost, miscommunications occurred and everyone was frustrated. They eventually hunted down the Internal Medicine doctor whom I saw in preparation, who then had to rewrite the orders. Eventually things got sorted and we thanked God for His control in all of it (and for getting us out of there!)
On the unit, I was admitted to a ward room and tried to rest. I was very sore and grateful to have a wonderful nurse who went above and beyond (thank you Anna!) to make me comfortable. We had some trouble post op with some unexpected bleeding and bladder issues. I ended up staying a couple days, but went home feeling confident that recovery would go smoothly from there on. Unfortunately by the weekend, my pain started to increase and I started swelling and I definitely was not feeling better.
Monday morning, we were at McMaster Hospital for my regular IVIG treatment. While there, my routine blood work showed infection and the nurses didn't like the look of me so they referred me to the on-call doctor. After a CT scan, we learned I had an infected uterus, a small hernia, fluid around my heart and a small amount in my lungs. I was admitted quickly to the women's Critical Care Unit and started on a treatment of antibiotics and steroids. I was in a huge room all by myself with the most wonderful team to look after me. While getting settled, one nurse came in and said how sorry she was that this happened and gave me a kiss and a hug while I cried a few tears. She said she would be praying for me and in that moment I felt God reminding me that He was still in control. I hated that I had to be there. To get yet another infection, to be in another city away from my family and having to be poked and prodded every few hours. I was angry that all our "preparations" didn't seem to work and tired of having to give our loved ones more bad news. It felt like it was just another wave of nasty circumstances that keep happening to us. We were overwhelmed and burnt out.
I don't know that nurse's name who held me and prayed for me but I know she was a gift from God. She made me remember that He has been with us every step of the way. I made it off the operating table with a successful surgery, and made it through the frustrating logistics of hospital paperwork. My pain and discomfort was controlled with medication and the earlier blood and bladder issues resolved themselves. I was blessed to have a good room and a bed beside the window so I could see the sun. As I went home, God provided us with family and friends who gave us food, support and love. We were showered with prayers and although friends don't always understand the depth of what I'm going through, they are there to support me and Adrian no matter what.
I am home now recovering. Still taking the needed medication and still requiring further testing, but I am home and I am improving. Looking back on these past days, I can choose to focus on all the struggles and pain and frustrations or I can see God's glory and grace throughout every circumstance. I truly felt the power of the prayers our loved ones were praying on our behalf and I may not see what goes on in the spiritual realm but I know in my spirit, God was protecting me from things I can't even imagine.
We don't know what the future holds for my health and wellness but we do know that we are covered in the protective love and grace of our Heavenly Father who is ever present. We made it through another surgery and have made it out the other side, not untouched but with a deeper trust and wonder of the incredible God we serve.
Author - Erin
Follower of Jesus, on a journey to glorify God and to advance His Kingdom while battling Chronic Illness in the everyday life. Diagnoses include Lupus, CVID, POTS, IBS, Hemiplegic Migraines and other Autoimmune conditions.