Surgery, Healing and a Work of God

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ – Matthew 25:40

Yesterday marked two weeks since I had my back surgery.  Through this whole experience God’s hand and His plan and timing have been evident, for both me and my husband Chris.

God took me from being fearful of surgery to recognizing that this might be the avenue that He would use to bring relief from non-stop sciatic pain.  For eight months I was in pain, almost every day, throughout the day.  There were times when medicine brought some measure of relief.  I even had three steroid injections into my spin to see if that would help bring relief.  The second shot reduced the pain level for about three weeks, but other than that, it was clear that the injections were not the treatment that would stop this pain. 

In January, I had an MRI that showed severe narrowing of the spin at the L4/L5 level, with bone spurs and the disk intruding in the area where the nerves run down.  Thus I had a very unhappy sciatic nerve that just wanted his own space without somebody pushing him up against the spin.  That’s not too much to for a nerve to ask now is it? 

In February I met with a surgeon who was well accomplished, but left me with little confidence that he could help my situation.  Thus I continued down the injection path with little relief.

Upon my return to the pain management doctor, she recommended that I get a second opinion and gave me a couple of names.  Thankfully, I was able to get an appointment in pretty short order.  My husband Chris accompanied me to the doctor’s appointment.  From the beginning of our meeting, I felt a confidence that this doctor would be the one I could trust to perform my back surgery.  She displayed a clear understanding of what was going on with my back, recognized that traditional treatments weren’t working and that surgery was a reasonable option.  Chris felt the same way and surgery was scheduled for June 30th.

A few weeks before my surgery, I received a TENS machine which the pain doctor had ordered.  I was using it in the evening and found it brought some pain relief to my back and even lessened the pain in my leg.  I was very grateful because the last two weeks before my surgery I couldn’t take anything stronger than Tylenol. 

In the days leading up to my surgery, God was at work and answering prayers.  My pain level was very low, which allowed me to concentrate at both work and home so I could accomplish what I needed to before surgery. 

The night before surgery, I didn’t have any pain in my back or leg.  It was very odd.  Almost to the point that I wondered if I should still have the surgery.  Yet I believe God’s was leading me to proceed with surgery. 

Chris and I had to be at the hospital at 8:30 am.  After checking in, we headed up to the same day surgical area.  We were surprised when we heard someone in the waiting room calling our names.  We stopped and turned to see a precious friend Norm from church who was there to pray with us.  Both Chris and I felt God’s presence and His peace about this surgery and were encouraged by Norm’s prayer.  Norm even presented us with a handmade blanket for us to keep. 

After I entered the room, the nurse went through the normal pre-op checklist.  I kept asking when my husband could come in.  She said he could come in after they hooked up the IV.  Before long, Chris was by my side and we waited for the clock to hit 10:30, the scheduled time of surgery.  While we waited, we prayed for the doctor and the surgical team, not only for my surgery, but the surgeries that would be performed that day at the hospital. 

As I was lying in the hospital bed, I had no pain in my back or leg, despite the fact I hadn’t taken any pain relievers since the prior day.  I believe that it was God’s reminder to me that He was the One who was going bring healing and pain relief.

Finally, the orderly came to take me down to surgery and Chris said goodbye.  Of the two of us, I was going to have it easy because I would be asleep for most of the time.  I was placed in an area that I call “the holding bin”, where people who are going into surgery are placed until the surgeon is ready.  It was a very active place with lots of doctors and nurses coming and going.  Finally, two people from the anesthesia team popped in to see me.  When the anesthesiologist came by I asked him how he slept and if he was feeling good and I told him I had prayed for him.  Before long, Dr. Tina Lin came in to see how I was doing and let me know that surgery would be starting shortly.

The anesthesiology team must have put something in my IV.  As they started rolling me in to the operating room I saw the name of the room on the wall and the doors open.  Three hours later I woke up in the recovery room.

I was struggling to open my eyes because all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep.  However, a strong nausea woke me up.  I was miserable and the nurses tried to stop the nausea, but it wouldn’t let up and I kept apologizing to the nurses.  Finally, after receiving the fourth medication, I started to feel better.  I kept telling the nurses I wanted to see my husband.  I was in recovery for about an hour and a half when they finally wheeled my bed back to the place I had started the day.  Before long Chris was by my side and he was a sight for sore eyes. 

He told me that after I was taken in to surgery, he had gone to have lunch.  Our friends Mike and Jo came and joined him.  When he got back to the hospital he was in the waiting room.  He checked with the desk several times to see if there was any word yet on how the surgery was going.  They said it was still going on, but assured him that the doctor would come out and speak to him when it was over.  He was notified when I was taken to recovery and the doctor came and gave Chris an update.

Dr. Lin said that the surgery had gone well.  When she got in she found that the nerve had been pressed up against the spin for so long that it bore the impression of the bone.  After removing some of bone and bone spurs she found that the disk was in the cavity much more than what the MRI originally revealed, but she was able to tease it out of the space to make room for the nerve.  About 4:30, Chris was able to come see me.  He was so sweet and caring and I was grateful to have him by my side.  The hospital released me and Chris and I were home some time after 6pm. 

I’ve had learning curve when it comes to navigating everyday things like getting into and out of bed, taking a shower, getting into the car, and picking up items that are too high or too low on the shelf.  Chris has been an angel and wonderful nurse as he helps me do the things I can’t do.  He makes sure that things I will need are at the right height.  He regularly reminds me to be careful and not bend, lift or twist.  Right before surgery I had ordered a “grabber” which helps me to pick up items off the floor or that are out of my reach on a shelf.  It’s been very helpful, especially when Chris is at work.

My recovery is progressing well.  When I first got home, I felt like a horse had kicked my back.  But with each passing day I feel better and the bruising is all gone now. 

My days are quiet.  I get up about 6:30 or 7 am so that Chris can help me get ready for the day.  I take walks in the morning and evening.  With each passing day, I’m able to walk a little bit longer.  I’m walking at a slower than my pre-surgery pace but that’s okay because I have the time.  I’ve had the time to read books.  I love to read but in the past ten years, I’ve been reading considerably less than what I used to.  So I am really enjoying reading again. 

Since I’m on summer break from Bible study, I wanted to stay grounded in God’s word.  Just the other day I started Kay Arthur’s Bible study in Isaiah.  I have the podcasts on my I-Pod and was able to download the notes and worksheets to study along with.  It’s a great study, in-depth and Kay shows you how to understand a passage verse by verse by applying the who, what, when, where and why questions to a passage. 

One of the biggest encouragements has been the support of family, friends and neighbors.  When Chris and I came home on the 30th, our neighbor brought over her homemade chicken enchiladas.  My sister brought over Mexican lasagna.  Some of our friends from church provided meals.  Yesterday a friend came by to take me grocery shopping.  I’ve had few visits from friends, received cards and notes of encouragement, flowers and a gift card to go out to dinner.  Thank you so very much each and every one of you…Rosie, Denise, Mary, Annette, Cindy, Rose, Michelle, Karla, Robyn, Carolyn and Beth & Jim.  Each of you truly has the gift of encouragement and knows how to reach out and help the least of these.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, God has truly answered them and has brought pain relief and healing. 

Thank You God for having Your hand upon me and leading Chris and me through each phase of this process.  Thank You for answering the many prayers of family and friends and for their gift of encouragement.  Thank You for the time to take walks and listen to Your word, to work on a Bible study and pray.  Thank You for giving me back the love of reading which has been absent for far too many years.  Thank You for the time to sit in the back yard and watch our precious birds as they eat, drink and even take a bath in the bird bath.  Thank You for the cooler weather this week!  Help me to stay focused in prayer and study of your word.  Help me to rest, heal and reach out to others during this time off work. 

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