This is a long one, but I promise the ending makes it so worth reading!
Three months ago, my doctor told me to go to the outpatient center for an internal ultrasound. I'd been having some serious pain in the left side of my lower abdomen, and the normal causes for such pain had all been ruled out. This ultrasound would shed some light as to what might be happening.
Being the daughter of a cancer survivor, I must admit, I was feeling quite anxious as we were driving "across the river" to Albemarle. Trying to focus on anything but my pessimistic thoughts, I glanced down at the speedometer and saw the last three digits read "666".
Now, you don't have to be a religious person to know that this number combination is symbolic of bad things. Nor do you have to be a religious person to be a little spooked by this number. I am a religious person, and despite my "not looking for signs" personality, my stomach dropped at the sight of those three digits.
My heart started racing. I started sweating. And I knew at that moment, I would not receive good news at the hospital. I glanced back down at the speedometer. And though I had gone from zero to panic in less than 2 seconds at the sight of "666", I was just as quickly relaxed and relieved at the sight of "667".
In Biblical numerics, the number seven signifies good things. Even before I knew this, seven was always my favorite number. So to look down and see it right after I'd experienced that moment of pure panic, it somehow gave me comfort. (I know it may sound crazy, but it was all very clear to me.)
I felt like God was telling me - "Yes, 666 is bad. You are getting ready to go through something bad. But the number seven always comes after six. So after the bad, there will be good."
I learned just an hour later that I had a cyst the size of a racquetball on my left ovary. In light of the possibilities running through my mind, this was not bad news. Of course, as I researched and heard horror stories of the pain yet to come with an ovarian cyst, I knew I'd not yet seen the worst of it. Three weeks later, when the cyst ruptured, I saw the worst of it. Or so I thought...
So after I experienced the almost-unbearable pain of a ruptured cyst, I figured that was the "bad part", and I was very much looking forward to the "good part". Unfortunately, that cyst yielded more bad things to come. I experienced by far the worst menstrual cycle of my life. (Men: go ahead and skip to the next paragraph.) Five days of bleeding, so heavy I couldn't stand up without getting dizzy and light-headed. This was followed by six more days of somewhat lighter bleeding. I honestly thought I was bleeding to death. When that period FINALLY stopped, I thought the bad part was over.
But then I developed another cyst. And the whole saga started again...
Together with the doctor, we determined my best option was to undergo surgery for a uterine ablation. This is a surgical procedure in which the doctor burns and removes the lining of the uterus to decrease or possibly cease the flow of future menstrual cycles.
I don't take surgery likely, but you might see why I literally jumped at this opportunity. When I told people I was having surgery, I referred to it as "a good surgery". And I actually found myself looking forward to it.
Why wouldn't I? The doctor reassured me it would be a routine operation, and I would be back on my feet within a day or two.
I had that surgery last Tuesday. Just before I fell asleep on the operating table, I heard the nurses say I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. When I woke up, I was in so much pain, but I was too sedated to tell anyone. The oxygen thing was itching my nose, and no matter how hard I tried to pee, I just couldn't. The nurses discussed my "complications" and were trying to keep me overnight. But in the end, they sent me home, doped up on painkillers and anti-nausea medication. They reassured me I would "sleep it off" and feel much better in the morning.
I didn't sleep much at all over the next few days. I sneezed a lot, because apparently that oxygen thing irritated my nose quite a bit. The sneezing led to more abdominal pain. And I just couldn't seem to find relief.
On Thursday, I sat on the kitchen floor with my best friend, who was literally a Godsend to me throughout this ordeal. She offered me words of encouragement, telling me something she'd heard about how sometimes we have to go through things in order to be a witness to someone else.
Her words gave me chills, as they reminded me of the message I'd heard at our church's revival service on the Sunday night before my surgery, just four nights ago. The preacher read about the three Hebrew children who were thrown into the fire. He shared with us that this event did not happen for the benefit of those children, but for the the benefit of King Nebuchadnezzar, who would see God in the fiery furnace with those children. He said, sometimes we go through things, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of someone else.
I wondered in that moment, for whose benefit am I going through this?
I ended up calling the doctor on Friday, because the pain had gone from bad to worse, and I was pretty much miserable. The doctor said I probably had an infection and prescribed two very aggressive antibiotics which "should do the trick", plus some hydrocodone to kill the pain. Note: It didn't actually kill the pain, it just made me not care about the pain. It also made me very nauseous.
On Sunday, I'd reached the end of my rope. I'd somehow held it together that long, but I couldn't hold it together for another second. My husband, Keith, wrapped me in his arms as I weeped tears full of self-pity and exhaustion, while my two boys sat on either side of me looking concerned and feeling helpless. Keith prayed with me, and reminded me how blessed I am. He reminded me that God was carrying me through this.
He then decided that since we were unable to make it to church, it would be best to have a service at home. He played a few songs, including Please Forgive Me by the Crabb Family. This is a beautiful song. While listening to the words I found myself asking God a lot of questions.
- Why is this happening?
- Who is this benefiting?
- When is the bad part going to be over?
When the song was over, God answered all my questions...
My oldest son, Bryson, said, "Can I be saved? I feel like God wants me to be saved." And then my youngest son, Camden, said, "I want to be saved for real."
In that moment, I knew in my heart that somehow, all this had led to that.
I don't think it was the pain that I felt that led them to God. I think it was what happened to our family because of my pain. It was the outpouring of love that has been shown to us. It was the prayers that were going up on our behalf. It was the cards, the meals, the phone calls, the house calls. It was the help from our family, our friends, and even some people we don't really know. It was the words of a loving husband trying to comfort his hurting wife.
I don't know when the pain will stop, when the nausea will go away, or when I'll feel back to 100%.
What I do know is my sons are saved, and someday we will be in Heaven together.
That makes it all so worth it.