Chaos. Rushed to surgery, ten inches of colon removed and a colostomy installed. This did not fit into my summer plans. Shoot, I’d been kayaking the weekend before. I’d worked in the flower gardens the night before all of this. I was supposed to be in Phoenix for business in the next few days. Chaos. When I woke up after surgery, my hospital room was full of family. I was shocked. They acted as though someone were very ill. Not long into my journey I learned that not only was I very ill, but that some folks don’t survive a colon perforation; or as I refer to it, my big summer blow out.
During my seven day hospital stay things were relatively calm. Nurses took care of me. I had the sweetest personal care assistant. My enterostomal nurse was phenomenal. I thought I was doing well to walk the halls of the 7th floor a few times each day. But when I got in the car to head home, chaos ensued. Every little bump in the road caused me pain. My poor husband was driving the car and did his best to choose the smoothest parts of the road. But if you live in central Ohio you know the condition of our roads was against me. And then there was getting out of the car. Have you ever attempted to get into and out of a car post major surgery? I still had a row of staples about 10 inches long in my belly. I didn’t think I could get out of the car. I wanted to go back to the safety of the calm, controlled hospital. A little more chaos ensued as I acclimated to my own home. Nearly everything I used to do, now had to be accomplished differently.
Learning how to manage in my new colostomy life, what to eat, what not to eat. How to manage pain. Even how to get in and out of bed – well I gave up on that and took to the recliner for a little while. I thought I knew best and decided not to take the prescription pain medications. Did you know that excessive pain can cause your blood pressure to sky rocket? Even finding clothes that fit my new colostomy body was a new adventure. More chaos. I had some choices to make. We all have choices to make when life happens.
First, I chose not to dwell on myself. And, I’ll be frank, it was difficult at times. About two weeks after surgery one of our sons and his wife came for supper. I introduced something new into my diet and wham, more chaos. It would have been very easy to spend the summer thinking about myself every minute of every day. But, this journey is not about me. This journey is about God and who He is. While still in the hospital my cousin shared a worship song with me. Every morning I started the day with that beautiful song, as it reminded me that God is my healer, my protector, my strong tower, my shield, strength and my provider. It was a choice to intentionally focus on who God is, and not on who I am, or my situation. The result was that the chaos was overcome by peace. The chaos gave way to an unexplainable peace. The impact was that an amazing strength grew inside of me. I had this new inner strength that resulted in a confidence that I could do this, that I could manage this new season in my life. And, I did just that. I managed in such a way that surprised my doctor, my family, and my co-workers. What a great testimony to the power and faithfulness of God’s love and kindness!
Secondly, my perspective changed. A few weeks before my big summer blow out, I was returning from a business trip and the plane was flying high above thunderstorms. The clouds were a beautiful, thick, pure white, fluffy, solid-looking carpet of wonder. I snapped the photo at the top of this post from the plane. The sunlight on the carpet of clouds was an amazing sight. Soon, the plane descended through the mass of storm clouds, rattling and shaking through the rain and wind. And then we were safely on the ground in Columbus. As I emerged from the airport to the top floor of the parking garage, where my car was parked, I looked up at the sky expecting to see that white, beautiful cloud carpet. But, instead it was an angry sky, grey and cold, threatening more rain at any moment. Wait, this was the same sky I’d just seen from 30,000 feet. But my perspective from the plane afforded me a much different view of the same sky. Life is like that. There are two or more perspectives, and we have the choice of where we will focus.
Suddenly, my job, my hobbies just didn’t seem as important. Not that it’s not important that I do my very best at work and ensure that my testimony as a Believer in Christ is not compromised; it is. It was just that I realized that God can do whatever He wants, when He wants. He can allow life to come at us, and permit us to be tested. And, from that perspective I determined to invest what time I have left on planet earth wisely, with intentional purpose. My entire perspective of what is important versus critical, changed. And my job is important, particularly to the bank that holds my mortgage, but it is not critical to God’s plan for my life. This new perspective certainly has me thinking about things that make a difference in the lives of others, things with an eternal consequence.
This new season of living with the colostomy provided a choice of perspectives. I could focus on the negative, spend my days thinking about the challenges, or I could face it head on, be open and honest and just move on. Same life. Same wonderful husband and family. Same great friends. Same faithful and merciful God. New challenge. It is all in perspective. After all, my husband did not have a funeral to plan! I chose to move on. I got back to work, quickly. I got back to being a wife, daughter, mom and friend. Life was different but my perspective was the same; I am not a victim of anything. But, God allows trials so that we can refine our relationship with Him, and encourage others.
As I write this, please know that I have had the second surgery which reconnected my colon and I no longer have the colostomy. It’s been 4 months since my big summer blow out and I am healthy and well and stronger than ever. But, this is not about me. It is about God. The mornings spent in prayer, the learning as I dove deeper into the Bible, and singing His praise resulted in silencing the chaos and directing my perspective. It was the sweetest, most joyful spiritual mountaintop I have ever experienced. Do I want to do it again – no! However, what I learned about God and myself during this journey, I would not trade for anything in this world.
You will no doubt have life come at you when you least expect it, too. A child who makes poor choices, a spouse that loses a job, a boss that throws you under the bus, serious illness, tough decisions, the death of a very special loved one. Life happens. Please let me encourage you to draw near to God now. Make the choice to invest the time now to build a strong foundational relationship with Him so that when your journey gets cloudy, the chaos will be minimal and your perspective clear and peaceful. If you’d like information on how to have that relationship, please feel free to e-mail me, or leave a comment. I’d be happy to share with you.
What is your perspective and what you have learned from the blow-out experiences in life? Join the conversation….