Although my anticipated audience for this piece is post-menopausal women like myself, I do hope and pray that younger women and all men would read it, too. We do not live this life as isolated individuals but as interconnected companions along the Way. The better we attempt to understand each other’s experience the more compassion we develop. (And I have this secret wish that we all wouldn’t be embarrassed by our natural body functions but I’ll try to be as delicate as possible.)
So, here’s my story:
About 10 days ago I went to donate blood as I do every 60 days and for the first time ever my iron was too low. It wasn’t super low, just .2 what it needed to be. So I rescheduled and made a plan to eat lots of spinach and other iron rich foods to boost it back up.
Three days later I noticed a change in my urine flow (this can’t be said delicately, sorry). It took me longer “to go” than what was typical but there was no pain or irritation so I just chalked it up to “getting older”.
Two days after that my back started bothering me – the same pain I get periodically because of a bad disc so I intended to make an appointment with my doc to get a PT referral. That has always remedied it before. The next day while driving into work the back pain was so severe I changed the plan to go to Urgent Care, after, of course, I got a few things done at the office (and due to the fact that I never got around to making an appointment the day before).
By lunch time the pain had me in tears and I had my hubby drive me to urgent care. The doc listened to my symptoms and said “kidney stones” and ordered a CT. The CT showed no stones. It did show a large mass in my uterus pressing on my bladder and my spine (did I say LARGE?) and the doc quickly got me a transfer to the hospital and referral to a gynecological oncologist and surgeon there. I was medically transported to the hospital not knowing what was next. The surgeon admitted me and ordered an MRI and other tests and said he’d work me into his surgery schedule after the tests were done.
Four days later, I’ve had a total hysterectomy and am recovering from surgery. The pathologist said she saw no cancerous cells. Her exact wording was it was all “completely unremarkable.” I’ve never been so happy to be unremarkable in my life. The cause for the mass is unknown. I do struggle a bit with giving up parts that make me biologically a woman, but I seek my identity in the God who created and loves me, so I’ll adjust. My dear hubby said we could have a funeral for the parts if I wanted. I don’t think I’ll do anything formal but I will allow myself to grieve and lament which is always healing.
Not once in my mind had I connected the three symptoms nor did I take any of them seriously until the back pain was unbearable. I am so very grateful for the first doc I saw who asked the right questions that allowed him to connect two and ordered the scan that began my diagnosis.
Ladies, and men, of every age, we need to take our bodies seriously and get to know them well enough that we can truly listen to what they are telling us. Our bodies are beautifully designed and intricately created by the God who loves us beyond our understanding. This God, the God I know as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, through the writings and experiences of those who have known God before me, and with my own reasoning abilities to recognize God through my experiences and time, gave us these amazing bodies as a gift for us to care for. Yes, there is pain and sickness and sometimes our “parts” malfunction but God does not cause this nor does God desire it. It is the collective result of the human race deciding we know better than God what is good and what is bad. (Before any of this, I’d been writing about suffering which I hope to being posting soon.)
Tend to your bodies, tend to your souls. This is how we become the whole and holy people God created us to be. I’m going to do my best with God’s help to do this better and better through the remaining of the wonderful life I’ve been gifted.
The nurses and doctors and techs who have cared for me at the hospital have been amazing. The medical profession is a true ministry, whether those in it recognize that or not. Each in their own way want us to be well in the gift of our bodies and they participate in the healing God desires for all of us.
“LORD, you have examined me. You know me.
You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.” Psalm 139:1, 13-14 (Common English Bible)