January 9th, 2017.
A day that was scary, stressful, & loathsome.
A day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
It was on this day Mom & I made another roadtrip to UVA to check on my progress with the tube feeds. Ironically, I had been experiencing a great deal of perturbation leading up to this particular appointment. I felt in my gut this appointment was going to reveal something was wrong. So I guess it wasn’t surprising I was very tense & quiet that morning, lost in my thoughts & worry.
I walked into the familiar testing room & met the kind radiologist who’d be performing my test. I followed her directions & had just started to believe maybe everything would be okay when it happened…what I had already been preparing myself for for days…something was wrong.
My feeding tube had moved. In fact, it wasn’t even remotely near where it was supposed to be. Remember the intense spine pain, abdominal pain, & nausea I described in last week’s blog post? Welp, this explained everything. When the radiology attending saw my scans, she said, “no wonder you were in pain!” The tube was pressing against my spine, & wasn’t passed my SMAS obstruction, which meant liquid was traveling into my stomach….defeating the very point of the tube & hindering my healing process.
The radiologist called in her attending, (which in medical speak is basically the highest level of medical expertise you can get, thank goodness) who explained what needed to happen. To my sheer horror, they needed to reposition the tube. Right here, right now.
I panicked. I went in the bathroom, locked the door, & panicked. As I shared in chapter six, at that time the feeding tube placement was the worst experience I had ever endured, & hearing this was my worst nightmare coming true. I stared at myself in the mirror–face ghostly pale, bottom lip trembling, the stupid tube coming out of my nose–& let my mind run 102384 mph.
I’m not proud of it, but I lied to the attending out of fear. I told her maybe my pain wasn’t as bad as I originally thought. Maybe it was just a four, not a ten, & maybe it only happened every once in a while, not everytime we turned on the feeding tube. After I finished, the attending looked me in the eyes & said something akin to, “Grace, I can tell you right now, even if its ‘only a four’ pain is pain, & you shouldn’t have to endure that. Take a moment, talk with your Mom, & I’ll come back in 5. It is completely up to you, just think for a minute.”
Rats. Sound logic.
I gathered every last ounce of courage I could muster, fought the tears that were rapidly pooling, & climbed back onto the table. But before I did, I looked the attending in the eye, & told her what I had gone through just weeks before.
& then I let the tears come.
Because she needed to see how terrifying this was. She needed to understand this was taking everything I had in me & then some. She needed to do the absolute best she could possibly do.
& she did.
They had to keep reminding me to breathe. I think I was scared that if I took even the tiniest breath, the pain would come. I kept praying & singing hymns in my head. I was unable to stop, couldn’t stop, because if I stopped the fear would engulf me, so I just kept repeating, “in Your name, protect me from pain…protect me from discomfort…give me the exact amount of courage I need to survive this….hold me in Your hand…help me…protect me….”
You know what I realized last week? I’ve started to blatantly ignore certain Bible verses. I realize just how terrible that sounds, but hear me out. There’s a group of verses that are recited almost every day, are always posted on social media, are the go-tos for basically every difficult situation, & have sadly developed a reputation of being “cliché.” Phil 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Isaiah 41:10. If I had a dollar for everytime someone recited one of these to me during my health journey, I would be a very rich woman. So, overtime, I’ve simply dismissed them. When I read or received them, my brain would say, “yes, people, I know, I know!!” I thought since I knew them by heart & had heard them so many times, I’d already learned what I needed to learn from them.
Yesterday my phone beeps & someone has just sent me Jeremiah 29:11 & I start to disregard it when suddenly it hits me….almost like the voice of God Himself….Grace, read the verse. So I do. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you a hope & a future.”
I’m sitting in my moonchair with my favorite Costco blanket & for the first time in well, maybe ever, I let the truth & promise of that verse sink deeply into my mind, soul, & spirit. & I think, what if we did this more often? what if I did this more often?
What if, at least every once in awhile, we actually read the power of these words outloud as a reminder of the promises & candor we need so desperately? What if, even though we may feel like we already know them as facts in our minds, we remember to truly believe the words with every fiber of our being? as if we are hearing them for the very first time?
Because maybe, if I had done that to begin with, I wouldn’t have gotten here in the first place
One by one I look up the verses I’ve been so wrong to ignore & read them outloud to myself, slowly & as if for the first time. I let the exquisite, undeniable truth of these words of promise from my Daddy wash over me like a soothing balm to my aching spirit.
“I can do all things through Christ.”
“Plans to prosper you & not to harm you.”
“God so loved the world that He gave His Son.”
“All things God works for good for those who love Him.”
“Do not fear for I am with you always.”
I realize how wrong I’ve been & shame washes over me, but just as quickly I’m reminded that Jesus always forgives & amazingly still loves me despite my daily faults & mistakes. I’m reminded how He loved me so much, He died as a sacrifice for these very mistakes. & it hits me again the true miracle of that. The miracle we tend to forget so quickly. The miracle that despite how undeserving I am, He saved me, & will always save me, no matter how many times I fall.
& I rejoice & I smile & I thank Him again & I remember all the times Jesus kept these promises to me, including January 9th, 2017.
Although I don’t remember her name, the attending who did my tube adjustment was absolutely amazing. She was brilliant, gentle, compassionate, & was able to complete everything with very minimal discomfort. She checked on me every minute, stopped when I needed breaks, cheered me on through the process, & was so very talented at her job. We loved her so much, Mom & I both hugged her at the end! I will never forget how she made it one of my best hospital experiences to date.
We found out despite the setbacks, my tube was helping, & my fat pocket was growing!! Oh how I needed some good news. ❤
Jesus definitely gave me the exact amount of strength I needed to survive that day. I handled the procedure with a truly inexplicable peace & calm. He proved, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I don’t know why I always doubt His ability to get me through all things, but He reminds me every single time of His faithfulness, strength, & protection.
January 9th, 2017.
A day that was eye-opening, rewarding, & strengthening.
A day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.