Saturday, January 21, 2017

Surgery is January 23

My colostomy surgery is Monday, January 23, and updates will be posted at Liz Craker Meal Train.  You can sign up to bring meals, send gift cards for meals, run errands, drive me to appointments, etc. at that link as well.

I believe that I am well prepared for this surgery.  I joined an incredible online support group this past year as well as found my high school classmate Dawnette's website Awesome Ostomy.  On her website, she shares fashion tips, what to expect after surgery, product reviews, helpful hints and more.  I have already ordered some supplies from her! Check out her website if you would like to donate to her ostomy teddy bear program, Awesome Ollie, through which she provides for children undergoing this surgery! 

I also found some very good books to learn what to expect, and I met with my ostomy nurse Thursday.  I was surprised when she helped me put an ostomy bag in place so I could wear it the next several days.  This has been good practice and has helped me figure out needed adjustments.  Medically, it is the most empowering action I have ever experienced.  So my practice pouch and I have showered, slept and tried on clothes together.  I even slept with it through the night with no discomfort.

It is kind of surreal that I am having this surgery almost exactly 20 years from the day I had my original cancer surgery.  Concerned friends have asked if I am afraid, which I am not.  Years ago, when I was at my oncologist's office getting ready for my first round of chemo, I was terrified and did not even know how to pray.  Thankfully, God gave me a great sense of peace at that moment, and from then on I have never been afraid of surgeries and medical procedures.  When I recall that terrifying moment, Romans 8:29 comes to mind...."Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words."  I know, without a doubt, that the Holy Spirit stepped in for me at that very moment.  That peace has never left me, and I actually like having surgery for the very reason that it requires me to completely surrender myself to is an amazing feeling,

I also shared a very personal insight with a friend recently when we were discussing this upcoming surgery.  I has been on my heart for a long time, but I never had spoken about it with anyone.  Upon hearing about it from me, my friend encouraged me to share the powerful here it is.

I am a firm believer that we can invite God into past moments of pain, and that we can ask Him to aid in our healing from those moments.  I learned of this many years ago through an extraordinary book, Healing for Damaged Emotions.  A few years after my breast cancer diagnosis, I invited Jesus into that painful, frightening moment when I was in my surgeon's office trying to grasp the news and trying to decide surgery and treatment options. 

In my memory, I am sitting in a sterile, cold patient room waiting for the doctor.  I am all alone in the memory, when in reality my then-husband was with me at the time.  I believe my vision/memory has me alone because, for me, the cancer diagnosis shook me to my very core, and I felt very alone.  Also, in the memory, I am vulnerably sitting on an exam table, shivering in a paper gown...again, waiting all alone.

I am not the kind of person who believes that God orchestrates the bad events that happen to us, this world and others.  We live in a fallen existence that we were not made for.  The sin, the illness, the bad events are all are a result of a fallen, sinful creation.  However, I do believe that Christ decides how He is going to use the painful for His glory. 

When I invited God into that cold, vulnerable moment in the doctor's office, He entered my memory with an extraordinary my memory/vision, I am sitting cold, huddled and afraid...and Christ stood right on the examining table behind me and fiercely slammed a huge, rugged, wooden cross right behind me and clearly stated, "Satan, this moment is mine!"  It was a life, changing moment for good that leaves me extraordinarily grateful, humbled and empowered.

Because if that moment, to this day, I have used my cancer diagnosis to lend a hand to other survivors and others who are going through horrific medical and personal trials.  Because of my health struggles and experiences,  I have been invited into devastated hearts.  I have been given the gift of 20 years to proclaim the love of Christ to the most hurting people.  It doesn't get much better than that!

So I am able to take this extraordinary, Christ-empowered life into this surgery.  Instead of fear, I am grateful.  When I don't understand what to expect, I ask questions.  When I need to be educated, I learn from books, websites and even YouTube videos.  I ask for and participate in prayer.  I think out loud with God.  I advocate for myself. 

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that she thought I have had a horrible life.  I disagree completely.  Cancer was and is very freeing and empowering.  Through cancer, I learned not to take life for granted.  My divorce showed me strength I didn't know I had.  All the struggles up to this point have made me a better version of myself....a more Christ-centered version filled with awe of God's work and spiritual contentment that can only come from Him. 

The price of divorce, cancer and other struggles have been worth the God-given grace, love, strength and contentment I now have.  I would not be where I am today without those past and current trials.  I embrace the blessings and challenges that have brought me to this point.

Thanks for letting me share.  I love and cherish you all. 

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