This past Wednesday, January 13, 2021, I had my gallbladder removed. I had been experiencing pain for some months and after time and tests, I had my first ever surgery and now I sit in a new place of perspective.
When a person undergoes surgery, they go under in order to repair, remove, or replace some part of their body. Something has happened and now a repair, removal, or replacement is needed in order for change to come. Doctors meet to decide the best course of action and then one day the patient meets in a surgical room and his/her life is forever altered. No matter the type of surgery, the patient never leaves the room the same; a lifetime change has occurred. With that, we can infer that there are two sides of pain- the rising and climatic side, and the healing side.
Today, we will talk about the healing side of pain.
I remember May 9, 2019. I was in my bathroom and I felt really cold as I prepared for my shower. I stepped outside of the bathroom and turned up the heat a bit before running back into the bathroom and turning on the hot water in the shower. I closed the door, trapping all of the heat in the room and then commenced my shower. I started to feel funny. I could barely see clearly and the room appeared to be spinning. I struggled to fully clean myself off before turning off the water and stepping outside of the tub. As I stepped out, I yelled for my mother. She was sleeping so she didn’t immediately hear me… but she came running when she heard my body hit the ground. I had fainted. When I woke up, she was by my side and calling for emergency help. I was naked and panicked, wholly unsure of what had happened or why. She was alarmed because her child had passed out in front of her. All of her medical training went out the window as she held me in her arms.
The medics arrived and we decided that it was best for me to go to the Emergency Department. Once there, I underwent several tests to determine the cause of my syncope (the technical name for fainting). Several tests were performed and I learned that I had gallstones. I know that doesn’t seem that major but apparently that was the start of something bigger than I could see. That was the start of my knowledge of declining health… only, it wasn’t just a physical decline, it was emotional, too. For months I battled demon after internal demon and today I can clearly see that that night in the emergency department opened my eyes and changed my life.
A part of me needed to be removed.
Fast forward to today. I am five days post surgery and the removal of one little organ has caused me to see the world so clearly. This four inch little bugger is the organ that acts like the bile storage center. Food passes through the liver and then goes into the gallbladder before eventually leaving the body. When gallstones are formed, the functionality of the gallbladder decreases and the body experiences painful attacks. For me, my gallstones kept rising inside of my gallbladder, causing blockage and immense pain (clinically known as Biliary Colic). After every meal, I felt as though someone was forcefully jamming their fingers into my upper right side. As the weeks passed, I began to notice the pain greeted me in the morning and stayed through the late night, even when I had not eaten a thing. It had become painfully obvious that my gallbladder and I had reached the end of our relationship and it was time for us to go our separate ways. This pain was no longer welcomed in my body.
In order for me to heal from my past, I have to get rid of the things that cause me pain. The pain that my body bore for so long, crippled me in ways that I didn’t see at the time. On this side of the pain, I am healing from what debilitated my mind, body, and spirit…. Fear. Whew, Jesus, how many lessons on fear are we gonna cover???
Prior to the surgery, I planned for nearly everything. I drafted my Advanced Directives (essentially, my will), arranged transportation and day of care, bought new pillows for my healing, picked up my medicine, requested and planned for time off of work, and delineated my duties to other people to ensure my quiet healing time. I’m a planner, planning is what I do…. Or so I thought. I soon learned that all of my planning was my mind’s way of trying to control a situation that I had no control over. I’ve never had surgery before and I had no clue what to expect. What kind of pain would I be in? How would my body feel sans this little organ? I had questions that I could not immediately answer so I just planned through my fears.
Turns out, my greatest fear wasn’t the surgery itself, but instead who I would be on the other side of the surgery. Once this nuisance of an organ was removed and my body was no longer physically the same, who would I become?
On the healing side of pain, I see that all of my planning and anxiety could not mask the truth that lies beneath it all- I was afraid of who I would become. There are so many things that we use to define who we are and what we will become that it is hard for us to identify without those things. I see now that I am still M.E., but I am just a version of myself that has to move a little slower, digest things in smaller portions, and extend grace … even to myself.
There are two sides of pain. On the one side, we allow the pain to set in and dictate how our lives will go. We allow the pain to limit us and control parts of us so that we live in a state of controlled pain. On the other side, we have had surgery- removing, repairing, or replacing what was causing us pain- and now we begin to heal. There is some pain on this side, but it is only because of the surgery. The pain on this side is temporary. On this side, our pain is diminishing and our healing is gradual; the pain of the past will no longer define us.
Beloved, today is your surgery date. Step into God’s operating room and let Him work on you. I don’t know if He will repair, replace, or remove, but I do know that you will come out better from the procedure. He will reconcile you back to Him and allow you to forever reside on the healing side of pain.