Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Emotional Part

We can all agree that a benign pathology report is a good, it's a great thing. And, defying the odds, when the odds are bad, is pretty remarkable too, but something happens to you when you come that close to death. I'm not sure it's something anyone can understand until they've experienced it. I know I didn't and it seems to be something that people don't talk about even when they do. When I started writing this story, I promised myself I would be 100% matter the light it may paint me in to some people. The fact is I've wasted months suppressing my feelings... real, God given feelings, because of fear of being judged by that small group. I can't do it anymore. People, especially Christians, who experience these feelings need to be real.

In April 2004, I experienced aspiration pneumonia for the first time post-hysterectomy. At that time, I was given a 20% chance at survival. I had an almost 4 year old and almost 3 year old at home. I was so sick, and on top of that, reeling from having a hysterectomy at 24. I laid in my hospital bed, unable to speak, and prayed over and over for God to just take me. I couldn't do it. I was not strong enough and both the physical and emotional were just too much. Somehow, only God knows, I pulled through. I was left with deep emotional wounds. It took about a year for me to want to live again. I cried all the time. No one around me understood, and to be fair, I didn't really try to explain. I really didn't understand myself. At the time I told Brandon that I never wanted to survive something like that again. That if it ever came to it, let me go.

Every subsequent surgery, I was absolutely terrified of aspiration pneumonia. I always meet with the anesthesia team before and let them know that I have experienced this complication. Every time, they laugh and tell me there is no way it would happen again. After all, the odds of it happening the first time were so slim and we all know lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. But, to make me feel better, they'll take extra precautions, like antacids and anti-nausea medications to prevent me from throwing up post-op, having me not eat the day before surgery, and not removing the breathing tube until I am waking up. These things worked well for 5 surgeries since 2004. After all, they were only for peace of mind.

So, when the emergency doctors let me know that they were looking for either aspiration pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism that Friday morning, my thoughts were "Yeah right! It's not possible for me to have aspiration pneumonia and no way I have a pulmonary embolism!" Well, we all know now how that turned out. When the news was in, I was in shock. This just could not be happening to me. Not only was my chest open, but now this? It's redundant, but seriously, it just couldn't be happening.

This time the physical was worse, but physical pain is physical pain and I didn't wish to die like I did then. The emotional side of the ordeal has been completely different though. Now, I haven't gotten to the whole story yet and haven't even touched on what I'm dealing with today, but I said I'd be real, so here it is...I'm angry. I'm pretty sad too, but mostly, I'm just angry. It's not fair that I've had to deal with all of this. If God loves me, why does He allow me to shoulder it all? I have dealt with far more than my share and it's time I had a break! These are all thoughts I've had. Of course, the logical side of me knows those thoughts are junk. Who determines what fair is? If God's Son suffered so, why should I be immune? But logic doesn't have much to do with emotions in this case. I've had a hard time opening my devotional or my Bible. I can barely listen to Christian music (something I solely did before). I call out to God but it's difficult to pray. I can't drive by the hospital where this all went down. I've been to church one time (we never missed church) and I can't do it again. I'm only 4 months out and I know that these things are all part of the process and I will get there, but it's so hard. I don't want to feel this way. I know what the correct reaction is and I know this is not it. It's hard for me to hear people say that I'm strong or they admire me. I know me and I know that deep down, I'm ticked. It really is not admirable.

So, if you are one of the people cheering me on...THANK YOU! Know that I appreciate it and I need it, but also know that I do not have it all together. And, something you'll probably hear me say a lot, I am most definitely a work in progress.


Holli Yargo said...

You said you know that this isn't the correct response? Are you sure? Anger and frustration over a situation that is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining is natural...expected. Even Jesus got angry. Don't beat yourself up because you're angry over the situation. And just like you can be angry with your parents or your spouse, or even your children, God knows you just need your space right now. He knows you'll be back. I personally question the adage that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. I believe that OF COURSE He gives you more than you can handle! If you could handle it, what would you need Him for? And you're stronger than you know. How do I know? Because you said it yourself: this time you DID want to survive. You have three beautiful children and a loving husband and an awesome God. God bless you, girl!

Allison said...

Heather, it's no secret that we all have hidden things we don't want people knowing. We want to look strong in front of others, while inside something is eating us up. It goes along with that saying, you never know what someone is going through behind closed doors. I think you're one of the strongest people I know, for the simple reason that you depend on God for everything. I do admire you. Keep fighting the fight and we'll still be here cheering you on. Love you!!!!