July 18, 2013

What a miracle looks like...

"I'm glad you're in pain," said my aunt, "because it means you're alive."

In the movies, you see miracles that happen instantly.  Little Tiny Tim- deathly ill and then all better for Christmas dinner.  Even in the scriptures, the one liner "and it came to pass" seems to make long times shorter.  I am learning that sometimes miracles are a process more than an event.

I know that I am alive today because God and angels intervened on my behalf.  Medically, I should have died.  

I have heard countless doctors and nurses comment on the miracle of my recovery.  The head pathologist at OHSU had never seen a placenta as infiltrated as mine was.  The trauma nurses had rarely seen someone as sick as I was actually recover.  I'm certain the blood bank had a major role in saving my life.  People do not receive 180 units of blood products-- hardly ever.  Wound care nurses are amazed at how quickly my belly is closing.  One nurse saw my raw belly and said, "Oh, this wound is lovely and beautiful."  My therapists say I'm walking so much better this week than last.  My healing is "fast" and miraculous.

I look at little Benjamin and I know his life is a gift.  He is a miracle baby, he is one of many miracle babies.  Miracles have not ceased- we are more blessed than we know.

As I was getting showered and dressed this morning I was thinking about what miracles look like.  My sister sent me a picture of her cute tummy.  (I sent her back a lovely picture of my tummy- ha!) She had two kids and a tummy tuck.  Her tummy looks hot!  

She said that her surgeon warned her that women tend to get depressed following a tummy tuck.  He warned her that it would hurt and that it would take a few months to heal and look great.  Sure enough, she was in way more pain than she anticipated and she was really worried about some puckers in her scar.  A few months later, her stomach looked great and you can hardly see the scar.

Don't you think God would say the same thing to me, to all of us, as my sister's surgeon said to her...  "My daughter, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine affliction shall be but a small moment; and then if you endure it well, God shall exalt the on high."  (D&C 121:7 -8). "All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good."

Sometimes I think I'm something special because I've survived a few pretty tricky situations.  I know God loves me.  But, I honestly know that He loves you just as much.  Life is about learning and growing- we all have experiences that bless us and stretch us.  I've shared my story with you, but I know you have a story too.  

So, what does a real-live miracle look like?
I am sure there are many instantaneous miracles... Mine is not.

I had a miraculous surgery on my intestines when I was 12.  I lived!  For years following my surgery I had painful bowel movements.  I gained my testimony on the toilet.  My miracle included years of pain.

As I showered, I noticed stretch marks on my hips and on the inside of my thighs.  I gave birth to seven children without one stretch mark.  number eight has done me in.  

My skin on my thighs is loose and scarred.  The top of my thighs are scarred from the blisters I had as my skin stretched.  I have cool scars from the abdominal sling- they look like evenly spaced claw marks in my skin.

I had the same blisters on my face where the tape surrounding the internal jugular IV was.  Today I have red marks on my face and a long scar where the hose went into my neck.  These will fade and disappear.

For weeks following my surgery I had catheters that didn't work well.  In addition to a catheter, I wore a huge, diaper pad that filled almost every hour.  Even with the catheter and the diaper, I still had urine flooding down my legs every time. I stood up.  Blah!

Today, I am wearing only a panty liner.  I still leak a little, but it is so much better.  Going potty takes effort.  I have to go often.  But, I don't stand in a puddle or sleep in a puddle.  

My bladder is tiny and I have some fistulas growing out the top of it.  They will need to do another surgery on it after a few months.  Today I'm just happy everyday I can wear pants without any tubes and I feel victorious each time I hear a purposeful tinkle in the potty.
This is what my miracle looks like.

My belly was open for three days.  For some reason, when they closed the bottom layers they left the top layers open to heal from the inside out.

My wound did not do well on a wound-vac.  I had many scalpel debriefings and many dressing changes with horrific tape ripping.  Ripping up the tape surrounding my wound was by far my worst pain (besides my legs).

I went from twice daily changes to daily changes.  From a 17 1/2 inch long to 12 inch long and 3 1/2 inch wide to 1 inch wide.  I couldn't even look at my belly at first, and now I change my own dressings and wash it out as I shower.  

I imagine this is going to be a pretty ugly belly scar.  I'm actually ok with that.  I have really good skin, I don't think any of my other scars will stay.  (Maybe the stretch marks will.)  I'm ok with a hidden tummy scar that will always remind me that my life is a gift.

Despite all my pre-surgery efforts, I ended up with blood clots in my right leg.  They had to insert a filter under my lungs.  The four hours it took to put the filter in we're horrific.  Honestly, one of the worst experiences of my life.  I am not a fan of interventional radiology and I am desperately terrified of getting the filter removed in a few weeks.  But, like all hard things, within five minutes of inserting the filter it had caught a large blood clot.  That horrible filter could have saved my life, again.

Blood clots led to me having to shoot myself with blood thinners twice a day, in my already ultra-sensitive tummy.  The shots were super painful at first.  As I've learned to shoot myself, they're not too bad. Shots should last a few more months- I think.

Because of my blood clots I have to wear  compression socks.  After I bought some cute ones, they are not embarrassing to wear, but they are very painful to wear on my neuropathy leg.  I think I will wear them a few more months.  This is what my blood clot miracle has looked like.

My body was swollen- I went from 135 to over 200 pounds.  My legs, arms and face were so swollen they were excruciatingly painful.  One of my legs was hot and the other was cold.  For weeks following my surgery I couldn't move my feet.  They were the worst hit.  I honestly thought I might be paralyzed. 

My feet went from swollen and paralyzed to firey painful as my circulation returned and my nerves began to awaken.  I remember my first walk, just a few steps beside my bed.  I remember walking to the bathroom for the first time as my bowels began to wake up.  

When I left the hospital, I could walk with a walker and much effort.  Currently I have practiced stairs and walked without a walker.  Right now my right leg is very, very painful.  Nerve pain is the pits!! But, it is only my right leg, and only from my knee down.  I'm getting better.  This miracle has been a process, not an event.

Baby Benjamin's life is miraculous.  I can hardly even feel the hard amidst the joy he brings.  Nevertheless, he is a preemie and he takes work.  Burps, late night, doctor appointments, etc..  Even that little miracle is a process!!

I feel blessed as I see the process unfold.  I can't wait to sit down around Thanksgiving to write my Christmas card.  I hope things are even better by then.

My aunt was right-- pain means I'm still alive, and that is a miracle!!
I might not have six-pack like my cute sister, but I will have a six-pack of experience and empathy.  

My miracle looks different than I sometimes wish it did.  I am sometimes impatient and whiney.  That is normal, I think.  But in my soul I know that this is God's way.  He is with me and He is directing my path with His almighty hand.  My miracle looks different than Hollywood's miracle, but it feels right to me.  

Today I am grateful for my real-live blessings.
I am humbled to see all He has done for me.
I am humbled by your prayers and your kind words.  I'm grateful for your friendship.

Thanks for reading about my life and my miracles.
I'm sure your life is full of miracles too-- you might just need to look with a more long-term perspective to see them.

See your miracles!
Be grateful for the process (oh, I'm trying)!
Life is soo good!

46 comments:

Britt Kelly said...

It is SO difficult to appreciate both sides of the miracle. Mary gave birth to Christ...in a stable.

Bless you for reminding me of the process of a miracle. I hope you feel my love and prayers as you live through this miracle. enduring the miracle.

Anonymous said...

Sister Moss,
You are truly an amazing woman of God that I love so dearly. I will forever continue to look up to you and your family. Thank you for blessing my life in so many ways by your incredible honesty and faith. Your blog posts have brought many tears to my eyes and have been the answer to many of my cries and prayers. THANK YOU.

Melanie said...

Thank you so much for this post. It inspires me on so many levels. I have always struggled to feel more than I think, and stories and testimonies like yours remind me that we need both in our lives to recognize his miracles.

Melanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tiffany said...

I like this perspective about miracles... and that just because they aren't instantaneous doesn't make them any less miraculous. Thanks for this inspiring post!

Still praying for your continued healing & recovery.

When are you guys supposed to move?!? aaahhh! :-)

Suzy Stein said...

You're awesome, Jen! Thank you for sharing your story in such an honest way. The world needs more of this. I think that when we are struggling, and we turn to the Lord, even if our prayer sounds like a complaint, our Savior, who suffered all for us and knows exactly how we feel, is right there by our side, saying, "I know, right?" Thank you for being willing to be real in public.

Lorraine said...

I never really understood or appreciated the saying "time heals all wounds" until recently. I can look back on what I remember being horrible, horrible experiences and feel peace. I can see how I have grown and how we have come closer as a family. I can see the hand of the Lord and be grateful for the hard things that now seem like just a memory, and be hopeful that I can endure the hard things that I know are coming with grace and faith. You are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing so much personal detail.

Jen said...

So happy to hear that your recovery is getting better. I see a lot of patients with blood clots because I work in Ultrasound. They do get better but it does take time for the clot to desolve and the circulation to return back to normal. I'll continue to pray for your recovery and little one.

The Nicholas Family said...

Love this! Your ability to put thoughts and feelings into words is truly a gift!

The Perry Family said...

I know it is easy for me to say, but embrace your scars if you have any left, those are your battle wounds! :) You are a warrior for sure! Still praying! :)

Kent and Lieren said...

Still praying and thinking about you often! Great perspective on miracles. You are a wonderful example of "not shrinking" and enduring through faith in Jesus Christ. How much he must love you and be with you every moment of this hard but wonderful (Ben) trial!

Anonymous said...

Have you heard Mindy Gledhill's song "It's all about your heart". One of my favorite lines is "it's not about your scars, it's all about your heart".

I don't understand why you put the bit about your sisters tummy tuck in? Not at all comparable to the rest of the post.

CTR Mama said...

You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your miracles with us! As I read this, I thought of a song I recently discovered by Mercy River called "Blessings." I don't know if you know it or not, but it's about how sometimes our blessings come through trials (not survive the trial and be blessed but the trial being the actual blessing). Here is a link to a YouTube version (not them singing, but still worth watching):

http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=9&from=en-us_msnhpvidmod#/video/27309502-0f0a-42c8-80be-5d18a864f879

What do they say in Meet the Robinsons? Keep Moving Forward? You can absolutely keep going! I hope the pain lessens quickly. Thanks again for sharing.

jenifer said...

Yeah, it might be out of place. Honestly, when my sister told me about her surgeon telling her to not freak out following her surgery-- to give things a few months to heal, I just could imagine God telling me the same thing. Be patient, wait a few months, things will look better than they appear.

Really it didn't have anything to do with her tummy tuck, more to do with her healing process. Sometimes God teaches me a lesson that is hard for me to explain. I do think that my surgery must feel a little like hers did... It was close to a tummy tuck. Talking to my sister about her surgery was SO healing to me. Sorry if I didn't explain it well.

jenifer said...

Moving the end of August... Hahaha. (I'm in a bit of denial.)

Anonymous said...

Not out of place for me. It was perfect for my growth and learning. Thanks for sharing your life with us. You are a miracle!

Evaly said...

I think these are great thoughts- we sometimes don't see the miracles that require patience or sacrifice on our part. We expect instant healing or problem resolution, when that is not the way things usually go. But it is still a miracle! I need to remember this.

Cluff Chronicles said...

Jenn, you are amazing. I am so inspired by all that you have gone through and how gracefully you have handled it all. When we were driving to church today we were singing pioneer songs. We were singing one that says the children never complain and I just started laughing. I have a hard time believing the children never complained, I know they did, but when you look back you see the miracles and how well they did everything you don't remember the hard as much. I know when you look back on this journey you will see how incredible strong and resilient you have been through all of this. We miss you and your family! I'm also very jealous of your new house! Where in New York are you moving to?

Lisa said...

jenifer. i love this post. thanks for reminding me of my miracles. the miracles in my life have been more like yours...they have been drawn-out processes as well. but it doesn't make them any less miraculous.

you & i have never actually met. in the large family group, i felt like i knew you but i really don't. it is through these postings and experiences that i have felt like i have come to know you better. you are still in every prayer. every family prayer. every personal prayer...even my little tiny kids. 'bless jenifer moss'. maybe it has become rote and some would consider 'in vain' but not to me. i know that it is these many prayers that have helped these miracles occur.

love & hugs!!

Katie Olthoff said...

"I might not have six-pack like my cute sister, but I will have a six-pack of experience and empathy. "

Love that. You are such an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I've never commented on a blog before, but truly want to thank you for sharing your story. You are such a positive inspiration and a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all of our blessings. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you continue to heal quickly!

Anonymous said...

I just heard about your blog and I'm so glad I did! I'm expecting my 3rd baby (my 3rd boy!) and was diagnosed with placenta previa and accreta. I'm really scared but reading your blog is so inspiring! I admire your ability to find the positive in everything, that's definitely something I strive to work on. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

jenifer said...

Tully, NY-- it is a small town south of Syracuse. We think it's about 45 minutes south of Palmyra. Todd will be working at Syracuse University.

jenifer said...

Thanks Lisa!! I'm so grateful for your prayers and feel humbled as I see the miracles in my life. I KNOW that prayers are answered- especially the prayers of children. Please tell them that I pray, prayers of gratitude, for them every night too!!

Once I show you my scarred belly you are a real friend!! :)

jenifer said...

Thank you Britt!! Isn't it funny that most things in life have two sides?! We all choose daily what we see. Thank you for your sweet thoughts!!

jenifer said...

How kind you are!! That you friend!! I feel so grateful for your prayers. God is good to all of us, isn't He?!!

jenifer said...

I love that sentence-- to feel more than I think. I'm not sure what I do more...

jenifer said...

Thanks Suzy-- as you probably know from years of Girl's Camp-- I am REAL to a fault sometimes. Ha!

jenifer said...

Perspective really changes things, doesn't it? Ahhhh, don't we all learn much in God's "small moments".

jenifer said...

Blah!! I hate blood clots! Thanks for the encouragement!

jenifer said...

Love your cute famu!

jenifer said...

Battle wounds-- I love that!!

jenifer said...

I love that talk by elder bednar!
Thanks for your prayers!!

jenifer said...

I still have to look up that song- your link lead me to crazy stuff... :) and, meet the robinsons? Never saw it.
Thanks for thinking of me, thanks for commenting, and thanks for being my blog friend!

jenifer said...

Thank You!!

jenifer said...

Exactly!! Don't you think? Some miracles are instant-- but most take "eyes to see".

jenifer said...

What a kind first blog comment!! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! I feel honored. Often, just writing my blog reminds me to be positive. Thanks for reading it!

jenifer said...

Oh sweet friend! Now I cringe when people with Accreta read my blog. I'm sure your delivery will be much easier than mine was!! Keep your chin up friend. Whatever your journey entails-- it is worth it. You are creating a life!! Attached to that crazy placenta is a beautiful gift!! Enjoy this pregnancy!!! And, good luck!!

Anonymous said...

I come to your blog everytime I need a little encourgment. I 26 weeks pregnant with my 7th baby (a boy). I have 4 boys(I lost one of my miracles when he was 21mths. I have 1 girl. I have placenta previa and a suspected accreta. I will find out more on the 31st. Your faith is amazing to me. I have my moments that I feel like I can't go on. I am so afraid. Then I get upset with myself for not trusting the Lord. U r amazing! Thank u for sharing your journey. My prayer is that I will be able to find the faith in the Lord that u have. God Bless U and your beautiful family!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,
You continue to inspire me. When I get up in the morning I check your blog first thing, then I know how to pray for you and your family that day. You have a way of helping me see the important things in life, especially when I am feeling down. As you continue to heal and hear stories from doctors and nurses about your surgery, I guess you can understand why they were surprised that you were still alive. I still can't believe they said it out loud. I'm glad you are home with your family.There is no better place to be loved and to heal. Have a great week. Keeping you in my prayers.

Kristine de Vera said...

Thank you, Jen! I had the baby on 06/25 & the hysterectomy on 07/24. I must have read your blog over & over during those 4 weeks. The percreta was worse than they expected but no where near as difficult as yours. I read back to this post any time I have a difficult moment. After reading it & after several prayers it brings me back to a place of being grateful to be alive & with my family. Thank you so much from one percreta survivor to another.
On another note, what fistulas are you currently having? If its too personal you don't have to answer or you can email me. I'm having Foley catheter issues & trying to eliminate some possibilities. Thanks again!

jenifer said...

Thanks Katie! Your boys are getting so big!

jenifer said...

Oh, thank you so much sweet friend! Sorry I haven't been updating my blog lately...

jenifer said...

Wow!! Congratulations!! What a long wait between surgeries. It was probably good to let that placenta shrink down.

Catheter leaking is one of my favorite topics...
They leak, 1- if they are kinked. 2- if they are clogged inside (when they would remove my catheter it was clogged with sluffed skin and old sutchers). 3- they can also leak around the tube-- you might need a bigger size tube (lovely). 4- I had fistulas that formed as my bladder healed, it created a tube from my bladder to my vagina... This leaking did not come from my urethra where the catheter was.
5- and sometimes you have bladder spasms that cause you to leak a whole bunch at one time-- there is medicine for that. :)

I do not love catheters. Oh, good luck friend! Heal fast and embrace the pee moments, they are short. You'll be tinkling on a potty in no time!!

Xoxoxo accreta sisters!!!

jenifer said...

The waiting and worrying is so hard!! My thoughts are with you and your family. I had to think every worst case and realize that I could handle them, like many others before me. Then, I just hoped for the best. The thing about Accreta is-- you can't do a thing to change it. You just get the best doctors you can and then pray for them!! The only thing you CAN control is your attitude!! Be happy and grateful for the good and try not to think about the bad! Good luck friend... This is hard, but you are not alone!!

jenifer said...

I can't help but picture your two cute boys watching down on you, waiting for your delivery!! You will be blessed and watched over!!

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