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!