Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Blessing in the Butchering

Why is it that blessings always seem to come gift-wrapped in a trial?

A long time ago (three weeks) in a hospital far, far away (2 1/2 hours), my husband was sliced open to have a hernia repaired. He came home, curled up in his own bed, and tried to get better.

He tried. He really did. And he did get better, for the most part. But then on Saturday night, something went wrong. The nausea and stomach cramps of a flu bug hit. He rested and tried to get better. Again. Sunday was no better. In fact, it was worse. The nausea turned to vomiting, the cramping turned to downright pain. It was a nasty flu bug.

On Monday, he was able to keep some food down. He was finally starting to get better. There was still a lot of pain near the hernia repair site — we figured it was due to the throwing up aggravating the site of the surgery. But he was keeping food down. He was getting better.

Or so we thought.

After some prayers for help and health and a clear understanding of what was going on, by yesterday morning, we knew that something was seriously wrong — and it wasn't the flu. An ER visit was necessary.

"I think it's an appendicitis," my paramedic said.

"But you just had surgery," I replied, "it has to be something related to that. I mean, what are the odds that you would have an appendicitis RIGHT after having abdominal surgery in the same area? My money's on it being a complication from the surgery."

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We walked into the ER and they took care of him right away. He was on intravenous antibiotics in no time. I commiserated with the nurses about how we were here for him, not me, and how ironic it would be if we ended up in the hospital at the same time. I asked if they could wheel him in for the birth. They said there's a first for everything.

He drank his glow-in-the-dark juice and we waited for the verdict from the CT scan. I left to pick up the kids from school. I anxiously waited for news about what was going on. It's the not knowing what's wrong that kills me. And the waiting. And the not knowing what's going to happen next.

Finally, he called to let me know the results — he was going in for surgery as soon as possible. Best-case scenario would be an appendicitis that they could fix laparoscopically and he would be home soon. Worst-case scenario was that the mass of infection that showed up on the scan was a perforated bowel and they'd have to open him up and do a partial bowel resection. He would be in the hospital for a week. The surgeon was leaning more towards worst-case scenario and wanted to prepare my husband for the prospect of a major surgery.

Resect part of his bowel? Ugh. The better of the two options would be a short, hour-long procedure. The bowel resection would take at least twice as long. They wouldn't know for sure what it was until they got in there. That's all I knew.

I hoped and prayed that he won the earlier debate, that it was an appendicitis. He went into surgery and again with the waiting. I joked with my friends on line about us being in the hospital at the same time, in the same recovery room, watching Netflix together — and how that might be the closest thing to a date night we'd get with the new baby.

He went into surgery right as I put the children to bed. My mom, who came to help with a completely different hospitalization, stayed with the kids while I went to greet my husband when he came out of surgery.

I got to his room an hour after they took him into surgery. Another hour passed. And another. I began to worry that he had to have the longer of the two surgeries. I had never prayed FOR an appendicitis before, and hopefully I won't have to again. The nurse had no news for me. Finally, four hours after taking him away, they rolled him back into the room.

The verdict — a ruptured appendix, but the bowel looked great. Everything was taken care of laparoscopically.

Thank goodness!

What are the odds that he would have a random appendicitis just three weeks after having a hernia repaired? Could the repair have caused the appendix to become infected and burst? I'm not sure. But two surgeries in one month is crazy bad luck.

Here's the truly crazy thing, though...

He's out on workman's comp for the hernia repair and has at least three weeks left before he'll be allowed to go back to work for that.

He gets paid his full salary while he's out on disability.

He doesn't have to use vacation time or sick time to heal from the hernia, or this ruptured appendix.

He doesn't have to use vacation time or sick time to be home for the birth of the baby.

Maybe the crazy bad luck is really a blessing.

I think so. I feel that it's a blessing. I'm comforted. The timing really is a blessing.

After they brought him into his room for the night and the nurse finished poking and prodding, we relaxed. That's when I noticed that I was having some painful contractions — lots of painful contractions. I knew why I was having them; it had been a long day. They were triggered by the stress of it all, not because I was ready to deliver. At least, that's what I was telling myself.

The nurse kept asking if I was okay. I told her I was fine, mostly because I knew that if they took me to triage to check me out, they would certainly keep me overnight. I needed to be home, sleeping in my own bed, and I needed to be able to wake up in the morning with the kids to show them that everything was okay.

I know the way my body acts during the final stages of pregnancy, and I was fairly certain that the contractions — even thought they were three minutes apart and lasting for nearly a minute and getting painful — would eventually dissipate if I could just relax. Laying in a stiff hospital bed would not be relaxing, and the fetal monitoring bands themselves would put me into labor. But if I were at home, the external causes for the contractions would no longer be there and the cramping would go away.

So, I asked for a blanket and laid down on the couch next to my husband. I got as comfortable as possible and timed the contractions for an hour. Eventually, they did start to dissipate. When the contractions stretched out to five minutes apart I felt like I could leave without having to just drive right back. Real labor doesn't slow down due to external influences. (I don't recommend doing what I did to anyone — the only reason I didn't get checked is because this is normal for my pregnancies. And I was absolutely determined not to deliver this little man without my husband!!)

I made it home, got in bed, and the exhaustion took over.

This morning, I woke up smiling. Actually, I woke up because my own snoring woke me up. But when I looked over at the empty bassinet waiting next to my bed, I smiled.

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I waited to feel the little guy move, just to know he was okay in there. He gave me a good kick after a few minutes. Then I texted my husband to make sure he was okay, too. All was well.

They'll have to keep him in the hospital to marinate him in antibiotics for a while yet, but he's okay. He's lucid and not exploding on the inside anymore. And he might be ambulatory enough to come to the delivery room should the need arise.

But so far, there is no need for that. All I need to do is take it easy, go visit my invalid, and hurry up and wait for phase two of That Crazy Week in April.

Thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts, they are greatly appreciated and greatly felt. I don't know how this week will end, but as of right now, I feel relieved and peaceful.

I downed half a flat of Oreo's, too.

As a grandpa many greats ago once put to music, all is well, all is well.

(Aside from the whole two major surgeries in three weeks with lots of pain and nausea and withdrawals and fevers and multiple unnatural incisions and general crappiness. But compared to what the surgeon feared last night, all is well!!)

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!


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You can find the birth story here!
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