I just came through my first surgery today. You may call me foolish for picking up my laptop and writing right now, given I just got out of surgery, and the doctor gave me orders to do nothing but “drink a Mimosa” today. Well, I guess you can say that writing is my Mimosa.
“But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word” (Matthew 15:23, NLT).
This sentence has saved me this week.
But first, a little background: I have been hesitant to share with people why I have needed surgery because, honestly, it’s not the kind of surgery that’s easy to talk about. And some may say it’s not that big of a deal. Even my doctor called it “minor.” So how do you talk about something that feels so huge to you but may be minimized or called “TMI” by others? But I have decided that people can think what they want. I need to give glory to God because he saved me this week and I have to share about it as a part of my continued healing. So if medical (or female) details gross you out, you can stop reading here, lol.
The month before our wedding, I started bleeding a lot. Only about ten days of the month was I not bleeding, and it was mostly black blood (scared me a ton). I soon discovered that I had some uterine polyps. After the male doctor, with very bad bedside manners, told me nonchalantly that I may not be able to have children and that “I had a lot going on down there” (thanks Doc…tell me that right before I’m about to get married. Ug), Mike and I decided that it was best not to worry about it until after the Honeymoon. So once we got a bit more adjusted to married life and the start of the school year got going again, I dutifully went about looking for a new doctor and starting the process again.
Well it wasn’t until literally 45 minutes before I was supposed to preach at UCLA’s first large group meeting on “the bleeding woman” in Mark 5, that this new doctor called me concerned. She said, “the polyps are very large and I am concerned how they got there. We need to remove them as soon as possible.” Fear immediately came over me but I decided to still preach the sermon. I literally just finished telling my mentor that I “needed to preach over myself” when a student (who definitely has a word of knowledge gift and had no idea what I was going through), came up to me and whispered “Kelly, I don’t know what you’re talking about tonight but I feel like God wants to tell you that this word is for you tonight, and to preach it over yourself.” So I did. “God is trustworthy, and he is powerful.” Fifteen students gave their lives to Jesus that night. But I needed those words as much as they did.
But let me speed up to this week. To the part when God wasn’t saying anything. Because…that’s why you’re reading this, right? Don’t you hate it when he does that? Stays totally silent when you need him the most?
I’ve been dreading this surgery. How will my body respond to anesthesia? I don’t have a good track record of responding well to invasiveness…. But what has been the hardest has been the fear of disappointment. The burning mouth pain that began just before my wedding has not gone away and there are many days that I wonder if I can go on even just another moment with that sort of pain. There was a moment of hope though that came as I thought about this surgery. What if hormone imbalance has been my problem this whole time? What if fixing this could solve some of my mouth pain too (after all, it came on at the same time the bleeding did). And so I hoped. And on the days where I have wondered if I could go on for another minute, I remembered that at least some sort of progress was being made. At least something was going to be done to get my body functioning rightly.
But then came the hurdles. As I re-arranged my work schedule and prepared myself emotionally this week, something went wrong. My period didn’t come as early as it was supposed to. And if it came too late we would have to reschedule the surgery to another time, probably a couple months down the road. My sister and I prayed very specifically, “Jesus, please make it come tomorrow so I don’t have to reschedule.”
But it didn’t come.
I was devastated. Not even just because of the potential reschedule, but because I needed a small win. Jesus, if you can’t answer this small silly prayer, what about the big ones? Will you ever heal me at all? I feel like you’re too late. A week too late, but really, seven years too late. Why won’t you answer?
But I heard no reply.
I picked up my “Alabaster” Bible (Thanks Brian and Bryan for the awesome printed Bibles) and read the story of the Gentile woman who’s daughter was being tormented by a demon regularly. She begged Jesus for mercy. “But Jesus gave her no reply. Not even a word.” And when he finally did respond to her, he called her a dog!
Amazed by the woman’s faith, I changed my prayers to be more like hers. Jesus I will not take no for an answer. “Even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps under the master’s table.” Jesus, you are better than this. I know it. Do not let this surgery be moved. Do it Jesus, because you love me.
It wasn’t until just yesterday afternoon that my period arrived and I got word that the doctor would go ahead and take the risk and do the surgery anyway. Relief. Sort of.
Then the next hurdle. I warned the doctor’s beforehand, “Doctors can never find my vein. If you don’t let me drink water, it’s going to be near impossible.” Little did they know how much I would be correct. They started stabbing me everywhere and it was the most pain I’ve ever felt from needles. I literally screamed. LOUD. I began to hyperventilate and my legs were shaking. Finally they concluded, “we will just have to cancel.”
Mike was by my side the whole time and I turned and saw the compassion in his eyes. I remembered the Gentile woman. I will not take no for an answer Jesus. Because you are compassionate. You won’t let me out of here like this. Not like this. I turned to the doctors (the entire medical staff were all there of course — who could miss my screaming?) and wept, “Please don’t give up. Just let me pray. And I will calm down and we can try again.” I turned and looked back in Mike’s eyes and began to pray. It was a lot of “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, mercy, Jesus…” And then a lot of speaking in tongues. And then Psalm 23 over and over again. And then the Lord’s Prayer. And then Psalm 23.
Mike tells me it was like other-worldly the difference in how I coped with the pain as I prayed aloud. The doctors said, “your prayers are working. Keep doing whatever you’re doing.” Eventually they found my vein and I everyone erupted in cheers and tears. Thank you Lord.
The surgery was tough for the doctor (had to use a lot of force) but was a success. The doctor says the polyps were even larger than she first anticipated so she was glad they are gone now and she inserted an IUD to try to prevent them from coming back. I will need to wait for a couple weeks to determine if they’re cancerous or not.
I am in a ton of pain now, but I’d say it’s not tons more than I usually am. My tongue and mouth are still on fire (and I am still living in the mystery if that has anything to do with any of this or not). My head and stomach hurt a ton. I laugh to Mike that it’s kind of nice that people hear “surgery” and have a concept of what that means. Whereas with my “usual” pain, it just feels so impossible to explain to people why I feel so fatigued.
But as I look back at this day and really, this week, what I remember the most is God’s “lack” of reply. What felt in the moment like he wasn’t responding at all, in the end, was a much richer experience. In a way, I didn’t need him to speak any words. Because I know he’s trustworthy. And I know he’s powerful. And he knows that I know that too.
Thank you Lord for giving me faith.