In the December of 1988 when I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy I felt like a character in a movie where the action all around me was frozen and just God and I were having a conversation. And if I am being honest, I will admit that I was of the opinion that He wasn't listening to me and had decided to stomp me like a bug. But, I knew that was wrong and I tried not to have that opinion. I read the book of Job a lot and felt confused and hurt about everything. I came through with faith but I had a lot of fear about health related things.
There was a comedy of errors or a tragedy of errors, if you will, about the ectopic pregnancy from the doctor's inability to "find" the pregnancy and thus know what to do about it, to the priest and communion ministers who refused to visit me and "participate with my abortion," to the various people from my doctor to everybody else who just kept telling me that "it wasn't a baby" when I knew that it was, I most wanted someone to pray for me or with me, but I didn't have even that. I was discharged from the hospital not once but twice and told to wait in the lobby until someone could come by and pick me up without even being given lunch and no wheelchair ride which usually marks a hospital discharge. I could go on and on about all the hurt and confusion of that time, but it is the past and I can't change it, I can only acknowledge that it happened and move forward. I largely tried to forget it all and pretend it didn't happen. I stuffed all of the emotions.
The one thing that I carried forward from that time was that I wanted to be in the situation in the future that if I faced life or death I would have someone to pray for me. I wanted to receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick. I wanted to know when I was being discharged from the hospital and I wanted someone there, not sitting in some public place in pain weeping.
I can't say that I faced the recent surgeries and events with very much courage. I wept a lot and at inappropriate times and places. I knew that as a believer in Christ, I should be facing everything with confidence and hope. I confess that all of the past events had a lot of bearing on the way I handled things. I was a hot mess. I could see that even as I went through it, but I was unable to pull it all together and find any courage or to cover up my feelings all of the time. I was sure I had cancer, sure I would die, maybe not even survive surgery. And while I looked forward to eternity with Jesus, I also felt as though I had a lot of unfinished business and I feared the treatments and the needles and the pain.
But, this time I did learn something useful from the past. I met a priest and arranged to have the sacrament of anointing. I turned my name into the prayer chain and the bulletin sick list at my parish. I asked for a prayer shawl. I informed various groups of my friends when I had specific prayer requests. I asked everyone to pray and pray and pray.
It all turned out about as well as anyone could have hoped for this time around. I never got discharged from the hospital without a ride to take me home. I was able to have the robotic surgery which I am recovering from nicely. The doctor even found the "missing ovary" that the ultrasound tech had convinced me I didn't have in November. And now I don't have any of it, but that is okay because I don't have the pre-cancer that it was harboring.
The difference this time? Prayers, I glided on the prayers when I didn't have any courage or strength. I learned something and that it to insist that I be taken care of when I need to be. That is hard for me because I am a caregiver by nature. But, I had to learn to accept help and ask for it. That was huge for me. This time around when there is stop action and I am talking to God, I can feel the love and the peace and the hope that are given to me. I am still working on courage (and patience), but I am just trying to keep the faith and take it one day at a time.