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May 30th – A Date That Has Redefined My Normal

May 30th has turned out to be a very significant date in my personal journey.

Five years ago, on May 30th, I had a total hysterectomy at the age of 26.

I remember the anxiety of signing paperwork stating that I understood that the  surgery would make me permanently incapable of bearing children and cause me to have to redefine my womanhood. I remember the way my husband held my hand as we walked into the hospital at 5:45am. I remember the way I felt so loved and supported as I had a prayer shawl made by the ladies at church wrapped around me up until the moment surgery began and was placed back around me when I woke up in recovery. I remember the fears that overwhelmed me the moment the nurse said it was time to go. And I remember the look in my husband’s eyes as he held me and kissed me one last time as they took me away.

This surgery was completely life changing. While I don’t think I completely understood just how much it was going to impact me emotionally and spiritually, I had done everything possible in order to feel prepared for what was going to follow. I had done tons of research and had many conversations with my doctors. I joined a forum so that I could talk to others who had completed the surgery or were scheduled. Everything was set up for me to be out of work. I bought cute pajamas and had a bag packed with the necessities for the hospital. We had the house cleaned and set up to help me be more comfortable when I got home. I felt prepared. I like order and structure so it meant a lot to me to plan and feel at least somewhat in control.

One year ago, on May 30th, I felt like I lost all sense of control as I was rocked by emergency surgery.

I remember feeling off when my alarm went off for work. I remember taking Abby to school and praying that I would be able to make it through the day. I remember sitting at my desk knowing that I wouldn’t. I remember crawling into bed two hours later praying that the pain would stop. I remember the moment I realized something was seriously wrong as I laid on my bathroom floor. I remember three amazing women who took shifts staying by my side for the next eight hours in the ER as we waited for answers. I remember the six people it took to start an IV (and praying for large amounts of drugs) and waiting outside the CT room terrified of what they were going to find. I remember a doctor walking into my room in a bow-tie telling me that I was in serious condition and was going to be admitted to the hospital because of a bowel obstruction. Less than 48 hours later he would tell me that I would be in surgery in less than an hour. I remember one of my girls dropping everything to make phone calls and drive to my house to pack me a hospital bag. I remember barely getting through the barium tests and my mom holding my hair back as the severity of my blockage made itself known. I remember the fear I had when I sent John the text letting him know what was about to happen. I remember that being the last thing I remember for the next three days.

The surgery turned my life completely upside down. I had experienced a lot of pain in my life due to endometriosis and my previous surgeries but this was more than words could explain. I was admitted on Friday night at 8pm and surgery on Sunday around 1pm. After sending the text to John, I honestly do not remember anything until Wednesday night. My first memory post-op was of the nurse removing my bandages and seeing my incision for the first time. I instantly began to cry. The seriousness of what I had just experienced became very real. When surgery was performed, a portion of my bowel had already died and gangrene was spreading. Had I not went to the ER when I did, the outcome could have been very different. It was a very scary feeling. My initial hospital stay lasted a week however during recovery I would have two additional partial obstructions (where my bowels were reattached) which would require an additional week hospital stay for each. It was a very difficult time for me and my family. It was a summer of chaos.

Both of these events have a played a big role in shaping who I am. Each required change and a struggle to redefine what normal meant in my life. The hysterectomy was a planned change. We knew it was coming and prepared for it as much as possible. It became the stepping stone  to creating our family through the miracle of adoption which would later bring Abby into our lives. The bowel obstruction surgery completely blind sided us. When John left that Friday with Abby to visit family and officiate a wedding, I would have never imagined that I would have to call him from the hospital. I would never have predicted that the summer would have been so chaotic. I felt like I lost control of every aspect of my life. I was so sick and recovery was so hard. It was hard on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was hard on John, our marriage, and our family. Even recalling how hard the experience was on Abby and recalling the look in her eyes as she looked at me in the hospital bed puts a knot in my stomach. Our normal was thrown out the window, stomped on, and burned and it would take us a lot of time and work to redefine our new normal.

I believe that there are many turning points in people’s lives. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, and births are welcomed celebrations and opportunities for growth. There are other days though and while they may not be as joyous or as welcomed they can still shape you and make you into a better person. May 30th happens to be one of those days.