"I'm sorry I'm crying...I just wasn't expecting this. I thought they'd give me some medicine and send me home. I wasn't expecting surgery. I just need a moment to think about this."
I can do this........
It was a fluke. The probability of my "intestines twisting around itself and dying" is about as random as that sentence sounds. But regardless, it happened. I laid in the hospital bed with pain rivaling what I'd imagine being in labor feeling like (and yes, I'm pretty sure I've offended every woman who has ever had a baby by describing it like that!). It was unlike any pain I'd ever experienced or imagined.
For the next five days, I became friends with my nurses, I talked to Willie who cleaned my room, I learned what it means to be given a bed bath and the pride that has to be gulped down to be given one and the kindness of the lady who had to give it to me. I ate pudding, drank broth, and spent a lot of time staring at the tube that was coming out of my nose. I was conscious of every swallow with a tube lodged in the back of my throat and the modesty that I've never let go of flew out the window every time the "surgical team" would come for an update.
I laid in bed and asked God what the purpose of this was...'cause I didn't want to miss it...Or was it just that, a fluke? A random act of misfortune. What was the lesson in this? I'm a believer in this: that the harder the circumstance, the greater the impact it will have on my life either negative or positive...or sometimes both at the same time.
...and as I laid in that hospital bed, hearing the occasional beep of the IV, with my fingertips lightly counting the staples in my stomach reminding me this really happened...He taught me a lesson that I'd been battleling for years and it's this...
Pain isn't the end of the story.
You see, I've lived my life very strategically the past few years in order to feel the least amount of pain possible...not physical, but emotional. In my heart. I have become a master of "sniffing out rejection" as a good friend once told me...and I will turn and run...in my heart. I will leave before someone can leave me. I intentionally mastered the art of compartmentalizing emotion and logic and never crossing the two.
I've used quotes like, "Never cry over someone who wouldn't cry over you" and "Only let someone in as far as you're willing to dig your way out of" as my mantra. I completely disagreed with the statement, "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."...because I've lost, and the loss was worse than the 'love' was great...or so it felt. So I built boundaries in my heart to where I hadn't felt pain in my heart for years...
But as I laid in that hospital bed I learned that pain...this sensation I had feared so much...was NOT the end of the story. Rather, it's a reminder that I'm alive. Pain saved me. The surgeon put his hand on my arm the day I left the hospital and said, "You are a very lucky girl...if you hadn't come in that night, I'm afraid you would have died."
Pain saved me. It's a nudge that something should change, but even more, it's a reminder that I'm alive and I'm capable of feeling...that I can let someone touch the places in my heart with nerve endings. When I look at my nieces and nephews...when I'm laughing with my family around the dinner table at family night...when I'm dancing in the car with my friends...I know they're worth the risk of the pain that accompanies love.
I swallowed the lump in my throat, and for the first time, I thanked God for the pain. All of it. Not just what was in my stomach but what I'd known in my heart...and I felt him soften that part of me that I'd worked so diligently to harden. And I felt him say to me "Tami, pain isn't the end of the story..."