The day I came home from spending a week in the hospital, I painstakingly made my way into the backyard, sat on a chair in the sun and watched my husband mow the lawn as my puppy jumped up to sit beside me.
I’ve never been so grateful for the breeze on my face, for the warm dark fur next to my leg, for my full pregnant belly, and for my husband taking care of the house, taking care of me.
How do you move on from a painful experience? I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately.
A month ago, I was at a friend’s baby shower when I started to feel strong contractions. I knew something wasn’t right, so I left immediately to go home and rest. I called my husband, he raced home, and after talking with our midwife, we decided to go to the emergency room.
After 10 hours of painful contractions one minute apart, the doctor finally found what he thought was irritating my uterus. It wasn’t pre-term labor, it was a cyst on my ovary that had probably ruptured. The next steps were to have an MRI to confirm his suspicion, and to delay the surgery as long as possible to give the steroids time to work to develop our baby’s lungs in case the surgery triggered early delivery.
For three days, the nurses gave me medications to stop the contractions and to cope with the pain. We didn’t know if we’d be meeting our 27 week old baby very soon, or what exactly the cyst on my ovary could be. Could it be cancerous? The wait was excruciating.
After the results of the surgery went well — no cancer, baby still safe and sound in my belly — the next challenge was recovery. Extreme nausea, weakness, and the worst migraine I’ve ever had plagued my body for 4 days after the surgery. And it took a couple weeks after that to start feeling back to normal.
The cyst that ruptured was an endometrioma that had exploded “like a grenade,” the doctor said. He compared the pain of such an event to passing a kidney stone. He joked with me later and said, “labor will be a piece of cake for you!”
Before this experience, the last time I had been in a hospital was when I was born. The most hardcore drug I’d ever taken was Advil. When I’m sick, which is rare, I get an acupuncture treatment and take some herbs. Health insurance has always been an annoying bill, but never something that I actually needed.
Needless to say, this hospital experience rocked my world. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m healthy, I take care of myself, I’m an expert in women’s health, I’m a natural medicine healer. I just couldn’t see myself in a hospital. And, truthfully, being hospitalized has always been one of my biggest fears.
So, how do I reconcile an experience like this? How do I get past the sadness and “why me” exasperation every time I think about the details of what happened?
I allow myself to mourn what happened and then I focus on the blessings in disguise that emerged from this experience:
1) Interestingly, I’m no longer afraid of labor — a lifelong fear I’ve carried with me since I was old enough to contemplate birth. I know if I can get through that week in the hospital, I can get through anything.
2) I’ve never felt so loved and cared for by my friends and family, but especially by my husband. Even though I didn’t think it was possible to feel more bonded with him, we absolutely are. I know now, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are a true team and can handle parenthood together with all the unexpected twists and turns that come with it.
3) We were in the hands of an incredibly talented and experienced surgeon and ob/gyn, wonderful nurses, and the pleasant atmosphere of the Labor and Delivery ward that shifted my perception of western medicine. Now that we have to deliver in the hospital instead of the midwifery center, I am forced to re-examine my views of a hospital birth, and I feel my previous judgments melting away, which is always a good thing.
4) Finding out I had endometriosis explained my years of painful periods growing up, but it was also confirming to realize all that I had done to heal myself. The doctor said he was amazed we were able to get pregnant at all. I attribute my lack of symptoms and increased fertility to Chinese medicine and my nutrition program, 100%. My cells are getting the nutrition they need so that they are able to take care of my body and help it function at optimal levels.
5) I’m also unbelievably grateful for the business I have created for myself that allowed me to take a month off and still make money. If this had happened to me a year ago, being self-employed I would have taken a huge hit with my finances. Now, as a business owner (which I now know is very different from being self-employed), the residual income I’ve created that I teach others how to create in my business mentoring program, literally became a life-saver this past month.
I’ve had to open my mind and face my fears over and over again in the past few weeks. In a way, all my worst fears came true. And, in a way, it was one of the best weeks of my life.
Today, it feels amazing to be sore from a rigorous yoga class instead of from surgery. I can go for a walk again, I have returned to my pre-natal Pilates classes. My first week back in my clinic went well, and I’m feeling like myself — energized and inspired to be helping and treating patients. I have enough energy to give again.
My 5 inch scar is healing, and the dots left from the 16 staples look sort of beautiful on my big belly, almost like a henna tattoo. I’m in awe of the resiliency of the human body and spirit. I’m feeling so grateful for my health and renewed passion to help people live their healthiest, wealthiest, happiest life.