This was going to be fairly straightforward. I was having elect but major surgery. I knew a few people who had had the the same operation and give or take a few bumps and bruises, it had been relatively straightforward.
The morning of the surgery, I got up and prayed – something a little more than saying grace but definitely a lot less than the kind of prayer you have when you’re going to have major surgery.
When I arrived at the hospital, the lovely nurse at the private hospital I was attending took me to my private room, gave me a little tour and a menu for my post op dinner. At this point, this was feeling like a bit of a holiday. For my dinner, I ordered grilled Swordfish served with wilted baby spinach and minted new potatoes. Little did I know that in less than 24 hours, I’d be throwing up that lovely fish onto my pristine private room floor.
“Your bowel has obstructed”. the doctor told me. This is the same doctor, who had reassured me when I signed the consent forms that the risk of complications was 0.000000005%. I guess I and the other two patients he’d operated on that day were the 0.0000000005%.
“… if any of you has a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 (I’m still working on this one)
Over the next few days, things got worse. My stomach cramped with the obstruction not letting anything through – everything else, I threw up.
In the meantime, my stomach swelled, filling up with the bile your body produces regardless of whether or not you’re eating. It was at this point my doctor recommended fitting a nasogastric tube (NG) to alleviate the pressure and pain in my stomach. An NG is a flexible plastic tube that is passed through the nose and into the stomach to either remove fluids from or add them to the stomach.
I DID NOT WANT TO HAVE AN NG FITTED but I had no other option. The afternoon the doctor came in to fit the NG tube, I was weak and tired but “did my best to show the love of Jesus” and honestly frankly I was in too much pain to care.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
The young doctor applied lubricant to the tube and started sliding it down my nose – that’s right, I was awake for this delightful procedure. I started to gag, at which point the doctor instructed me to swallow this PLASTIC TUBE I could feel going down my throat “just swallow it”, he said as though he were telling me to ingest some mildly bitter cough syrup. I proceeded to swallow flanked by my sister and husband. This scene in that season of my life reminds me of a story in the book of Exodus which came before battle victory for the Israelites.
“…As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset”.
I don’t know how they did it but both my sister and husband kept a straight face even when a surge of bile the colour of those lovely green smoothies rushed out of my mouth and onto everything and everyone – except the young doctor who had clearly done this a few times and had already moved out of the way in anticipation. Immediately after this, the bag at the end of the NG tube started to fill with more green gunk. The human body is fascinating and so complex. We really are sustained by God. The pressure and pain in my stomach started to ease and I slept well for the first time in days.
To be continued….