ReeCreates

life is a long and difficult journey…be sure to stop now and then for a little snack

What Tried to Kill Me Made Me Stronger…

on April 4, 2013

Three years ago today, my life was forever changed.  Many people get to have a life-changing day and each is unique.  As usual, since I can’t seem to do anything under the radar, mine was “right up there”.

Three years ago today, God saved my life; physically (spiritually, He did that back on March 21, 1989.)  The (very) short version of this day was that I went into the hospital with a major bowel obstruction and came out with open heart surgery, removing a very rare tumor that was inside of my heart.

Yup.  I felt like a celebrity; I was “the one with the tumor” that everyone in the hospital talked about.  Apparently no one, not even my renowned thoracic surgeon, Dr. Bartley Griffith, had ever seen someone still living with this type of tumor; he’d only seen it in a few folks in his 30+ years of practice and they were all in autopsy because the tumor killed them before it could be found.  There are no real symptoms to this kind of tumor; it was “accidentally” found when the MRI tech took a picture of my entire torso and not just my lower half, when trying to find out what was obstructing my bowels.  We all know that it was no accident  🙂  (side note – The bowel obstruction was caused by 2 very large tumors in my abdomen, which resulted in a surgery 4 months later, including a hysterectomy.)

So…now I am famous…in the medical journals at University of Maryland hospital and doctors and other medical personnel learn from the operation that Dr. Griffith did to my heart.  That is awesome and I am glad that others can learn from my experience. But, wow…I was the one fixin’ to learn the biggest lesson of my life…

God completely changed my life; inside and out.  Even with all of this trauma over a year of 5 hospitalizations, major surgeries, etc., I still felt a lot of inner peace like never before.   Jon had peace and I felt it from him; he is such a rock for me and the boys.  You can’t imagine how thankful I am for him.  God gave me exactly what I needed, who I needed and when I needed it/them.  No surprise since that’s what His Word says He will do; but for me, it was as if He was laying there right next to me that year – taking all the pain – physical and emotional – and that was not something I had ever experienced before.

Pain that I should have felt, I did not.  Extended medical issues I should have experienced, I did not.  Many, many signs of God literally taking my burdens from me.  Jon and Richard never left my side (and even though Tim was away at school, he didn’t miss a beat.)  Even my faithful Golden Retriever, Cody, laid right next to my recliner with me 24/7 and wouldn’t let anyone near me; my furry protector.  My friends stopping by (no small feat since I live in the boonies) bringing good wishes and meals to give my mother-in-law one less thing to tend to.  My amazing parents-in-law dropped everything and flew up from Florida to take care of me and tend to Richard, etc. so that Jon could go back to work.  My dear mother-in-law is a saint, that’s all I can tell you.  And my father-in-law, an absolute gem.  I don’t know what we would have done if they didn’t come for that first month to go through the worst of it with us; they are my angels and I love them immensely.

While I was living in my recliner for the year, God did some incredible work in me (I was finally sitting still long enough!)  In this time,  I went through psychological and spiritual steps toward healing, some quite painful, both inside and out.  Part of that healing included finding the rest of my family.

After finding out that my tumor was hereditary, and knowing how deadly it was, I just could not live with myself if I didn’t at least make an effort to find them and warn them – and yeah – would be incredible to “meet” them too.  Oh, I forgot to tell you…I am adopted!  Knowing what little I knew about my first family (born to young teen parents in 1964) in the past, I didn’t want to disrupt their lives, cause problems, etc.  Besides, I was not really anxious to open myself up to get rejected, again, from people that my adoptive mom told me didn’t want me.  But somehow, now I felt like it was time to open that door of my life, regardless of the outcome.  So with my husband and boys blessing, as well as love and support from 2 of my closest friends (who have always encouraged me to do this years ago), I started my journey…to find my former self.

My world was blown out of the water and will never be the same, in so many ways.  In a circumstance that I can only describe as God’s hand literally opening this door for me, I found them in about 15 minutes!  After the shock wore off and I stopped shaking, the subsequent months – and now years – have been full of love – and change – and acceptance – and rejection…nothing short of a Hallmark movie!  A great story for another day.

Image

Although I usually wear the silver heart that Jon gave to me every day, this was taken on St. Patrick’s Day, and well, I was wearin’ my green 🙂

For me, today is a deep reflection of the chain of miracles that God did for me; beginning with the tumors, which satan meant to destroy every part of me.  Apparently no one told the evil man that I am 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Sicilian = very stubborn.  In more ways than one, God dug deep inside my heart filling a hole that only He can fill.  Now, I am stronger than ever, not physically (as I was left with some disability because of the tumors and surgeries) but more importantly, emotionally and spiritually.  To tell God “Thank You” is nowhere near sufficient…so I choose to thank Him by striving to make my life count for His Purpose even more each of these “borrowed days” that He has graciously given to me – to enjoy and love my husband, sons and extended family – and to love and serve others as I have always done but now with a new stride.  And I wear my “badge of honor” scar with pride.  I like to show it off because it gives me an opportunity to tell people what God has done for me…and I love to brag on my Heavenly Father ❤

(The words to this song bring on a whole new meaning for me know…I LOVE it…enjoy!  .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K8-9mXjU8o  )

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