Monday, September 10

A Little Surgery and a Lot of Faith

So, I had a little surgery on Friday. It was ambulatory surgery, which meant I got to go home about an hour or so after the doctor stitched me up. I had a lymph node on my neck swell to a noticeable size a few weeks ago, and when I was in for my annual liver check up last week, my ARNP thought it would be wise to have it looked at and biopsied by an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). A "biopsy" turned into an "excision" (by the way, before this week I never knew that word existed, and I hate it!) in which they removed the whole thing so there would be more for pathology to study.

The medical experts looking after me are taking precautionary measures because a lymph node sticking around without any recent obvious infection or sickness is concerning, especially in transplant patients, who can have a higher rate of developing lymphomas because of the years of suppressing the immune system with medication to prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted organ.

The surgery was fine, I didn't even go to sleep (my choice), I just got a little bit of relaxation juice and they numbed the area locally. There was an exciting moment in which my surgeon (ENT specialist) had to move my nerve connecting my neck to my back shoulder muscles out of the way to remove the lymph node. He'd brought up that scenario as a rare possibility/risk of the surgery during our consult, and it was interesting that I ended up being one of the few people having that interesting (and challenging, for him) quirk in my anatomy! He got my attention when that happened, reminded me what he'd said in the consultation, and then let me know within that same minute when he'd moved my nerve out of the way. Riveting, right?!
I enjoy being semi-involved in the medical procedures I go through; it's fun to be able to speak to the team and ask questions, and also answer questions, and learn about what they are doing. I suppose not everyone feels that way about surgery, however, so thank God for general anesthesia for those who want it :)

The surgery took less than an hour in the OR. They stitched me up and sent off the lymph node to the lab where they will test it not just for lymphomas but also bacteria and fungus. What an interesting job that guy has that came to pick it up - transporting specimens. I wonder if he knows what he is transporting each day??
Anyway, then I went to recovery, and after I took a little snooze I asked my nurse for ice water and got a little cup of it. (Not eating for twelve plus hours gets easier with time - not drinking ANYTHING, especially when nursing and being a thirsty person anyway, is no fun!) When Hubs finally got to come back to the recovery area, he brought me my treat of choice, and possibly my new favorite thing: Ginger Root Beer Zevia and a nurse filled my water bottle with ice and I got to sip on Zevia and eat a pear.

Here I am in recovery, feeling less groggy and ready for my beverage and snack:

We stopped at Chipotle on the way home, where Hubs picked up a steak bowl for me - gluten free with extra rice, no beans, no salsa (boo nightshades!) and of course no cheese or sour cream.
Once we got home, per the information given me by anesthesiologist and the nurse anesthetist, I fed Victory as soon as she was hungry. The meds they gave me for the surgery were not concerning or requiring me to pump and dump, and we never saw any effects in Victory to show they got through the breastmilk.

This whole string of events happened very quickly, starting with my liver appointment on Tuesday, seeing an ENT that afternoon, having a CT scan of my neck Thursday and the surgery by another ENT on Friday.
It was a bit surreal to experience it all, to be sent from one appointment to the next, and have that concerned look from doctors and the word "lymphoma" keep getting thrown around.
But I got my bearings and "put my big-girl panties on" as my pastor's wife would say, and realized I just have to do what I have to do. I'm definitely growing in my faith, because I haven't fallen apart into hysterics or a blubbering puddle once! (No shame in that of course, I've done plenty of that over the years!)  I have had a peace that surpasses my understanding this whole week, and I thank God for providing me with that. It's truly been a Philippians 4 peace. I love the way The Message describes it:

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

I have been speaking health and wholeness over my body and trusting that Jesus' work on the cross has already provided for my healing of anything that would try to take root in my body. It is more faith testing and more character building for me, and that is exciting in a way because I know that means God has greater purposes for me ahead.

Speaking the Word over my body and my life is not something I always knew about, and practicing it the past few years has changed my life. I highly recommend it for every day, but especially when you are sick or getting medical testing done or walking through a fire of another sort. Nothing happens to you that God doesn't know about, so trust Him and keep your confidence in His promises, and speak and repeat them over yourself. There is power and life in our words (Proverbs 18:21)!

  • By His wounds I am healed!  (Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24)
  • NO weapon formed against me or my body will prosper! (Isaiah 54:17)
  • God has good plans and a secure hope for me (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • I have a hope that is an anchor to my soul (Hebrews 6:19)
  • "But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings" (Malachi 4:2)
  • "For I WILL restore health to you, and your wounds I WILL heal!" (Jeremiah 30:17)

I am still sore around the incision, and OH SO itchy! I did not remember from my transplant so long ago that stitches itch like mad!!! My stitches have Steri-strips on top of them as well, so the corners of those poke the soft skin on my neck and it is just one irritating good time, haha! Thankfully the pain is better each day, I hardly had to ice my incision today. And I got the OK to shower tonight!
That reminds me, not being able to bathe for three days I ventured into the world of "dry shampoo" this weekend. I found a gem in the most affordable one out there: Suave Dry Shampoo Spray. I bought a can of it on Sunday morning before church and Hubs helped me spray it into my hair and I rubbed it in. It worked so well, my hair looked smooth and healthy but not too shiny, and it even made my natural color look prettier than usual. That was a great find.

The testing on my lymph node is expected to take until at least Wednesday to come back. It sounds weird to say but, in this context, we are obviously rooting for something like an infection to be the root cause here, because it's simple and treatable with antibiotics. We are praying and hoping for the best, and I am so grateful to say I'm not even playing the terrible "what if" game anymore.
I will update when we hear more.

I'll wrap up this post with this from Matthew 6. I have it written on my wall to read often:

"First, be concerned about your Father's kingdom and what has His approval. Then, all the things you need will be provided for you. So don't ever worry about tomorrow - after all, tomorrow will worry about itself."