Friday, January 25, 2019

Seeing Sunshine Through the Clouds


I am always so humbled at all the many people who tune in to these posts. Family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers! Whoever you are, thanks for joining! I have recently felt the need to clear things up a bit; I am not always as resilient as I look like I am here on the blog. I have moments (many) of my recovery that are dark, dreary and ugly.  Have you heard about how instagram can be everyone’s highlight reel? No one wants to see the sorrow, show me the fearlessness! There are so many things to be thankful for. (More on that later). But I do want to make it known that I don’t always feel courageous, strong and resilient.  And I say this because I want you to know that if you’re feeling weak too, it’s okay! God didn’t put us here to be unaffected by all the things we were going to experience. We were sent here to endure! Endure to the end. I’m not a scriptorian, but I am pretty sure the passage doesn’t state, “Endure with the happiest smile on our face.” Sometimes persisting can be white knuckling through the hard times. But, as someone who has done a fair share of white knuckling, I will tell you that having a positive outlook and perspective has healing properties on your condition.



When I awoke a few days after my huge emergency surgeries, my husband, Peyton, assured me repeatedly that there had been so many miracles that we had just been a part of. I sat in the hospital day after day in pain, depression and loneliness and he kept reminding me, “Cat, you are alive because of so many reasons. We should review them. Write them down!” Now, I am going to be fully honest with you, dear reader. Remember, I am here to give you honesty and not just fluff. At the time, I didn’t think anything was miraculous about my situation. There are times even today when I think to myself, why was I saved? Why did the Lord keep me around? What am I missing? These miracles help me remember the tender mercies, and it gives me hopefulness for the future.


            We moved to Florida only about 7 weeks before all of this happened. In that time I felt very strongly that I should deliver at a certain hospital. Many people at my church encouraged me to deliver at a prestigious baby hospital downtown. While we will never know for sure, if I were to have delivered there I would never have had my OBGYN who was instantly prompted to do a C-section. They wouldn’t have delivered Preston and continue to lift out my organs and look at my intestine to check for profusion. I want to make it clear that this is not a usual step in the process of a normal C-section. Had she not felt inspired, she would’ve gotten Preston out, and sewed me up, wasting precious time for my dying organ. She somehow knew to look at my intestine, and at that moment she saw that I had developed a hernia, which had strangulated my intestine, killing off the blood supply. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Also, if I‘d delivered at the baby factory I would’ve had to have been transferred to another hospital and separated from Preston in the NICU.

After my OBGYN learned of the dilemma, she immediately called a surgeon of the hospital that had recently seen a case like this before. This situation is so rare and many medical professionals have told me they had no idea this was even possible. What a miracle that this surgeon who I had never met before knew what to do in this emergency and was able to act quickly. Gastrointestinal problems are not even in his scope of specialty, but he was knowledgeable enough to perform not one, but 3 surgeries on me in order to piece me back together in order to survive. This surgeon still sees me almost monthly when I am hospitalized. He and his team have been a constant support and strength to me when I have had moments of weakness, puzzlement and frustration. I feel fortunate that I have him on my medical squad. We are pretty much on a text to chat basis and I think he appreciates my humor at this point so I’m thankful for that, also.


I mentioned that we had only moved here shortly beforehand. We moved here for my husband’s job with Disney. He is an Imagineer and is helping build a ride for the Epcot Park. His job brought us here, but the fact that we are on this side of the country is a huge blessing.  My original surgeon in Orlando (the one mentioned above) referred me to a specialist down in Miami. This surgeon is renowned for her work in trauma and specifically short bowel syndrome! What are the odds?! This condition is very uncommon but the fact that I am 4 short hours away from someone who helps people like me on a daily basis is mind-boggling. I make the drive down to her office monthly so she can adjust my medicine and tweak my diet. She was also the one who performed my big surgery last August. She is highly acclaimed and knows exactly what to do in order to heal my intestine and give me a diet so that I can recover more fully. I feel so lucky to be here and to be close to her!

We had met some great friends when we moved to Orlando. One of my new friends was coincidentally pregnant, also. She happened to be at the same hospital, and delivered her baby a few days early. They were scheduled to go home earlier, but time was moving slow in getting them discharged. I had been texting my friend and updating her on my status. When things made a turn for the worse and they needed to rush me to the operating room Peyton called David and asked him to quickly come to our room. Within minutes David and Peyton were administering a priesthood blessing to me with about 10 nurses and doctors in the room all bowing their heads in hopefulness and reverence. I had no clue as to what was going on, but in that moment I knew without a doubt that the Lord was aware of what was to come. We had chosen to deliver at an Adventist hospital and chaplains and nurses who reassured us they were praying for my recovery continually visited us. I have felt the Spirit strongly in this hospital, as I have been administered treatment where the Lord was recognized. In the hallway there is a large picture of Christ standing over a patient with a Doctor at His side. I love how they have included the gospel into their healing process.

            Only being here a few weeks before could’ve left us at a tough spot in terms of support. Peyton’s colleagues from work were great in offering meals and support. It was touching to see how quickly people rallied in assistance.  We are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and when people learned of my condition strangers were offering meals, babysitting, prayers and visits. It was humbling to witness people who I hadn’t met bringing my family food to the hospital, offering to have Samantha over to play and praying for us day and night. These Christ-like individuals have made me feel at ease in long moments of despair and hopelessness. I feel grateful that I am where I am every day.


            I have been hospitalized a lot lately and it has caused me to have a lot of negative feelings, self pity and depression. I have a very wise therapist and she recently encouraged me to look for the positive moments, no matter how big or small. She proceeded to help me realize that when we see things in a negative way it hinders our ability to be conductive. The more that I focus on the negative in any situation; it sends a signal to not progress. I am stalling my healing with my depression. How can I be happy when I am only focusing on the difficulties? I recently just talked to my surgeon and he said, “Catherine, I have only helped you a little, your resilience has done most of the work.” I thought to myself, YES! Continued optimism grows strength! As I look back, I definitely have noticed this in my own recovery. The times that I have been hospitalized but still optimistic, I healed a lot quicker. I remember when I couldn’t even get out of bed the day after my big surgery. I kept thinking, “no way. I can’t walk. I feel like death.” After physical therapy got me up and walking, my self-reflection evolved into “I can do this.” And if on cue, my body decided to recover.



            Being positive is not always the easy way. In fact, when you are in the trenches of the greatest storm of your life, just smiling may feel impossible. I admit, I am still not good at it. There are many days where I think staying in bed until 2pm sounds like an excellent idea. But I do know that you can train your brain to be more confident. Write in a gratitude journal; recognize a tender mercy (no matter how small!) Thank someone who was encouraging. When you find yourself complaining and wallowing in misery, take a moment to be kind to yourself and then try again. There’s nothing wrong from feeling the emotions of sadness, just don’t stay there for too long. The Lord wants us to be joyful, I’m sure of it. 

5 comments:

  1. This is all truly miraculous! And beautiful!!! I’m sorry for the parts that are hard, but I’m so glad that you are able to see the Lord’s hand in it.

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  3. What a testimony to God’s sovereignty and mercy. When we find salvation and forgiveness for our sins and trust in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to cleans us from all unrighteousness, we can find comfort in

    Romans 6:3-15 - “ Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

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  5. Love you Cat! You have a phenomenal way with words. Your strength encourages me! I hope you turn your blog into a book one day. I’m first buyer!

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