Woven Blessings
Spring 2007

by Sheri L. VanDuyn


See! I will not forget you…  I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” ~Isaiah 49:15

This verse was so important to me as I had a decision that had to be prayerfully made as my husband, Ralph and I headed over Lake Michigan on a coal ship last 4th of July. Our trip to Door County, Wisconsin was a neat getaway, but one that carried a huge decision about my health. Should I have surgery that my new doctor had explained or continue with more hormones and the possibilities of more complications?

Neither seemed to be a great option for me. While we traveled our talks would include this topic only briefly which I would quickly table. Finally, I told my Ralph –“Enough! I will give you a decision on our return trip. Let’s just enjoy.”

Well, the few days flew. Loading back on the ship, I decided to go ahead with the surgery. Ralph nodded and said-“Let’s get this going! That night we saw fireworks, but the next morning I phoned my Doctor’s office. The receptionist said Doctor had a feeling that I would be calling and already added me to her surgery schedule at the end of July. I was to come in for more paper work and pre-op testing for a total abdominal hysterectomy with the removal of my uterus and ovaries to eliminate my high risk of ovarian cancer now or later.

The date came quickly, since the Doctor’s surgery slot was Monday mornings, I was scheduled between her 2 other procedures that day. Ralph took me to the hospital for prep at 8:30. No breakfast and off my pills for a week-my legs ached from arthritis, but I was ready. Prayers had been said at home and a nurse came into my room to start the IV, put on my support hose and air pump on my legs to prevent blood clots following surgery. I started to look like I was from outer space! Our Parrish nurse from church appeared with great words of encouragement. After all I knew surgery was scheduled, everything was done at home; so we prayed together and she gave me this card with the above verse on it.

I said my goodbyes to her; kissed my husband being wheeled to the operating room which was freezing. A nurse gave me an extra blanket after I was moved over to the “Table”. I remember glancing at the clock and counting… the next thing I remember was a nurse hitting my hand and trying to wake me up. She asked my name and why I was there. I tried to answer, but asked, “Was surgery over?” as I looked at the clock thinking this went really fast. Then the nurse responded-“You failed surgery!”  “What?” Everyone was leaving the room, but I came for surgery; I did not understand. I was wheeled back to my room and everything was coming off from me. I saw my husband and I started to cry-what had gone wrong? This could not be happening to me!

Another nurse came in to tell me that the tube used to intubate me for surgery would not go down and after hour trying, surgery was scrubbed. My throat would be very sore; sherbet was brought to me along with breakfast. After 2 hours of coming out of the anesthetic, I walked out of the hospital. I joked with Ralph- I was the 1st woman to have a “Hysterectomy” and walk out within hours! Well, I went home, slept all afternoon while Ralph called family about the demise of the day.

So, what next? Back to my Doctor after seeing my Primary one who prescribed Blood Pressure Medication. Then I had to show proof of this before surgery would be rescheduled. The receptionist and nurses all felt so bad for me. My Dr. walked by the window and said-it was not “pretty” in surgery and explained my BP was dangerously elevated and needed to be under control. Also, I would have to be awake in the next surgery and swallow the tube. So now what about the date for the new surgery? I could not be rescheduled for 2 more weeks waiting for my meds to lower my BP. Well, let’s say I wasn’t happy about this delay. I had everything lined up and my time table as a teacher was super. I would be totally recovered and back to school on time. Not with this delay-so, next I called my Principal and told him that I would not be able to start school for the 1st 2 weeks!

I was able to relax getting more projects done around the house, weave, and work on the magazine. Also medically I went for blood work, a colonoscopy, along with having several moles and sun damage removed. All tests come back great with no polyps or skin cancer; but I had over 30 stitches prior to going back for surgery.

Finally surgery day was here again. Somehow everything was strangely familiar. Now I had to arrive at 6:30 Monday morning. Of course, nothing to eat since the day before. The nurse had a time inserting my IV and I hoped that this would not be a sign of things to come. The anesthetist came to talk to me and the nurse who drew my blood on Saturday came to draw more vials. She said, “Remember, I promised to pray for you on your surgery day?” Then my Parrish nurse arrived with a Rubbermaid container. Inside was the most beautiful knitted prayer shawl from a lady in my church. Wow! I could hardly believe this-for me! This gal knit a soft, warm wrap to place around me so I would know that my congregation’s love would surround me while in the hospital. I could bring this into surgery with me, but being so beautiful, I did not want it damaged. Ralph said this would be waiting in my room.

Off I went again saying goodbye to Ralph who wanted the nurse to tell him right away if I was a “go.” I remember counting, relaxing while swallowing the tube and I was out for the count. A nurse was now waking me up again asking my name. All I wanted to know was if the surgery was a success. Yes, it was! I remember seeing a former high school student in recovery and thinking was I dreaming. I was so groggy, but was wheeled to my room by a nurse and this student; Ralph was waiting patiently and immediately wrapped this prayer shawl around me as I was transferred to my bed. Both were amazed at the thoughtfulness of this special blanket-what a neat testimony!

I had a pump for medication and since I have a high tolerance for pain and I was so tired; I barely used it. I slept all afternoon being awakened by the growls of my stomach. I ordered a Popsicle-orange was the flavor of the day and tasted great going down. I was now queasy and never knew that you could upchuck so much from 1 Popsicle. I was exhausted and slept again. My son, Brian came to visit- I said thanks for coming, but I needed to rest. Later the nurse wanted me to try crackers. For some people sweet is good, for others salty is good to calm the tummy after the anesthetic. With pills, crackers and soup, I was feeling better. The next task was to walk with the nurse and Ralph. I knew this was mandatory, so up I sat, then dangled my legs and then stood. Off to the races at a very slow pace around the corridor. Back to bed, I was ready for dreamland. But as the stories go, hospitals are no place to rest. Every hour nurses were waking me up to check BP, stats, or temperature. I think my longest stretch was 2 hours. I was surprised most by my own Doctor at 6:30 checking on my stats. Off came the catheter, later the air pump from my legs and then the pain meds. She checked my incision and encouraged me to walk at least 4 times during the day with help. I ordered breakfast and was determined to make my way home which after a few visitors came after another night’s stay at the “Spa.”

Home was great, I set up my recovery bed on the living room couch-since my bedroom is upstairs and steps are a “no” following this surgery. These are things I learned~Sleep is wonderful after surgery. You can sleep 10 hours at night and still take a 3 hour afternoon nap.

~Walking is a chore, but necessary to gain strength.
~Dinners brought in by family and friends are really appreciated.
~ I loved every piece of mail; read my cards daily-very encouraging.
~ I loved sleeping in the living room and being in my house since I was grounded for the 1st weeks following surgery.
~Visitors and calls on the phone mean a lot when you are laid up.
~Wearing loungewear each day is very comfortable; not having to really get dressed is also very relaxing.
~My husband loves and appreciates me more!
~My son hoped that I would recover in a few days and appreciates me more! He was ready to have me back as a “Mom.”
~I really enjoy sitting and reading.
~Doing simple projects is very rewarding.
~Life is precious; appreciate each day and every minute!
~Devotions each day start the day out right! God is so faithful!

~Waiting for test results were anxious days, but-NO CANCER! were great words to hear!

       …..See! I will not forget you…    I have carved you in the palm of my hand.”

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~~Woven Blessings~~Sheri L. Van Duyn
Read the 1st part of this story in the Winter 2006 Issue or by going to my Website

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