"A certain woman, who had an issue of blood... when she heard of Jesus pushed her way through the crowd, came up behind him and touched his clothing. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." --Mark 5:25, 27-28
It's Just Menopause! (isn't it??)
In the Spring 2010, shortly after our trip to Utah, I began to have symptoms that I thought were probably menopause. I had a friend who had described her menopause experience and I seemed to be going through the same thing. So I didn't worry about it. But there were a couple of people at work who noticed something was definitely different with me and that the problem persisted week after week after week. They each sought me out privately and urged me to see a doctor. I gave my standard glib response, "I'd rather die than see a doctor." And I meant it! I've had a couple doctor visits in the past 10 or so years and they always focused on how FAT I am rather than the problem which urged me to come see them in the first place. One went for the whole guilt trip and another tried to shame me. Both were very negative and non-effective in getting me to lose weight. They both depressed me and guess who I turn to when I'm depressed??? You know it!!! My best friends in the whole wide world! Chocolate and Pizza! My dear friends are always ready and waiting to bring me comfort and joy!
Time went on...weeks even...and the problem persisted. I began to be a bit concerned. I still felt this was menopause but I didn't know how long I could keep this up and survive. I began to focus on the New Testament story of the woman with the issue of blood. On multiple occasions, when I was alone, I would envision the Savior standing there in the room with me. I would then earnestly reach out with my hand to grasp onto the His clothing hoping that would remove the problem. Of course, it didn't. Though, I have to say I felt very close to the Lord during those times.
One day, about 6 or 7 weeks into this thing, when I was heading upstairs, I had to sit down and take a rest half way up. By the time I got to the top, I had to take a nap. It was then that I felt strongly impressed to Google my symptoms. Well, I about freaked out when I found out these were most assuredly NOT caused by menopause. The articles I read all suggested getting to an emergency room immediately. I had no intention of doing that. The thing was that my husband Jack is a union carpenter. We have great medical benefits when he's working, but when he's on lay off status, we have none. Jack had only recently become employed again and our benefits hadn't kicked in yet. There was no way and no how I was going to an emergency room! But I did feel impressed to check out the yellow pages for a doctor. It probably won't surprise you one bit to read that I didn't have a doctor I trusted. There was no one to turn to. So I opened the yellow pages and hoped something would pop out at me.
POP OUT it did! There was one Women's Wellness Clinic that seemed to have lights dancing around their ad. When I called and told the very nice receptionist my problem she told me to go to an ER. Nope. Not doing that. She then said they didn't have any openings for 10 days. She gave me 2 other clinics to call in hopes that I could be seen sooner. I called these clinics and got super rude receptionists who told me they were all booked for a month out or more. So I called back the "nice lady" from the glowing ad and made an appointment. I had already called Jack and found out that his insurance would kick in a couple of days before the appointment. YAY!
I saw this doctor on a Friday. She was a no nonsense kind of woman. Right from the get go I told her I had no intention of sitting there and having her tell me how FAT I am and how I need to go on a diet. I told her how I mistrusted doctors and have had very bad experiences with them. I wanted the bleeding to stop and I wanted her to focus on that alone. She looked at me a bit surprised and then said she'd find out what the problem was.
I was poked and prodded. Sliced and diced. At the end of a very thorough exam, the doctor told me that she was testing for cancer along with a number of other possible ailments including diabetes. She told me she had a suspicion that I might be a full blown insulin dependent diabetic by now and if that was the case, she would need to refer me to another doctor who specializes in diabetes. She then told me that she would first address the bleeding and after that she would talk to me about my weight and what steps I needed to take to get it under control. I felt that was fair.
I did leave her office in tears. That cancer word scared me to death. My mother's respite provider was going through that and I had seen it's effects on a daily basis while I was still caring for my mother. I called a good friend and cried to her. Instead of getting the comfort I had sought, I was told to stop crying and get over myself. I was told that my doctor wouldn't be doing her job if she hadn't checked for cancer. I actually needed that. I felt the longer it took the doctor to call me back, the less serious the problem. I was thrilled when I got no call on Monday.
First thing Tuesday morning my doctor called. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Fine." I said.
"Really?" she asked
"Yes." I said.
"You don't feel dizzy, light headed or short of breath?"
OH MY GOSH! I felt all of those things!!!! I was particularly annoyed that I would be holding something in my hand only to find it on the floor. I know I never let go of it! "Yes!" I exclaimed, "I've been feeling all of the above!"
"Well," she began, "this is because you're running around with only half the amount of blood in your body."
I didn't realize a person could run around with only half of their blood. She wanted me in right away for a blood transfusion. OH NO! No way! I wasn't going to do that. "Is there something else I can do to build up my blood supply?" My doctor told me I could eat lots of red meat, spinach and take iron supplements. So I ran to the grocery store and stocked up on all these items. I mean, how long could this possibly take? A day or two??? Man! I'm dumb sometimes! It was probably the lack of blood or something like that. And by the way, I was still just PRE-diabetic. YAY!
By noon that day, my problematic symptoms had actually increased. I called Jack all scared. He insisted I call the doctor immediately and get scheduled for that transfusion. I was in the hospital within a few hours. They insisted my husband drive me because I should NOT be driving myself. I should point out that through out this whole process I continued to work. I really don't know how I did it and the doctor was horrified to hear I was driving myself every where! "You could have passed out behind the wheel!" She blurted out at me. Calm down. Obviously I hadn't. That never occurred to me. I guess my Guardian Angel was totally on the job looking out for me.
Do you remember the drama TV show, Dallas? They're bringing it back...JR Ewing and all! I saw it on an ad this weekend during the pre-show for a movie. The thing I remember most about Dallas is their end of season cliff hangers. Remember those? Well...I'm afraid I'm going to leave you hanging on here for another day. I want to do this story justice. I have some photos to gather...YES! Of course I have pictures!
So I promise I'll gather photos and my thoughts and get back in here to finish up very soon. But before I go I'll leave you with a special gift I received at that moment in this story. Before heading to the hospital for my blood transfusion, I called my oldest son, Andy. At this time he was a Marine, married and living in North Carolina. I wanted all my boys praying for me. DUH! I even called my son, Tim's mission office and asked that he be called and pray for me. I was scared. The gift came just by the tone of Andy's voice. He a tease and he's tough. He doesn't let his tender emotions show very often but I knew when I got off the phone with my Marine that he still needed me. (Okay, I'm crying here as I type this...just so you know...its hard to type with tears in my eyes). But I honestly hadn't realized that even though they grow up, move away, learn how to kill the enemy with their bear hands--yeah...he's a MARINE, get married and have another woman who is vastly more important than their mother in their life...they still need their mother. And as I mentioned in part 1, its not just a need but its really a WANT. Its become a need by choice. Before the end of that day I was told by 3 of my 4 boys that they need and want me around for a very long time. My missionary wrote that to me in his next letter. They might not need me to raise them any more but there are other ways to be needed. It was a light bulb moment for me and it hit me hard. It all started when I heard Andy's concern in his voice. I knew I had no business ever thinking my life was no longer worth fighting for. From that moment on I knew I would do what ever I had to so that I didn't depart like my dad.
We each have a purpose for being here. There is always another we can uplift and love. There is a reason for each of us to live long and healthy lives. And I'm here to tell you that a wonderful life really CAN start at 51!