Although I have been taking care of babies and families for over 15 years when it was time to take care of myself I didn’t have a clue as to where to begin. As a neonatologist I get the pleasure of attending deliveries usually every day…I get to witness the miracle of birth every day…and sometimes that miracle comes with a few complications. The delivery of my own first child was associated with such a complication as I required an episiotomy or incision at the birth canal to safely deliver my daughter. This kind of incision can lead to problems years later with having normal bowel habits. I would say more but I think you get the picture!!. So flash forward 16 years and I find that in the prime of my medical career I have an unpleasant reminder of one of the most wonderful events of my life. On the one hand I have a beautiful daughter growing into a splendid young lady and on the other hand I am a forty two year old in diapers. Now for most people this kind of choice would be clear…daughter yes, diapers no but not for me the Great Physician or so I thought. I considered medical management…fiber yes, diapers unfortunately still yes. I tried avoiding eating, starvation yes, unfortunately diapers still yes.
Several people who knew way more about the condition than I recommended surgery, but the thought of surgery petrified me. The thought of being sick petrified me. And pain…please I had already committed to a variety of the newest brand of Depends underwear to avoid pain. A friend asked me quite simply did I think I was behaving like a rational person…I replied, “Why yes, of course, I thought I was.” The same friend asked me how could I be such a champion for babies, my family, and my friends and not for myself. When I shared that I would rather have a colostomy than have surgery…my friend said okay let me know how that works for you and your EGO. What a blow…but how true. I thought how many times I have shared with parents how brave they are watching their one and two pound miracles fight for life. How many conversations have I had with their little miracle babies as I cheer them through each breath on the ventilator, each heel stick for a blood draw, each dropped heart rate, and each disruption of the day. And just how have I been able to do that? I am able to do that because I keep my eyes on the end result and move through the process. I clearly, quietly realize and acknowledge that God is always in control…and I am simply a vessel. Finally I realized that yes, this was true for me also…He was in control…and if I focused on my end result and trusted him then I too could get through the process.
So now six weeks later as hard as it has been to say good-bye to Depends and the fear of unexpected accidents, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet God in a new way on this journey…and to participate in the Healing of myself. And believe me grateful has taken on an entirely new meaning….and so has potty break! I hope it does for you too. Whether you have surgery or not…you have a preemie or not…you have been a patient or not…we have soo much to be grateful for …let’s not take it for granted. I know I won’t!