February 25, 2016: The day after my emergency ureteric stent surgery, I flew out to Singapore for an SFC International Conference. That was quite a painful experience. I remember sitting in the crowd of thousands crying and asking God why He gave me the desire to go to this event while suffering from the pain that I was in (I eventually realised why, which you can read about here.) Although it was over a year ago, I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of reassurance I received when the final worship leader shared about some of the physical pain he had been experiencing too. It was as if God used this man to speak to me, amongst the thousands, as he shared, “Pain is from God too. There is no pain He’ll give you that you cannot handle.” How loving is our God? He is so intentional.
As I said in my previous blog post, I had a ureteric stent sitting inside me for 3 months after that. The reason why it was in the for 3 months and not shorter was because I couldn’t afford the surgery to get the kidney stone lasered out. So I went on the public hospital waitlist to get it removed for free. I’ll be forever thankful for living in this country because I ended up having 3 free surgeries within 8 months, which would have ended up costing the same as a brand new medium sized car. Yeaaaahh #strayamate!
These next few months were the most painful months. There were days when I couldn’t even get out of bed due to the pain from the kidney stone and the stent. I was rushed to the hospital a couple of times because of this pain. There were days when I couldn’t handle it mentally. Especially because I wasn’t able to exercise or play basketball. The pain rendered me physically unable to play any sports. Plus the cause of my kidney stones, which was my body producing too much calcium due to hyperparathyroidism (I’ll talk about this a bit more later), meant that I could go into cardiac failure at any given time if my heart rate was elevated. What a bummer, right? But the thought of WYD and Europe is what kept me going. I knew that God was moulding me and changing me in my suffering and pain. I knew that He was preparing me for something tougher and better. I just knew. I believed. I had to.
June 7, 2016: After months of waiting uncomfortably, countless hours of sick leave, more assessment extension applications that I ever asked for in my 12 semesters of tertiary education, this was the day I was finally getting my kidney stone removed. While in the anaesthetic room, I repeated my prayer – “My body, my mind, my life, is Yours.” I woke up a few hours later expecting to be relieved from my pain but I wasn’t. They had inserted another stent in after they removed the kidney stone to ensure that I had a proper urine flow because of the inflammation in my ureter caused by the surgery. I had to remove the stent myself after 7 days post surgery, which was one of the most daunting things I have ever had to do. I won’t go into full detail because it’s actually not a pleasant thing to imagine but I took it out and I seriously felt like a new person!
“To the suffering brother or sister Christ discloses and gradually reveals the horizons of the Kingdom of God: the horizons of a world converted to the Creator, of a world free from sin, a world being built on the saving power of love. And slowly but effectively, Christ leads into this world, into this Kingdom of the Father, suffering man, in a certain sense through the very heart of his suffering. For suffering cannot be transformed and changed by a grace from outside, but from within.” (Salvifici Doloris, §26)
July 20, 2016: The day I had been waiting and praying for. Everything that I went through, all the late nights, the breakdowns, the over time, the hospital visits, doctor check ups, the cup of noodles/can of tuna meals, the pain, the suffering – it all led to this day. I had this crazy notion that everything I had endured was preparing me for what was to come on the other side of the world. And boy, was I right. World Youth Day 2016 in Poland was an experience I can barely write down in words (hence no blog post about it yet, lol). I’m pretty sure I felt every aspect of emotion humanly possible. The days were long and tiring averaging in at least 12, 000 steps a day. And I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
July 31, 2016: It was the final day of WYD, I could still feel the hot sun burning my skin as I journeyed back to the our accommodation with a friend I only met a few months ago during WYD preparations, Tracey. I remember saying to her, “Our God is so crazy. I almost didn’t come to this. I almost didn’t experience this. But He made it happen.” I proceeded to tell her about the journey I was on leading up to WYD (the one I’m telling now), and shared to her how generous and loving our God is.
The next few weeks after that, I was blessed with another experience of a life time. I was able to travel through three beautiful European countries with 7 of my good mates, an opportunity that is so rare. Hopefully I can blog about this one day but honestly, I’m still trying to process it. I have, however, shared a few bits and pieces here and there. Within that month of travelling I was still at risk of cardiac failure due to my hypercalcemia. I was still due for another surgery. But I thank God every day for allowing me the graces and strength to get through our Europe trip.
October 26, 2016: It was the day of my third (free) and final surgery. It was also the first day of my road to recovery. I had one of my parathyroids removed – the one that was producing too much calcium which was causing my kidney stones. Before I entered the surgery room, I remember whispering for the last time – “My body, my mind, my life, is Yours.”
It’s been almost 8 months since that day and I’m grateful to say that I’m recovering well. Although it was difficult journey, If you were to ask me what I would do had I been given the chance to skip it all, I would say heeeecck no. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I didn’t go through that whole ordeal.
If life has thrown you in the deep end and you’re left to sink or swim, if work has you busy working in the trenches, if your body has left you fighting to survive – as hard as it may seem, take comfort in knowing that what you’re going through right now is changing you for the better. Embrace the pain because it’s part of your growth. And then offer it up.
One of my favourite bands, Paramore, couldn’t have said it any better..
“And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to.
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore.
And the blood of these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has.
And that’s the hope I have, the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive.”
Thanks for reading, – M.