Saturday, February 21, 2015

Just a Speck

This past Wednesday I didn’t get the chance to attend an Ash Wednesday service as we were traveling home from Arizona and upon our return I immediately found myself in bed by 3pm. What can I say, physically things have been a major struggle and that whole one-hour time change really had my internal clock messed up (when in doubt blame it on the menopause).

What I find beautiful about Ash Wednesday is that as you are marked with the dark cross in the middle of your forehead, normally it is said, “You have come from dust and to dust you will return.” It is a reminder of our humanness and of God’s sovereign power. He created us out of dust, we do in fact have an expiration date, and when that day arrives to dust we shall return. For some, that might be the scariest thing they have ever heard, but for myself, as a Christian, my mortality does not raise my blood pressure because I know that God sacrificed His son to pay the ultimate price for my sins and therefore we are given the freedom to be honest about our future. We know that this physical life here on Earth is only the beginning of our Eternity.

It is a day for us to recognize and observe our desperate need for our Savior. A time to reflect that we are so far from perfect and without His redemption and forgiveness we are nothing but a finite body. Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season as we expectantly await for the resurrection of our King, our Savior. It prepares our hearts for a season of not only repentance but also gratitude and awakens in our hearts the most important reminder of our reliance on Christ.

Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) prior to Easter where Christians prepare for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and Easter.  Often they(we) take part in either an act of fasting from something, spiritual disciplines, repentance, moderation, or just a simpler way of life all in hopes that while doing these things it will give them more time to reflect on the life of Jesus.

For several years now I’ve struggled at what people decide to “give up” for Lent. For a large percentage of the female population it is some sort of food item that deep down they hope will have helped them lose weight 40 days later. I don’t agree with giving anything up that awards you personal gains. It is supposed to be a sacrificial time.  In fact one year, on my old bog I decided instead of giving up anything, each day I would write about one of God’s promises in the bible. It was actually really great and I did it everyday up until I landed in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery- go figure. 

As I’ve been thinking about Lent this year and what it might look like for me I actually had the horrible thought of, “what more can I sacrifice right now?”  In fact, I thought about putting in place some dietary restriction because of the significant inexplicable weight gain I have suffered from surgery. However, then I become everything I hate and such a hypocrite.

But, as I sit here today and I write about ashes I can’t help but think how many people in the last couple of months have told me, “He is going to make Beauty from these ashes, your ashes” And while I may have given a half smile and slight head nod, my tear stained cheeks have yet to see beauty. In fact, I haven’t written a post in awhile because I don’t feel like things are getting better, I think things are maybe getting worse and I’m afraid to share that. To be real and tell you that my road is still windy, that I don’t see the straight away with that black and white checkered flag waiving me in. How long will people still care? How long will they still listen?

Back in college, my accountability partner and one time roommate and dearest friend, used to drive around in our Jeeps singing at the top of our lungs the Shane & Shane song “Beauty for Ashes.” And you know what we were singing for back then? Beauty for my ashes of sickness and despair. Fast forward 11 years later and if we lived in the same city, much less the same state, I think we would be doing the same thing.

As I mentioned earlier we just got back from Arizona and my heart is a mess. Being there with our community made my heart swell ten sizes. Seeing two of my closest friends from college and watching one of them get married was amazing. Seeing Nate’s family was worth every penny. I got to cry with our friends and just be. And I also had to see how every one of our friends had babies except the one couple who we stayed with. How they wanted to get our struggle but they couldn’t and when I asked a group of friends at a table what had been going on in their lives, my dear, sweet, and hilarious friend promptly answered, “well, I’ve pushed two kids out of my vagina…can anyone top that?” And granted it was funny, it was harsh and painful.  

But, I also had to spend over half the time in bed because I was in a frantic amount of pain. I also began bleeding again and while this may sound completely absurd to you there were days when I was embarrassed to be seen based off of the way I looked. I didn’t go to the doctor this week because I was travelling but as of the day before I left I had gained 21 pounds since surgery, that is without starting the hormones, and eating about one meal a day because my pain levels make me very nauseous and not hungry. For a recovering anorexic that is devastating, it is also devastating that all of my pants no longer fit and of course there is no budget for a new wardrobe. I’m actually terrified to see my new weight and to see what happens once beginning hormones but it is possible that it won’t be until a year post-op that I will be healed enough to begin that treatment. A year. That is how slow my body is healing, how hard and extensive the surgery was, and how much pain I am still experiencing. On top of that I am experiencing major back pain because that is another one of my many health problems. Insomnia is still sticking around even though I told her we weren’t meant to be best friends.

I actually had two almost breakable come unglued moments. Twice in this past week I was asked when we’d get our surrogate and use my frozen eggs. While I definitely kept my cool on the scene I went home, screamed into a pillow, and then sobbed. I know we all aren’t expected to know are medical jargon, but a surrogate? My eggs? Why would I be so upset if that was our plan? If I were to bend over and grab two fistfuls of ashes like it was sand and then let it run through my fingers and out of my hands, dropping to the ground I would just want one tiny speck to catch the light. To sparkle or not be black. Maybe it’s golden. I wouldn’t mind silver. I’m not sure but I need this Lenten season to be about finding at least one tiny speck of beauty in all of these ashes because for years I’ve been lying face down on a beach full of them.

In Isaiah 61:3 it says, “…I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope…” I know that I can’t put a time line on God and His plan for this story, my story, Nate’s story, our chapters. But, I want to use this season to remind the Lord that I am still here, faithful to Him.  And when He’s ready there are broken dreams, crushed hopes and deformed futures, heavy hearts, shattered spirits along with ailing bodies that are eager for beauty in the ashes.

For the next 40 days, I will remind myself of His love even though I am confused as to how it is displayed in my life. I will recognize my absolute need to have him in my life as my Savior, and I will fix my eyes on Him. The one who writes my story, chapter by chapter. And if by chance I’m paying close enough attention or it’s in His timing, perhaps I will see just a speck as a sift through the ashes.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Stumble With Me

I made a major mistake tonight. One I’m not proud of and one I’ll be sure to try and never make again. And while mistakes happen all the time, this one made me truly wish I could have started that conversation all over again.

As someone who has been a Young Life leader, who has trained Young Life leaders, who has worked with students, mentored students, loved on students, and in general tried my best to point them to Christ, I think a lot about what Paul wrote in the book of 1 Corinthians. In Chapter 11, verse 6, he said “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” A very short verse, but oh what a verse. Follow me, as I follow Christ. Essentially, what we as Young Life leaders or mentors of any sort are saying to any of our friends who are looking to our example as they begin their faith journey and sometimes even continue their long obedience in the same direction. However, for the leader, the mentor, the one who’s being followed or looked up upon it may seem like a lot of pressure. Follow me? No. Really. Please, don’t. I’m kind of a mess. And I make mistakes. And I’m not perfect by any means. Let me find someone better suited for you.

But, in my bible, that verse is underlined and in the margins I have this written: “Stumble after me as I stumble towards Christ.” Well, I don’t know about you but I can actually take a deep breath if I read it like that. Stumble with me. Know that I might take a nose dive or walk straight into a bee hive and that doesn’t mean to follow me into what ever disaster I happen to be stupid enough to get caught up in the middle of, but be aware, although my intentions are of the straight and narrow, I stumble, I stub my toes, and I sometimes even stop to look around like I think I’ve got a better way figured out- but I don’t. So brother, sister, come with me and we will stumble together on our journey towards Christ.

Tonight I sat down next to Nate on the couch, it seemed like I hadn’t seen him in a week. And while I have actually “seen” him- this week has been particularly rough for me physically and emotionally. I can’t be certain of why that is but the adverse effects of my menopause has been making my sleep an issue and my physical pain coupled with my emotional heartache was making it also hard to find actual rest. Anyways, we decided to watch a movie and about 10 minutes into the movie I paused it and asked him to come sit closer to me. I told him I couldn’t guarantee how long it would be until another hot flash would take over and I would want to flee from the room and spread out like an exasperated dog back from the longest run, on the hottest day, panting like I’d never had a sip of water. But I did know, in that moment I wanted him near. And I know that my poor husband yearns for physical touch, something he has been seriously deprived of since my surgery.

We pushed “play” and as the movie began again I quickly pushed paused. I knew something wasn’t right. I looked at Nate. With his face, just inches from mine, I asked him what was wrong. I couldn’t place if he was mad or upset. but I knew something was wrong. Exasperated he said, “you know, everything.” (Cue tears as I type this)

Me: “What do you mean?”
N: “I’m just so tired. This whole thing is just a vicious cycle. And I’m so sad we can’t have kids.  And we are just barely getting by… “

And on it went. I sat there silently, holding back my tears as my husband told me he was depressed. That since he’s met me he’s silently watched me suffer physically and now is the worst it’s ever been and it’s really taking a toll on him. He said no one understands like him because he’s knows me most intimately. He wanted me to know that he wasn’t okay, that he wasn’t over his sadness- that he still was yearning for kids of his own. That watching me in physical pain and suffering was hard for him. He actually said he was depressed. For the sake of our marriage and our privacy I will leave it at that. And as I sat there holding his hands, looking at him, my silence rattled him. Pressing me for words, hot tears rolled down my face and I said the last thing I ever wanted to say, “this isn’t good because I need you to be the stronger one.”

As our conversation evolved he said the “manly” things like of course the man is always the stronger one and I stopped to correct him because that isn’t what I had meant. You see in the midst of this horrible place Nate and I are in neither one of us is required to be stronger. Nor should one of us have to be. What I’ve realized and have vocalized to a few of my friends is that we are both in our own pits, in our own dark places and neither one of us knows how to climb out of our own misery, let alone save the other person. Normally, Nate keeps from falling too far down the rabbit hole and when I mistakenly said that I needed him to be the stronger one it was that I thought he needed me to keep him from falling too far.

But I immediately thought of 1 Corinthians 11:6 and I told Nate that I had this vision, this perfect picture of he and I. And we were on a battlefield, badly wounded. Almost wrapped up like zombies from how badly we’d been injured, but we had our arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders and together we were limping forward. And it may have been the slowest limp you ever did see but I was holding onto his wounds so he did not bleed out and he was nursing mine. And while neither one of us could have stood on our own, with our arms wrapped around each others shoulders and necks, we had enough balance to become one- just as God had designed us and we were stumbling after Him together. I honestly don’t know who reads this blog, and I know this entry is a long one but if perhaps you’re a couple that’s like us and you’re in a tragic place- maybe you’ve lost a child or a loved one, maybe one of you has been laid off or you just can’t make ends meet, or maybe you just have found yourselves so far from being that couple who first fell in love---no one has to be the stronger person. Find each other out on the battlefield and limp together, towards Christ.

 Nate and I wrapped up the movie and one of the final quotes of the movie I find quite fitting for my marriage and friendship with Nathan. It said, “You are my dearest friend, my deepest love, You are the very best of me.” For any of you that know my Nate, you know this to be true. He is the very best part of me.

As the movie ended, as Nate and I often do we decided to dance.  The first song was to a song called “Hold On,” and during the song Nate whispered that no matter how hard life gets we would always have each other and that choosing me to be his wife is still and will always be the best decision he has ever made. The first song faded into the second, a song my friend Marty introduced me to called “When a Heart Breaks,” and as we swayed, I began to weep. For the heartbreak before us, the mounds of pain we are enduring, and for the overwhelming love l have for this man, the very best of me, and the ability I have to acknowledge that he is God’s greatest gift to me and although I am broken, confused, and ruthlessly hurting I refuse to ever quit stumbling toward Him.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Is this thing on?

What kind of Christian would you say you are? If the word “perfect” is popping into your head we’d better talk. Unfortunately none of us are perfect but we do worship and follow a perfect God. But, when I think of the life I live as a Christian, I think about my feet. Odd, but true.

In the times of the New Testament, students or disciples were known to be attentive listeners if by the end of the day they were covered by the dust of their Rabbi’s feet. Biblical scholar Ray van der Laan noted that the first century Jews had a blessing that expressed the commitment of a disciple to stay in the presence of the one he followed, “May you always be covered by the dust of your rabbi.” That is, “May you follow him so closely that the dust his feet kicks up is what cakes your clothing and lines your face.” Taking it further, this is also how Jesus wants us to define our relationship with him. He invites us into such intimate relationships with him and we are intended to live so much in his presence that our feet, and hopefully our hearts and minds, will be covered by the dust of the Rabbi. (God is Closer Than You Think)

I didn’t get much sleep again last night and was up before 4am. I laid and bed and many thoughts kept running through my head. I’ve been really frustrated lately with how we, as Christians, view God’s blessings or how he answers prayer (see past post here). Most of our modern western society (I can not speak about other parts of the world as I am just not educated enough in those parts) would say God answers prayer when the things we have prayed about are provided. When we are blessed by something, have received an abundance, or quite literally have seen our prayers turn out the way we would have hoped-right before our very eyes, we commonly say that God has answered our prayers.
I know I have been guilty of it. But I’m currently trying to shift my vocabulary because I have prayed for many things in life that never ever ended up happening and when I look back it wasn’t God not answering those prayers, it was Him doing that exact thing. He was answering them, which allowed me to take a different road. And while it may have caused momentary sadness or sorrow, He answered even if it felt like silence.

Which brings me to now. Like I mentioned before, I try and get my feet dirty, real dusty. It’s probably why Woodleaf is my favorite place. One summer when I served as I lifeguard there my feet had a permanent orange suntan line from the red dirt that continued to stain my feet day after day as I was constantly outside doing work. I remember one day sitting and life guarding the blog, and I glanced down at my oranged feet dangling in the water, and I was proud. I was proud that I was working hard and not out of my own strength but of His and for Him. I was covered in the dust of the Rabbi. Great Red Dust.

I keep hearing this lately and it leaves me so discontent and frustrated. My friends who have had babies, from the ones who are going through or have gone through fertility treatments, even those on the brink of giving birth or who have just found out that they are pregnant(again) have all said, “there was much prayer involved in the process and that is evident because He answered.” I’ve heard that from at least half a dozen of my closest friends. A half dozen seems like a small number, so maybe more and all I can think to myself is "Am I praying wrong? What’s this secret prayer I don’t know about? I’m not upset that my friends have babies or are able to get fertility treatments but did I not learn the right prayer? I’m following Jesus closely and for over 15 years I’ve been praying about having a child. Especially when I first heard about my diagnosis, so that would be eleven solid years and was I just saying the wrong thing?

Yesterday, I found out another close friend of mine is pregnant. She was scared to tell me but I knew it was coming. I believe God had already clued me into it. She too said there was lots of prayer surrounding it and it happened quickly.

Am I not Christian enough, not dusty enough? Is my microphone not turned on?  It leaves me with little to do but to cry myself to sleep because I realize there will be many more babies and yet not one of them will have come from me.

I read a passage the other day in a book I’m reading and it said this, “But I have to remember that the core of God’s plan is to rescue me from sin, even up to my dying breath. My pain and discomfort are not his ultimate focus. He cares about these things, but they are merely symptoms of the real problem. God cares most, not about making my life happy, healthy, and free of trouble, but about teaching me to hate my transgressions and to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.” It went on to say that this life, this story that I am living is not God’s Plan B for my life, it’s his Plan A. At that point I had angry tears and almost chucked the book across the room.This is my Plan A? The pain, the professional failure, the inability to be a mother, the overwhelming physical obstacles, the crippling anxiety, and this shadow of depression.? Wow. Really Wow.

 I think that means that the prayers my friends pray(ed) for babies and families would have never worked here. Why? Becasue this was always His Plan As for me. I don't get why He chose me, why I'm one of the lucky ones, But here I am Lord. Use me.

One thing it also means is that I still have to get dusty. Over and over again. And unfortunately, it means there will still be days and nights where all I’ll be able to muster are tears. Silent ones, heavy sobs, the kind that make you feel like you can't catch your breath, and the ones that give you a pounding headache. But blotchy face and all, I’ve heard tears can be prayers too so if you ever need a good lesson on that, you know where to find me. 

Prayer Requests: Applied for two Remote Jobs that word allow me to work from Home for my Health's sake (if any one is connected to anyone at The Everygirl please let me know! and of course Please keep praying and supporting us if you can. This road is much longer than we anticipated, with lots of out of network costs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

No Regrets?

Before I go any further, let me make one thing straight. I want things to get better. I really do. Nothing is harder for me than to look people in the eyes and either a) tell them I’m doing much better, a.k.a. lie straight to their face so we both feel a little more comfortable or b) tell them I’m still tragically hurting because most times they want to fix it. And while I’m not asking for them to fix it, I am ashamed that I’m still in this horrid place of both horrendous physical and emotional pain. With that being said, I will continue…

I feel as the weeks have carried on I’ve gotten a bit stronger, like I previously mentioned. I am playing my well-rehearsed part of “Chronically- Ill Katie.” I know when’s appropriate to smile and that short, vague, and yet positive upbeat answers are best. I can laugh if it’s called for in a social setting and then when I go home I can unravel once again. This time around it’s a lot harder than it’s been in the past. It takes much more energy, more focus and determination than ever before. Hence, if I could, I would opt to always stay at home. In fact, more times than not I am the ultimate homebody.

I know that in the stages of grief there is not one for “regret” but right now I’ve really been struggling with if I made the right choice. The last few days could have very well been my hardest ones emotionally. I’ve told you before that I feel very panicked and overwhelmed when my head and heart connect on the fact that my surgery, its outcomes and ultimate conclusions are permanent. When I am in public, or even watching a movie or television, when I see a mother with her child or a pregnant woman, I have this ultra zapping feeling. Like I can see the fired arrow, targeted straight at me and as my heartache increases and my mind begins to swirl, I realize that will never be me. And each time hot tears spill down my cheeks.

Well, this week was a little worse than just that. If you’ve ever been in an unfortunate circumstance or perhaps even interested in a specific hobby it comes with the perks of meeting new friends, of gaining a new family. For example, bikers always take time to be with other bikers. Wine aficionados gather together for tastings, and those with infertility issues find each other because no one else understands us like someone whose been in our shoes. I found out all three of these celebratory instances on Thursday and while they left me sincerely happy for my friends, they left me broken and angry for myself. I found out that one of my dear friends, and my first infertile friend raised over half the amount she needs to do IVF. She doesn’t even need to raise the full amount based on her financial status so when I heard the news I knew IVF was just around the corner. Another acquaintance/friend gave birth to boy and girl twins after doing one round of IVF. After looking at several of her pictures I rejoiced with her and her husband and their sweet 4-year-old son. How wonderfully God has blessed them. Finally, a friend who I went to grad school with received in the mail all of her IVF meds and I believe starts the process today. Granted, it’s probably true that all of their stories don’t involve as complex a medical background as mine but as I was sending my genuine joy to them, I was simultaneously  weeping in a sorrow I never wanted to experience.
There was a time when I wanted to raise money so I could try IVF, so I could exhaust all possibilities and know in my heart that it truly wasn’t possible, or then again perhaps it was and today I’d have a baby. However, I could never bring myself to do it, to ask people for that. Yet, here I am now, in between a rock and hard place, asking for help financially for medical expenses, and my friend has raised more and hers may end with a family, a precious baby to swaddle in her arms. Please don’t read into that thinking I am not appreciative of all the financial help we have received because that is not the case at all. We would not be able to manage without.
My friend with her brand new set of twins. She said in a blog about her story of IVF, that she noticed little coincidences happening throughout her IVF cycle that made her feel like God was affirming her decision of moving forward with IVF. This girl, she is the sweetest person alive, but she not only had one child, God gave her two more? I can’t help but wonder- Did he forget about me? 
Finally, there’s my friend from graduate school. She’s nervous as can be to start IVF but she’s going to do it and she doesn’t care how much it costs. I can’t help but think, we have the same education, the same background. If I hadn’t been sick all these years and been hired right out of grad school like a healthy, normal human being, would I be standing in her shoes?Regret.

At one of my doctor’s appointments this last week I was talking to my doctor about my unexplained weight gain. It is really getting to me because it doesn’t make any sense because I haven’t started my hormone replacement therapy. I know something is not right because my appetite just isn’t there either so it’s like I’m gaining out of thin air. Without an answer to what was really happening his response was, “Well you decided to have this surgery, and sometimes this just happens. It’s something you’re going to have to learn to live with.” I wanted to burst into tears. I decided? Well maybe he can decide to buy me all new pants. Regret.

Doctors have been baiting me to have a hysterectomy since I was 19 years old. Telling me that my body was so diseased and the more time that went on, the worse things would get. They never told me until a year and a half ago that I would not be able to have children on my own accord. I regret not knowing the whole extent of my problematic and complicated medical surgery sooner. If they had told me at 19 this was going to be an issue, I would have frozen my eggs then and not have waited until it was too late and my egg supply was almost completely nonexistent. Regret, Regret, Regret.

Being in pain, and I mean exasperating pain day in and day out and so much so at night that it disturbs your sleep will suck the life out of you. Combined with other painful chronic illnesses, having tried to get pregnant for 4.5 years trying everything under the sun other than IVF, incessant bleeding all throughout my cycle and having had over 16 surgeries on just that one centralized area of my body is what led the many doctors and specialists I saw to recommend a hysterectomy. All other treatment options had been exhausted to cure me of this disease and none had been successful so this was literally my last hope. It took me years to come to the decision of having a hysterectomy and in many ways it was no longer a choice that was in my hands. I had a major mass that needed to be removed because it was causing great pain and my surgeon was not keen on doing yet another operation that would allow my body to form even more scar tissue and adhesions.
The day of my prost-op appointment, one week after my surgery, I went to my doctor’s office with my mom and Nate. We talked about the surgery and the great deal of pain I was in. He looked at my incisions and then I looked up at him and with the biggest lump in my throat and fast tears pouring down my cheeks I asked him, “did I make the right decision?” and he told me, “Katie, it was a mess in there. Had I gone in to clean things up and to try and give you some margins so you could at least try and get pregnant it would have never worked. Your body was covered by disease. There was so much that was unsalvageable. Yes, this was the right time.” As much as his words stung and they didn’t stop my tears, I knew that I had been irreparable. It was like I’d been through a fire and when that happens you don’t save the charred black couch, trying to scratch off pieces of the black hardened ash, instead you get rid of it completely.

Yet today I still feel regret and maybe it’s not regret entirely about the surgery although I know part of it is because since Day 1, I had told Nate I wanted to try IVF before a hysterectomy so I knew I had tried everything and could rest easy with my own thoughts. I regret the fact  that I am jealous of every mom I see and every dad I see who has a child, by way of birth or adoption. I regret that I’m envious of pregnant mamas and how I will never experience that (heavy sobs). I regret that this is my story and it’s the one God wrote for me which makes me regret even saying that. I want to take comfort in this place, to somehow find joy in these circumstances, and instead of regret, relief.

I’m genuinely joyful for my three friends I mentioned above. I cried upon hearing all of their exciting news. Empathetic tears of joy and tears of my heavy grief when I couldn’t help but wonder if it could have been me. However, I know focusing on regret will get me nowhere and it will certainly suppress me from moving forward.
Philippians 3: 13 states it perfectly, “12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

 Right now, I’m not sure if Nate and I will ever have a family. We are still taking odd jobs and trying to raise enough money to pay off our medical debt. Adoption is expensive. When Nate and I first started talking about the future together we discussed having children together and also adopting. In my mind, I always thought the children we adopted would just “show up.” Like a friend of a friend’s uncle would have a babysitter that wanted to give her baby up for adoption and instead of going through an agency we would adopt the baby. You catch my drift? Right now it’s even hard to imagine adopting, loving an adopted child, affording to “buy” an adopted child and that's coming from one of the biggest proponents of adoption because adoptions has given me two of my most favorite people (i.e. my brother Ryan and my nephew Jax).

Not too long ago we were approached about a roundabout situation, one that we could perhaps actually afford, but as of right now it could be slipping through the cracks and we are not sure whether to fight or not. Right now I feel like I don’t have the strength to do that because throughout this entire process I never let my heart get involved but at the same time I wonder is this your will God? Please pray for this if you can. But at this time we aren’t ready to give any more specifics than this.

 To be honest I was quite nervous to ask for help in any way shape or form during this crucial time in our life because we’ve never done that before. I’ve rarely let anyone into the world of my illnesses. But, it is because of this community that we have even come this far. I knew God was asking me to be brave and open and He has blessed me by obeying Him.  That is probably my biggest non-regret ever. I will say though, if at the 6 month mark if I am still in tremendous pain, per the doctor, that will mean the surgery did not work to help the painful part of my disease and that the microscopic endometriosis is still in there, as are additional adhesions. If it comes to that, I will be heavy laden and full of regret. But for now, we will rejoice with my infertile sisters, one who is officially out of the club and the other two who are embarking on a very hard, but worthwhile journey, may God be with them every step of the way.