The Exchange

A week is a long time.
A week is no time at all.
Alot can happen in a week.

This time a week ago, I walked into a small private hospital and was admitted and prepped for surgery.

I woke up twisting in a cauldron of pain, scalding my insides like bright coals. I could hear Greg's voice and feel the unmistakable familiarity of his hands as he gripped mine. It was comforting but distracting to swing between the planets of agony and the soothing gravity of his love. I recall muttering about the pain, while squeezing his hand tighter, and gradually as they fiddled with the medications, the two worlds became less far apart and I was able to open my eyes a little at a time and see the outline of my husband as he bent at my side.

The days that passed were blurred with wincing. My arms blossomed bruises like poppy flowers from four drip sites. I was propped up on unforgiving pillows that slithered out of their slips like fat plastic tubes. The children came and sat with me each afternoon after school and after they had gone, I sank back into no-man's land and let the painkillers drag me off again. I tried to read, but each line bled away into nonsense and the book was so heavy I could not hold it off my stomach. I watched daytime television on a tiny, movable screen but the screeching motion of sound and colour tilted my brain until I felt like I was whirling on my bed. A large dressing covered my wound, which has healed well in a week, a closed lip reminder across my abdomen of what I have lost.
And of what I have gained.

In the dark arms of the nights, while pain and rest squabbled, my thoughts bubbled to the surface to grieve. Instead of crying about losing the ability to have more children, I was surprised to choke on an irrational lump of unattraction. While I marvelled at the small mindedness of this fear linking my beauty to my fertility, I gave myself permission to stare at the unfamiliar phenonmen none-the-less and allowed the tears to trickle down the pillows during this graveyard shift.
After a while, when my thoughts had experienced quite enough of the gloom parade, I felt to write.
Write? I questioned incredulously.
Write. The answer seemed firm.
I scrounged about in the drawer beside me for a notebook and pen. And in the dark, I KID YOU NOT, the pitch dark, I shut my eyes and began to take dictation.

And in that moment of such mental and physical turmoil, I knew triumph. It would have been a thousand times easier to ignore the prompt and lie frozen in my place of pain, and even in the blackest hours, I still had to choose. And in this profound unfolding, God gave me dignity.

I have no idea if the words I scribbled are legible or make sense. I just know this: that in the times we feel most challenged for identity, who we are now or where we are at, there are promises that we can choose to place forefront in our feelings.

In the space where I lost my womb, God says He knew me in my mother's.

And thus settled, I then chose that He said He would be my hiding place. And in the sorrow and physical ache, He was. I let Him be.
I asked God in the process of this operation, this hysterectomy,
that He would exchange my loss for something greater.
Leading up to the surgery, I felt complete joy and peace. Not even butterflies in my tummy while I suffered fits of giggles while tugging on compression stockings and buttoned the shoulders of my hospital gown.
He exchanged fear for peace before I even made it to the O.R.
He exchanged sorrow for identity in the hours that followed,
and pain for grace.
And He is still in the process of exchanging,
because that's His business.
Beauty for ashes.
The oil of joy for mourning.
A garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Will you choose to accept it, and place it higher than your own burden?
Will you take it, own it and make it your aligning purpose despite the circumstances that tell you otherwise?
Will you join me? I am doing this day by day, hour by hour.
Grace for this exchange only lasts for a day.
And then I tip again into trying to figure everything out.

Lovely to be back to blog-land my sweets.

Missed your stories and word-hugs.

Please excuse the photo quality, all taken on my iPhone.

Simoney  – (May 10, 2010 at 7:49 PM)  

Amy Amy Amy! I have thought of you so often and sent up prayers for you too.
It is wonderful to hear your words; I am so thankful you are finding Him/peace/grace in the midst of all this.

I love you heaps. And when you are up to visitors would love to come by with something little to bless you you with.

Sj  – (May 10, 2010 at 8:37 PM)  

Hello my precious one.
lovely and a privilege to hear of your time away, such insight to see again into your private world.
Praying rest and the ability to rest upon you, hoping your writing keeps coming as you have time.
Thanks for the challenge of the experience you've been through and for inviting us into your story. love u.

Sammy  – (May 10, 2010 at 9:36 PM)  

Beautiful thoughts Amy. Glad you are back, been praying for you xxx

Gail  – (May 10, 2010 at 9:41 PM)  

Ames I'm so glad to read this. I'm so thankful that God was there for you as you prepped... He is so good.
I hope you are being surrounded by washing fairies, school drop-off and pick up fairies and BATH CLEANING fairies. As soon as I am able, I will flick you a text!x

sarah  – (May 11, 2010 at 6:29 AM)  

(((hugs))) and many blessings to you.

Dawn  – (May 11, 2010 at 7:42 AM)  

Hi Amy - glad you are back in bloggy land and that you doing well. Thank you for this post - inspiring as always (and pretty impressive iphone pics). You should check out the hipstamatic app on the iphone for photos, it's pretty fun. Prayers for a continued and complete recovery. xx

Sailor and Co  – (May 11, 2010 at 1:21 PM)  

It's ridiculous the way you write. It takes my breath away EVERY time. I don't know how to explain it. There hasn't been a time in my life where anyones writings have affected me how yours do. It is such a beautiful thing. I can't even think of what to say. I can't really articulate my thoughts about it.

I suppose I am left without words. Again.

paige  – (May 11, 2010 at 11:09 PM)  

oh sweet friend, please know you are in my prayers.
& i'm so blessed through your words, yes he does give beauty for ashes
& he still does see every tear & he is with us always

praying you continue to heal

Penny –   – (May 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM)  

lovely Amy, all best for next few weeks and the creativity that always follows the pain.....

Felicity  – (May 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM)  

Such a beautiful piece of writing - I am moved to tears. Thanks for being so courageous to share your experience here. It has connected in a way I never expected, thank you.

Faith  – (June 2, 2010 at 12:47 AM)  

this is SO beautiful!! I can relate to this idea of writing and finding God speak to me in the action of it.I read about it in "eat pray love" and she experienced it too.
Your writing is really really beautiful.

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