Below is another part of My AVM Story: the recounting of the discovery, removal, rehabilitation, and survival of an arteriovenus malformation. To read from the beginning of the story, click here.
We are never along in our suffering, and if our eyes are open, we can minister to others even while in the midst of our own pain. Let me share a little side story, that shows my first opportunity to encourage someone else through my AVM story…even before I left the ICU!
On the night of my second hemorrhage, I had to wait for pain medication to be approved by my doctor before the nurses could give it to me. It took several hours because my doctor was in an emergency surgery with another AVM patient, I now know her name is Brenna.
My mom and dad had a many hours of sitting and waiting with Brenna’s parents and grandmother in the waiting room. They were able to swap stories, compare medications and procedures (little else occupies your thoughts during these times!), and comfort each other.
After I woke up from surgery, my mom shared with me about Brenna, and her struggle to live. I had a deep desire to go see her to try to encourage her through what God was doing in my life.
Dan and I were reading through the Psalms prior to surgery, and this one stood out to me:
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand —
when I awake, I am still with you.
Dan and I particularly mediated on the bold part above. My key take aways from this passage are
- God knew I was created with an AVM. He chose to make me that way. He knew I would be going through this surgery and rehabilitation, and that was a part of his plan for me.
- If (1) is true, then I can trust that God knows what he is doing. No matter the outcome of my soon-to-come rehab, God is working out his plan in my life.
God Can Use Any Willing Vessel
I wanted to share this passage with Brenna and offer any encouragement I could to this young girl. She was 18, maybe 17, at the time.
I told my mom what I wanted to do. She and the nurse found a wheelchair for me to use. The wheelchair could have fit two of me in it, obviously designed to fit just about any patient that needed it. Tucked in with many pillows and blankets, as I wasn’t too good at keeping myself sitting up, we took off down the hall to visit Brenna.
I was not prepared emotionally to see someone in a coma. It shocked me to see someone hooked up to so many machines and not awake.
I started to tear up immediately.
How did my husband and family sit in my room and watching me in a similar state for days on end?
I now know the answer: Only by God’s divine strength. I honestly don’t know how people get through these difficult times without God’s power and comfort in their lives.
My mom wheeled me up to Brenna’s bed, and I grasped her hand and told her who I was and why I was there.
Through a hoarse voice and tears, “Brenna, my name is Emily. I had an AVM too. I just had mine removed a few days ago, and I have a Bible passage I’d like to read to you.”
Her grandmother was in the room too, and she thanked me for coming. Later that evening her mother came down to my room to thank me.
I have never felt so powerless or useless as when I received thanks from those two women. I really did nothing, but they were so grateful. Have you ever felt totally unworthy? That’s how I felt that day.
My heart breaks for Brenna and her family. She has not recovered they way I did. If you think of it, would you pray for Brenna and her family?
Next: My AVM Story – Part 28