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Shrinking Hemorrhoids & Growing Faith
If you read my article “How hemorrhoids made me healthy, fit and sexy” you already know how I dealt with my condition. Now, find out how a severe hemorrhoid outbreak increased my faith in God. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Here’s what happened.
In early 2009, I was shocked to see how the recession was affecting my RRSP savings. People I knew were facing the possibility of delayed retirement because of their losses. what could i do I had two choices: keep losing money and worrying, or (take a deep breath) make the move to home ownership.
I had dreamed of owning a house for years, but living in Toronto is expensive and I didn’t think I could afford it. Despite an uncertain corporate job with an income that would barely last for my financial needs, buying my first home felt like the right thing to do. In fact, it was my “unnatural” peace about taking this big step that convinced me it was part of God’s plan for me.
I don’t like to rush important decisions. I emailed a real estate agent friend and laid out my finances, my wish list, and my compliance list. I doubted he would find anything for me, but I was determined not to buy more than I could afford. We sat down together in early March, just to talk. My friend brought two list samples to show me. Two months later, one of them was my first house. I had been praying, “Lord, I don’t want to turn (big round number) and still be renting.” My closing date was 7 days before my birthday!
With $25,000 borrowed from my RRSP for the down payment and renovations, I began purging over 20 years of accumulated possessions and buying land and a kitchen for my new apartment. With the help of my realtor, family and friends, everything moved quickly but smoothly.
The next “miracle” was that almost all the renovation work was done in a month. Old torn floors and kitchen. New bamboo floors and a custom designed IKEA kitchen. Tiles were laid in the bathroom and kitchen. I even had the whole place professionally painted. It was wonderful! It was expensive. Was I getting in over my head?
Before I could worry, I had a more pressing problem. My kitchen counters were on order. And the plumber insisted on installing the kitchen and bathroom sinks as a job. This meant I had no water, except in the bathtub, for three weeks!
By July, I had both sinks, the reindeers were done, and I could really enjoy living in my new home. My south facing unit is bright and has a beautiful view of the river. Set in a park-like setting amidst lawns, trees and gardens, my house occupies a quiet corner of the city.
The summer was very busy. I was working full time and unpacking boxes and organizing things at home. I was too tired to cook nutritious meals or do much exercise, although every now and then, the thought would cross my mind: you should go for a walkor, try the gym downstairsor, eat more salad and fruit, not just chips, cookies and beer.
All the excitement and stress (buying a house, renovating, moving), plus my recent poor life choices, took their toll. In October, I had a severe bout of hemorrhoids (a condition I’ve had since I was 20). Usually, after a few days of eating more fiber and exercising more, the veins shrink, the bleeding stops, and the pain goes away. Only this time, nothing helped. Days turned into weeks and I was still suffering.
Finally, I went to my doctor and got a prescription ointment and suppositories. I was careful with my diet and started exercising and walking. After 10 days, the bleeding stopped and the pain subsided. What a relief! But within days, it started again and got worse. I used three courses of medication and the doctor said the next step was surgery. Oh! Just thinking about it was terrifying. There had to be another way to treat this condition!
I began to pray, “Lord, have mercy on me. Help me. Heal me.” I found Bible verses about healing, wrote them down, and read them daily. A favorite was in Matthew 8, verses 1 to 3, about a man with leprosy, who came to Jesus, knelt down and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me well again.” And Jesus touched him and said, “I will, heal.” And it was. Later in the same chapter, a Roman officer asked Jesus to heal his sick servant. Jesus said he would come to that man’s house, but the Roman said, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come into my house. Just say the word where you are from and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was amazed at the Gentile’s faith and praised him for it. He healed the servant. Other scriptures that helped me were Psalm 6, verses 2-3; Exodus 15 verse 26 and Exodus 24 verse 25. I started declaring “Thank you Lord for healing my hemorrhoids” before it happened, believing that it would.
But I didn’t sit around waiting for it to happen. I continued my research on the internet. Instead of desperately buying an expensive “miracle cure,” I was determined to try whatever was reasonable and affordable. Some of the things that have helped me include:
– Sitz baths: filling a large tub with very warm water, adding some Epsom salts and literally soaking my back for 20 minutes twice a day
– White Oak Bark: One website suggested putting this mixture in your sitz bath water
– Herbal supplements – of several I tried, Butcher’s Broom was the most helpful
– Fiber – three times a day I took psyllium fiber. The inulin fiber was almost as good and much easier to take
– Diet: I changed what I ate and how I ate (see my article “How hemorrhoids made me healthy, fit and sexy” for more information)
– Exercise – I started working out 3-4 times a week at the gym in my condo and walking every day at lunchtime
By the time I went for my annual checkup at the beginning of December, I had lost 8 pounds and had gotten really toned. I felt better and looked good. Most days, I had very little pain and the bleeding was almost gone. I began to believe, and declare, that the New Year would heal me 100%.
Looking back, I realized that the fleeting thoughts I had over the summer – that I should eat better and exercise more – were God’s way of trying to get my attention. He wasn’t being a sportsman, he had my best interests at heart. I knew my chronic illness would escalate and I wanted to help prevent it. But I didn’t listen. When I got to the point where I was in intense pain and willing to do whatever it took to stop it, God helped me find the information I needed. And commit to making the changes – in my diet and exercise habits – that would cure the hemorrhoids and get me in shape. I learned that if I don’t respond to God’s gentle “pillars,” He applies increasing pressure. tough love I wish I had heard earlier! But because things got as serious as they did, the changes I was forced to make became a permanent new lifestyle.
I have a confession to make, though. I’m not perfect. Two or three times, on the weekends, I would overindulge (chips, ice cream, pastries, alcohol) and the hemorrhoids would flare up again. Constipation led to strained bowel movements and the pain of a sore colon reminded me that this condition doesn’t go away, it just goes dormant. Under the right conditions (eating constipating foods and not getting enough exercise to keep your digestive system working) the bleeding and pain can return.
These relapses made me thankful that God did not heal my hemorrhoids completely. I think I might have. But he knows I can be lazy and self-indulgent; that there are times I may not be as careful as I should be. At family gatherings, where we enjoy large meals with a variety of foods, accompanied by wine or beer, followed by rich desserts and coffee. Or after work, when I’m tired and don’t feel like exercising. It’s easy to fall back into bad habits, so I’m grateful for these reminders to get me back on track.
Now, as I learned the hard way, I am convinced of the need to eat balanced meals, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and very little dairy, meat and saturated fat. I know I need to stay active: walk every day, take the stairs, exercise. Being stronger and healthier feels great. Maintaining balance promotes physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. And that means I get to enjoy a “purpose-driven life.” (Note: This phrase is derived from the book “The Purpose Driven Life” written by Rick Warren.)
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