How Anemia led to one of my Best Vacations

A month or so after my last blog post about the flood, I began feeling ill. I wasn’t alarmed because I knew I was simply tired from all the running Larry and I had been doing to help others in the flood aftermath. We’d been cooking 2-3 full meals in shifts for each breakfast lunch and dinner, housing friends in rotations so they could take naps and wash their clothes, not to mention delivering clothes/toiletries to area neighborhoods. On top of that, I still had to conduct business. Most of my clients are national and the flood didn’t affect them. We’d often stop at the end of the day by falling into bed, like so many others, only to get up and start again a few hours later. So, when I could barely get out of bed one morning, my being exhausted seemed explainable. Within a week, though, my husband began to worry and insisted that I go to my doctor. He worried more because he knows I am an early morning person and typically unable to, even when I want to, sleep past the break of day.

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So, off I went. After a host of tests, I was anemic due to an iron deficiency. Okay, no problem, I thought. That’s common enough; I’ll just take a few iron pills and be done with it, right? No, nothing is ever that easy. I’m laughing to myself because I remember sliding off the table and telling the doctor how happy that made me. I am pretty sure my doctor lost whatever respect he had for my intelligence at that point. He told me to sit so we could discuss possible reasons. I was soon shocked to learn all the reasons a person could be anemic. I never knew. Needless to say, I needed a colonoscopy to be sure I wasn’t bleeding internally.

Super fun.

Now, here is the part I need everyone to understand in moving forward with this blog … I will be talking about the colonoscopy experience. It’s not the main topic, but since I had to do this … then you have to share it with me.

In the preparation process, everyone was telling me how horrible it was, everyone except the nurse who went over the process with me. She was amazing. She said, “Think of it this way, people pay hundreds of dollars for a colon cleansing. You are getting it for zero out-of-pocket expense.”

Okay…yeah, I think I will look at it that way.

The night before the big day, my husband helped me by having a spoonful of Jell-O ready to eat after each sip. Drink. Yuk. Eat Jell-O. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Soon, we were laughing. He, because it’s always funny to watch someone flail in misery and he’s good at laughing at my sarcasm. Me, because he was enjoying this way too much and I look forward to the day it’s his turn, which, given his age, isn’t too far off.

I’m laughing again just thinking about it.

Then, the next morning, we go through the process again, only this time, I can’t have Jell-O. My husband was forewarned not to laugh. As these things go in our house, he laughed. Then I laughed, and gagged, laughed again. I did get some enjoyment though, because my husband’s gag reflex is mental. When he hears someone gag, he gags. This was of great use to me just then, while I faked gagging several additional times just to keep the party going.

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By the time we got to the hospital, I was convinced this would be a decent experience. Everyone at Ochsner Hospital Baton Rouge was amazing. When the doctor came in to explain the procedure, he kept looking at me skeptically. Finally, I asked him what was wrong, and he commented that I was in an awfully cheerful mood and typically people aren’t too happy about having a colonoscopy. I told him the truth; it hadn’t been a bad experience thus far, and I was just glad to be getting checked out. He proceeded by telling me he would be asking a few personal questions and just wanted to prepare me. I responded, “After today, you are going to have seen parts of me that no one has ever seen. You and I Doc, are going to be close personal friends. Ask away.” Not only did the doctor laugh, but so did Larry and the nearby nurses standing outside the curtain.

After the procedure, while we were waiting for the doctor to come back in and talk to us, we heard other people in the recovery area discussing the reasons they were there. It sobered us. One lady was telling her father that he needs to just relax, take it easy for a while, enjoy the rest of his life and try to be happy with the time he has left. Another woman was telling her husband that he needed to stop worrying about their house flooding and be thankful his ulcers were treatable. I felt overwhelming guilt. Here I am in a good mood when people all around me are hurting. Not just medical reasons, flood reasons also. For those that read my last post, Flood, Murder and Louboutin’s, you know that our house did not flood, but you also know we’ve been through other personal tragedies. I didn’t feel guilt over the fact that our house didn’t flood. We just immediately picked up and started contributing where we could. However, in that waiting area, I felt guilty. Guilty for finding joy.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’ll fill you in…I am the personality type that tries to find the good in the bad, the hope in the hopeless, and joy in despair. I look at life with rose-colored glasses on and it drives my logical husband insane for the most part. He is my ground, my stability, even when I don’t want it; in turn I am his optimism.

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The doctor finally came in, looked at my husband, and suggested a mandatory getaway, even if just for a few days to recoup a bit from the exhaustion and anemia The yin and the yang vector illustration design before delving back into work. He stressed, “You can’t care for others if you aren’t taking care of yourself first.” Now, you can’t tell my husband stuff like that, because he protects me. He is also hard-headed, so there were no two ways about it for him. Against my adamant refusal, he immediately started planning a getaway weekend. In my mind, there were too many people relying on us to take care of them. In his mind, I was relying on him to take care of me.

Once I saw he wasn’t going to budge, I started helping to plan. We found a balloon festival nearby and began the search for a hotel. Everywhere was booked. I left a message for a few of the bed and breakfasts’ around that area in hopes one of them might have an opening at the last minute. It was frustrating, and we almost scrapped that plan for a West Texas football game when we get a call from Cedar Grove Plantation. They had one room left available.

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And this is how anemia led us to this spontaneous weekend trip. Also, how God led us to be right where we needed from the colonoscopy to the B&B. From dinner at a restaurant we weren’t planning to go to (because our choice was overbooked), to sitting outside, because the one we ended up at was also at full capacity.

However, we wound up in the perfect spot to watch as the balloons passed by.

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Most importantly, the ultimate moment, the one to which we have no doubt whatsoever that God directed us to be there: at that moment, at that restaurant, in those precise seats, we met a couple. A couple who needed to hear our story. Not the colonoscopy or the flood, or my accident or his retirement…our marriage story. The struggles and the successes. They were going through something we’d been through years before. I think my ultimate lesson in this entire story is: we were there because God wanted us to be there for someone else, another of His children. I believe in destiny and Divine purpose. I also believe we can miss our Divine purpose by following our own will, which I’m guilty of more often than not. I also know God can restore purpose and direction with a fresh intensity if you’ve overlooked it or chosen your own way.

Sidenote: I was up that first night for hours, sitting in a big bed watching the fireplace in this plantation room hoping to God that no spirits were left flying around in the chimney somewhere. At one point the temperature must have skyrocketed, because I was very warm and needed the fan on, but I wasn’t about to get off the bed…not risking a hand shooting out and grabbing my leg. Normally, I’m not like that, but so far that night I couldn’t get past it.

“Honey,” I shake my husband and ask sweetly, “don’t you need to get up and go to the bathroom?”


“I know you do. You reeeally need to go to the bathroom,” I stated it like I was swaying a watch on a chain in front of his face.

“No, I don’t.” He turns toward me, “Why do you want me to go to the bathroom?”

“Because I’m hot and I need the fan on and I’m scared there is a boogie man under the bed.”

He chuckled and turned back over. “Go to bed, Michelle.”

I did amuse myself thinking of ways to get him up: gagging, possibly tossing back and forth. Screaming.  Somewhere around prayer number 121, I started giggling at myself; softly of course, I didn’t want to wake Larry up. Then, I giggled again at that thought. Here I am, in this great place, awake at four in the morning for nothing more than irrationality. (Well, really it was all due to a movie I saw when I was a kid, but still irrational.) I fell asleep soon enough and the rest of that stay was wonderful. More than wonderful! It is a lovely place to rest and renew (after the first night, anyway!)

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Back to the story. Do I believe God allowed circumstances to happen to direct us away from helping a group of His children through the flood to help just two? Absolutely! That group was just fine without us. We had a purpose to share our testimony of love, forgiveness and renewing with that other couple. And we all four sat and cried together…at a balloon festival. They knew God orchestrated all of that just for them. In that, we felt renewed and…yes, joy. We also learned, sitting on a swing under a tree, that taking time out together is needed regularly.

I realized also that finding joy, in every circumstance, isn’t bad. Of course, I don’t want to jump up and down in front of others going through difficulty, but in my own circumstance I can find the joy. God wants me to find the joy. I thought of the people in the recovery room again, in a new light: One lady was telling her father that he needs to just relax, take it easy for a while, enjoy the rest of his life and try to be happy with the time he has left. Another woman was telling her husband that he needed to stop worrying about their house flooding and be thankful his ulcers were treatable. They, too, were focusing on the good.

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One of my greatest joys is in the relationship I have with my husband. People say we are so much alike…but really, we are not. He’s the level-headed one and I’m excitable. He’s logical, I’m emotional. We conflict, just like our personalities do, but he’s also the yin and I’m the yang. Together with all of our pieces we make up the perfect puzzle. He’s the one that laughed at me through the pre-colonoscopy experience, which made me laugh. I’m the one who made him gag just for fun…that didn’t make him laugh, but it did make me laugh, and he didn’t get mad at me for it. That’s still funny.

That weekend away was a renewing for us. We needed it more because we did have so much to do. We needed to see that no matter my how busy life gets or how much work there is that needs to be done, or how many boogie men you think might be under the bed, we can find the joy in our circumstances knowing that God directs our steps. Also, that we all need a break.

Seems to me, the colonoscopy wasn’t too bad either. I lost 8 lbs. My husband said “See, I’ve been right all along, you are full of it!”

Just waaaait…his turn is next.

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