If you read my article ‘How hemorrhoids made me healthy, fit and sexy’, you will know how I treated my condition. Now, find out how a severe outbreak of hemorrhoids increased my faith in God. Sounds amazing right? This is what happened.
In early 2009, I was surprised to see how the recession was sapping my RRSP savings. The people he knew faced the prospect of deferred retirement due to their losses. What I can do? I had two options: keep losing money and worry, or (deep breath) take the step toward homeownership.
I had dreamed of owning a home for years, but life in Toronto is expensive and I didn’t think I could afford it. Despite an uncertain corporate job with an income that was barely enough to meet my financial needs, buying my first home seemed like the right thing to do. In fact, it was my ‘unnatural’ peace from taking this big step that convinced me that it was part of God’s plan for me.
I don’t like rushing important decisions. I emailed a real estate agent friend and shared my finances, my wish list, and my wish 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 sample listings to show me. Two months later, one of them was my first home. He had been praying, “Lord, I don’t want to go around (big round number) and keep 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 purchasing floors and a kitchen for my new condo. With the help of my realtor, my family, and my friends, everything moved quickly but smoothly.
The next ‘miracle’ was that almost all the renovation work was done in one month. Old floors and ripped kitchen. New bamboo flooring and a custom-designed IKEA kitchen were installed. Tiles were placed in the bathroom and kitchen. I even had the whole place professionally painted. It was wonderful! It was expensive. Was he getting into my head?
Before I could worry, I had a more pressing problem. The countertops in my kitchen were on hold. And the plumber insisted on installing the kitchen and bathroom sinks as one job. This meant that I had no water, except in the bathtub, for three weeks!
By July, I had both sinks, the reindeer were ready, and I could enjoy living in my new home. My south facing unit is bright and has a beautiful view of the river. Located in a park-like setting amid lawns, trees, and gardens, my home occupies a quiet corner of the city.
The summer was very busy. I worked full time and unpacked boxes and organized things at home. I was too tired to cook nutritious meals or exercise a lot, although every now and then, the thought would come to me: you should go for a walk, gold, try the gym downstairs, gold, eat more salad and fruit, not just chips, cookies, and beer.
All the excitement and stress – buying a home, renovating, moving, plus my recent poor lifestyle choices – took their toll. In October, I had a severe outbreak of hemorrhoids (a condition I’ve had since I was 20). Usually after a few days of eating lots of 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 continued to suffer.
I finally went to see my doctor and they prescribed ointments 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 in a few 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. One of the favorites was in Matthew 8, verses 1-3, about a man with leprosy, who came up to Jesus, knelt down and said, “Lord, if you want, you can heal me again.” And Jesus touched him and said, “I want. To be healed.” And he was. Later in the same chapter, a Roman official asked Jesus to heal his sick servant. Jesus said he would come to the man’s house, but the Roman said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my house. Just say the word from where you are and my servant will heal.” Jesus was in awe of the Gentile’s faith and commended them 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 it would.
But I didn’t sit around waiting for it to happen. I continued my research on the Internet. Rather than desperately buying an expensive ‘miracle cure’, he was determined to try whatever was reasonable and affordable. Some of the things that helped me included:
– Sitz baths: fill a large bathtub with very warm water, add some Epsom salts, and literally soak my butt for 20 minutes twice a day
– White Oak Bark: One website suggested soaking this mixture in sitz bath water.
– Herbal supplements – out 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 details)
– Exercise: I started exercising 3-4 times a week in my condo gym and walking every day at lunchtime
When I went for my annual checkup in early December, I had lost 8 pounds and was well 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 I would be 100% cured by the New Year.
Looking back, I realized that the fleeting thoughts I had during 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 brat, he had my best interests at heart. I knew my chronic illness would get worse and wanted to help me avoid it. But I didn’t listen. When I got to the point where I was in severe pain and was ready 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 hemorrhoids and get me in shape. I learned that if I don’t respond to God’s gentle “nudges”, He applies increasing pressure. Hard love. I wish I had listened earlier! But, because things got as serious as they did, the changes I was forced to make became a permanent new lifestyle.
However, I have a confession to make. I am not perfect. Two or three times, on the weekends, I overeat (fries, ice cream, pastries, alcohol) and my hemorrhoids flared again. Constipation caused tense bowel movements and the pain of a sore colon reminded me that this condition does not go away, it becomes inactive. Under the right conditions – eating foods that cause constipation and not getting enough exercise to keep the digestive system working – bleeding and pain can return.
These relapses made me thankful that God did not completely heal my hemorrhoids. I think I could have. But he knows I can be lazy and complacent; that there are times when you may not be as careful as you should be. In 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 slip back into bad habits, so I’m thankful for these reminders that got me back on track.
Now, because I learned the hard way, I am convinced of the need to eat balanced foods, with a lot of fruits and vegetables, and very little dairy, meat and saturated fat. I know I have to stay active: walk every day, use the stairs, exercise. Getting stronger and healthier feels great. Staying balanced promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. And that means I can enjoy living a ‘purpose driven life’. (Note: this sentence is derived from the book “Life with Purpose” written by Rick Warren).