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Shrinking Hemorrhoids & Growing Faith
If you read my article ‘How Hemorrhoids Made Me Healthy, Fit & Sexy’ you know how I dealt with my condition. Now, discover how a severe flare-up of hemorrhoids increased my faith in God. It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? This is what happened.
In early 2009, I was shocked to see how the recession was eating into my RRSP savings. People I’ve known face the prospect of delayed retirement because of their losses. What could I do? I had two choices: keep losing money and worrying, or (deep breath) dive into home ownership.
I’ve 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 would barely stretch to meet my financial needs, buying my first home felt like the right thing to do. In fact, it was my “unnatural” peace about taking this huge step that convinced me it was part of God’s plan for me.
I don’t like to rush important decisions. I emailed a realtor friend and laid out 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 at the beginning of March, just to talk. My friend brought two sample lists to show me. Two months later, one of them was my first home. I was praying, “Lord, I don’t want to turn (big round number) and still rent.” My due date was 7 days before my birthday!
With $25,000 borrowed from my RRSP for the down payment and renovations, I set about cleaning out 20+ years of accumulated possessions, and buying flooring 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 one month. Old floors and kitchen ripped out. New bamboo floors and custom IKEA kitchen installed. Tile was laid in the bathroom and kitchen. I even had the whole place professionally painted. It was amazing! It was expensive. Did I get in over my head?
Before I could worry, I had a more pressing problem. My kitchen counters were on back order. And the plumber insisted on installing the kitchen and bathrooms as one job. That meant I had no water, except in the bathtub, for three weeks!
By July, I had both sinks, the kidneys done and I could really enjoy living in my new home. My south unit is bright and has a nice view of the river. Located in a park setting among lawns, trees and gardens, my home occupies a peaceful corner of the city.
Summer has been 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 once in a while, the thought would come: you should take a walkor, try the gym downstairsor, 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 – has taken its toll. In October, I had a severe flare-up of hemorrhoids (a condition I’ve had since my 20s). Usually, after a few days of eating lots of fiber and exercising more, the veins will shrink, the bleeding will stop and the pain will end. Only this time, nothing helped. Days turned into weeks and I was still in pain.
Finally I went to my doctor and got a prescription ointment and suppositories. I took care of my diet and started working out and walking. After 10 days, the bleeding stopped and the pain subsided. What a relief! But after days, it started again and got worse. I used three courses of medication and the doctor said the next step was surgery. Oh! Just the thought of 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 every day. One favorite was in Matthew 8, verses 1 to 3, about a man with leprosy who approached Jesus, knelt down and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” And Jesus touched him, and said “I will. Be healed.” And he was. Later in the same chapter, a Roman officer 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 that you should come into my house. Just say the word where you are from, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was amazed at the faith of the Gentiles 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 began to declare “Thank you Lord for healing my hemorrhoids” before it happened, believing that he would.
But I didn’t just sit around waiting for it to happen. I continued with my internet research. Instead of desperately buying an expensive “miracle cure”, I was determined to try everything that was reasonable and affordable. Some of the things that helped me included:
– Sitz baths – filling a large tub with very hot water, adding some Epsom salts, and literally soaking my back for 20 minutes twice a day.
– White oak bark – one website suggested soaking this mixture in the 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. 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 details)
– Exercise – I started exercising 3-4 times a week in my apartment gym and walking every day at lunch.
When I went for my annual checkup at the beginning of December, I had lost 8 pounds and was nicely toned. I felt better and I 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% healed by the New Year.
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 a wrecking sport, he had my best interests at heart. He knew my chronic condition was going to flare up and he wanted to help me avoid it. But I didn’t listen. When it got to the point where I was in severe 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 heal the hemorrhoids and get me fit. I have learned that if I do not respond to God’s gentle ‘nudges’, he applies increasing pressure. tough love I wish I had listened sooner! But, as 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 weekend, I overindulged (chips, ice cream, pastries, alcohol) and my hemorrhoids flared up again. Constipation caused strained bowel movements and the pain of a sore colon reminded me that this condition doesn’t go away – it becomes dormant. Under the right conditions (eating foods that cause constipation and not exercising enough to keep the digestive system working) the bleeding and pain can return.
These relapses made me thankful that God did not heal my hemorrhoids directly. I think he could have. But he knows I can be lazy and self-indulgent; that there are times that 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 slip back into bad habits, so I’m grateful for these reminders that got me back on track.
Now, as I have learned the hard way, I am convinced of the need to eat balanced meals, with lots of fruits and vegetables, and very little dairy, meat and saturated fats. I know I need to stay active – walk every day, take 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 “The Purpose Driven Life” written by Rick Warren.)
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