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Shrinking Hemorrhoids & Growing Faith

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If you’ve read my article, How Hemorrhoids Made Me Healthy, Fit, and Sexy, you know how I’ve managed my condition (Shrinking Hemorrhoids). Discover now how a severe hemorrhoid flare-up increased my faith in God. It sounds incredible doesn’t it? Here’s what happened.

In early 2009 I was shocked to see the recession eating away at my RRSP savings. People I knew faced the prospect of deferred retirement because of their losses. What could I do? I had two choices: keep losing money and worrying, or (take a deep breath) take the plunge into home ownership.

I had dreamed of owning a home for years, but living in Toronto is expensive and I felt I couldn’t afford it. Despite an insecure corporate job with an income that would barely be enough to meet my financial needs, buying my first home felt like the right thing to do. In fact, it was my “unnatural” peace in taking this big step that convinced me it was part of God’s plan for me.

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I don’t like rushing important decisions. I emailed a real estate agent friend of mine, setting out my finances, wish list, and declaration of intent list. I doubted he would find anything for me, but I was determined not to buy more than I could afford. We sat down in early March just to talk. My friend brought me two sample lists. Two months later one of them was my first home. I had been praying, “Lord, I don’t want to repent (big round number) and still rent.” My deadline was 7 days before my birthday!

With $25,000 borrowed from my RRSP for down payment and renovations, I began to dispose of over 20 years of accumulated possessions and purchased flooring and a kitchen for my new condo. With the help of my agent, family and friends, everything went quickly but smoothly.

The next “miracle” was that almost all of the renovations were completed in a month. Ripped out old floors and kitchen. Installed new bamboo floors and a custom IKEA kitchen. Tiles were laid in the bathroom and kitchen. I even had the whole place professionally painted. It was wonderful! It was expensive. Did I come in over my head?

Before I could worry, I had a more urgent problem. My kitchen worktops were backordered. And the plumber insisted on installing the kitchen and bathroom sinks in one go. That meant I had no water for three weeks except in the bath!

By July I had both sinks, the Renos were done and I was actually enjoying life in my new home. My south facing unit is bright and has a nice river view. Set in a park-like setting amidst lawns, trees and gardens, my home is in a peaceful corner of the city.

The summer has been super busy. I worked full time unpacking and organizing around the house. I was too tired to cook nutritious meals or exercise much – although the thought occasionally crossed my mind: you should go for a walkor, try the gym on the ground flooror, Eat more salad and fruit, not just fries, cookies, and beer.

All the excitement and stress – buying a house, renovating, moving – plus my recent bad lifestyle choices – were taking their toll. In October I had a severe outbreak of hemorrhoids (a condition I’ve had since my 20’s). Usually, after a few days of high fiber and more exercise, the veins shrank, the bleeding stopped, and the pain stopped. Only this time nothing helped. Days turned into weeks and I was still suffering.

Eventually I went to my doctor and got prescription ointments and suppositories. I watched my diet and started exercising and running. After 10 days the bleeding stopped and the pain subsided. What a relief! But within days it started again and got worse. I took three medications and the doctor said the next step was surgery. Ouch! 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 daily. A favorite was in Matthew 8 verses 1 through 3, about a man with leprosy who approached Jesus, knelt down and said, “Lord, if You will, You can make me well.” And Jesus touched him, said, ” I want. to be healed.” And he was. Later in the same chapter, a Roman officer asked Jesus to heal his sick servant. Jesus said he came to the man’s house, but the Roman said, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come into my house. Jesus was amazed at the Gentile’s faith and praised him for it. He healed the servant. Other scriptures that have helped me are Psalm 6 verses 2-3; Exodus 15, verse 26 and Exodus 24, verse 25. I started saying, “Thank you, Lord, for healing my hemorrhoids” before it happened because I believed He would.

But I didn’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. I continued my internet research. Rather than desperately buying an expensive “magic bullet,” I was determined to try anything reasonable and affordable. Some of the things that helped me were:

– Sitz baths – fill a large tub 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 – of several I’ve tried, Butcher’s Broom was the most helpful

– Fiber – I took psyllium fiber three times a day. 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 working out 3-4 times a week at my condo gym and going for a walk every day at lunchtime

By the time I went for my annual checkup in early December, I had lost 8 pounds and was recovering well. I felt better and looked good. Most days I had very little pain and the bleeding had almost stopped. 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 that summer—that I should eat better and exercise more—were God’s attempt to get my attention. He wasn’t a spoilsport, he had my best interests in mind. He knew my chronic condition would flare up again and he wanted to help me avoid it. But I wasn’t listening. When it got to the point where I was in severe pain and was willing to do whatever was necessary to stop it, God helped me find the information I needed. And committing to making the changes—in my diet and exercise habits—that would cure the hemorrhoids and get me fit. I’ve learned that when I don’t respond to God’s gentle “nudges,” He applies increasing pressure. tough love I wish I had listened earlier! But because it got so serious, the changes I had to make became a permanent new lifestyle.

I have a confession to make though. I am not perfect. Two or three times over the weekend I ate too much (fries, 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 properly), bleeding and pain can return.

These relapses made me thankful that God had not healed my hemorrhoids immediately. I think he could have done it. But he knows I can be lazy and self-indulgent; that there are times when maybe i’m not being 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 memories that got me back on track.

Now that I’ve learned it the hard way, I’m convinced of the need for a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and very low in dairy, meat, and saturated fats. I know I need to stay active – walk, climb stairs, exercise every day. Getting stronger and healthier feels great. Balance promotes physical, emotional and mental well-being. And that means I can enjoy living a “purposeful life.” (Note: This phrase is from Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life.)

Thanks to Vera Petkovsky

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