Reducing hemorrhoids and increasing faith

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 hemorrhoid flare-up increased my faith in God. Sounds amazing, 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 knew were facing the prospect of deferred retirement due to their losses. What I can do? I had two options: keep losing money and worry, or (take a deep breath) take the plunge into home ownership.

I had dreamed of owning my own 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 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.

I don’t like to rush important decisions. I emailed a real estate agent friend and explained my finances, wish list, and wish list. I doubted I’d find anything for myself, 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 house. He had been praying, “Lord, I don’t want to convert (big round number) and keep renting.” My closing date was 7 days before my birthday!

Borrowing $25,000 from my RRSP for down payment and renovations, I began to purge over 20 years of accumulated possessions and purchase floors and a kitchen for my new condo. With the help of my real estate agent, my family and my friends, everything went quickly but without problems.

The next ‘miracle’ was that almost all the renovation work was done in a month. Old floors and kitchen ripped out. New bamboo floors and a custom designed IKEA kitchen installed. Tile was placed in bathroom and kitchen. I even had the whole place professionally painted. It was wonderful! It was expensive. Was I messing with my head?

Before I could worry, I had a more pressing problem. My kitchen counters were in pending order. 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 amidst lawns, trees, and gardens, my home occupies a quiet corner of the city.

The summer was very busy. He was working full time and unpacking boxes and organizing things at home. She was too tired to cook nutritious meals or do much exercise, though every now and then, the thought would come to her: you should go for a walkPrayed, try the gym belowPrayed, eat more salad and fruit, not just chips, cookies, and beer.

All the excitement and stress (buying a house, renovating it, moving), plus my recent poor lifestyle choices, took their toll. In October, I had a severe outbreak of hemorrhoids (a condition I have had since I was 20 years old). Usually, after a few days of eating a lot of fiber and exercising more, the veins would shrink, the bleeding would stop, and the pain would go away. Only this time, nothing helped. The days turned into weeks and I continued to suffer.

I finally went to see my doctor and was 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 within days, it started again and got worse. I used three courses of medication and the doctor said that 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 on healing and wrote them down and read them every day. One of the favorites was in Matthew 8, verses 1-3, about a man with leprosy, who came to Jesus, knelt down and said, “Lord, if you want, you can heal me.” And Jesus touched him, said, “I want to. Be healed.” And he went. 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 for you to come into my house. Just tell 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 his 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. Instead of desperately buying an expensive “miracle cure,” she was determined to try everything that was reasonable and affordable. Some of the things that helped me included:

– 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 the 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. 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 or 4 times a week at the gym in my condo and walking every day at lunch.

When I went for my annual checkup in early December, I had lost 8 pounds and toned up nicely. 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% cured 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 being a killjoy, he had my best interests at heart. He knew my chronic condition would get worse 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 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 the hemorrhoids and get me back in shape. I’ve 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 so serious, 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 overindulged (chips, ice cream, pastries, alcohol) and my hemorrhoids flared up again. The constipation caused forced bowel movements and the pain of a sore colon reminded me that this condition doesn’t go away, it goes dormant. Under the right conditions (eating foods that cause constipation 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 completely heal my hemorrhoids. I think I could have. But he knows that I can be lazy and self-indulgent; that there are times when he may not be as careful as he should be. At family gatherings, where we enjoy large meals with a variety of foods, accompanied by wine or beer, followed by delicious 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 that helped me get back on track.

Now, because I learned the hard way, I am convinced of the need to eat balanced meals, with lots of fruit and vegetables, and very little dairy, meat and saturated fat. I know that I have 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 ‘purposeful life’. (Note: This phrase is derived from the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.)