MY TESTIMONY: A FIBROID FROM THE PIT OF HELL
I felt a tear in my right eye and wondered why ‘cause I wasn’t sad. I figured that without the support of family and friends, my brain upon hearing that I’ll definitely lose my ovaries, most likely have cancer and most likely lose my uterus, reflexively told my tear duct, “This is the part where you start to cry.” But no, I wasn’t sad, anxious, or afraid. I was at peace and alarmingly unbothered. I knew that this was still part of God’s plan, and I didn’t think that God would fail me. More importantly, even though my brain assumed that I was alone, in my heart I knew that I wasn’t. God was and had been with me the entire time. So when Dr. Bernadette M Cracchiolo mercilessly asked if we were having the surgery or not because we were running out of time (the surgery was scheduled for 1 pm, and it was about 12:56 pm), I replied, “let’s have the surgery. I’ll just have to pray for a miracle.” Before she walked away she asked if I had anything to say to her. “Thank you and Godspeed,” I said. When I told her Godspeed I meant the Middle English definition - may God speed you or help you prosper. As I was wheeled into the operating room I simply asked God for a miracle. A few minutes later I decided to be more specific. So I came back to God and said silently, “You know everything, and you know what I want and don’t want. So please, no cancer and save all my vital parts.”
How did I get here? Let’s travel to September, 2017 when I decided to go back to the dress size I was a decade before. I wanted to take my time and lose the weight in a realistic maintainable way. As the unwanted pounds steadily fell off, I noticed that my stomach wasn’t flinching. I figured that it was stubborn belly fat. It wasn’t. I realized that something was definitely wrong when my niece alarmingly asked why I had a weird belly bulge as I lay on my back and my stomach protruded obnoxiously. I immediately asked my sister to take me to the hospital. This was in Enugu, Nigeria during my Christmas vacation. Two hours later, after an ultrasound, I was told that I had a fibroid, ovarian cyst and an unknown mass. As my sister drove me to her home I contemplated my next course of action. I decided it was best to have surgery while in Nigeria where I had many loved ones that could take care of me. However, two days passed, and it occurred to me that I was taking matters into my own hands without consulting God first. Yes, surgery seemed like the obvious choice, but I had learned in my Christian journey to pray first and let God lead me. So I started to pray and asked God for direction. On December 29th, 2017 God responded. No, I didn’t hear a loud booming voice from on high. You see God speaks in different ways to different people. For me, He speaks mostly through His word (the Bible). God brought to my attention the story of Lazarus and his resurrection from the dead. When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, he waited until Lazarus died before he headed to Bethany. He told his disciples, “The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God.” John 11:4. Raising Lazarus from the dead was a greater miracle than healing him which is why Jesus waited. With God, delay is not denial. God told me that just like the case of Lazarus, sometimes He waits until a situation is seemingly at its worst and beyond hope. It is at this point that God intervenes so that no man can get the glory. God was telling me to wait and have faith. So I told my family that I had decided against surgery and was going to wait for my supernatural healing. They didn’t all approve. Which is why when things got challenging and scary, I chose not to share it with them. I understood where they were coming from. If a loved one told me about a health scare, I would urge them to get medical help. After all, God also works through doctors and medicine. But I knew what God told me, and I didn’t want anyone to advice me to do otherwise. I prayed and believed that the fibroid and “unknown mass” would shrink or disappear.
When God told me to have faith and wait, I did not anticipate how challenging it would be. I assumed that I would be fine in a matter of weeks, and that the process would be easy - little did I know that to have faith is easier said than done. I know better now. Peter was right when he said in 1 Peter 1: 7, that trials come to test our faith to make sure that it is genuine. He added, “so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure.” My faith was definitely tested.
Before my return to the United States, I had done some research and made a mental note to stay away from white carbs, sugar and anything that would cause the growth to increase. But if you know me then you know that was a resolution I couldn’t adhere to. I love rice ❤️🍚 🍛! I love pizza ❤️🍕 !!!! I love pasta ❤️🍝 !!I love icecream ❤️🍦!! And I could go a whole year without eating a single vegetable 😂. That’s why my honest intentions were soon forgotten, and though I continued to consciously lose weight, I did not sacrifice the foods I love best. My stomach size remained the same for a few months, but I was very aware that there was something wrong ‘cause I would feel or experience things that were new to my body. For instance, in May 2018, for over three weeks I experienced a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. It hurt when I laughed, sneezed, coughed or used the bathroom. I was quietly alarmed and wondered if waiting for God was the right decision. Was I being silly? Was God real? Was it all in my head? These are some of the questions that raced through my mind. But God eased my fears and doubts when He spoke to me through Nehemiah 4. In this passage, Sanballat and Tobiah opposed and mocked the Israelites as they rebuilt the wall. In the same way, the devil mocked my faith in God. I realized then that my faith was under attack, and I was reminded that the devil is all bark and no bite. God was on my side like he had been on the Isrelites’ side. Once my faith was strengthened, the pains went away.
Empowered by strength from God, I powered through the next few months. I tried to ignore the fact that I couldn’t wear fitted clothes or enjoy my successful weight loss. I resisted the urge to ask why me. I refused to dwell on how my extremely heavy periods prevented me from going out. Then August came with additional challenges - dizzy spells, a swollen foot, depression. See, I had somehow forgotten about the “unknown mass” and believed for months that I was dealing with just a fibroid and cyst, but now the devil wanted me to believe otherwise. He taunted me with fearful thoughts. He wanted me to believe that I had cancer and that there was something terribly wrong with me. I knew I was under attack, so I prayed harder and asked close friends to pray for me. I listened to sermons on fear and anxiety. Some time in September the fear and depression went away as easily as they came. I haven’t been afraid or depressed since then. Praise God!
Life moved on, and I was happy again, even with my fake baby bump. Around late September I started to experience pain in my waist and hips every night. Every other night I’d also experience an indescribable sharp pain around my crotch and pelvic - I have never experienced anything like it in my life. I couldn’t figure out what the cause was. I prayed it would go away, but it didn’t. It was in October that I took a closer look at my stomach, and to my utmost surprise, I discovered that it had doubled in size. I didn’t notice it sooner because for my sanity I had previously chosen not to pay attention to my stomach anymore. I knew that there was a correlation between the new pains and the increase in my stomach size. I turned to drastic measures (well, drastic in my world). I did more research, drank green tea - yuck, cut out carbs and ate only salads. My diet was miserable, but I stuck with it for about a month with the hope that my stomach would shrink, but nothing happened. In fact, someone asked me if I was pregnant in November. All I could do at this point was wear oversized sweaters all the time, and pray for God’s intervention. Again and again I sought God, and He told me the same thing over and over - wait and have faith. More importantly, he kept me happy and at peace. I realized that I had more peace waiting for His timing as opposed to taking matters into my own hands. During this time, it occurred to me that God’s intervention could involve going to the hospital and possibly getting surgery. I knew that if that’s what God wanted He would make it clear to me when the time came. I would know because I would have peace in my heart about it. For now, He wanted me to wait, and I was grateful for the strength and peace He had given me to obey. I knew that He wouldn’t give me what I couldn’t handle. I was also grateful that even though I was experiencing pains they only happened at night and didn’t interfere with my work. Yes, I was unable to sleep unless I was in a sitting position, but I was still able to move around and get on with my daily business without interference.
My stomach in October
Christmas was approaching, and it was now one year since I was diagnosed. Although I was returning to Nigeria heavier than my last visit, I still believed for a miracle and hoped to share a testimony about it on my mum’s birthday, December 22nd. I shared a testimony alright but not the one I had rehearsed. Unlike my previous trips, I packed loose fitted clothes this time. I didn’t want anyone else assuming that I was pregnant. I managed to enjoy my vacation in spite of sleepless nights filled with waist pains and indescribable crotch pains. I was happy even though I stayed under the radar and didn’t go out much because of my ever-increasing stomach and elongated periods. I also indulged in all the foods I wasn’t supposed to eat. I was on vacation and wasn’t going to let the little demon growing inside me stop me from having a good time.
After I returned to the U.S. everything seemed to worsen. The pains I had experienced at night started to torment me during the day as well. Not only that, but the pain expanded to inner most parts of my body that I never imagined would hurt. I was also getting increasingly tired and heavy. My discomfort was starting to interfere with work. I became desperate and started to consume large amounts of tumeric because I had heard good things about it. I was almost tempted to order a supplement that promised to shrink unwanted growths, but I didn’t trust it. Instead, I stayed close to God’s word. I listened to a sermon about being persistent in prayer not because we want to change God’s mind to do what we want but because we want His will to be done. I poured out my heart to God like I had done many times before. I told Him that the burden was becoming too difficult to handle, but that I wanted His will to be done.
On February 1st, I prayed the same prayer again. I pleaded for God’s direction. Then I opened my Bible to read and God gave me this verse from Psalm 32:8, “I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise you.” A few minutes after reading this I started to feel a sharp pain in my upper right abdomen. It was a new kind of pain. I assumed it would go away - at least by the time I got to work -, but it got worse. By the time I got off the train in New York, I could barely walk. I rested a bit before starting my 15 minute walk to my office. It took me over 30 minutes to get there ‘cause I was in so much pain that I had to walk slowly. I was so relieved when I made it to work. I hoped that a few hours of sitting would help. It didn’t. I tried to get up, but the pain was just too much. I eventually mustered the courage to get up because I desperately needed to use the restroom. As I painfully and slowly made my way there, I ran into a friend and coworker. She asked if I was okay, and I gave her a vague explanation. She prayed for me. A few hours later I realized that I was getting worse, so I decided to leave work early. I ubered because I obviously couldn’t walk to the train station. I was home an hour and a half later. I decided to go to bed early and hoped the pain would go away by the time I woke up, but I barely slept that night. No matter what I did it hurt badly. It hurt when I lay down, walked, sat up, laughed.
It was in the morning that I remembered what God told me the previous day - Psalm 32:8. “Was God leading me?” I asked myself. I got the confirmation I needed when God gave me Ecclesiastes 3. As I read through the chapter and its discussion on how there’s a time for everything, I realized that God was telling me that the time for waiting was over, and it was time for me to follow His next leading. It was time to go to the hospital, and for the the first time since everything started over a year ago I had peace about it. Sure, the devil tormented me with thoughts like, “Um, you waited so long so your situation has probably worsened. You might have your uterus taken out like you’ve read about so many times.” I paid no attention to him. I decided to relax and enjoy the comfort of my bed because I knew once I went to the hospital I would not be coming back for a long time.
Sunday morning, I struggled but managed to brush, shower and put a few things together for the hospital. Panic and fear suddenly gripped my heart. The devil was at it again with the same tormenting questions. What if there was something terribly wrong with me? What if I waited too long? I prayed to God for a word and as usual He kept His promise and gave me what I needed. Through Genesis 16: 1-13, God assured me that I will have descendants via verse 10. (If you’re not a believer you might wonder how and why I apply Bible verses regarding other individuals in different context to my situation. All I can tell you is that when God speaks to ones heart you know. Just have faith.). Encouraged by that verse, I requested an Uber and went to Jersey City Medical Center. That verse is the reason why I didn’t flinch when Dr. Bernadette Cracchiolo heartlessly told me that I very likely had cancer, that she would likely take out my uterus and if she didn’t do so she would definitely take out my ovaries. God said I was going to have descendants so that meant I wouldn’t die and my ovaries were going nowhere. I was mostly baffled by Dr. Bernadette Cracchiolo’s terrible bedside manner. I had six doctors before her and she was the worst followed by a resident. I don’t remember his name, but he was white and trust me, I’ve come to realize that this piece of information makes a big difference when you’re a black female patient.
I STILL MANAGED A QUICK SELFIE ON MY HOSPITAL BED. Photo taken February 3rd.
MY HOSPITAL EXPERIENCE
To provide you with some context, here’s a brief summary of how everything played out after I arrived at the hospital. [I don’t remember the names of all the doctors, so please forgive me]. The first doctor that saw me was Indian and probably in her mid to late thirties. She was nice. When she asked about my medical history I let her know that I had a fibroid. After I explained my symptoms she had me do a series of tests, including an ultrasound and a CAT Scan. When she saw my results she confirmed what I already knew except cancer was introduced to the equation. She told me that they found fibroids, ovarian cyst, and a very huge unidentifiable mass that could be cancerous. I was informed that the mass was pushing all my organs and that my kidneys were in distress. She said they would have a Gynecologic Oncologist look at my results just to be safe. The 2nd doctor I met with was a Hispanic gynecologist - probably in her early to mid thirties. She was decent to me and repeated what the previous doctor said, except she believed the big mass was a huge cyst, and she said it had pushed my uterus to my upper left abdomen thereby causing a protrusion. She informed me that I’d be admitted overnight.
The following morning I was met by a very nice young doctor - from his accent I think it’s safe to say that he’s Eastern European. He told me that they were likely going to perform surgery later that day. I was informed that while under, the unidentifiable mass would be tested for cancer as a precaution. That if positive my uterus would be removed immediately. I was given the impression that it was a 50/50 chance. He also said that the mass seemed like it was attached to different organs in my body. He said that if I didn’t have cancer the level of attachment could also determine whether to remove my uterus. The next doctor that came to visit was Indian and young. He echoed what the previous doctor said, and he was equally nice. Dr. Akiva P. Novetsky, a middle aged Gynecologic Oncologist, was the 5th doctor to see me. He was reassuring and told me that they were looking to squeeze me in for surgery. He told me that I would require a vertical incision because of the size of the mass.
So far, I felt like I was in good hands until doctor number 6 came in hours later - around noon. Like I said, he was a white male resident. He asked if I was aware that I was having surgery at 1 pm. I told him that all I knew was that they were trying to squeeze me in, but it hadn’t been confirmed. He explained that I had been scheduled for 1 pm and added, “You’ve been told that they’re taking out everything.” I asked what he meant by “everything.” He told me that they were taking out my uterus. Surprised, I sat up. “No, I wasn’t told that.” I began. “I was informed that they’d take out the mass and have it tested for cancer while I’m under. The results and level of attachment would determine whether my uterus stays or not.” He told me that the mass was so big that it was likely cancer, so my uterus would have to go. He didn’t make it sound like my uterus being taken out was a possibility, it sounded like they were definitely going to take it out. I didn’t like that, so I protested. He went on to say that their number one goal was to save my life, and saving my uterus was number two. I agreed that my life comes first, but I added that I would like them to try to accomplish both. He smiled but not in an assuring manner.
MY HOSPITAL EXPERIENCE TURNS AWFUL
After the young resident left my room I called my family and updated them. My brother was alarmed and told me to insist on speaking to the surgeon. He told me to report the resident to the surgeon and make it clear that I definitely want to save my uterus. He said I could also leave the hospital and get a second opinion. I knew the latter was out of the question ‘cause I could barely stand. I had no plans of leaving the hospital with that thing inside me. So I told the nurse that I wanted to speak to the surgeon and ten minutes before 1 pm, Dr. Bernadette M Cracchiolo showed up. As she stormed into my room, accompanied by the resident, she announced, “Where’s the patient? If it were me I’d want to meet who’s cutting me up as well.” I could excuse the terrible bedside manner of the resident and blame it on his experience. He was obviously young and inexperienced, but there’s no excuse for the way Dr Bernadette Cracchiolo treated me. I was only a few seconds into my narration of what the resident told me when she rudely interrupted me and bluntly said, “Your uterus is most likely going to go. Have you seen the size of this thing?” I was momentarily taken aback by her response. As I tried to collect my thoughts she ordered the resident to bring my CAT scan. When he returned she pointed to the mass and told me that because parts of it were solid it was likely cancer which would lead to a removal of my uterus. I remember she said, “ I know no one wants to hear the word cancer.” She didn’t even sound like she planned to have the mass tested first. It seemed she had already concluded that it was cancer. I told her that I was told that the mass would be tested first. She agreed but added that in reality she didn’t think she could save my uterus. She said she liked to be positive with her patients, but in my case she couldn’t be. Her voice was very cold and indifferent. You had to have been there to understand how she sounded. She didn’t seem to care that I was all by myself with no emotional support from family. She told me that woman to woman she understood (it definitely didn’t seem that way), but even if it turned out that I had no cancer, the mass was so huge and intertwined with my organs (at this point, she started to point to the CAT scan again), and probably attached to my uterus in a way that would cause her to remove it. I opened my mouth to speak, but she interrupted again and asked, “What do you want from me?” I replied, “I want you to do your best to . . .” She interrupted again. “I always do my best,” she said arrogantly, “I am going to do what’s right for you, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll save your uterus.” I told her that I wasn’t looking for any guarantees (I’m not stupid), all I wanted was the assurance that she would not go into my body with her mind set on removing my uterus without giving it a fair chance. It was at this point that she dropped a bombshell that was new to me. She told me that even if she managed to save my uterus, my ovaries must be removed. She pointed to the CAT scan for the third time as she explained that my ovaries were completely covered in cyst and that there was no way she could save them. I knew I had an ovarian cyst but none of the doctors had said anything to me about removing my ovaries in the case that my uterus stayed. She added in a heartless tone that if I desperately wanted to have babies that I could always get eggs from someone else and carry the baby in my uterus - if she saves my uterus - that was the best she could do for me.
And that, my friends, is where my story began. As I tried to process what she told me about my ovaries she interrupted my thoughts. Apparently I was wasting her time and she wanted to know if I had decided to proceed with the surgery. I understand that when a surgery has been scheduled, time, doctors, amenities etc have been set aside for it, so I get the sense of urgency, but she failed to show any empathy or appreciate the fact that a lot had just been thrown at me in such a short time. Yes, I knew from the other doctors that I could lose my uterus but none, except she and the resident, painted such a pessimistic outcome, and I was only trying to digest it. So like I wrote above, I gave my blessing and they wheeled me to the OR. Before the surgery Dr. Novetsky came to me. He told me that he heard about what transpired between Dr. Cracchiolo and I. He apologized on her behalf and assured me that he would be right there during the surgery and would make sure that my uterus stayed intact unless it was absolutely necessary to remove it. I believed him, but I believed God more. Again, I reminded myself that God told me on Sunday that I will have descendants. I can’t possibly have descendants if I’m dead or have no ovaries. I confidently held on to God’s promise. For the next few minutes until I lost consciousness my major concern wasn’t the outcome of the surgery, but what it would feel like when I awoke. My friends who’ve had surgery had told me that the moment I would wake I would feel like I’m in a freezer accompanied by a lot of pain. I wasn’t looking forward to that and that was my last thought and major concern pre-surgery.
THIS IS HOW I GOT AWAY WITH POSTING SOME PICTURES ON IG. IN THE PICTURE ABOVE, I EDITED OUT MY BULGING STOMACH.
MY GOD HEALS
I woke up hours later, not cold or in pain. My mind raced as I tried to figure out where I was. It all came rushing back seconds later. I immediately requested to see the doctor. It wasn’t until three hours later that one of the nice doctors (doctor no. 3) came to see me. At this point my loving brother was now at my side. “Are you ready for the good news?” The doctor asked. “Yes!” I eagerly replied. He told me that I had no cancer. He said the “unidentifiable mass” turned out to be a heavy and weirdly shaped fibroid. He said everyone in the operating room let out a joyous shout when they opened me up and saw what it was, and that it wasn’t attached to my uterus or anything else. I knew that it was strategically placed by God in such a way that it was easy to remove - a miracle because they were almost sure it was intertwined with some of my organs. In addition and to their utmost surprise, they found no cyst! He said my ovaries were “beautiful.” My brother and I both praised God. I had no doubt that God had given me my miracle. All the test results, even from Nigeria, showed I had ovarian cyst. All the doctors said I had ovarian cyst. but God went in prior to the surgery and supernaturally removed every cyst. He didn’t want the doctors to have any excuse to touch my ovaries. Not only that, the so called mass wasn’t cancerous but a fibroid like I had believed for so long. That night I realized that God kept to the word He gave me on December 29th, 2017. He waited for my situation to get worse before he intervened that way no man would get the glory. If I had the surgery in 2017 or early 2018, my miracle wouldn’t have been as dramatic. It would have been just another fibroid surgery. In addition, one could have argued that the diagnosis in Nigeria about the ovarian cyst and unidentifiable mass was wrong. But God wanted me to be seen by several doctors and specialists who would say that I had ovarian cyst and unidentifiable mass. It’s either they all misdiagnosed me or God in His infinite mercy intervened. I know the latter is true.
I didn’t see Dr. Bernadette Cracchiolo again until when I was discharged two days later. I don’t know if she believes in Jesus Christ or if she believed in miracles prior to my surgery, but even she had to reluctantly admit that what happened to me was a miracle. She walked into the room and said, “I guess you got your miracle.” She sounded sarcastic. Maybe it was the sound of shame. I really don’t know, but one thing I do know is that the way she treated me prior to surgery led me to conclude that the devil tried to use her to instill fear in me. During my discharge she started to harass me about my insurance status and ordered me to make sure things were taken care of within the next two days. I stared at her in disbelief. Was she not aware that I just underwent major surgery? After all, she performed the surgery. I really do believe that my experience with her would have been different if the color of my skin were white, either that or she’s an unfeeling person. Trust me, I’m not one to pull the race card. However, I'm a Christian, so of course I forgive her and the resident. I just need to state the facts as they occurred because it’s all part of my testimony. Like I said, I believe the devil tried to use them to rattle me when he knew that he had lost the battle.
The doctors are not the point of this post. I took the time and effort to write this because I promised God that I would share my testimony when He heals me. I’m a private person, but this isn’t just about my business, it’s about God’s business. God is in the business of performing miracles and keeping His promises. I know this because I have experienced it. I know that there are people out there experiencing difficult and possibly life changing situations. I want to encourage you to trust God, and lean closely to Him. Have faith even if your circumstance seemingly gets worse, not only because the devil makes the most noise when he is losing the battle but because God sometimes shows up at the last minute (Remember, no one said having faith was easy). Let Him speak to your situation. Let Him direct your path. I’m not suggesting that anyone do what I did for we all have different paths to follow and different stories to tell. I know that there are some who will read my story and think I acted foolishly, but 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “What seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” In other words, I really don’t care what anyone thinks except God. He healed me, shamed Dr Bernadette Cracchiolo and the resident, and kept me from looking foolish for waiting.
TOP TO BOTTOM: MY INCISION and SAME DRESS WORN BEFORE AND AFTER SURGERY
She was a seven pound fibroid that required an eight inch vertical incision to get her out of me. I later named her Lucy (short for Lucifer) for she was a little demon that tried to destroy me from the inside out. She caused me great discomfort when she shifted around to adjust herself and great pain as she crushed my insides due to her persistent growth. Would you believe that she literally moved each time I drank soda? She would wriggle inside me almost like she was rejoicing and excited to be treated to something sweet. It felt like she was gulping heavily and yelling, “Gimme me more! Me want more! More! More!! More!!!” When I look back and think of the entire time I carried her, I feel like the pain that led me to the hospital was my labor pain for her. She had grown too big for my little stomach to handle and decided to throw a tantrum. If you’re brave enough to take a closer look at the picture of her below you can see she had what seemed like little hands, and a head with parts that resemble eyes, nose, and smiling lips. Honestly, I feel like she was alive in me.
WARNING! WARNING!! WARNING!!! GRAPHIC PHOTO OF LUCY BELOW
THE REAL REASON WHY I HAVE BEEN M.I.A
On a separate note, I know I have been silent on the blog and Instagram for a while. It has nothing to do with Lucy. As a matter of fact, Lucy was very much present in all of my posts from last year, but pictures can be very deceiving. I managed to cover her in clothes, pose in ways that hid her, and even edited her out sometimes! Yup! All that glitters is really not gold. The thing is, Enmaandi wouldn’t exist without Chinny (the “I” in Enmaandi). It was all her idea, and she carried it through. But life led her to a different direction, and she now has her own blog, Chiniluv.com. Please show her some love. I will forever be grateful to her for all her support. Anyway, as much as I love writing about fashion, social media isn’t really my thing. The truth is I woke up one day and decided not to post anything on Instagram (even though I still had a ton of pictures lined up), and I felt so much peace. One day turned into a week, then months, and I haven’t looked back. There’s always the possibility that I could return, but for now . . . I don’t know. Until then, stay blessed and take care 🙏🏾😘