A Female Bedtime Story

Once upon a time, there was a woman. The doctor kept referring to her as a “woman of your age” until numerous witty retorts danced across her face and emblazoned her eyes. He then found a different way to explain to her that she didn’t need her uterus any longer. To this she argued, “What if I wish to surrogate for one of my children someday?” Her husband looked at her with a small degree of alarm and the doctor shifted his head very slightly to one side. The woman wasn’t trying to be difficult or irksome, she only wanted the doctor to be sure he was guiding her down the best path. You see, he wanted to remove all of her reproductive organs, along with a fibroid they had found on an MRI. This course of action seemed like a big deal to the woman. But the doctor persisted in his explanation and a date for surgery was set.

The woman soon discovered there’s work to be done to prep for this kind of surgery. She was asked to conduct a bowel cleanse the day before. Her initial thought was to imagine she was simply doing a juice cleanse until the numerous trips to the toilet made it impossible to paint the experience in a different light. The evening quicky focused on her success in ridding her body of everything. The next morning, feeling empty, hungry and anxious, the woman and her husband drove to the hospital where they waited and waited for her surgery.

The two-hour surgery turned into three and a half hours when the doctor opened her up and found the fibroid was a nasty tumor the size of a cantaloupe attached to her small intestine. He removed the tumor, taking part of her small intestine and appendix with it, as well as the lady bits they had discussed originally. Once she was patched up again, he sent her to a room in the hospital to recover. 

The next morning, when she awoke, she was told she could not have anything to drink until she was able to pass gas and that she would not be able to go home until she could have a normal bowel movement. Brushing aside the initial injustice of it all, she reminded herself she had been doing these activities since the day she was born. It surely couldn’t prove to be that difficult. 

With great determination she put her mind to the task at hand. She took walks, practiced the child pose, and generally concentrated on getting things moving. By the end of the first day, she was frustrated and exhausted. How could something so inane and base be so difficult? The nurses, seemingly convinced it would happen, encouraged her as best they could, and it turned out they were right. The next day, her body remembered and what a joyous moment it was when the gas finally arrived. She continued to progress until they announced her fit to return to her home. The end. 

As with all good bedtime stories, we must discuss the moral. During the struggle, the woman could not escape the irony of the situation. She was required to poo to have the surgery, then required to poo to go home. (The exclusion of the “h” is intentional as not to confuse this topic with a small adorable yellow cartoon bear.) Many times, her roommate heard her say, “The outside world is far less concerned with excrement as the medical world. In fact, we poo-poo it.” The woman thought she was clever. Regardless, the irony just would not leave her alone. 

Being in a hospital for several days gave her opportunity to explore this idea further and sit with it awhile. Is the outside world missing something? Beyond the obvious obsession with bowel movement, was there a lesson to be found? Understandably, the doctors and nurses didn’t want to send her home until they knew all was well and things were functioning as they should. But the woman continued to ponder the irony. Her life experience had taught her there is often great profoundness to be found in the presence of irony–like standing in front of a magnificent wisteria tree in bloom and expecting the alluring scent to find its way to your nose. 

And then the profound whispered to her. 

Maybe we should spend more time thinking about what we waste.

 If her exit from the hospital was determined by her waste, perhaps there is something to be gained in the outside world by being mindful of what we metaphorically flush down the toilet. Clearly this is the current idea as we strive to eliminate plastic and superfluous materials out of our landfills. There’s one application of the idea. She knew she was on to something and pondered further until another whisper. 

Maybe we are measured by what we waste

We furiously endeavor to be defined by what we accomplish. We want to be measured by our achievements or our image or by our successes. But maybe we should give as much attention, if not more, to the things or people we push aside. 

Maybe we are more defined by the opportunities, relationships, moments that we allow to pass by–those glimpses of eternity that we discard–the “base” things we waste.

That was it. That was the profound hidden in the irony. The woman took a deep breath and pondered this, wrapping it gently in the folds of her mind so that she could cherish the lesson found in the struggle. 


In case you missed it, I’m the woman. And as I’m sure this will spark some questions, it was a tumor, but possibly the best-case scenario. I see the oncologist next monthand will know more but for now…I’m visiting the bathroom often, which means ample opportunities to ponder the lessons learned in the hospital. And as the journey unfolds, I will share more profound lessons as I learn them. At least I will try. 

It is easy, natural even, to measure the day in minutes and hours. It is a far different and more difficult practice to measure the day in moments. 

19 thoughts on “A Female Bedtime Story

  1. Rebecca-

    So lovely to read your writing again, and what a fun and creative way to tell your story! I am so sorry you have to go through with this, and making a blog journal of it, is a very good way to deal and heal. I will be waiting and praying for you as you continue on.


  2. Rebecca,
    Loved your story and it reminded me of how much I miss you. Glad to know that you are through the surgery and on the road to recovery. I will be praying for your next doctor’s visit and healing.
    I am having my hip replaced on Wed. March 17th and wish I could write a story as interesting as yours about my path.

  3. Ha ha! Love your sense of humor, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing your discoveries of the profound with the world. Your insights touch my life and I hope I learn to glean as much from even my “base” experiences as you have. Miss you, friend! 🙂

  4. Rebecca, I’m so sorry your going through this. But I love your approach to it all. Only you would find the lessons to be learned and make everyone think. I love it. I wish you a speedy recovery and a good outcome when you go back to the doctors. If there is anything we can do for you guys let us know. Big hugs and kisses .

  5. Hi Rebecca,
    I was soo excited to hear from you. It has been a long time and I have been thinking of you guys and hoping you were o.k. I love your story, you always seem to “put a spin” on things. I am praying for your recovery and your next appointment goes well.

    Be strong girl.

    Love you guys.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! It’s been too long! Hope you and Craig are well. Still visiting Reno on occasion?

  6. Hi Rebecca
    I started reading this and thought…how did you get my thoughts and write them so elegantly!! Haha. So glad that is behind you and pray you heal and stay healthy . And by the way…keep writing! I have always enjoyed reading what you write.

  7. Oh sweet goodness, Rebecca. Smiling over here, under my mask of course, and appreciating your gift of words. For a moment I thought someone told you my story! Sounds like all is well now. I’m glad. Take care.

  8. Rebecca- we are wishing you every bit of wishes, thoughts and good vibes. Remember we are just around the corner if you find your in need of anything.

  9. Who would ever imaging that a simple encounter of a young adventurous coyote can lead to hours of wondrous conversation with this most amazing couple on the most tranquil morning lake shore?! Every corner turned, there’s more ooos and ahhhs… not just for all the similarities in lives but inspirations as well. Inspiration to live life fully. Strike on and beating all the odds my friend!

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