Less Honorable Vessels?

It was about 7:30 in the morning that I started fading away. The anesthesiologist said he wanted me to breath pure oxygen through the mask then after about a minute he’d put some “stuff” into my IV and I’d be fast asleep. The nurse placed the mask on my face with such force I could hardly exhale. This freaked me out a bit because I’d just slid over onto the skinny operating table while hospital staff grabbed both of my arms, stretching them out perpendicular to my body, not unlike being in a crucifix position. Even as consciousness was fading, panic started welling up in my soul.

“Help me, Jesus” was all I could say to myself as my hearing slowly closed off and blackness consumed me.

Next memory was groggily looking at the clock in the recovery room. It was about 9:40 AM. “Praise God;” I thought. “It’s over. When can I go home?”

After a short time in the recovery room I was wheeled back into the secondary recovery room where family could come and be with me. Except, of course, I was alone, because as explained last week, Janey was in the ER with a broken foot. In any case, the nurse there, a very kind younger woman, said I should be able to go home by noon; provided, of course, that I could drink water without hurling and that I could…wait for it…pee.

Well, there you go, the gauntlet was thrown down and I was bound and determined to prove that I was fully capable of conquering these requirements post haste. Where’s the water? Where’s the toilet?

The drinking went fine; I was thirsty and the water not only stayed down, but it was hugely refreshing. Now it was time to shuffle off to the bathroom across the hall. The nurse helped me crimp the back of my hospital gown so I didn’t moon anyone and, with a little dizziness and some embarrassment, I made it to the next testing ground—the toilet.

 

Munson falls

Munson Falls, south of Tillamook off of Hwy. 101

“All right,” I thought; “it’s just you and me now.” And guess what? Nothing! Not a drop, nota! The little canister I was to “void” into was as bone dry when the nurse handed it to me. This little exercise went on for hours. I would have water running, I’d be thinking about waterfalls, and about the last time I really had to go. But nothing worked.

 

The surgeon insisted I could not go home until I sufficiently proved that my bladder was working. Evidently, bladders go into deep sleep when under anesthesia and they take longer than a teen-ager in a growth spurt to wake up. Yep, I was being held hostage by, of all things, my bladder. Not my cardiovascular system or my nervous system; but my bladder.  

I don’t think about my bladder much. In fact, I typically take it for granted that it’ll always work fine. But now all the sudden my whole world was zeroed in on my bladder waking up so I could finally go home.   

As mentioned last week, this got me thinking about 1 Corinthians 12:23-24:

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty; but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having greater honor to the part which lacks it. (NKJV)

Yes, I realize the Apostle Paul is speaking metaphorically about us, the church, being the Body of Christ. He’s teaching that we ought not to laud too highly those gifts that are seen while minimizing or even criticizing those gifts that work unseen or behind the scenes. The teacher in the pulpit is no more important to the Body of Christ than the janitor or parking attendant. All parts of a healthy body work in harmony together to properly worship God and to serve humanity. When something in the Body is out of whack, things don’t run as smoothly.

Same with the physical body. I could not leave to the comfort of my own home while my bladder was out of whack, so I had plenty of time to think. Where do I take others for granted? Or where do I minimize certain functions or roles that are different than my functions or roles? Sadly, I discovered that, yes, I did do my fair share of minimizing. I won’t reveal where but I will state that God used my bladder battle to wake me up to a larger weakness in my own character. I am confident that with this greater awareness steeped in the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit this weakness will be corrected in time.

Oh, and, thankfully, my bladder did eventually start working and my father-in-law was able to take me home at about 3:30 PM. But did I mention that the bowels also go to sleep?  

There Once was a Nice Couple from the Burbs

Bride and Groom lived in the suburbs. She was a happy medical biller and he a content bureaucrat. Then one day while in the shower, Groom noticed a lump where there shouldn’t be a lump.
“Hmm,” thought Groom, “wonder what that is.” He pushed in on it. It was squishy. “Eww,” he said. “Well, maybe it will go away,” he thought happily.
As time went on, not only did the lump not go away, it got bigger and started to hurt. “I’ll ask Siri what this is,” he said to himself. The ever-subservient Siri complied with a host of possibilities. Some were disturbing; Groom ignored those. Instead, he thought that a hernia was the likely culprit; an inguinal hernia to be exact. In fact, the lumpiness looked like it could be two hernias, “Oh, yippee,” he thought. “Better go see my doctor.”
After dropping his drawers and being poked and prodded by the doctor, she looked him in the eye.
“Yep, it’s a hernia. Looks like two in fact. You’ll need surgery.”
Groom gasped! “Surgery,” he exclaimed. “Don’t these things heal themselves?”
Looking at him pitifully, she delicately said “no. You have a hole in your abdominal wall and your intestines are sticking out.”
“Eww,” thought Groom. “Is that the squishy bit?”
“Yep. It needs to be stuffed back in and the hole needs to be closed. Your body can’t do that. But a surgeon can. I’ll get you a referral.”
“Oh, yippee.”
After a few more visits with the surgeon, some painful tests, more drawer dropping and poking and prodding; the fateful day was set. A double inguinal hernia repair was on its way. It would be done by laparoscopy through three small incisions in the abdomen.
Meanwhile, Bride was having to pick up some of the household chores Groom could not do because of pain and possible further injury. The evening before Groom’s surgery, Bride was dutifully rolling the packed-full garbage bin to the curb. She was contemplating the logistics of the next morning when she tripped; rolling over the outside of her left foot she fell down. Just at that time, a neighbor was walking by, but she politely looked the other way and acted like nothing happened. Bride then had to hobble to the curb then half hobble, half lurch back into the house.
“Oh no,” exclaimed Groom, sitting up with a yelp. “What happened?”
Bride explained the whole thing to him, he felt terrible; it was all his fault. He then sprang into action getting ice and ibuprofen.
“Probably just popped a ligament,” he said unreassuringly.
Well, in the fullness of time, both Bride and Groom drove to the hospital in the wee earlyHospital check in morning hours so Groom could check in with the surgery folks and get his groins repaired. After dropping Groom off, Bride, with tears of pain in her eyes, drove the short distance to the hospital’s Emergency Room. And wouldn’t you know it, that as Groom was being prepped for surgery, Bride was being diagnosed with a broken foot. Now both Bride and Groom could be laid up together at the same time; hopefully Youngest Son would be able to step up and do more household chores than usual.
Broken foot.pngThankfully, Bride’s family came to aid of Bride and Groom. Shuttling their injured cargo home, picking up prescriptions and doing some heavy lifting, quite literally, around the house for Bride and Groom they then rode off into the sunset.
Now Bride and Groom are quite a pair. One on crutches hardly able to walk, and the other with three holes in his abdomen looking a bit like the Michelin Man. He can walk, albeit painfully, but he can’t lift or twist. But together, persevering in love, and with a lot of help from Youngest Son, they are making it through; at least they’ve made it through three days, they only 45 more to go.

You Figured it Out

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably figured out this about Janey and I. Needless to say, we’ve had a rough week, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier. However, I can’t even imagine being in this sort of condition and being in the path of hurricane Harvey. Even as I lament with a little tongue-in-cheek about our situation, I pray for the victims in Texas; God be with them.
We are definitely tempted to ask God why this happening to us? But as MercyMe states in the song The Hurt and the Healer, “healing doesn’t come from asking why.” Instead, we are asking what are we to learn from this. We are both beginning to discern the lessons we’re to learn. I won’t reveal her lessons, but mine are in the areas of resting, slowness, and taking a lesson from 1 Corinthians 12:23 about learning to “bestow greater honor” to the things I’m tempted to regard as “less honorable.”
I’ll be exploring these in a little more detail as I stay home from work for a few days on medical leave. I’ll tease it by stating that it’s funny how we can learn lessons from major body systems that shut down and wake up slowly after having a couple of hours of general anesthesia and pain meds. No, I’m not talking about the cardiovascular or neurological systems; I’m talking about systems that we may be tempted to think are “less honorable.” Stay tuned, I’m hoping it’ll be a fun discussion!

 

Response to the New Year

garage_door

I’ve a taken a break from theological stuff and have following a “deep” and “profound” (wink-wink) haiku on my thoughts heading into the New Year. I call it: The Clash of Idealism with Reality.

 

2017…

…rich with promises. But first—

Tidy the garage!

 

I know, I have a weird sense of humor! But our garage, probably like yours, was the repository for all the package remains and present remnants in need of recycling. Now our recycle bin is packed full and we have 10 days to go until pick up!

That’s post-Christmas life in suburban America.

Getting Up Early?!

Saturdays I like to sleep in, wait till the sun comes up blazing through the window and Janey has the coffee going. But not today, nope; I had an early morning meeting at the church. Well, it wasn’t that early, it was at 8 AM, but that’s 8 AM on a Saturday. Did you know that ‘Saturday’ is Latin for ‘sleep in?’ Okay, it’s not, I’m just kidding; but that’s usually what I do on Saturdays, I sleep in.

Now I am aware that both medical and fitness experts encourage keeping the same go-to-bed and get-out-of-bed times throughout the week; whether it’s a weekend or not. I’m sure that’s good advice, even though I don’t follow it. Today I did, and I actually notice a difference.

 

5:30 AM on a Saturday????

I got up at the same time today as I do on Monday. I had my typical morning routine—sunrisequite time, coffee and bathing—completed by 7 and was on my bike by 7:10. Heading out of my driveway and turning west I was met by a low-slung sun, slowly rising over the Cascade Mountains. The air was cool but not cold, and there wasn’t a lot of traffic.

As the day progressed, we had the meeting, I hung out with some friends, I had my workout, lunch and a bit of family time all completed by just shortly after noon. Then…I can’t believe this….Janey talked me into going to—I hate to say it—CostCo (mind you, I’m not a cheap CostCo date)! Afterward (and after a little sticker shock) we went on and bought some grass-fed beef to throw onto the barbee this evening after sitting in my own recipe of fresh oregano, garlic, olive oil and Tabasco marinade. And then I dove into some hammock time with the newest Sunset magazine, reading about Joseph, Oregon (a place I have a hankering to return to).

 

What’s the Big Deal?

Because I usually get up later on Saturday, I feel rushed throughout the day. Gotta rush the workout; gotta rush the chores; gotta rush dinner prep, and then force myself to relax. Nothing’s at a manageable pace and soon I become frustrated because I feel like I’m running out time. But not today. Today I’m actually functioning in a more human pace; I’m even naturally relaxing and not even feeling guilty about it; which, as you may know, is somewhat of a foreign concept to me.

 

To Continue or Not to Continue…

Now I’ve gotten a little peek into why maintaining the same to-bed/get-up routine is beneficial. I’m sure there are some well researched and documented reasons around circadian rhythm and emotional stability; but it’s more than that. It’s a victory; minor perhaps, but still a victory. Stephen Covey once wrote that “if we put mind over mattress and arise early in the morning, we will earn our first victory of the day” (Principle-Centered Leadership, 1991, p. 49). I like the phrase mind over mattress and express that to myself on many a work-week morning; and sometimes it actually works.

Maybe this also an aspect of what Scripture is referring to about redeeming the time:

See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time.

—Ephesians 5:15-16a

Who knows, maybe I’ll do this again on another Saturday in the future.

Mount Ves-bubblus Erupts!

Bubble Mtn.

No, this is not Mount Vesuvius, it’s…it’s…it’s Mount Vesbubblus. With no warning, it rapidly appeared in my bathtub the other night. It just sort of came out of nowhere and then, bam! there it was; growing so fast I thought the entire bathroom was going to be consumed in its bubbly slickness.

Okay, it didn’t actually come out of nowhere. It actually came out of, well, one of my wife’s, uh, bath bombs (now don’t touch my Man Card, just hear me out!).

It all started when I came home from work on Tuesday.

“It was bit of a hard day today,” I said upon entering our home while flexing my shoulders in an effort to release the tension.

“That’s too bad,” said Janey. “Why don’t you take a bath and unwind a bit. I’ll take care of dinner.”

Sounding reasonable to me, I said, “Okay, that’s a good idea.” And then turning to head upstairs, she called after me:

“You can use one of my bath bombs if you like. They’re relaxing.”

Relaxing. Hmm, okay, relaxation’s not a bad thing, so what the heck. She told me where they were on the tub, even though they weren’t hard to miss sitting in that large glass bowl. In that bowl were three softball-size “bombs.” They were so big I thought maybe they opened up to reveal smaller ones. But no, these were softball-sized bath bombs. The brand appeared to be French because I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it; but since the Tour de France is going on, how can it hurt.

Dutifully, and with great difficulty, I finally extricated the bomb from its hermetically sealed plastic tomb, tossing it into the bath as it was filling. Soon, a soothing fragrance of lavender infused the air and I began to feel my shoulders loosen up to finally stop touching my ear lobes. I ever-so-slowly settled into the hot, fragrant water and turned on the jets.

logo_mrbubbleIt was like a Mr. Bubble box exploded, bubbles started erupting out of the water. Bubble boulders were mounting up on top of each, higher and higher, sliding down to the water, heading right for me. Then Mount Vesbubblus started spilling over the side, soaking the bathmat. It was a bubbly mayhem threatening to clean everything in its path, leaving behind a swath of soapy scum as far as the eye could see (at least the eye that had bunch soap in it).

Then Caleb, our 10 year old son popped in. Ah, yes, he’s here to save me, I thought. How wrong I was. Instead, that’s when the laughter started. Then he got his mom; she also laughed as Mount Vesbubblus was now sitting taller than me, looming over me like a frothy blob seeking to inhale my head.

In between laughing gasps, she asked me how this happened. I said the jets did it, honest! She didn’t believe me, she thought it was more than that, like maybe the beans from last night’s dinner. But no, I hadn’t had such a bio-experience in the tub…at least not up to that point.

With the bubbly blob lurching toward me I finally gathered enough sense to turn the jets off. Ha, that did it! Mount V stopped growing. And once the laughter stopped, I could hear millions of little popping noises, sounding like little tiny fireworks or ant-sized popcorn popping. Mt. V was dying, never to come back again.

Needless to say, I am swearing off of bath bombs altogether, I;ll just let Janey enjoy her bombs by herself!

Yes, I know, while this is a true story, it is a light-hearted story. Sometimes we just need to laugh a little even as so many things that concern us are going on all over the world.

A merry heart does good, like medicine.

–Proverbs 17:22