Surgery Awaits

My leak closed once, and then it reopened (or another one opened) when I vomited.  Then it closed again, only to come back and this time come back worse.  It was brutal two nights ago, and it slowly got worse.  The best choice was clear:  It’s time to get surgery.  My mother prayed about it and I did, and it seems like this is the right choice (or else I’d have to just sit here more and… wait).  I informed the surgeon yesterday.

The day really didn’t get better.  I wasn’t having pain from just sitting there; I was having pain from coughing.  I’ve been put on an antibacterial regiment for a few days to battle the possibility of pneumonia, and while there hasn’t been any bad signs like a fever, coughing was hurting a ton.  Some combination of cough medicine and pain killers finally put me to sleep.  I was hesitant to take more painkillers, but the nurse insisted I take a small dosage of morphine after taking a small one of hydrocodone just about an hour earlier.

“Isn’t this going to knock me out?”

“Oh no, this is a really small dose.”

Too bad it knocked me almost immediately.  Not only that, I started to feel sick.  I drifted into a very bizarre state where I was more or less out cold but very conscious and even aware of some things happening around me.

As odd as it sounds, I had one of my best prayer sessions with God in a long time as I was “knocked out” for about four hours.  As I eventually fought off the nausea, I repented of some things I had done and thanked God I was alive.  I prayed for my family, my friends, my fellow college leaders, and my church.  It was not exactly the most comfortable thing, but hey, why not pray if I’m plastered to my bed like a corpse.  I kind of think that’s how drunk people feel.

Anyway, I got up and coughed some more until some more cough medicine kicked in again.  Man, it hurt a lot.  The most annoying thing.  Not only that, I feel like the freaking chest tube is not working properly because now I often have to stand up and do awkward poses to try to flush some air out.  I’m sure it’s amusing to look it but it’s pretty exasperating, because I often have to get up when I want to lay down because my head hurts. Continue reading

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A Bump in the Road

In my previous post, I mentioned that my leak had closed and that I could be out of here by tomorrow.  Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, I got nauseated.  Nauseated.  I have no idea why.  I tried to fight it off for hours, I took Tylenol and alka seltzer, and it still wouldn’t go away.  In fact, it slowly got worse.  I could barely watch the game or interact with the guests that came to see me.  Eventually, my mom used some Eastern medicine technique, poking both of my thumbs and inducing me to vomit.  So I did, and finally felt some semblance of relief.  Of course, right before I went to bed, I heard a familiar bubbling sound… the leak was back, probably due to the stress of throwing up.  Are you freaking kidding me?  I was sunk.

This morning was brutal.  Since I was off suction, I could slowly feel the pneumothorax growing again.  I tried to force the air out myself through the tube, but it kept hurting.  At like three in the morning, I asked the nurses to put me back on suction, but they said it was okay and that they didn’t have the authority to do so.  By eight in the morning, the pain was killing me so I demanded to be put back on suction again, so they paged the doctor.  Finally, they came back, and amusingly enough, these nurses had no idea how to operate the apparatus (they almost plugged the suction in the wrong place until I told them otherwise).  They eventually got me plugged back in and I slowly started to feel relief again.

It was disappointing, and I was mad.  I felt like God was messing with my head.  I was finally fine, the leak had finally closed… and I get nauseated?  It was infuriating.  I barely even ate anything, and I rarely throw up, ever.  And to think that caused my leak to open up again was all sorts of annoying.  I spent the early part of the day making smart-aleck comments at God in my head (this is not wise, by the way).

As the day progressed, I calmed down and assessed my options.  Surgery was still on the table, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get operated on.  Of course, after several naps, I woke up once and found that the bubbling stopped once again.  Because my morning X-ray looked bad (obviously, I knew it would), one doctor really wants me to get surgery, but the surgeon himself came by recently.  I explained what happened, he saw that I was no longer leaking, he shrugged and was like, “Well, we’ll try again,” and I’m off suction again.  I will not throw up again.  I’d rather stab myself in the head.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’m out Sunday, but I’ll have to keep looking at my surgery options.  My mother thinks that I just need to pray, and while I do not doubt God’s power in keeping my lung intact, I believe he also gave us medicine and doctors, and he expects us to act wisely.  We’ll see.  It was a bump in the road and I had a miserable night and morning, but there may yet to be hope I’m out of this crappy place by this weekend.

I’m celebrating by eating ice cream right now.

The Faithfulness of God and the Problem of Worry

It is popular in Christian circles to tell people not to worry about anything for “it is in God’s hands.”  Oftentimes, that comes from people who are chilling and not going through any major trial in their lives.  It’s one thing to say; it’s another to find yourself in a mess and try not to worry about what the future holds.

Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, true, and profitable for teaching.  I’ve also always had a problem with this passage.  Aren’t there Christians around the world who are starving and have no idea where that next meal is coming from?  Aren’t there Christians who are terminally ill and have no idea when their last day is?  Doesn’t this sound a bit like prosperity crap, that God is going to dress us up like Solomon?  It just seems like a passage that is either insensitive to the real needs of struggling believers or that is detached from reality.

However, as I’ve read this passage over the years, I’ve come to conclude that Jesus isn’t promising comfort all the time, nor is he condemning a natural concern and planning for the future.  In a previous passage, he talks about storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, where moth and rust can destroy.  Therefore, what Christ is concerned about is an obsessive, debilitating type of worry that is concerned more about filling one’s own desires or needs than seeking after God.  Believers should seek first his kingdom and righteousness; the rest they should entrust to God, whether they always get fed or clothed or not.  God is faithful and ultimately knows what we need to do his work.

Makes sense.  It’s still not easy, as I’ve come to learn recently. Continue reading

His grace is sufficient, despite the lung… er, thorn

I here sit in a hospital bed yet again, with a chest tube that is sucking air out of my chest… yet again.  Because my lung collapsed… yet again, even though it was not supposed to anymore after I received surgery for it in 2007.

There are many similarities between then and now (for the complete story of that 2007 visit, go here).  I had a basic idea of what was wrong but had stuff to do, so I tried to fight through the pain as much as possible.  Eventually, I got griped at by a girl(s) to go see somebody, I did, and I was told I immediately needed a chest tube, went to the ER, and now I’m stuck in a hospital room.  Another weird similarity:  Back in 2007, my church in Austin had a crawfish boil that summer and I had to miss it because I was in the hospital.  Yesterday, we were going to have a crawfish boil for my church in Arlington, one that I had planned, and I spent the day getting X-rays and eventually a chest tube after I started out at Costco.  I guess God doesn’t want me to eat crawfish.

Anyway, I had slight pain for about a week, but it spiked considerably on Friday evening while I was lying down and texting (yep, that was all I was doing).  I considered going to the seminary medical center for an X-ray, but they were closed and wouldn’t open until Monday.  I resolved to wait because I had the crawfish boil to set up the next day.  Since it was uncomfortable to sleep straight lying down, I slept on a sofa chair in an awkward position.  I actually got decent rest, but the pain wasn’t gone when I got up.  Still, I called some people, played some Street Fighter x Tekken with John, and then went to Costco with him, his brother, and Cathy.  Almost immediately, I was beset with questions from Cathy about how I felt because, as she put it, I looked “worse than awful.”  She kept promising, “Okay, this is the last time I’m going to ask because you’re not a baby, but are you really ok?”

“Yeah, it’s been worse.”

“That… is not a helpful answer.’

Anyway, she didn’t keep her promise and kept pestering.  Her and John then tried to develop a ruse to get me to go to a Care Now and get an X-ray, with John saying he and Sam would go to another store while I should accompany Cathy to church.  What a silly lie:  We’re not even done shopping.  What could we possibly do at church yet?  As I looked at him quizzically, Cathy just came clean and told me that she wanted to take me to Care Now.  Knowing that I would not hear the end of it and that it was, in fact, the wise thing to do, given my history and a recent death of a friend, I relented. Continue reading