House Renovations

We’ve had to do some work on the house, lately.  It’s one of those things that snuck up on us.  Since we moved in three years ago, we’ve intended to get the front steps tiled to match the porch.  Soon after we moved in a pipe leaked into the basement and we had to tear out a wall so the plumbers could properly fix it.  That wall has been torn up ever since.  Some plaster cracked in the bedroom and we needed to get it repaired.  We waited too long and the crack became too big to do a simple repair.  We looked around and realized that all these small jobs had turned into a huge job.  So we called a handy man and dug deep into the wallet.

Our relationships are like this.  Maybe a person gets angry and yells at their spouse, but if we talk about our feelings…process what happened…then that “small crack in the plaster” can easily be fixed.  Maybe a person really messes up and breaks trust with a parent or child.  They say that they will pick them up or take care of them, but, then, the person forgets or chooses not to. It’s like the basement wall, though: If we get in and repair it correctly…and rebuild trust right away, we can get back to enjoying life and it may not have to cost us so much.

With any relationship issues: ignoring the problem is not a good option.  The longer we ignore the problem, the bigger the problem becomes.  Sometimes, when we don’t properly talk through our smaller problems the relationship breaks down and soon it is far too expensive to repair.

With our house, I think we caught it in time.  We had to use quite a bit of savings, but our house is nearly all fixed up: even better than when we moved in.  If you have a relationship that has broken down, don’t wait any longer.  Get to work fixing the pain and begin the process of rebuilding trust.  I think you will find that it is worth the risk, time and expense!

Wednesday Misery
This is actually from Monday before when Dr. Beaumont
pulled that fluid out of my head with syringes. (before my second surgery)

After the surgery on Tuesday I was in the ICU.  Things were progressing pretty well, there, so they moved me on Wednesday (morning?) to the otherside of the 10th floor which is a “step-down” unit.  I’m still hooked up to the telemetry monitor (wireless), but also a room monitor and they still keep a closer eye on us there, but its a shared room with doors, like the rest of the hospital.
When I got to the new room, I had a seemingly very nice and quiet roommate.  Also, I was feeling pretty good…but then the migraines started.  Oh Lord, the migraines!  Here I was in a room with machines beeping and squawking every 5 minutes (one of my monitors was clearly not working right).  In a room with doctors, nurses, and techs barging in and out, not just to care for me, but also for my roommate.  It was not really anyone’s fault, but I was hurting, not just because of the brutal migraines that had gripped me, but because of the cacophony noise, light and motion that seemed unending.
They told us they could get us a private room at first, so there was this hope keeping me sane and then someone else got put in that room and they said I was out-of-luck.
Up until now had endured many painful procedures and had gone through quite a lot, I think most of you can agree, but these migraines were more than I could handle and they had no plan to help me find comfort or even improvement.  Finally I just lost it.  Looking back I feel so bad for the nurses because they were doing all they could do, but  I was finally able to talk to the right people and next thing you know I was in a private room with the lights off!
Not sure what made it happen, probably a combination of everything we were doing:
  • the nurses and I working together on figuring out a new schedule for pain meds
  • the suggestion of Toradol by my Nurse Practitioner
  • and we can’t downplay the role of that new quiet single room
…but I found relief!
Once I was in that single room (and that only happened after I had a little… no…  A  BIG meltdown), I was almost embarrassed that I started feeling so much better.  But my wife reminds me that if I hadn’t gotten a quiet space I might never have started feeling better and I deserved a space that helped me to heal, not a space that made me hurt worse!  (I think she’s right).
Wednesday was terrible.  We seemed to not be managing any of the pain and I never had pain of less than a 9 (maybe an 8 at the least) all day.  Most of that day my pain was excruciating.  I make a big deal out of this only because that night was so amazing.
Once we found the right drug schedule; once we found a new drug to start; once I found a place where we could manage noise and light and cut down the traffic…the pain began to just disappear.  As bad as I had felt all day, within an hour of being in that quiet  room I was a different person.  I pulled my head out from under the blanket.  I began to talk and began, eventually, to smile again.  Wednesday evening I was suddenly able to function a little bit again.  I owe it all to the nurses and administration at Barnes-Jewish for working so diligently to find me a space even though they were out of private rooms, and even though I was yelling and crying at them.  I think I would still be suffering in the hospital (instead of recuperating at home) had they not been able to work that miracle!

Pain & Empathy

Recently I told someone that I’ve had a headache since February 7 and the person responded in a way that I felt they were minimizing me, “Oh, now, come on, Scott…” they said.  No.  I won’t come on.  Seriously, I’ve had a headache since February 7.  A two centimeter (in diameter) piece of my brain was taken out and my head has hurt consistently since.  Sometimes it feels like what I’d call a “normal” tension headache and other times I find myself completely debilitated.

Usually it feels like there is a rubber band connected between my temple and the back of my head and sometimes it feels tight and “pops” with pain and other times, especially after I’ve taken medicine, it feels looser and less-noticable.

I say all of this not for pity, but with a point in mind.  Even before I was a pastor, my life has always seems to intersect with people who were hurting.  That’s not a bad thing to me, btw, but there have been many people I have sat (or stood) with and heard words like:

“My back just always hurts”
“Every since my surgery I can’t sleep”
“My sciatica keeps me from _______.”

Before my own recent experience, I guess I tucked these people into my prayer list and must have thought “oh, that’s too bad for them.”  I could sympathize, I guess (I could feel bad for them), but I had never felt pain that wouldn’t go away so I couldn’t empathize.

Pain in my life has always been fleeting.  In a way, that is weird to say.  Before this surgery I might have told you that I had experienced pain, but I, now, don’t think I had.  Oh sure, I have had headaches from time to time and I’ve had spasms, cuts, bumps, bruises and sores…   but I had never before experienced pain that wouldn’t go away and pain that  doctors simply called, “expected.”  Think about it: that means that there is nothing to do about it.  Pain that just “is.”

What I realize is: many of the older members of my congregation, especially, know what it is to have pain that just ‘is.’  Pain that is expected and pain, for which, there is nothing to be done.  Before a few months ago, I would have prayed for these prayer concerns without knowing anything of what they have felt, but now I have empathy for what these people endure.  I feel a pain inside that doesn’t simply go away or subside.

I wonder if that is why Christ was so willing to die upon the cross for us?  Until God felt our human pain, until God has walked a short distance in our shoes, God could not entirely understand us:  could not entirely love us as God wished to.  Perhaps, by feeling our pain, God and humanity could dwell within one another and have wholeness in a way that we could not otherwise experience!

As we come into Holy Week and as we consider what it means for us that Jesus suffered, we need to consider what it means that we should love others as Christ loves us.  Does that mean that we must suffer as others suffer?  Does that mean that we must experience what others experience?  Does that mean, as people of faith, we must open up our hearts to feel ‘the other?’

My Wife is Sometimes Right, but don’t tell her so!

Alright, sometimes I’m willing to admit when my wife is right and I’m not.  This maybe one of those cases.  Carrie says I’ve been doing too much blogging.  She may be right, but I have a lot on my mind (less in my head, technically, but more on my mind), so you may have to put up with me a while longer.

Today I’ve been thinking about my luck this week.  Not just luck, though.  I’ve been thinking about my blessings.  I’ve slowly been learning about what happened during my surgery and in the time after (which with the anesthesia, I don’t remember, either).

A surgery that was only supposed to last 4-6 hours went for almost 10.  During that time I had family sitting together, surrounding one another and showing love for me that I didn’t even know about in the moment.  My mother, father, and sister never once left the hospital, only taking short breaks to the cafeteria.  Since my wife has so many St. Louis friends, having been raised there, her friends and family came and sat with her, bringing her food and support throughout the day and my loving wife never left the waiting room (according to her, I will get some fact-checking done on this 🙂

After a surgery that when more than twice as long as expected, we can expect that they had been thorough. I’m sure they were, but a new state-of-the-art intraoperative MRI was the real blessing, I guess.  While I was still on the operating table, the surgeon did a new scan and found tissue that still needed to be removed and the surgery continued in order to be sure that it was done right the first time.

So far, I’m already amazed at the care and love that has been shown to me, but there is more.  With every wearying visit, with all the amazing notes through twitter, facebook and comments on my blog…and with the letters that have already found their way to my in-laws house…  I see the blessings around me in all kinds of new ways.

It’s too bad that we wait for these moments in order to notice our blessings, isn’t it?  God fills our lives with continue blessings:  people who care, love being shown, and moments of health and care.  I hope that we will all set aside our cynicism and concerns in life in order to pay more attention to the joys that are right before us.  I hope that we will see the people who surround us in love.  I hope that we will feel healing, even in the midst of pain.  I hope that we can appreciate the small thoughtful things that loved ones do rather than over look them or expect more!

May my week of blessing, shed some light on all of our blessings this week and give us hope and peace for next week!!!