Remember ‘Where’s Waldo’? Because of my recent hiatus from the blogging world, you probably have been asking…”Where’s Terry”? If you speculated I enjoyed my time at the Providence Luxury Hotel so much that I decided to extend my stay, you are partially correct. I did extend my stay; I have not yet learned to enjoy suffering.
From my last blog post http://desiretoinspire.life/blocked-arterytheheartoftheproblem/ I shared that Karen had booked a one night stay for me at the Providence Luxury Hotel in beautiful downtown Everett, Washington.
She knew how much I enjoyed my previous stay. The accommodating staff had worked hard to meet my every need while repairing a hole in my heart. So on December 23rd, I once again found myself reclining on one of the hotel’s Swedish massage tables while eagerly awaiting my surgery to place a stent (angioplasty) in an artery not feeding enough blood into my hungry heart.
You know the saying…”Time flies when you’re having fun”. No sooner had I kissed Karen good-by, I awoke to her smiling face. A band, wrapped around my right wrist, applied pressure to the opened artery. A nurse told me my surgeon couldn’t proceed up the artery to my blockage, so he had to use the same right artery he used in my groin when repairing the hole in my heart. The bruising from that last procedure was just going away…oh well.
My groin felt fine…my wrist was hurting like a son-of-a-gun. As I visited with Karen, my forearm and hand also began to hurt like a misplaced migraine headache. Soon, my hand turned an ashen shade of gray and I lost feeling to my fingers. Was this the result of a manicure gone wrong? I buzzed a nurse. As I showed her my hand, her face turned the same shade of gray as my numb limb. A phone call was placed; a vascular surgeon appeared; a declaration was made and I kissed Karen once again as a faithful staff member wheeled me away for another salon treatment.
A few hours later I returned to my private room. As I recovered from the potent cocktail served at the salon, I noticed elastic bandage wrap covering my right arm from the elbow past the palm of my hand. Because I was still recovering from the hangover of my first surgery, I hadn’t fully grasped what the second surgery entailed. Something about a hematoma and needing to release the pressure in my hand and arm. I really didn’t know what to expect… maybe a large Band-Aid over my wrist. Instead, my arm looked like the decapitated appendage from an Egyptian mummy.
The surgeon soon appeared and unwrapped three layers of bloody gauze covering my arm and hand. Karen and I gasped. An impressive 12 inch long by 2 inch wide window into my forearm had been opened. The wound was held open by a network of blue rubber bands hooked to staples. I was in awe (shock) at the sight of the inner workings of my arm. It looked like a salmon fillet which was ready to throw on the barbecue. No…a fillet is a boneless piece of meat. I had a clear view of one of my tendons and I watched a busy little artery pulsate in rhythm to my beating heart.
After rewrapping my arm, the vascular surgeon left. My cardiologist then appeared and explained that while he entered the artery in my wrist, he accidentally punctured the back side of it at the same time without knowing he did it. This caused the blood to pour into my hand and forearm. Talk about a blood-bath!
I spent Dec. 23rd and 24th in Providence and came home late Christmas day. After some of the swelling went down, I returned to Providence on the 29th to have the rubber bands replaced with stitches. Now I have an arm full of sutures Frankenstein would be proud of.
Some may look at this as a tragedy but I see opportunity. How many people take the time to invest in developing the coordination and strength of their weak hand. I’ve got 3 to 6 months to train my left hand to perform as well as my right. Even now, as I type this post, my left hand is doing all the work. You never know when you will be forced to use your weak hand to brush your teeth or wipe your fanny. I’ll be ready!
Oh how we take for granted so many things in our lives…like the good fortune of a steady paycheck, the freedoms we possess for living in America, the love of a loyal spouse, and our good health.
Job and I have a few things in common: We both understand how our fortunes can change in an instant. (Well my fortunes changed over the course of a few months, while Job’s actually did change instantly). Let me show you a comparison…Me first:
- September 25 -I suffer a mini-stroke. Recovered quickly but found out I couldn’t drive school bus for an entire year.
- On October 2, I drop a large kidney stone. It lodges in my ureter and I have surgery to remove it. Complications arise. See my article at: http://desiretoinspire.life/kidney-stone-men-stumble-pain/
- From tests taken because of stroke, my doctors discover a hole in my heart and a blocked artery.
- On December 7, I have surgery to close up hole in heart. See my article for details: http://desiretoinspire.life/heart-surgery-the-hole-truth/
- December 13 – I can’t breath and almost pass out. Karen calls the ambulance and I’m rushed to the emergency room. (Yipee!!!) Diagnosis: Dehydration.
- December 15 – A wind storm rips off a big branch from our cedar tree and takes out part of our chain link fence and our grandkids’ swing set. (Glad it missed our house).
- On December 23 another heart surgery to put a stent in one of my arteries. Ooops! Doctor punctures artery resulting in a hematoma.
Now for Mr. Job, “…a good man who feared God and stayed away from evil”. Job 1:1 “Job’s sons and daughters were dining at the oldest brother’s house when tragedy struck.” Job 1:13 :
- .”A messenger rushed to Job’s home with this news: Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us, drove away the animals and killed all the farmhands except me.”
- “While the messenger was still speaking, another arrived with more bad news: The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the herdsmen, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
- “As he was still speaking, another arrived to say, “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert, and engulfed the house so that the roof fell in on them and all are dead; and I alone escaped to tell you.”
- A short time later Satan, who was behind all the mischief to begin with, asked God for permission to hurt him. God relented and gave Job a horrible case of boils from the tip of his head to the bottom of his feet.
So why does God allow suffering? That’s a question Godly men have wrestled with throughout the centuries, including Job. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.”
How can suffering be “working for our good“? James, the brother of Jesus, answers this question in James 1:2-4: “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
God wants us to love him by having faith that He knows what He is doing in our lives. When life is good, we are happy with our circumstances and feel God loves us and is pleased with us. When life takes a U-turn for the worse, we often feel distant from God. God must be punishing us. He doesn’t care and doesn’t love us enough to rescue us from our negative circumstances.
As for me, I believe suffering is an opportunity to test my trust in God. Do I enjoy suffering? Do I consider it pure joy? Are you crazy? Sorry James but I guess I’m not mature enough to “be happy when the way is rough.” I am mature enough though to understand that God loves me no matter what. If I am going to give Him control of my life, I have to be ready to accept the fact that He will, at times, bring difficult situations into my life for training purposes.
Remember the greatest commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” is first. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is second. A part of love is having empathy toward the suffering of others. If we have no personal experience with suffering how can we learn to love those who suffer? If we haven’t experienced suffering, how can we hope to even come close to understanding the suffering Christ experienced for us on the cross?
Yes, through suffering our faith is tested but also our capacity for empathy grows. We must first acquire the faith necessary to humbly allow God to do his good work in our lives. This good work (which at times involves suffering) then allows us to feel the pain and suffering of others, including Christ. It is then, through suffering, we can truly begin to love others as we love ourselves and to truly love the Lord with our hearts, souls, and minds.
If you would like to see a photo of the inside of my arm, keep scrolling down.
(Warning: Not For The Faint Of Heart)