Did you hear the angels singing this morning? There were rainbows in the sky and happy little bluebirds were dropping flower petals around me. It was a moment of sheer bliss in my little world. Their song went something like this, “ Praise God for great blessings. Sue is taking a real shower. Rivers of warm water flow down her back. Water washes the wounded foot. She feels so clean, so fresh. Showers of blessings are falling, Soon Sue will be well.”
It has been four weeks now since surgery. I know I am getting better because the boredom has begun to set in. The pain is pretty well controlled with the meds, but I just can't do much. Yesterday I had hoped to go to church, but I just didn't have enough energy to really go. My stamina has gone to just about none. It is frustrating. I've watched a lot of TV, but that wears out quickly. I don't mean to complain, I am healing. I know this is a temporary situation, but it just looks like a long boring road ahead right now.
I've had a lot of colorful, kind of scary dreams. I assume they are the result of the good drugs I have been taking. The dreams are not pleasant. I can't understand why people would take these pills for fun. Last night the dream seemed more real than normal. My husband was holding a flashlight and running around the bedroom with a flashlight and a flyswatter whacking the floor and yelling “Gotcha!” It seemed to be odd behavior for my studious, sedate husband. In the morning he said he hoped he hadn't bothered me, but he did kill two crickets who were driving him nuts during the night. He has now lined our bedroom with cricket traps in an effort to prevent another night of wild cricket hunting.
The nurse finished cutting away the many layers of bloody dressings and pulled it all away from my foot when the surgeon walked into the room. I looked down at my bruised, swollen foot, crisscrossed with sutures and said that my foot was ugly. The doctor smiled and said that my foot looked great. He put the x-rays on the screen. It looked to me like someone had dumped an erector set into my foot, there were screws and plates everywhere. The doctor said everything was precisely where it should be. He was extremely happy with the way everything looked. I was extremely relieved to hear all was okay.
I am now wearing a much smaller dressing and a big orthopedic boot. In a week I will be allowed to remove the boot and take a shower. No weight-bearing until he reevaluates me in five weeks. I am still taking my good drugs for pain, but I can go almost six hours between doses. Mobility is difficult and frustrating. But just knowing that everything is precisely where it should be gives me courage and hope for the rest of my recovery.
It has been ten days since my foot surgery. I knew it would be painful and hard, but it has been more painful and difficult than I had expected. The pain is beginning to ease up some, but I am still very grateful for the good drugs. Everything just seems difficult. My foot is very heavy. I'm pretty sure that there are concrete blocks wrapped under the bandage. My right leg should be very strong when I get to the other side of this recovery.
I have a big stack of books that I was planning to read, but I think my brain has turned to mush. I just can't concentrate. My big diversion each day is to watch House Hunters on HGTV.
My minister came by and prayed for me. My friend Jack came by laid his big hands on my foot. Jack has the hands of a healer. My daughter came by and did reiki on me. My friend the rabbi has prayed for me. Sometimes I am very aware of the energy of divine grace and healing filling me. It is wonderful to have friends who have faith enough to pray.
The yummy food, the cards, the visits and the phone calls have really helped. It is good to have tangible evidence of love and friendship.
I have the most awesome husband in the world. He has done all the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry and shopping. He washed my back and shampooed my hair. He gets up in the night and helps me when I feel wobbly. He holds me when I cry.
I have been spending a lot of time with pain since my foot surgery five days ago. Pain just takes over your life and colors everything you see and do. While I was in the hospital the nurses kept asking me to give my pain a number, “On a scale from one to ten, where is your pain right now?” I was never quite sure what to answer. Once I said, “Eleven.” The nurse said my pain could not be eleven. I disagreed with her, but I was not in a very good place argue.
I know the pain scale can be a very useful tool for the nurses, but it just doesn't seem to be complete. I know several of you are very talented writers. Help me to find some descriptive phrases so others will understand just what the pain feels like. Think of a time when severe pain has overwhelmed you. How would you describe that pain. For the purpose of this discussion, limit your description to physical pain, not the pain of a broken heart or great grief. Broken hearts are another whole discussion of pain.
I do know that bravely facing theoretical pain that has not happened yet is far easier than it is to endure the messy, overwhelming floods of real pain.
Here's a couple of descriptions. There are just so many good words that describe pain.
I felt like I was on the rocks near the bottom of Niagara Falls. The pain just kept pounding me against the rocks with unrelenting fury. (That pain would be an eleven.)
A dull ache spread everywhere, like a poisonous snake growing larger and more menacing. It felt dangerous.
You try to describe a moment of great pain. When I publish my great novel, I will give you full credit for any of your words that I may use.
Right now my pain lever is rapidly rising. The floodgates are about to burst open and overwhelm me. It is time for some of those good drugs.
The house is clean. The laundry is done. The shopping is done. The bills are paid.I think everything is as ready as I can make it.
Tomorrow I am having a talo-navicular fusion, naviculo-cuneiform fusion, first and second tarsal-metatarsal fusion and a medium infusion of bone grafted from my tibia. All that means I am having reconstructive surgery on my left foot. Walking has become increasingly more painful over the past few years. Our last trip convinced me that it was time to do something about the pain. The surgeon assures me that he can fix my problem. I will be on crutches for the next three months, then after some physical therapy I will be better than ever. I expect to be able to run a four minute mile with my new bionic foot, or least happily walk a mile and be pain free.
I am actually pretty nervous about this surgery. I am told that is the appropriate emotion. I will gladly receive all your prayers, happy thoughts and positive energy for a quick and complete recovery. A few prayers for my sweet husband who will be my nurse would also be in order. I do not have a history a being a very good patient.
Let me tell you about my friend Moe. Last year Moe was ecstatic when he won a lottery in his small African homeland and received a coveted visa to emigrate to the United States. He is a well educated man who had been employed as a social worker. He had heard about how good life was in America and was excited about being allowed to move here. He was full of dreams. He arrived in America four months ago and moved into a home with several other newly arrived immigrant families. He immediately began to search for a job. This was not as easy as he had anticipated. He speaks very good English, but his accent is noticeable. He almost got a job as a bellman in a downtown hotel, but was told he would have to get a driver's license first. The job might require some driving. He is thirty-five years old and has been driving for many years. He expected it would be something easily accomplished. He had no idea the hassle an American MVA can cause a man.
Moe does not own a car. You cannot take a driver's test without a car. A friend told him to call FISH, which is an organization for which I volunteer. We provide transportation for people who need it. Most of the rides are for older folk who need to see the doctor. When Moe called with his request a volunteer was found to take him to the MVA. He took his green card and his African driver's license. That was not enough paper work. He needed to provide all sorts of papers to prove he was a legal resident. He went home and gathered all his papers together and another volunteer took him to MVA again. The papers were in order, but now he would have to do a drug test. I don't know why this was required since none of the questionable looking teenagers in the room were required to provide a drug test. Another volunteer was needed to take him to another town, the only place that does drug screens for the MVA. He passed the drug test and returned again to the MVA. This time he was told that he would have to have a complete physical to certify that he was physically able to drive. The man has no job and no health insurance so this was a problem. Finally a local charity provided the funds for the medical exam. He passed that and returned to the MVA. He was allowed to take the written exam and received a perfect score. He was told he would then have to schedule a road test. He scheduled the test and a volunteer let him use his car for the exam. When the examiner got in the car he asked Moe to demonstrate that the lights and turn indicators worked. He did that. Then the examiner asked him to turn on the heater. Moe did not know how to turn on the heater. It was 95 degrees and no one had thought to show him the heater. He was not allowed to take the road test if he did not how to turn on the heater. He rescheduled the test. This is when I first met Moe. I went with him to an empty parking lot where he quizzed me about the heater and air-conditioner. He wanted to make sure he knew how to work every knob and dial on my dashboard. He practiced parallel parking and three point turns. The man is an excellent parallel parker.
It was obvious that he was nervous when got in line for the road test. He parked beautifully, but then, at the stop sign he stopped with the front tires on the white line, and that automatically disqualified him. He was greatly disappointed. He rescheduled and once again I took him to practice parking and then to the MVA for another road test. This time he was calm and confident. As he was demonstrating parking my car started making a loud rattling noise. The examiner said the car sounded unsafe and stopped the test. Once again Moe rescheduled his test. My car never made the noise again, but I did take it to the shop and they tightened up some things that might have caused it.
Today we once again practiced parking and then went to the MVA with all our paper work. His papers were in order but the computer did not show that he had scheduled an appointment. We went to the scheduling office to check on their error, but we were told that there was no appointment in the computer. He would have to reschedule. No amount of arguing helped. I asked if she could schedule the next appointment while we were there so we could be confident that it was indeed in their computer. She agreed to do that. As she was entering his information she stopped and asked him to repeat his phone number. She looked up and said that using his phone number the computer shows he had an appointment today after all. Someone had made a typographical error. We had to go stand in line again , but this time we were cleared to once again take the road test. There were no more problems. He drove back into the MVA lot with a smile as big as his American dreams. He had passed. The two hours we waited for the license itself were easy waiting. The nine trips to the MVA with all their hassles were gone. Moe just grinned with happiness. He called his wife and friends with joy overflowing.
On the way home today he said that today was his best day since coming to America. He loves his new country.
This post from Brian McLaren's blog says exactly what I've been thinking. Thanks Brian.If you want to read more of what he has to say,his blog is on my blog list.
"I don't really like proof-texting - pulling a verse out of context to try to prove a point. I'm not even a big fan of the fact that the Bible is divided up into chapters and verses. It wasn't always that way - our modern schema of chapters and verses is a relatively late addition to the Bible, having evolved since the 13th Century. Chapter-and-versification allows people to kidnap a quote out of its context in a longer narrative and apply it in potentially irresponsible and harmful ways, as if the Bible were a legal constitution and its verses were articles, sections, subsections, and amendments in a legal code.
But I'm about to engage in chapter-and-versing, consciously and intentionally - and with regard to context, because in this case, the ancient text applies powerfully to our own situation in America today. Consider Exodus 23:9:
"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt."
The command was originally for ancient Jewish people. After a famine, they became refugees in Egypt and eventually were enslaved for generations by Pharoah's regime. But according to the Bible, God isn't on the side of the oppressors; God sides with the oppressed, and so God liberated them from slavery. God then led them through the wilderness and ultimately provided them a place to live. The oppressed became the blessed. (continued after the jump)
But being blessed by God gave them no excuse to oppress others, so they were commanded to never forget - never forget what it's like to be oppressed, so you never become complicit in the oppression of others. The command is repeated often, and even strengthened, as in Leviticus 19:33-34:
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
You find a similar strengthening of the command in Deuteronomy (10:19):
[The LORD] defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Lately I've been thinking about Exodus 23:9 and its companion verses in relation to the current controversy about a group of Muslim citizens - full American citizens in a democracy, not even aliens! - seeking to build a mosque in Manhattan. Among others, Sarah Palin has called for peace-loving Muslims to "refudiate" the mosque, calling it a provocation and saying that it stabs the hearts of people in the heartland. But I wonder if people in the heartland have forgotten that they are only a few generations away from ancestors who were also immigrants, who came to the United States in many cases to experience freedom of religion.
Shouldn't it stab the hearts of caring Americans like you and me to imagine forbidding Muslims to experience the same freedom of religion in their new homeland that our own ancestors sought here in the past? Shouldn't we remember how it feels to be seen as aliens, and shouldn't we love our Muslim neighbors as ourselves, wanting the same religious freedom for them that we cherish?
That's why I think it's valid to bring Exodus 23:9 and its companion verses into the equation at times like these. We Christians - and Jews too - should enthusiastically support Muslims in their desire to build a center devoted to peaceful religion near the site of an atrocity committed in the name of violent religion. We are not called to mistreatment, prejudice, oppression, or even to mere tolerance - we are called to something far higher: to empathy, to generosity, to hospitality, and to love, fueled by empathy and memory. To violate those values should truly stab the heart of all Christians everywhere.
Knowing that Sarah Palin respects the Scriptures, I think if she gives it a second and prayerful thought, she couldn't help but change her mind."
On our last day of adventure we rode up into the mountains to see Mount Saint Helens. WOW! Seeing it blew me away. Mount Saint Helens used to be a beautiful domed mountain peak. In their journals Lewis and Clark referred to it as the most beautiful mountain they had seen on their journey. On May 2, 1980, Mount Saint Helens exploded in the biggest volcanic explosion in American history. A mile of the mountain top just blew off causing a massive landslide. In the blast zone everything was blown away, leaving nothing but a barren, devastated landscape. Two-hundred and thirty miles were leveled in moments, just as though an atomic bomb had been dropped. The ash and debris spread around the world. We viewed the mountain from six miles away, where the scientists who were monitoring for a possible eruption were killed instantly. When the mountain exploded everything on that spot was destroyed and became part of the ash and rock spreading across the land. It has been more than thirty years since the eruption. It was interesting to see how nature is healing it's wounds. In the field where lava flowed flowers now grow around the seismic monitors that still measure the tremors in the ground. We took one more look at the mountain as we drove away, then, with our minds full of the memory of our western adventure, we turned our hearts toward home.