Saturday, August 29, 2015

To Believe Is To See

I write these short posts on FaceBook and my blog. For me, they are a personal expression of worship evoked by living in this little bit of God's creation that surrounds me. The Psalmist’s prose speaks to his Creator's intention that His created world be our first Evangel. Behind the visible is the Invisible Creator. "The heavens declare the glory of God."

It’s Saturday afternoon. On the front lawn, winds bend the limbs of the elegant river birch tree downward. Amid sheets of falling rain, leaves twist and flutter helplessly. Bird feeders that dangle from black iron rods sway, but so far, cling to their moorings. Water makes a gurgling sound as it is slides from the roof and funnels down the gutters. Hummingbirds zip through millions of pellets of precipitation that fall from hundreds of feet above them and siphon the red nectar from their food stations. Our flat, serpentine, fieldstone walkways shimmer. Green mosses, that grow between the uniquely shaped stones drink with relief. Skies overhead are an unbroken, smooth, silvery canopy.

I move to the back porch, where I sit two stories above the ponds agitated surface. Discontented patches of wind-stirred water form islands that are separated by fiords of calmer disposition. There is no sign of its usual peaceful face.

It's all beautiful. It's all to be enjoyed. It's all intended to turn our thoughts, appreciation, and adoration toward our invisible Creator. 

"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

To believe is to see. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Scars And Stitches

I am about to enter a stretch when I will be having two dental implants, a root canal, and four surgeries. The surgeries will be in each arm to repair (hopefully) nerve damage in my hands.

It set me to thinking and counting...

There are a lot of scars and stitches on this body of mine.

The first scars and stitches began accumulating at about age five. I ran into a low tree branch and picked up 3-4 over my right eye. I still have a hairless furrow in my eyebrow from that one.

The next ones were over my left eye. I believe it was from a friendly rock fight. You've got to keep things balanced.

I had another 3-4 in the top of my head that came from playing in a hay mow. One of my friends, or maybe my brother, threw something down from the hay loft that accidentally hit me.

The big time stuff came when I was in third grade. My appendix burst, and that resulted in two more life-saving surgeries. Complication upon complication nearly took my life. My abdomen is criss-crossed with some Frankenstein-like stitches. How many stitches? Probably dozens.

There's more. One day I was helping my grandfather--the one I am named after--jack up a storage building. The blocking shifted, the small building fell on my right hand, and I ended up with another 5 stitches in the heel of my right hand (just checked it. It's shaped like a "J").

Then there were the 6-8 stitches I received in my chin that came from a skating accident on a frozen pond behind Penobscot Valley High School when I was 14. We were playing "crack the whip" and I fell on the back of someone's skate blade.

In High School, David Hughes, my brother Burleigh, and I were shooting rats at the local dump. I got hit with a ricochet from David's .22 caliber. No stitches, but it did draw blood.

For awhile the scars and stitches were replaced by a broken nose, broken teeth, and a broken leg while playing sports.

Then, in my thirties I had that little mishap with a chainsaw. Yes, I accidentally cut a deep trench in my left thigh that required many, many stitches. It left a nice scar (I tell people a shark bit me).

A brush with skin cancer resulted in another 8-10 stitches in my back. The cancer has never returned (thank God), but the indented reminder remains (sometimes I tell people I was shot).

Next, came the double hernia operation in my 50's (nobody sees those scars).

Once again, I took a break from stitches and replaced them with a violent motorcycle accident. In 2009 a car pulled in front of me from a side street. I hit it broadside and landed nearly 30 feet from the point of impact. I never lost consciousness and remember hoping I would not be run over by oncoming traffic as I lay in the middle of Route 140 in Massachusetts. My back was fractured. God preserved my stitched body for more adventures.

On July 13, a little more than a month ago, I had a bicycle accident. The next day I had to have a total hip replacement. Now I have another Frankenstein-like scar on my right hip. But I like scars (friends tell me to stay off anything with two wheels).

Once again, it's time for stitches. On September 4, I will be having the first of 4 surgeries in hopes of repairing nerve damage in my hands; small incisions at my wrists and elbows. First, the right arm, then the left. The nerve damage is likely an accumulation of the list of crashes and collisions plus those I have forgotten, or didn't  bother to list.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Healing The Broken

On August 14, it was a month ago that I had the hip God gave me--which I broke-- replaced with a man made titanium one. I probably don't even need to say this, but I believe He blessed men and women with the medical savvy, brilliance, and technology to create such a spare part. This morning I walked 3 miles.

I've thought much about the healing process that has taken place in four weeks. It started with the simplest function--standing like a newborn calf on wobbly legs. Then later in that same day, six shuffling steps to the threshold of my hospital room door and back to my bed. The next day, a cautious walk the length of the hallway, and a quick tutorial on how to climb stairs--I did four.

Once home, I used a walker for two days, and then got down to business with Anthony, my PT, at our  home. He put me on a regimen of exercises that I followed to the letter. Before long, I took my first journey up and down our stairs. Before I knew it, I was outside looking at focal points that would become daily goals. All the while, I was listening to the coaching I was receiving, and the concern of my wife and friends not to overdo it.

We have all experienced another kind of brokenness, and that is spiritual brokenness. The correlation between spiritual and physical healing is not to be missed. Several parallels come to mind: the severity of our brokenness needs to be determined; the limitations it puts on us; the healing process needed, and the help that must come from outside ourselves.

One caveat would be is that there is no human cure for spiritual brokenness. Neither surgeons or physicians can fix us. Meaning, there is no titanium soul to replace your broken one. In the end, The Great Physician is the only one who can mend a crushed spirit.

For me, it's been a time to reflect on both kinds of brokenness. Regarding my broken hip--I thank God for the professional medical people and friends who have helped me through the healing process. Thanks for calling me, taking me to appointments, bringing in lunch, phone calls, cards, prayer, and so much more. Over the years, many of you are the same people who have been there when the healing needed was not physical, but, instead spiritual. Thank you...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Another Update...

Today I had my appointment at Hughston Clinic regarding my hands. The specialist there administered three separate tests and those tests revealed several different issues that are resulting in nerve damage. In his words, "You've got a lot of stuff going on." Another group of doctors will evaluate the tests, but according to the doctor I met with today, I will most likely be facing another surgery.

Here's the good news--I am part of a small percentage of people whose ulnar and median nerve take an unusual route down my arms (there is a specific name for it that I can't recall). That is good news, because it may result in less long term damage to the nerves (not getting feeling back in my hands), or it may provide an alternative re-routing of the median and ulnar nerve. Hughston Clinic will let me know the next step tomorrow or Wednesday.

Well, there you have it. Thank you for the prayers!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

For my family and friends...

For those who have been asking, X-rays show that my hip replacement is healing, and I continue to get stronger and more mobile. Today I walked over two miles. Hallelujah!

On Monday I will return to the Hughston Clinic to meet with a hand specialist for tests (EMG for starters) that should pinpoint the problem I continue to have with my hands since the accident. Three weeks later there has been no improvement. I still have no feeling in four of my fingers, and the burning sensations surge through my hands whenever I try to lie down to sleep. I will be glad to get this resolved.

Thanks for the kind concern and prayers... 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Flight Delayed...

It was a long-shot--getting permission to fly--but nothing ventured nothing gained. All the x-rays showed that I am healing really well, and for that I give thanks to God. But the doctor said no traveling for me, because the risk of blood clots is too great this soon after surgery (3 weeks). He also wants me to wait 5 weeks before he reevaluates me and releases me to return to work.

On Wednesday I see a specialist for the problem with my hands. It appears the ulnar nerve is the culprit.

Stitches are gone! Hallelujah!

Three Requests

A couple of weeks before my bike accident on July 13, Sandy and I scheduled our vacation time and bought airline tickets to see our family in Maine and Boston. Not to whine, but seeing family, and in particular The Amazing Wyatt (AKA Wolf Cub), only twice a year is difficult for us. We were supposed to fly to New England this Wednesday.

Rescheduling isn't easy, because Sandy teaches year round, and I work with multiple companies. So, I am asking my praying friends to pray for 3 things today:

1. I meet with the surgeon today to have my brand new titanium hip evaluated. According to my PT I am weeks ahead of the curve in my strength and mobility. Hallelujah! I am going to ask my surgeon if it is safe for me to fly. I am asking you to pray that I can.

2. There has been no improvement in my hands. I still have very little feeling in 4 of my fingers except when I lie down and they feel like they are on fire. My appointment today will address this issue.

3. I am going to ask the surgeon to release me to return to work on August 17.

In closing, I want to say thank you to so many that have reached out to us. Thanks to the guys that have taken me to appointments and spent time at The Shire talking and praying about things that matter. I trust all is well with you...