"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 9, 2009
At 44 years of age, I have finally joined the ranks of those who have had surgery. Not that this was something I wanted, but the old gallbladder got puny and needed to come out.
Over the years I heard my sisters tell their various "surgery" stories -- some funny and some not so much. But all were experiences they'll never forget.
My oldest sister, Joyce, was having a procedure done after she had her last child. While coming out of the anesthesia she asked the doctor if she could have the mask he was wearing. Why? She has no idea!
So when Linda was having surgery, she apparently had that on her mind and wanted to be sure that she didn't say something like that. But as she was being dismissed the nurse started gathering up the doctors hat and mask, the oxygen mask my sister had worn and all sorts of little things like that. My sister was curious and asked why she was doing that. The nurse said, "Well, you asked if you could have it to take home with you because your boys would really have fun playing with it."
Her husband had asked the nurse if Linda had said anything funny or odd while she was under the anesthesia. The nurse said, "No. She just kept saying, 'God help me!' over and over" The nurse said that was much better than what a lot of people say.
When Shirley was going in for her first surgery she was nervous about it. They put her on the surgical table, and put her arms straight out on arm rest to each side to get them out of the way. Her thought as they were getting ready to give her the anesthesia was, "This is kind of like the position Jesus was in when He was on the cross. He already took my healing, so I have nothing to worry about and am going to be okay." That gave her the peace that she needed.
Janie has had the most varied experiences. The first time she had surgery, as they laid her on the table and put her arms out to the sides, she remembered what Shirley had told her and thought, "Huh, this really is kind of like Jesus on the cross! Okay, I'll be fine."
When she was having her thyroid surgery, the surgeon had told her that they would only take half the thyroid out, unless they got in there and saw that it was worse than they thought; then they'd have to remove the whole thing. Apparently, they had only given her enough anesthesia for the shorter surgery, because she woke up halfway through the surgery and overheard the surgeon and pathologist discussing how bad her thyroid looked. They then gave her more anesthesia and she was immediately back out. But they hadn't realized that she had woken up and overheard them. She said it was horrible! When she went to her follow-up appointment, she told the surgeon that she had woke up during the surgery. He didn't believe her until she repeated his conversation with the pathologist, then he realized that she really had.
Then when she went in for a colonoscopy, I took her. You are given a regional anesthesia which puts you to sleep and you don't remember the procedure, but you are not out completely as you are during surgery. They do this so they can ask you questions during the procedure if they need to. Afterwards they called me to the back and she was sitting up, talking and joking around with me. The doctor came in and talked to us and dismissed her to go home. They told me to go out and pull the car around to the side door. I did, and was sitting there waiting when a nurse ran out to the car. As soon as I went outside, they were wheeling Janie around to the exit, and she got sick. She told the nurse to stop because she was sick, but the nurse kept going. Next thing they knew, Janie was throwing up and passed out. When Janie was coming to, she overheard them discussing whether or not she had had a seizure. She absolutely does not handle any type of anesthesia very well. It always makes her extremely nauseated and sick.
Then I had my own little experience. I have had the regional anesthesia for a couple of colonoscopies that I've had done, and that has never bothered me. The main outcome, when it's over, is that I tend to repeat the same question over and over without realizing it. Last time I had one done, I kept asking Jon over and over what time it was. I think before going in, I was wondering how long it would take.
Last week when I had gallbladder surgery, I wasn't worried about the surgery, but was more concerned that I would throw up when coming out of the anesthesia. I absolutely HATE throwing up, and think that's the worst kind of sickness ever. There were four weeks between the time I found about the surgery and it taking place; and I had been praying that whole time that I would not get sick and throw up following the surgery. I felt fine, until I started to sit up to get dressed, then I started feeling nauseated. I hurried and had Jon help me lay back down, and the nurse gave me two doses of nausea medication. They had already given me two pills and also something in the IV prior to the surgery to help with any nausea. The second time I tried to get up, I was nauseated again. That time the nurse hooked me up to an IV, and also gave me another dose of the nausea medication. They had given me a pain pill which had partially caused some of the nauseated feeling. Also, the nurse said since the surgery had been later in the day and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink for so many hours, that had probably contributed to that feeling, which is why they hooked me up to an IV. But praise God, I didn't throw up! About 20 minutes later, I started feeling just fine (while earnestly praying) and was able to get up and get dressed and go home without any problems. The doctor had given Jon a prescription for me for pain pills and nausea medication, which we had filled, but I didn't need either one of them. I did surprisingly well, and didn't get nearly as sore as I thought I might be.
One humorous thing did happen when I was in recovery and was waking up from the anesthesia. The first thing I heard was two nurses standing beside my bed discussing another patient who was getting ready to go into surgery. I don't really know what they were even saying, but whatever it was my thought was, "They think I'm (whatever the name was)! I need to tell them who I am so they'll know." I was afraid they were going to do the wrong surgery or give me the wrong medication. I kept trying to say something and had to work to get the words out. I finally told them, "I'm not (other name), I'm Loretta!" The nurses started laughing and told me that they knew who I was. Later they came back over, after I was a little more awake, and assured me that they knew I was Loretta and that they had removed my gallbladder. They said good thing that they hadn't got me mixed up with that other person, because they were having foot surgery.
When they took me into surgery and had my arms outstretched, I remembered what Shirley and Janie had said about it reminding them of Jesus on the cross. The very last thought I remember having before going under the anesthesia was, "Thank you Jesus for holding me in your arms during surgery and for giving me peace."
Hearing my sisters recalling their surgeries over the years has made me aware of something. Memory is a powerful thing! We don't pick and choose what we want to remember and what we want to forget -- at least most people don't have that ability. Our minds will retain memories that are not only funny, happy, pleasant and good; they also retain things that are painful and sad. We not only remember the good things we've accomplished in our lives, but we also recall the mistakes and failures. We remember how people helped us out and blessed us in one way or another; but we also can recall arguments, hurtful words, and how people have failed us.
Thankfully, between my diagnosis and the surgery I never experienced any major gallbladder attacks. But last year, two of my sisters both had major gallbladder attacks that are still fresh in their memories. They both remember exactly what they had eaten or drank right before the attack, and still associate those foods with the pain. They can recall how they felt, how sick they were, how painful the experience was, etc.
In life, there are many people who have experienced some type of pain; whether it be self-inflicted or inflicted by others. It may be words that were spoken to them by a parent, teacher, pastor, etc. It may be how they were treated as a child. It may be bad choices made as a teen or adult that led them down a rough road towards destruction. Perhaps it was a failed marriage. They may have made choices that led to jail or prison time. It may have been the decision to drink or use drugs.
It's difficult to move past those things and forgive and forget. Not only is it extremely difficult to forgive others, but sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. The guilt and condemnation we feel weighs us down so heavily that it's hard to believe that God can truly forgive, forget, and give us a fresh start.
It is also very hard to move beyond our past when there are still the scars (literally or figuratively) to daily remind us of those hurts, pain, and mistakes.
I have four small incisions from my gallbladder surgery. They look as if they will heal well, but I will always carry scars as a reminder of the surgery. Right now, I still have 2-3 staples in each of the incisions to hold them together. On Friday, they will come out and be gone forever -- yeah! But between the time of the surgery and the surgeon taking the staples out, I have a constant reminder that I have to be careful and take things easy. The staples are uncomfortable and my skin itches around them at times. I'm nervous that I'm going to get a string from my clothing or something attached to one of the staples and pull it out. So I constantly have to be on guard and be careful what I wear, how I move, etc. But once the staples are removed and the incisions heal, more than likely there will come a point where I will go for days and weeks at a time without even thinking about them. They'll still be there, but I will reach a point where they will be healed and there will be no need to constantly think about them. I can move on.
People can carry scars in their lives for so many years, but never allow them to heal. They will constantly scratch at them, keeping them infected. Perhaps they feel as if they don't deserve God to forgive them and give them another chance in life. Perhaps they've fallen into a rut of self-pity and self-condemnation and have become so accustomed to their misery that they have grown comfortable there. They may be afraid of failing again. Or perhaps they've worked at building a fortress around their heart to try and keep from being hurt again, and they're scared to allow God or anyone else in.
If only each of us would acknowledge and accept the power of God's love, mercy and forgiveness. God doesn't want us to go through life as wounded, scarred, hurting individuals. But He wants to bring healing, hope, and wholeness into our lives.
Yes, the scars will remain, but instead of reminders of our failures they will remind us of the power of God's forgiveness and love.
After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus still carried the scars in His hands and feet. Luke 24:40 says that He showed the disciples His hands and feet. In John 20 we read where He had appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, but Thomas wasn't present. Later He instructed Thomas to feel His side and look at His hands.
God could have taken all the scars away while Jesus was in the tomb. He could have allowed Jesus to be resurrected whole and without blemish or scars. But He chose not to.
We also may carry scars from our past throughout the remainder of our lives. That doesn't mean that God is punishing us and wanting us to always remember our mistakes and failures. Perhaps He just wants us to remember the healing power of His forgiveness. When we look at them we can remember the life of sin and shame that God saved us from. We can be thankful for the work of restoration that God did in us and our family.
Scars can be a good thing. If I didn't have my surgery scars, I'd still be carrying a diseased, sick gallbladder inside of me. In order to get rid of it and receive healing, I had to endure some pain and some scarring. I had to make a choice. I could either try to go through life with a diseased appendage inside me and just get by as best as I could; or I could opt to have the surgeon remove my gallbladder, have a few scars, and be healthy and whole. I decided to accept the scars.
We each have to make decisions in our life about whether or not we will accept the scars that Jesus bore for our sins. We have to decide whether or not we're willing to allow God to cut away the sin from our life, in order to make us spiritually healthy and whole. And we have to decide how we deal with the scars of our life; whether past or present. Do we accept the forgiveness and mercy of God, and allow God to heal our past and give us a future filled with hope and promise? Or do we keep trying to deal with our scars alone, which only ends up causing more pain and hurt and shame?
May each of us make the decision to allow Jesus to bring healing and wholeness to our life. May the scars we've all had at one time or another in our lives be reminders of God's mercy and forgiveness; and not reminders of our failures and mistakes.
I'm glad we don't live in a culture that encourages scaring. I've seen several shows about foreign cultures where they will cut themselves and rub ash in the wound to create wounds, poke holes in their ears or nose (much larger than piercings that are common here), or other very painful looking things. Although, I did meet someone looking for a computer book in a popular bookstore about a month ago. He had large holes in his earlobes, big enough for quarters to fit sideways. It looked very painful. But, of course, it was probably more painful getting his earlobes stretched out. Once it was over, it might catch on a limb while he hikes through the woods, but probably wouldn't hurt often.
In our culture, it's more common to carry around self-inflicted scars on the inside where they're harder to see. They might be just as painful (or more so), but the pain doesn't go away as easily. Maybe that's because they aren't as visible... Hmm.
My sister, Janie, made this cake recently and brought over a couple pieces for me and Jon after I had surgery. This is now Jon's new favorite cake. Jon will be celebrating his birthday this week, and this is his request for what kind of birthday cake he wants me to make him. Happy birthday, Jon! Hope the cake turns out as well when I make it as it did when Janie made it.
Fudge Ribbon Cake
1 chocolate cake mix
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. Butter or margarine, softened
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13x9 inch baking pan. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and cornstarch until fluffy. Gradually beat in Eagle brand milk. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spoon evenly over the cake batter.
Bake 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Prepare glaze and drizzle over cake. Store covered in refrigerator.
In a small saucepan over low heat melt 1 square chocolate and 1 Tbsp. butter with 2 Tbsp. water. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Stir until smooth and drizzle over cake.
There are situations that occur that we just have to laugh at! We all have things happen at times that could either utterly embarrass us, humiliate us, or we can just see the humor in and laugh at them.
Last week I had gallbladder removal surgery. There are certain repercussions that can occur from the anesthesia, pain pills, medication, etc. A nice way of describing this is as, "internal blockage". This had occurred with me and Jon had to run to the pharmacy to get me something to take for relief of this. On Monday morning I called my surgeon and made an appointment to get my staples taken out. Right after the call, things became unblocked and relief came! I was excited, so sent a text to Jon to let him know first of all that relief had arrived (not my exact words), and also when the staples were coming out. A while later I received a text back from him, "That's good, but the timing of your message was really bad." I was a little puzzled because I thought with a text he could just open and read it at his convenience. Not so! Jon has been working on a time tracking program. He had it loaded on his iPhone, and was showing one of his co-workers how the program worked. Suddenly, his phone buzzed to let him know that he had an incoming text, and before he could check it, the message popped up on his screen. Neither of us knew that it would do that! Of course the co-worker immediately saw the first line of my text which said, "I FINALLY .......!" Jon's co-worker wasn't sure how to respond. He asked, "Umm... has there been a problem?!" Jon wasn't sure whether or not to let me know that my message had been seen by someone else, but decided we might as well laugh about it. My response was that I was glad it wasn't Jon's boss or the owner of the company who had seen that message; because Jon had also intended on showing that same program to them! At least I know this particular co-worker and have been around him on occasions. Sometimes we just gotta laugh!
When you spell Christmas, Christ always comes first.
I'd like to wish Jon a very happy birthday!! Love you, honey!
We love you and thank you so much for reading our weekly devotional!
Loretta & Jon