When Your Surgeon Looks Disappointed

“Did the surgery turn out as you expected?” I asked.

“No,” he said with genuine disappointment in his eyes.

“I performed the same surgery on a lady the same day as yours, and she is up and around and doing well.”

On October 2nd, 2015 my surgeon attempted to correct a herniated disc problem that had been plaguing me since February. I went through several preliminary treatments, trying to avoid the “S” word. But in the end, it was my next logical option.

The good new is that I can rest on my back relatively pain-free now.

The bad news?—I  can only stay upright for brief moments. I can barely take care of my self. I have no choice but to take short-term disability and hope I’ll be able to do my job again in several months. I’m on Morphine and Valium to manage pain.

It’s Thursday, October 15. It’s a new day. I’m up. Dawn is out taking a walk. Heidi is at school.

And I have nothing to do.

It took me a while this morning to decide if was able to find and retrieve my glasses from the floor next to my bed. I could and I did.

Part of me hears Rocky music in my head: “Yeah, I’m gonna figure this out. I’m gonna beat this thing.” Another part of me thinks I’ll just make things worse.

At the moment, there’s not much I can do that involves more than 30 seconds of uprightness, anyway. What can I accomplish with 30 seconds?—Brush my teeth, if I hurry.

Our next move is another MRI. Dreading that. Sure, I want answers, but I don’t want the pain that comes with getting me out of the house, into a car, into a wheelchair, onto a magnetic donut and back again.

I’m only 52, I’m not ready to stop living. Here’s to hoping I’m only dreaming in slo-mo, or that a genius doctor will find the reboot switch, or that God will grant me a long and active life.

For now, all I can do is wonder, and type on this 1″ x 2″ virtual keyboard.

Thanks for listening while I whine. I promise it won’t be like this every day.

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Waking Up in Pain

L3 and L4.

Herniated Discs. Two of them.

Two rounds of epidural cortisone injections.

Moaning in my sleep. Waking up in pain. Fearful commutes to work. Strategically considering the distance to the men’s room. Sometimes feeling old and weak. (Vanity never quits.) Sometimes feeling discouraged. Chronic pain does that to you.

No running. No hiking. No lawn mowing (mixed blessing).

All while trying to build a new kitchen.

God doesn’t check your calender or to-do list. He just brings life your way. All of life.

I took the photo on this page last November while hiking Blood Mountain near Blairesville, Georgia. It inspires me to pray I’ll be able healed enough to enjoy trails like this when mid-October comes around.

Two months to go.

Waking up in back pain, gives me a glimpse into what people with depression often experience. People like my wife, often experience depression or anxiety physically, as pain, or lethargy, or pressure on the chest, or stiff neck, or nausea, or all of the above.

For those of us who haven’t experienced this, let us study empathy and compassion for those who do.

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?—Proverbs 18:14, ESV

HIS PAIN, my pain

Living with depression has deepened my love for Jesus.

There are times I have sat hugging my knees in my chair weeping from the intense pain of depression. (Those of you who have experienced depression know what I mean.) My soul cries out to Jesus, thinking He really doesn’t understand what I am going through.

Caravaggio's Crowning with Thorns, 1607

Caravaggio’s Crowning with Thorns, 1607

Then the Holy Spirit turns my mind to the Cross. I think of the excruciating physical pain of having a crown of thorns smashed on your head, and spikes driven through your feet and wrists. Then I remember His misery as He felt the deathly blows of God’s punishment for sin and the terror of abandonment by His Father.

Jesus volunteered for His pain, and not merely to be an example of sacrificial love, but to redeem me from my sin, my brokenness, my pain.

I am silenced and awed.

As my mind fills with the huge truth of it, my heart fills with humbled gratitude. Is the depression gone? No. But as I feel my pain, I realize His pain was much more than mine is, or ever will be. I see the truth that He truly is a God who can sympathize with me. Jesus understands pain. And because He understands pain, He understands me.

And I love Him the more for it.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows , and familiar with suffering… – Isaiah 53:3


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