Monday, February 02, 2009

Dark Night in Recovery

On Thursday, January 29 when I had surgery to remove the regrowth of my brain tumor, things went a little different than last September. My surgery was scheduled for a different part of the hospital and as a result, I was not able to go directly from surgery to NICU but was sent to a general recovery area, PACU (Post Anaesthesia Care Unit), since no beds in NICU were available. PACU had quite a combination of people in recovery. I was alert and out of anaesthesia right away so I could see and hear everything going on. It may have been better to be out of it but then I would have missed this valuable experience God had planned for me. I have gained a whole new appreciation for people facing the challenge of surgical recovery with accompanying aloneness, sense of abandonment, fear, panic and other ranges of emotions. Dottie and the kids were in a waiting area and, as I found out later, were being kept posted on me but I did not know this. Not knowing whether they knew anything about me was one of my major concerns. I could tell that PACU was a busy place but wondered if anyone was paying attention to my recovery from neurological surgery. I wasn’t getting a lot of assurance that details were being sufficiently covered, but there was not much I could do about it when I was hooked to my hospital bed with tubes and had a strange gauze turban on my head.

I went into surgery about 8:30 am and was in recovery at about 12:30 pm. But it wasn’t until about 5:00 pm that Dottie was finally able to come to PACU. It was 24 hours from surgery before I was moved to a regular room. What do you do in moments like this to draw upon your relationship with the Lord? In fact what do you do when you are left, and it is clear that the only one that you know for sure is watching out for you is God? My son, Brian, had said to me earlier that it was now time for me to relax and let others take care of me so I could recover. I couldn’t do that. I believed that I needed to stay alert and aware of anything that needed to be done to ensure my recovery, and was getting tired, weary, and worn-out. My sense of responsibility for my family and others was getting overwhelming. In my last message at Southwood, I was in Philippians 2:12-13 where Paul gives the two-sided picture of our growth in spiritual formation. But I was running out of energy and desire to mentally focus on my part until the God-part of the combination finally hit me. When I hit my final wall, I cried out to God and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I need to count on the fact that You are working in me to will and to act according to your good pleasure. Right now that is the only thing that I know for sure that I can count on. I need to remember that you are true and that you are working in me doing your good.” Not immediately, but very soon, God brought His answer in a sense of peace that was exactly the sustaining strength that I needed. As I have continued to reflect, it is important to remember that even if I had not received emotional confirmation, the fact of God’s working would not have changed. Faith is confidence in what God says regardless of my feelings or circumstances. I can’t encourage you and me enough to implant God’s Word in our heart so that we have His truth anchoring our lives in moments like these.

When Dottie finally was able to be with me, she became, again and again, my heroine. She was able to stay by my bed for the entire night thanks to some gracious nurses. One of the helpers even brought her a chair to sit on. I don’t know how she kept going all night but it was a great comfort to have her there. I have a small set of speakers that attach to my iPod and we were able to convince them to allow me to play some audio lectures by Ken Boa I had loaded on before I came into the hospital. I have a battery backup attachment (Geekpod 100) that gives me about 100 hours of listening capability so, with some minor instruction, Dottie was able to get me set up and we were enriched through the night with some great teaching. God continued to bring some special staff people our way and finally, 24 hours after surgery I was moved to a private room on Friday. My recovery seems to be going much better than last time. I was up and functioning much faster and it was the middle of the afternoon on Friday that my nurse was giving me the thumbs up on my progress and the liklihood that I would be home by Saturday. I finally arrived home on Saturday about 4:30 pm. Home never looked so good! I would rather avoid this repeat but what I learned in my time with the Lord is invaluable.

We have a follow-up meeting with our neurosurgeon on Feburary 11 to continue to determine that next steps in my treatment protocol. There is a lot of work to do still but we are very encouraged and I am looking forward to getting back into the mix of people and ministry. Dottie and I feel that God is doing so much that we don’t want to miss any benefit this might have to others.

God is good and this is another great day!


christiems said...

We are glad to know that everything went well and that the Lord is encouraging you. He is so faithful! We hope your recovery continues to go smoothly.

-Christie and John

Anonymous said...

Pastor, God IS doing so much through this illness - even in the lives of others. I don't understand why or how, but it is like everything you are going through is also a lesson in my life somehow. Pastor, I believe you are going to be healed - but not until God has taught us what He wants us to learn through this. I'm sorry that God has to use you like this in order to teach me. I am praying for you daily.

MacDonald Family said...

To: Anonymous,
I can't be sorry for what is happening, especially if I believe that God is overseeing this whole experience, which He is. This is part of what He is doing to conform any and all of us to His Son's character. In that sense this is a welcome opportunity to see Him at work. (Romans 8:28-30).