On Monday morning at 6:30 I am headed back for my third surgery this year. This one is kind of a good news/bad news thing. My first surgery cost me a gallbladder and a spleen and the second one dealt with a cancerous tumor on my kidney. This one is only designed to fix a post-operative hernia that popped up after the cancer surgery. My doctor told me that a large guy who has lost a lot of weight (well, prior to Thanksgiving Dinner anyway) and has his insides jostled with the removal of two organs, both badly diseased and one (spleen) that has grown huge because of a cyst, should not be surprised that an upper abdominal hernia like this one developed. I maintain that the fact that I played golf and then played softball at our church picnic a couple of days before the hernia showed up is inconsequential.
The thing has grown to the point that it looks like I am carrying a Nerf football under my shirt now, so surgery has to happen.
The good news is that of all my surgeries, this is the least “serious” – no internal organs are going to be removed. No tumors will be excised. They will just sow a mesh into me so that I can return to my six-pack days of abdominal glory (which never existed – EVER). The bad news is that two doctors have told me that this surgery is going to be a real bummer! I have 14 incisions from my other two surgeries this summer. Most of them are about a half an inch or so – laparoscopic cuts. But this is going to be a big incision and maybe two. They will have to cut through scar tissue from the previous surgeries and fix everything up. It will be painful and the recovery will be slow.
It will be close to the time of the Southern Baptist Convention before things begin to get normal again. As someone who was once an athlete, a marathon runner, and programmed to push through pain, I am having to retrain myself. This time, I am determined to do things right. While this hernia was not unexpected, my failure to take it easy probably played a part. This time, I am going to follow the rules and try to get healthy again.
On the plus side, there is one great benefit to this surgery. I was joking with the surgeon when we were discussing the operation and I said, “While you are in there, why don’t you clean up some of the fat?” He looked back at me and said, “That is exactly what I am going to do.” It is one of the reasons the incision will be so intense. They are going to cut out some of the fat so the weight doesn’t pull on the incision and threaten to reopen the hernia.
How cool is that?
I am already down about 85 pounds from my highest weight (I was pushing 375 a few years ago and I was pretty close to 290 before Thanksgiving dinner). When he finishes with me, I may be down a full 100 pounds.
Best surgery ever!
I don’t know what this is going to mean for my involvement here at SBC Voices. On the one hand, I will be on narcotics. My family says I am a barrel of laughs on narcotics and my demeanor may actually improve for those of you who think I’m cranky. I will be sitting at home a lot over the next months and I don’t know how much Netflix or Hallmark Channel I can watch. I might have more time to write, but I am not sure if a) I will feel like it and b) if the narcotics will cause me to write things that will make the Brain Trust do an intervention and suspend my admin privileges until I am weaned from painkillers.
In the meantime, Brent, Adam, Todd, William, and the rest of the troublemakers will do a fine job of keeping this place running. William will probably be happy I am not around posting his drafts!
If, in the next few weeks, I say something offensive, it was the narcotics. Don’t blame me. If I make a good point, remember how heroic it is that a man teetering on the edge of the abyss is still able to see truth so clearly! I am not above using my physical condition to my own advantage.
Oddly, though 2018 has been a year of infirmity and pain, it has also been a year of great blessing. God has shown himself faithful in so many ways. I appreciate your prayers and your support. I am hoping 2019 will be a healthier year, of course.
One request I have as I close this. I have been traveling to Senegal twice a year working with a UUPG in the Casamance region. A year ago I was greatly encouraged that things were beginning to break and the Lord was working powerfully. Then, there was a rebellion and some violence in the region, some turmoil among the national Christians that has caused some difficulty, and my health problems that have interrupted my ability to continue the ministry. I am more than aware that what is going on there is a work of the Spirit and not dependent on me, but I am concerned that the work continues while I recuperate. It will likely be a long time before I am able to return to the Ehing villages. Please pray for Alioune Diedhou (Jay-jew) who is laboring there that he can overcome hardships and resistance and establish churches.