Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Archive for March, 2014

The Gift of Guilt

I once was amazed by a statement in a book by Peter Kreeft (can’t recall which book) that “The Jews gave us the gift of guilt.” In current times, most of us avoid the idea of guilt and find it very negative. To think of guilt as “a gift” was thought-provoking.

Here’s my take on it, but I am not an expert:
1) Guilt is a gift when I have broken one of God’s laws. This might be thought of as the Ten Commandments, or the “two greatest commandments”: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Have I done evil, or have I failed to do the good I had the means to do?
2) It is a gift if I allow the guilt to bring me to repentance.
3) It is a gift if after repenting, I freely accept forgiveness.

Guilt can be a gift like a cancer diagnosis. You did not perhaps know you had cancer until the doctor informed you. Now that you are informed, things can be done to destroy or remove the cancer. The guilt is the impetus, like the awareness following the diagnosis, to take action.

The Painting

I walked into a painting,
A seascape rich and grand.
On one side the scudding waves,
On other, emerald lands.

Above the waves, so aptly hung
A rainbow of all-colored hues;
Like fairy bridge it spanned the waves,
And hung ‘neath cloudy view.

I could not tell which land was real —
The painting or my troubled life.
The peaceful setting did give lie
To oft-felt turmoil, strife.

The vibrant air, the soft sea spray,
The colors of the flowers’ hue,
Did stir within my weary heart
A joy and peace anew.

I walked into a painting,
And will I ever know
Which land is real, which fantasy?
Seems only time will show.

Who Are You?

Who are You? Divine are You.
A mystery to me.
So great and vast Your universe;
I can but humble be.

Who are You, Who makes the stars
And tender flowers that bend
Under a gently fragrant breeze,
Or continents can rend?

Who are You Who stirs my heart
Though it be calloused with sin?
Who resurrects my deadened soul
And new life brings within?

Who can bring the dead to life
And heal a broken heart?
Who can kindle love within,
When hatred was the start?

Who is He Whom angels sing,
To Whom the great hosannas ring,
Who brings all hope to suffering,
He is the great, the Most High King!
All glory, honor, let us bring!

Surgery Successful (Updated)

3/17/14 got up in an almost joyful mood. This is the day they get that dang tumor out! Praise God!

Arrived at the hospital about 10 a.m. Checked in, went to pre-op. There was a nurse there that I know. What a blessing! They got me prepared and then it was wait, wait, wait — the previous surgery had delayed mine. No problem. Whenever I got scared I would recite the 23rd Psalm, sometimes out loud. There was a wonderful thing on TV — “Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment” — C.A.R.E. for short. It showed relaxing pictures from nature with soft music. So Tom and I watched a lot of that.

The anestheologist came by and asked questions. My blood pressure was sky high, probably from nerves. Finally the O.R. (Operating Room) nurse came with the release form, and I knew the surgery was imminent. As they rolled me out to the O.R. (two hours late), I gave Tom a thumbs up. There were several nurses and doctors in the O.R. already. They helped me scooch onto the operating table. There were the big round operating room lights above me, not turned on yet. It would be about a 3-hour laproscopic (robotic) surgery.

Pretty soon they came with an oxygen mask. The anestheologist said a few things, and then, “Okay, here comes the sleepy stuff in your I.V.” I said, “Okay.”

I groggily awoke in the recovery room. I talked to a very pleasant male nurse, but could only open my eyes once. He asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your pain?” I said, “About 3 or 4.” I do remember telling him, “You’re a good nurse; God bless you,” and he replied, “Awww.” His name was Todd. I don’t remember being taken to my regular hospital room, but eventually I woke up there. They explained the little button I could push to give myself pain medication if needed.

The “highlights” of the night were: eating a liquid dinner (consommé, gelatin, hot tea), having Tom and Rebecca visit, going for a walk twice while holding onto the “I.V. tree” (got nauseated; second time not as much), and of course, every hour or more often someone coming in to check something. But it wasn’t too bad. Also had a private room!

In the morning (3/18/14) they brought a breakfast similar to my last night’s dinner. This time I could take in a little more. Perhaps about 7:30 a.m. my surgeon came in to check on me. He seemed pleased at how I was doing. He was pretty confident he’d got all the tumor.

In a little bit, a second breakfast came! The “waiter” said, “You’ve been upgraded.” There was some solid food on the tray. Can’t remember much, but there were a lot of carbohydrates and I didn’t eat much of those (I’m Type II diabetic). I mentioned that to the nurse and it was corrected for lunch.

So, the rest is a bit of blur, but soon they took out my catheter, had me go to the bathroom and were pleased with the results. By about noon, Rebecca came to visit (Tom had come about 9:15 a.m.), with flowers for me. Two friends also called on our cell phones, and my sister on the hospital phone. Everyone was surprised that I might go home that day. Laproscopic (robotic) surgery is much less invasive than traditional surgery; thus a shorter recovery time.

A nurse came in with some medicine for indigestion and I said, “I don’t need that,” and she threw I out. Lunch came and I was able to eat quite a bit of it. I did get up at one point and was walking around the room, with Tom nearby to make sure I did not fall. At some point, the nurse learned that I’d walked on my own, and pretty soon she came in and said something like, “You can eat, you’re not nauseous, you can walk, and you can go to the bathroom — time to go home!” First she had to remove the drain, which is a device with a thin tube from the inner surgical area to the outside of your body, that drains excess blood into a grenade-shaped receptacle. She said, “This is going to feel weird, like a snake slithering through your body.” I said, “Okay,” “trying” to relax. “Ready,” I said. She said, “It’s already out!” I didn’t feel a thing!

Pretty soon I was in a wheelchair headed for home. Recovery has been good. It took me until 2 a.m. the first night to find a good position to sleep in (sitting up against a bunch of pillows on a corner bed). The main tasks were: get your bowels working again, get the gas they insert during surgery to dissipate, keep walking to get your body back to normal. I was pretty sore but nothing unbearable (took Tylenol) and was able to sleep well. As of today (3/29/14), still sleeping sitting up.

With a follow-up appointment on 3/24, the surgeon told me there’s a slight chance that they didn’t get all the tumor cells, but he was pretty confident that they did. The tumor was malignant and had been growing faster than previously thought, BUT it had NOT spread to other parts of the body. I’ll be seeing an oncologist in April and they’ll keep an eye on me for a while.

When sharing about my surgery with others, I’ve heard of so many people who’ve had cancer in their life. I did not know it was so common! On one website, if I recall correctly, one in four Americans, at some time in their life, will have some form of cancer. By 2030, it is projected to be the major cause of death in the U.S. Let’s pray and work for prevention and cures!

The Kidney Stone Miracle

So, on President’s Day, 2/17/2014, I was thinking of going to a class at my church. On the way to the car, I thought, “I don’t feel that great, I’d better stay home.” Soon my husband got home from work, and we ate dinner. I gradually felt worse. We went to bed and I kept hoping the bad feeling would go away, but it didn’t. Pretty soon my lower right back started to hurt and it got worse. The pain became so bad that I vomited. I told Tom, “We need to go to urgent care or emergency.” We soon figured out that urgent care had just closed (it was 9:05 p.m.), so off we went to emergency. It began to be the same level of pain as being in labor before birth, but I never vomited in labor.

We checked in and had to wait for triage. Meanwhile I was hunched over, breathing hard. Eventually it was our turn and I explained to the nurse my pain, unfortunately vomiting once or twice again, into a bag given me for that purpose. I have to admire the medical folks, who emotionally might want to fix your pain right away, but don’t because they need to know what’s wrong first. It must be hard to watch.

Soon I was put in a private room in the emergency ward. I can’t remember the sequence of things, but eventually I did get some pain medication. I think it was given soon after they did a CT scan; I don’t recall. In any case, I finally got relief. Perhaps a half hour later, although again all the times are fuzzy, a doctor from radiology came in to say, yes, I had a kidney stone on my right side , and it was stuck for the time being.

Then he went on to say that they’d also found “something concerning”, a tumor near the left kidney. Needless to say, Tom and I were in shock and it took time for it to sink in. The doctor gave me a list of specialists to choose from to make an appointment as soon as possible.

In the end, we met with the specialist and first agreed that he would clean out my right kidney with lithotripsy and get the stuck kidney stone as well. So 2/20, I had the lithotripsy, but the stuck kidney stone had already passed, though I didn’t know it! (Too many pain meds, maybe?) At least my right kidney shouldn’t give me trouble for a while! It took me about two weeks to feel somewhat normal again. Meanwhile, I got another CT scan, with contrast, which I take it is more accurate, so the doctor could get a better look at the tumor.

So, to get to the miracle: If I hadn’t had the emergency, I never would have had the CT scan, which revealed the tumor. The tumor hasn’t spread. Though I don’t like the situation, it’s early enough to remove the tumor altogether, and I should be fine. If you already feel symptoms from the tumor (which I had not), it may be too late to cure. Thank you, Lord!

Surgery is now scheduled for 3/17/2014 (previously 3/31). I would appreciate your prayers. Thanks in advance!


Postscript: After the surgery, in a communication with my surgeon, he hinted that the kidney stones were not that big and perhaps the main reason I had the emergency was that I was dehydrated.

Help Me Love You

Jesus, help me love You,
Help me live for You each day,
Put my life into Your hands,
With faith keep fear away.

Help me see the beauty
You made for me each day.
Recognize Your glory
In things that come my way.

See You in each moment,
In the clouds and sun.
See You in disguises
That all around me come.

See Your plan so awesome,
In joy and sadness praise.
See you both in drudg’ry
And pleasant things each day.

Put my trust completely
In Your plan so great.
Let me tell Your story
So all can contemplate.

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