Monday, November 4, 2013

Patients, Patience, and Laparoscopic Cholecystectomies

So all my Nevada readers know, but a week ago, I got out of the hospital.
(Sorry for the late post!)

It takes a lot for a man to finally admit when he has to go to the hospital. In fact it wasn't just pride that barred me from going to the hospital, but principle. It's been YEARS since I've stepped foot inside a hospital because I was in need of medical attention. I started saying "doctor free since '03" but honestly, I have no clue how long it's been. It just sounded catchy.

My upper abdomen started hurting like a I had a platypus crawling around inside my liver. You never really think about how your liver feels until it hurts. Then you notice it. I tried ignoring, tried waiting it out, tried taking Aleve, tried downing water like a mad man (because camps proves that all illness can be overcome by the excessive consumption of water), tried staying busy, but it only intensified. By the time, the youth dodgeball tournament rolled around, I sweating and shaking from pain, still under the illusion that the Aleve would kick in. I had taken it two hours before. Eventually, I conceded. It was time to break the streak. I'm sure they would rush to my aid.

They probably have a database of all the people in the US and monitor how often they visit the hospital.
I was on the naughty list.

So I text my boss, Pastor John aka PJ, and I tell him that I was going to the Urgent Care, and he said he would meet me there.

The Urgent Care takes me in quickly, getting me on a table, a needle in my arm, and drugs in my system. Before the drugs kick in, they have results from my urine analysis and blood samples, and a pseudo-diagnosis.

"We think it's your gall bladder. Or your liver." We usually sees these symptoms and numbers in older, larger, less active women, and in younger teenagers who drink excessively on the weekends."

Man. Which group do I want to be categorized with? Tough choice...

"Nevertheless we don't have the right equipment to treat you here."


So we check in to the Centennial Hills emergency room where the waiting games begin.

More blood tests, more drugs, and we wait.
Eventually I'm told that I need surgery. I'm told that my gall bladder is in bad shape, and we need to act now.
The only logical option in this dire situation? Wait longer.

I get a super snazzy room to myself with an IV and adjustable bed, and told that the doctor would be in to see me soon. Little did I know...

Day 2

Still no doctor. I'm blessed with the best nurse ever: Nurse Becky. She was passionate and informed and sweet and just like that overly concerned aunt that everyone loves! She was like my very own 2-1B. Unfortunately, bacta tanks are still to be invented.

I get an ultrasound, an MRI, and some test that I couldn't pronounce that involved laying under this machine that rotated around me that monitored the movement of my stomach fluids. Lovely, yes?

My family from Arizona and the beautiful Haylee Troth decided to surprise me. It was so amazing having them there to support me and love me. I definitely would have gone crazy without them.

Finally I get word that I need surgery. I'm relieved and scared at the same time.

My gall bladder had to go. Just like both of my parents, my gall bladder had filled itself with stones, and was sending them to places they should not go. Some of the stones were blocking some important tubing causing me to produce and distribute the wrong enzymes in the wrong places. If it wasn't removed, my gall bladder would rupture, my liver might be injured in the process, I would go septic, and I..... well I guess we could just say, I wouldn't have to pay the hospital bill.

Sunday is the day. So after three days of waiting, it's happening.

The only thing I remember from the surgery is laying on the metal table, looking up at the nurse and asking "Are you as nervous as I am?" to which she replied "Probably more".
After that I remember a bright light and a voice calling my name saying "Nathan... Nathan... Open your mouth, Nathan. and then the doctor pulled the tube out of my throat. That was it. It was done. My life had been saved.

It's been a week since I got out of the hospital, and I'm so excited to get my staples out.

In retrospect, most of my exciting weekend involved waiting. Even after I got my surgery, I waited another day before I was released by the doctor late the next day.

Now for the lesson.

I've never regarded myself as a patient dude. Usually when told me to have patience, I responded snarkily with "Patience? Patients lie in hospital beds. I got work to do!" Now here I am eating crow.

Lying in that hospital bed required so much patience. It was hard being so frustrated and so scared and trying to maintain my testimony as a follower of Christ and an employee of Summit Ridge Church. I wanted to yell and curse and demand a doctor. I was a grumpy patient. Especially when I was waiting for surgery. I had not eaten or drunk in 50+ hours, and I was feeling it.

Patience is one of the attributes listed in the fruit of the spirit.

I was working on the lesson for this week's youth group, and I decided to do a word study.

μακροθυμία or makrothumia meaning long suffering or persevering. There was also
 קוה or qavaw meaning distant tempered.

Both these words are used synonymously with patience and perseverence.

Sometimes it's hard to really grasp a concept unless you lean back and look at the whole picture.

Our God is sovereign and faithful. He is the provider of our every need and the planner of our lives. I can't help but think of Noah who waited for forty days because of God's promise. Zechariah also waited for years before encountering Christ. Elijah sat in the wilderness and was fed by ravens and hid out with an old widow for three years all on the promise of God. Abraham was already old before God fulfilled His promise to him.

Patience is the product of faith.

When we truly believe in the providence and perpetual love of our Creator, we know that He never fails, that He is always faithful, and that He will never leave us, even to the end of the age. When we have full confidence in who God says He is, we learn to trust and wait on the Lord. We endure in suffering and trials knowing that God is faithful and always victorious. In our trials, He is being glorified.

Whether you're waiting for surgery
waiting to get married
waiting to get test results back
waiting to hear back from them
waiting to find a place to live
waiting to heal
waiting to start
waiting to finish
waiting to develop patience

God is faithful always. He knows your needs and your heart. He created your life and is in control.

Nate T B