Life & Health Theology

Meditations on Surgery XIV: The Old/New Plumbing

May 19, 2010

It’s been two weeks since my second surgery to take down my ostomy and get my old plumbing back and working. It’s been interesting to say the least. You never realize how much goes on in your body that you’ve just gotten used to doing without thinking. After not using the lower part of my digestive system for over 3 months it was quite the ordeal once I was all hooked up again. You’d think I could just resume normal use but I didn’t account for atrophy and using different muscles and the like. For the first couple of days I felt like a baby trying to learn how to use the bathroom for the first time. I never realized how many of the muscles you use you just automatically know how to use — but since I hadn’t used them for a while, I couldn’t remember which muscles they were. That made for a difficult and painful first week with my new (or should I say, old) plumbing again.

Things have become much easier now that I’ve re-learned which muscles to use and so on, but it wasn’t very fun until I learned. It makes me realize how difficult it is to just pick up things that we did routinely after a break from it. It takes us time to adapt to new situations, even if we think we should be able to remember quickly. It also makes me realize how much of a difference atrophy can make in daily life. I’d never really had to deal with any physical atrophy until these two surgeries. It gives me a new insight into spiritual disciplines though — when I don’t get into the Word for some time it’s not easy to just pick up where I left off. It’s something I need to use daily and exercise consistently or it will atrophy and it will affect my daily life.

The other thing I’ve learned recently is how easy it is to think I’m fine when I’m not really good. I went to the store and bought groceries today. That was bad of me, although I don’t feel bad. You see, the doctor told me not to lift more than 10lbs for 6 weeks. I think I exceeded that today with my groceries, but I thought “Ah, it won’t hurt me this one time.” I feel like I can lift more than that, I only have an open wound on my side from where my ostomy was. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have done it. I can’t be sure it will affect me, but it would be better to trust the doctor than how I feel or think I am doing.

I realized that what I did was bad because it is a reflection of what I do with God sometimes. I think I’m fine and doing ok — I feel fine, but I really am in need of God’ grace and mercy. I become the one who decides how I’m doing, not God. That’s not right. I’ve been teaching on the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, and I’m reminded how the church in Laodocia thinks that they need nothing and are rich, but in reality they are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” They were wrong about how they were doing. And then Jesus tells them to buy gold and white clothes and salve for their eyes from him. He is the one who sees their real state and tells them what to do about it.

Ironically, the church in Smyrna is the opposite: they are poor, but God says that they are “rich.” Again, God has the true understand of where were are at. So he encourages them based upon where they really are, not where they think they are or feel they are. So we should let God decide and inform us of where we are, not what we think or feel. And then we ought to trust what he says and do as he instructs, regardless of how we feel. The doctor’s instructions to me were a good reminder of that today. Maybe I feel fine, I think I can handle lifting more than 10lbs, but the doctor has dealt with dozens of patients who have been through this surgery before. He’s seen what happens, he knows what lifting more than 10lbs will do if I’m not careful. I don’t. I just know how I ought to feel normally, and I’m probably wrong.

So will my disobedience to the doctor ruin my life? I don’t think so, but it is a good reminder of how I should trust what God says to me. Too often I, in my pride, think that I’m doing well and am rich, but I’m not. I should trust what God says of me, not what I think or feel. And on the other side, I should not listen when the world tells me that I am foolish for believing in a God, or poor because I have chosen to pursue ministry instead of money. May God inform me whether I am rich or poor, foolish or wise. And may I listen to and heed his instructions regardless of how foolish or useless they seem to my mind or the way I feel.

No more lifting more than 10lbs until I have the OK from the doctor… 🙂

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