Last night I attempted to write a post before giving in to my pain and giving up. Instead, I published a prayer request. I am happy to say that many people responded. Tonight on the Z2H challenge page we are asked:
Today’s assignment: publish a post inspired your post from Day 19, and publicize it on one or more of your social networks.
A few days ago I published a quote of the (soon-to-be) St. John Paul the Great. That quote is:
We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His son.
So, let’s get back to last night. I’d like to share with you what I wrote before hitting the “Save Draft” button and then add to it. This was originally titled
“How Did This Happen to Me?”
I tried to do the Zero to Hero thing tonight but I’m just not feeling it. It was something about adding an additional page to my blog. I just can’t tonight. Got a minute?…
The three of you who read this page and who have read this page over the years know about my spine. You know about the how, when I was 23 years-old, I had two vertebrae in my lower back fused. You know about the pain, the pain, and the additional pain I’ve been in. To bring the other two of you up to speed, after my surgery 13 years ago I felt a lot of things; but one thing I didn’t feel (after my recovery) was pain. There are moments when I wonder if having that surgery was the right choice. I’ll explain.
My doctor had told me that I would get about ten good years after the fusion before, like an episode of Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters, the fusion would cause the adjacent discs to suffer. Literally, if you looked at my spine you’d see a collection of bones and discs doing a pretty spot-on impression of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (the original). Don’t believe me? Click the link and check it out. [This is where I stopped and where I now pick up again.] And about three years ago (or ten years almost to the day since the surgery) I began to notice the tell-tale signs of disc degeneration all over again. Oh I fought it with everything I had. Just as I now wonder if having the surgery was worth it I spent a few years wondering how I’d be able to avoid having the same surgery (on the next disc) all over again. Why would I try to avoid something that provided such obvious and long lasting relief?
You see, I have these two little people running around my house (well, actually right now they’re both sound asleep, probably in my bed). They make me do stuff for them like read them inane books at night about anthropomorphic animals. They force me to drive them places and re-learn the piano with them. They demand that I listen when they call my name endlessly and when they come up into my face and tell awful knock-knock jokes. And you know what? They make me… they make me… laugh. And cry, and get angry when they fight because I love them so much. They puke on me when they’re sick. They try to tickle me in my sleep because, hey, they’re up; why shouldn’t I be as well? They amaze me with their knowledge of the world like when the boy arranged all the fruit in the bowl on the counter in the solar system and the girl informed me that the apple was called Mahs because it was red and that’s what the British-sounding man on the space toy called it. And they’ve figured out this terrifying name for me. I always liked the name my parents gave me but these two went and changed it. This new name makes me stop in my tracks as if it’s been mine all my life. It’s one of those folksy, cutesy types of names that sort of makes one smile to hear it but then blends into the background. They call me… Daddy.
I’ve been avoiding surgery like the plague because I didn’t want to face the prospect of being out of their lives in a meaningful way for the six weeks or three months or whatever it would take. I kind of like it when they climb on me and pull on me and yell for me to push them on the swings or wipe their butts. So with a heavy heart and an intolerable pain in my legs I finally went to my doctor who sent me for another MRI. It revealed what I already knew. I have a pretty significant protrusion of that above-mentioned disc. Unlike my blog-buddy Wade, I don’t have a “kickin’ stone” to toss down the street while thinking of what to do. So I asked for more painkillers. They gave me some relief. But I was worried. I was worried about missing so much time from work and having my pay cut — disability is great but it doesn’t cover 100%. I was disappointed with myself for putting my beautiful wife through this. I can’t believe she married a guy with a busted spine. I did tell her, right? Think so. Still, who does that?!
Today I went to see the surgeon. I left his office at a bit of a crossroads. He recommended what I thought he would — an epidural steroid injection and six weeks of physical therapy. Mind you, neither of those tactics has ever worked for me before. I feel as though six weeks from now he’s going to be putting me under the knife anyway. But in the meantime I reached out to all of you and asked your prayers. And today, for the first time in a few weeks, though still in pain, I felt lifted up. I have been asking Our Blessed Lord to heal me and/or to help me accept this suffering. You asked him simply to bless me. And He did as He always does. And if nothing else, the surgeon sent me away with a script for a steroid. Maybe that will relieve my symptoms. If not, maybe I’ll finally get totally ripped.
I’ve been thinking about the words in that quote above. I am the sum of the Father’s love for me. It is a love He shows every day in those two little angels who renamed me. It is a love He shows me in the most amazing woman of the 21st century a man could hope to be close to who promised to love me in sickness and in health and kept her promise. It is a love He shows me in my family, my friends, and in all of you who read that post and put your hands together in prayer. There is an old hymn of which I am quite fond. It begins: “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?” As I think about the past day and the many days to come I ask myself the same question. And I ask you to continue to pray for me, for you, and for that poor soul who might be all alone but who is, nevertheless, the sum of the same Love.
Did I mention he gave me steroids?…