I learned something this week. I probably shouldn’t eat granola, especially when it contains sunflower seeds or other nuts. But before I get into this, I should say that I was hesitant to provide this update, thinking it may be a bit too personal. But wait. Too personal? The other voice in my head reminds me that I probably cannot get more personal than I have already, but still, it seems strange to share a story about a little bump in the road. At some point, as those who’ve been following for a while know, I started using this blog in large part to talk about life in general (the “two stories” stuff) as opposed to the “my arm hurts when I move it like this” stuff. But as Kim reminded me (again) this morning, these things are all related, and there’s an ebb and flow to what I feel led (or called) to share here.
Sunday night was a fun one in Nashville, as the treatment trips go. It sounds smug to say this, but I got a great rate at the Hermitage hotel, and so Kim and I slept in style that night. And it was just that night, because my treatment appointment was at 8am Monday morning. We arranged for room service for 6:45, and I, not wanting to pay $20 for dry, lukewarm eggs, decided on a bagel and the yogurt with granola. Some of you may recall that I spent 4 nights in the hospital about 8 months ago due to a small bowel obstruction, but I haven’t had any issues since, though I’ve been careful about what I eat and try to chew my food well. The only thing I avoid, at this point, are raw vegetables, otherwise I’ve been eating normally (mayonnaise aversion aside). My pen hovered, though, over the yogurt offering, wondering if I was OK to eat the granola.
Answer to that question: No.
I’ll just state simply, if embarrassingly, that when I arrive home on Monday evenings after treatment, I typically have to empty “the bag” (if you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, see the previous post “Vesuvius”). But Monday night, the bag was basically empty, and this was a big warning sign. It wasn’t long before I began experiencing extreme abdominal pain and spent the night in bed or the bathroom, resolute that I was NOT going to a hospital. I survived, though the “sleep insight” as reported from my Fitbit for Monday night somewhat depicts how it went (see above). Tuesday was a day of recovery, but I hoped to join my 12-year old son, Owen, that evening for his first junior golf league match, which I did.
And here’s where the time of self-pity began. First, ordinarily, I would *never* obtain a cart for myself to follow my son as he walks a golf course, my obstinate mind associates a weakness for such acts (or at least an agedness), but because of the fear of leg edema, I sheepishly gave the man in the golf shop $10 in order to ride the 6 holes. Second, Vesuvius was erupting and the bag was filling up rapidly as my body continued its process of recovery, which includes my form of “D” and is unpleasant, especially around strangers. And third, I received a call, on the first hole, from a nurse from Tennessee Oncology telling me that my lab work indicates that I have hyperthyroidism, a common side effect of immunotherapy, and I would need to begin a regimen of medication to combat it. Ugh.
(queue the violins, please.)
All of this is hidden from people that don’t know me, and, honestly, even from those who do. If there were outward signs of such handicaps (kudos if you caught that), people would naturally understand my need to prop a leg, need to be near real restrooms (with plumbing, TP, and soap), and hesitancy to do manly activities that healthy middle-aged men should do to show that they still have copious amounts of testosterone flowing through their veins. But when all of your ailments are hidden beneath your clothes and you otherwise appear healthy, then an expectation follows. Or perhaps friends and family have an honest desire to help me live life to the fullest, assuming that what is holding me back is mental; and sure, some of it is.
This week is the start of college football, and UGA has a 6pm home game Saturday, with plenty of time to tailgate, since it isn’t one of the hated 12pm kickoffs (but which made it easy for me to handle). So as my son is counting down the days (“3 days, dad!”), I feel the pressure (and desire) for a fun afternoon on my feet, but I dread the silent fatigue and frequent trips to the port-a potties. At some level I don’t care what others might think, but disappointing my kids absolutely crushes me.
(are the violins still playing?)
It’s Wednesday, and I’m getting my strength back, system returning to normal. As I sat on the porch while the kids got ready for school, I thought to myself how I needed some time in prayer and the Word. My patient wife, though, picked up a book (a gift from our dear friends, James and Susan) with which many of you are familiar, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, by Charles Spurgeon. I find these devotions hit-or-miss, though, sometimes lacking, for me, a personal touch that gets to my heart. I often picture him standing on a soapbox, so to speak, preaching at me, but other times the brilliance for which he is famous shines. As she pulled the book back to read aloud, I said something along the lines of, “C’mon Spurgeon, hit me in the heart.” (I asked for it…)
“August 30: Wait for the Lord. — Psalm 27:14”.
The whole devotion is worth reading, but this is what really got my attention:
There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord.
That last part though.
As she finished, I recalled a time, probably 4 years ago, where I prayed on my knees to God, vowing that I would endure any amount of suffering but pleading that he would not take my life early. I just cannot imagine my children’s lives without me, and the thought strikes me too often, even yesterday as I watched Owen walk to the tee box to hit his drive on hole #2.
How many times can I perform this pirouette? Self-pity to thankfulness? More frequently than I’m comfortable with, it seems.
Am I crazy? (be quiet, Billy.)
Does anyone out there relate?
God, please protect me from insulting you with faithlessness. Help me to trust. Help me to be thankful. Help me to enjoy today. Help me to shrug off, if not laugh, the secret side effects of life. In these, I know I’m not alone.
11 Comments Add yours
Yes, I can relate. I have walked that walk. In your walk, you have shown some very special qualities, your willingness to share your concerns and fears with others. That is a loving gift, one that sustains you and gives others hope. Your family and friends understand the difficulties of life you face each day. They only want to be there to share the good days and to walk with you through the bad days. They just don’t always know which day you are having. Your day at Owen’s golf tournament was a special gift to Owen, Later in his adult life, he will come to appreciate your being there and understand the effort it took. He will recognize the love that made that happen and will be a better man because of it.
None of us have a perfect faith and we struggle to maintain that faith in our lives. That is normal. So don’t worry about about how many times you must pirouette. In my view, God is happy that you still make the effort. He understands the rest. God bless!
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Man. This gave me a lot to think about.
Ok so when is your book going to be published?? So sorry you have to endure all this. You are in my prayers.
Ha! We’ll see 😉 Thanks so much. Back at you, of course
Brent, you can come to Columbia and learn about patience from me (not). In the spirit of college football and all things Clemson Orange, maybe my fine feathered Gamecock friends can teach you. They have been patiently waiting on a great football season forever. I admit they have had some really good seasons, but I dare say none have been great.
I hope the Bulldogs can have a great season and bring you joy. I know it is sad to write that but we all know we all have a sickness when it comes to our college football. Tell me it would be so cool if we played you in a bowl game. You could hang out with the Orange people.
I hope school is going well for the kids. Ours don’t hate it so I guess that is a win. Thank you for blessing us with you post/ blogs. They really are a blessing. Tell Kim and the kids we said hello. Praying for you. The Elliott’s
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Ha, thanks Todd. I’m glad we have something in common, disdain for the chickens! And you live among them. Thanks for the prayers, send our best to the Jenna and the “kumquats” (get it??)
Brent, thanks for posting this. We continue praying for you (And your precious fam). How like our gracious God to give me something through you! I have been camping in/on Psalm 33:20-22 so Spurgeon ‘s quote is quite meaningful…..
We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy Name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon
us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in You.
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Oh Erin. Love y’all
We luv n pray for y’all from afar.
“How many times can I perform this pirouette?” That line though. Loved this Brent. Thanks for sharing.
Such good words. I understand the “pirouette” and I understand the fear of insulting the Lord with my lack of faith. So often I can see (or am shown by those who love me well) these moments of my own shortcoming as an arrow to His lack of imperfections; His grace is so near.