Do the Research!

For the last almost-year, I’ve experienced an incredible amount of bad doctoring. And frankly, some of it has been my fault. I didn’t do the research, at least not adequately. After spending years as a journalist (daily/weekly newspapers, educational writing, and copyeditor for a medical journal), I knew better.

My latest journey into the shadow of medical uncertainty began last summer when the pain from my deteriorating knee joint became so bad that I had to resort to crutches to get around. Anyone who knew me before last year knows I am not a crutches sort of person. I remember a friend, who would watch me every morning from her high-rise condo at Gulf Shores as I walked the beach, remarking once that I walked beautifully. That’s a pretty neat thing to hear when you’re a miniscule 5’2”, do not have long legs, and just turned 40. Until a year or so ago her words were still accurate.

But, I digress. After what I thought was adequate research (a friend and the Internet), I made an appointment last June with a knee surgeon in a big city, and the surgery for the knee replacement was set for early October.

I didn’t ask my family doctor for a referral because he had x-rayed my knee in May, with the diagnosis that I still had a lot of cartilage and didn’t need knee replacement surgery yet. His solution was to put me on higher doses of pain medicine. I never filled the Rx. What I didn’t know until later was that his office did not know the method necessary to reveal if there is or is not cartilage left. FYI, the correct method is to have the patient stand only on the affected leg, bearing all the weight on it while the x-ray is taken. The fact that he didn’t know the correct method was beyond disconcerting, especially since I had been in pain for months and could hear a grinding sound when I walked!

With the surgery scheduled for Oct. 4, I concentrated on getting through the summer—not an easy task by any means. My summer consisted of planning the logistics for and overseeing our annual church convention, making sure a group of elementary-aged, pastors’ kids had a great time at a three-day pastors’ conference, playing with my energetic, almost 2-year-old grandson, helping out with service club projects, and watching my garden go to the weeds since I couldn’t get down the hill to tend it. The icing on the cake was our annual vacation in Ludington in early September, which was not real vacation-like since I couldn’t walk anywhere without crutches, much less out to the lighthouse or down the beautiful winding trails at the state park. (Get the picture?)

On Oct. 4, this enthusiastic patient came out of surgery ready to heal. I won’t go into detail about the hospital experience (it was scary because of what did happen!) or the rehabilitative care (it was scary because of what did not happen!). After working with an amazing, local physical therapist three times a week for more than three months, both of us knew that something about my knee was not right. Range of motion was not where it should have been, and swelling around the implant continued.

The surgeon continued to see me every couple of months, but it wasn’t until April that he casually mentioned there might be a problem with part of the implant—that it might have been trimmed too much, causing it to wobble—and that I should come back in the fall if the swelling continued. Suffice it to say, I now have a referral from an internist to a sports medicine surgeon, who is well known for replacing the joints of ex-football players.

I won’t go into detail about the other medical challenges I’ve been dealing with during this time, like withdrawal from getting off a well-advertised drug for fibromyalgia, which I never should have been on in the first place. And then there was the gastroenterologist who removed two polyps from my colon in April but did not retrieve them for testing!  (His office called to tell me everything was fine and to come back in five years! Undiagnosed cancer could kill me in five years!) They evidently didn’t think I would read the paperwork from the procedure. I have a consult appointment in a couple weeks with a gastroenterologist associated with a respected practice in a large city; and yes, I will have to repeat the colonoscopy. (Oh, fun!)

SO, here I am again, with the summer stretching out before me, just having gone through withdrawal from Cymbalta (don’t even ask), my garden mercifully planted by a young couple, and a knee that balloons from the simple act of walking to the back of Sam’s Club and prevents me from being the Nanny I want to be to my grandsons.

My advice to everyone who reads this is Do the research! and never believe for one minute there will ever be a better medical advocate for you than you!

Talk about a welcome rain!

What a welcome rain poured from the heavens last night. I had already watered the garden and flowers, but that rain sure made everything pop! Just goes to show that what comes straight from the Hand of God is always preferable to what we try to do on our own.

I remember my mother frequently talking about the inadvisability of being so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good. I’m not making excuses for Mother, but she came from a time when pragmatism was, by necessity, the primary focus of life. Living through the uncertainties of World War I, also known as the war to end all wars, as well as the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression and World War II, generated a no-nonsense approach to life that produced a lot of axioms based on the Book of Proverbs.

They weren’t just sayings but lessons lived out by parents before their children. I especially remember these: If you want something, you must work for it! You have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps! There’s no such thing as a free lunch! If you make your bed, you lie in it!

This morning, I am grateful for lessons learned by watching my parents, as well as the friendship of the One who sticks closer than any family member. After all, He is the One who opened my eyes this day to see the obvious–and inspired me to thank Him for what is truly praiseworthy. Yes, I am heavenly minded at this moment in time, yet I know full well there will be those times when I am anything but!

I am grateful for lessons learned from the One who loves me all the time, even when I’m not very likeable and, yes, even when I cease to listen and remember. I believe with all my heart that God never says to me (or anyone else):

  • Hey, if you want me to love you, then you need to clean up your act!
  • Hey! I saw that, and you are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!
  • Remember when you rebelled against me and did _________?
  • I can’t heal you, because you don’t have enough faith!
  • I am SO tired of your complaining!
  • That’s the last straw! I’ve had it with you!

What He does say is “I love you anyway.”

Talk about a good friend… talk about a good role model… talk about a welcome rain.

You Are the One

You require even more from your servants
who minister to the body of Christ.
You require transparency,
honesty in all of our affairs,
forthrightness in our conversation,
integrity in what we say
and do not say.
You require a heart turned toward you
that we may walk upright and blameless
and an ear turned toward the world
that we may hear the heart-cries of those
bound by the world.
You look for the person who will do these things
simply because their heart is turned toward you.
You are the Truth
that sustains us while we walk this earth,
and lifts us as wings of eagles
to ride the thermals of God
over storms that gather in the distance
and strike fear in our hearts.
You have hid us from the evil one
and protected us from our own folly.
You have placed us time and time again
in the cleft of the rock
when we have strayed into danger.
You have covered us with your feathers
and sheltered us under your wings.
Like the loving parent you are
You have preserved us.
And it is You, O gracious Father,
who releases us one day
to soar on wings like eagles.

The Words We Do Not Speak

We who know a better way than the selfdom of this present age, yet say nothing, will stand before a Holy God someday and be held accountable for every word we did not speak.

How incredibly selfish we who have heard His Voice are. Where is our love, our compassion? How can we stand by and see the least, who are blinded by unholy gods, wander about with no sense of direction, vulnerable to the enemy’s deceitfulness? Do we not realize yet that we who have accepted His love and forgiveness—His very life—have no right to our own?

How dare we think it is okay to be so wrapped up and ‘busy’ with our own ‘important’ lives while our weaker brothers and sisters wander aimlessly because we haven’t the courage to reach out to them and tell them about a better way—the better way we found through our own dark days.

God does not save us for ourselves so we can put our polished soul on a shelf to collect dust that only tarnishes the luster of our lives that were once made new in Him. He saved us to use us. It is that simple. It is the only repayment God wants, yet He will not demand it. Instead, He waits for us to come to our spiritual senses, to go beyond mere words to action. He is not interested in our profession of faith; it is our sacrifice He waits for.

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only He who does the will of my Father.” The ‘will of my Father’ seldom begins with the big things in life. More often than not, it begins—and ends—with the small, the everyday ‘ministering in the Name of Jesus’ His love and the truth of His Word to those around us.

We have cheapened His Grace by keeping quiet when we hear sin glossed over. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name? Did we not drive out demons? And perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers.’” Jesus knows us by what we do out of obedience to Him because we love Him.

The very next verse says, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice, is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock that will withstand any storm. To not put His words into practice is to invite destruction—the same kind that swept the house built on the sand away.

So what is this foundation that will ensure ‘this house’ will stand secure until He calls me home? It is the Word obeyed and applied. It sounds so simple—Jesus saying, ‘If you love me, obey me.’ When we obey Him, we prove that we love Him. We go beyond mere words of affection to love expressed. This is how He knows us.

He is saying, ‘Do you love me? If you do, obey Me even in the smallest things. Acknowledge Me even in the seemingly inconsequential, the wayward thoughts, the doubt and indecision, the laziness and careless living, the worldly conversation, the self-centeredness.’

We who know Him must be willing to completely surrender even the heretofore hidden places of our heart, so we may walk in unbroken fellowship with the One who truly understands our weakness.

Lead me, Lord…

Lead me, Lord, as I walk this day down paths I have walked so many times before.
Lift me above the sameness of tasks that threaten to dull my senses, drown out my resolve and deaden my spirit to the whispers of your heart.
I want to hear you, Lord, above the cacophony of other voices that, of necessity, must script my waking moments.
I want to see you, Lord, not just in the spectacular beauty of your creation but in the mundane chores you set before me.
I want to know you, Lord, to feel your presence nearer than my very breath, to be hid in you, safe from the whispered assaults of the cares of this world.
I want to soar on eagles wings and leave behind the cares of this day… to ride the thermals above and beyond the gathering clouds and threatening storms of this life…
to touch the face of the One who ever calls me home.