The Surgery Date Is Set

The surgery date is July 11. Hopefully. Things do shift around when it comes to hospital scheduling. But that is the plan for now. Nothing has changed on my end (rear end). It still hurts. And God is still in control, so we press on with life, helping folks.

Lucia is amazing. No surprise there. The kids are stepping up, which is something they have been doing for eight months now since we told them about Lucia’s cancer and the subsequent surgery.

On that surgery? She is doing well. She is functioning at pre-cancer norms. There will be a reconstruction surgery at some point this year, but it’s not a high priority. (Her decision.) We may do it around the holidays.

Historically, the Christmas season is slow for us on the counseling front. People “sin less” during the holidays because they are shopping and partying more than usual. I’m for real, yes I am.

Okay, perhaps they are not sinning less, but they are busier during the holidays than their “normal busy,” so sanctification takes a back seat. They will come roaring back during January and February when the bills are due and they are staring at each other more often.

Our family loves the holidays because it’s the slowest time of the year for us, which may be a good time for a surgery. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for your prayers. I’m asking the Father to make the surgery go well. I’m trying to guard my heart against “over hoping” what it might be like to be pain-free. It has been twelve years. I don’t know what it is like not to grimace while I roll over in bed. Or not prognosticate how many steps I can make inside Walmart before I have to sit. Or not having my first thought at doing anything be, “How much is that going to hurt?”

It reminds me of what Paul told the Corinthians in 1:8 that they would be guiltless in the day of the Lord Jesus. Just wow! I know I’m guiltless in Christ. I get it. But to truly feel it all the time is an experience that is not mine. And to think I can be pain-free is similar.

I admire people who stand and talk at the church meeting. I praise God for folks who walk around because they can. I hope I can be one of those people. I want to take a walk with Lucia without a time limit.

Anyhow. I guess I’m not guarding my heart too well. 😉 Please pray for a pain-free outcome.

I have a three-day conference at the end of July. There is another three-day conference at the beginning of August. And I have a third one at the end of October. It would be nice if those gatherings were without pain. I can sit and teach, but walking upright is a perk. I know folks who do that, and I’d like to be one.

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It’s My Time Now

In 2005, I felt this pain in my left buttock. It was sharp, but I could “calm it down” by making adjustments like leaning on a wall while propping my foot on it. The pain happened as I walked or stood. Often, I would do different things to bring relief like lay on the floor in Walmart so Lucia could stretch my leg back to bring relief. It was an odd rigamarole in Walmart, but necessary.

When the pain happens, it’s acute. When it’s not, I can function normally. I have learned a few things that I can’t do like carry my children (back then when they were tiny) or walk extended periods. I got a few walking sticks, which I used more to lean on to relieve the pressure on my back. I bought a trifold camping chair from REI, which was a godsend. I never leave home without it. (Unless I leave home without it: I do forget stuff.)

I began various “cure” approaches like the chiropractor, wearing a “tens unit,” physical therapy, lotions of all sorts, traction, dry needling, yoga, acupuncture, exercise, dieting, X-rays, MRI’s, and tons of ibuprofen. None of these things worked ultimately. The pain level has always been the same, but the length of the pain has grown and the amount of “painless time” has decreased.

In the beginning, I could stand or walk for 10 to 15 minutes. Today, I cannot stand or walk for more than 60 seconds before the pain comes and stays. I can’t sit, stand, walk, or lay down without pain. When I do stand, I contort my body in different ways to move the pain around. Nobody would know what I’m doing because it does not look abnormal. Only recently has it become more evident to people.

Historically, there would always be a counter or chair or rail that I could sit or prop on while talking to someone. If anything, I looked lazy but not debilitated.

During our conference in Alaska, I told the folks about my problem because I could not hide it during eight straight hours of teaching. I sat on stools or propped up by using the backs of chairs. At our Peru conference, I could prop in a similar way (or just sit). While traversing Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, I got to speed around with all the “blue hair” (elderly) people in one of those motorized scooters. That was both embarrassing and exhilarating.

I don’t like to talk about it because, quite frankly, people are compassionate: they give you endless cure ideas. I also don’t talk about it because it becomes your identity; I’d rather talk about Christ and His work on earth.

I’ve never hidden my problem for any other reason, with the exception that talking about it so much is tiring. Plus, when people ask, it’s hard to reduce my answer to the thirty-second sound bite they want. Truthfully, I need ten minutes with you to tell you how I’m doing. Rarely does the person asking me how I’m doing expect me to talk ten minutes about my problems and it’s nearly impossible to tell them how I’m doing in thirty-second sound bites. It’s a relational dilemma. So I don’t talk about it a lot.

After the last MRI, it showed a bulging disc that is pushing against my spine. The sciatica has no other place to go and is being squeezed. The symptoms are excruciating pain in my left buttock, pain down my hamstring on my left leg, pain in the calf muscle, numbness, tingling, and my middle toe involuntarily twitches. My hips are also aching. Those are the main things.

The surgeon recommended, (a) do nothing, (b) injection to relieve the pain, (c) surgery. We’re looking at surgery. Soon.

I have speaking engagements in August and October; two in Colorado and one in Oregon, so we’re waiting, at this point, to see how soon I can get the surgery and recover, or wait until the fall.

Currently, my days consist of getting out of bed, writhing on the floor for 15 minutes until the pain subsides, crawling into my zero-gravity chair to work all day, and then go back to bed at night. I do sit up to do my podcasts, walk around the house a few minutes at a time, sit at the dinner table on occasion, and go random places around town. A few weeks ago, I got my handicap placard, which I do use as it saves me a few steps since my walk/stand time is down to seconds. I can go mostly anywhere anyone else can go; it just takes me longer.

I’m not discouraged or struggling spiritually. I don’t live in an illusion that my health should be perfect or that God has failed in some way because my health is spiraling. Though it takes longer to do everything, I still get to help people daily, and that is my reason for living–to bring fame to God by teaching others about Him. The kind of vessel I have to accomplish this good work is a lesser concern.

No, I’m not flippant about it, but I’m a sovereigntist: I do what I know to do and trust God with the results. Right now the physical “results” are painful, but our redemptive work is flourishing. The point is that I have nothing to complain about because of the goodness and mercy of God on my life. I would love your prayers. If Sovereign Father wants to change this thing, I’m open for the possibility.