Under the Knife

So I’m having surgery on my hand tomorrow.

It should be fine. It’s only a ten minute surgery on a tendon that is hooking on a bone and needs to be trimmed. A common ailment known as “trigger finger.”

Regardless, no fun. As you know I have been a chaplain for a medical school so I’ve seen tendons and the like up close. How doctors tell one from the other, I’ll never know. It confirmed my vocation as a minister when I watched them take their tests. I enjoyed being in the gross anatomy lab and wasn’t at all grossed out by the experience. It was a sacred place and I regard my doctors as sacred professionals who care not merely for bodies, but also for souls.

With my gross anatomy experience, I said to my friend Beth, a physical therapist,

“I really want to watch them work on me!”

Beth: “ARE YOU NUTS!?”

Mike: “What? I’m not gonna freak out! They can strap my hand down and give me a local.”

Beth: “Um, no! They knock you out not because they think you’ll freak out but rather because they KNOW you will flinch during the surgery.”

Mike: “Oh…yeah…didn’t think about that.”

Now you know why I didn’t go to medical school.

But regardless, I can’t say that I’m totally calm about this. After all I type and write often and the finger in question, the right index finger, is crucial to that process. One false move could be a bad situation.

But I trust my doctor and I’m sure this will be the right thing to do. I have to relinquish some freedom for a day or so and not drive and stay home. But that’s pretty much the worst of it. Hoping for no pain as I get pretty sick from strong pain killers.

And that kind of reminds me of a story.

My dad had hernia surgery and needed to get the staples removed on the same day that I had a tooth extracted. The doctor gave me Vicodin and said if I had pain to take one but only if the pain got pretty bad and to try some tylenol first.

So my jaw started to throb a few hours after the extraction and I took a tylenol. Nothing. Pain now radiating all over my jawline. So I took my first vicodin and then went with my father to his appointment to keep him company. He drove and was fine to do so.

I was fine in the car and went into the office and sat in the waiting room with my father and then the room suddenly started to spin.

And spin.

And I knew what was going to happen. So I said to my dad, “I will be right back, if they call you in just go and I’ll meet you in there.”

I just barely made it to the bathroom and lost my lunch….violently.

When I got back my dad was already in with the doctor. I went in, bad breath and all.

I’m sure the doctor thought I was drunk.

Since then, I refuse vicodin. So I’m hoping I’ll not need a strong painkiller as my body doesn’t always like them and the only thing I hate more than being in pain, is throwing up.

So for now, let’s pray a bit:

Lord, help me to be a good patient. Help me to be patient. To heal completely and to be patient with my recovery.

Help my doctor with his work. Guide his hands to do good work with my surgery and help him advise me well.

Bless those who help me in my need. My wife. My colleague, Joe, who will drive me to surgery and back home. Those who pray for me.

But most of all, Lord, I pray for those who don’t have it as great as I do. Who have no access to health care and no doctor to tend to their needs. I pray for those who are in pain and who refuse medical care out of stubbornness or fear.

Watch over us, Lord. And help us to know that no matter what happens tomorrow, your love and your grace are enough to redeem all that we suffer. Amen.