In Weakness

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The Robot Surgeon

Last week started the same as any other week.  On Tuesday, after I trained my clients, I headed to wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu practice for two long hours.  I came home exhausted.  I rehydrated, showered and tried to sleep. I didn’t eat any food because early the next morning I was going to have an operation to fix a hernia.

After many years of uninterrupted mixed martial arts training, I was going to have to slow down.

There were so many things going through my mind. As I laid in bed I watched an educational video about general anesthesia, since I’d never had any surgery before.  I was worried about it.  What if I didn’t wake up?  What if I was allergic to the medications they gave me? What if…?  

Then I started thinking about the recovery.  How long would it be before I could exercise again? Spar? Lift kettlebells? Walk my dogs?

Sleep came hard with all these thoughts going through my mind.  I was up early to head to the hospital, and saw that in the night I had gotten emails and texts from people wishing me well.  Friends from my small group at church said they were praying for me.  People reaching out helped to ease my mind.

My head was pounding from dehydration, hunger and lack of caffeine.  Every morning I drink at least one huge cup of the strongest, thickest coffee to start my day.  Once I tried to give up coffee, and I lasted eighteen hours before I broke down and drank a cup.

My wife drove me towards the hospital, down a quiet country road alongside the recently harvested and now very barren fields.  She said a prayer, and I began to relax and let the anxiety go.

Once in the hospital, everything moved pretty quickly.  We filled out some papers and then I was given a gown, a bed and wheeled toward pre-op where they started my IV.  When the resident who was helping with my anesthesia came in, I was reading a book.  I looked up and noticed she looked just like a friend of mine from Los Angeles named Shannon.  That was the last thing I remember until I woke up several hours later and asked the nurses when the surgery would start.

When they told me it was over, I was a little disappointed because I had wanted to see the robot that was performing the laparoscopic surgery on me.  

The rest of the day was a blur.  The next morning I felt better, good enough to walk around the farm a couple of times.  I thought, “Wow, this is going to be easy, I’ll be training in no time.”

When evening came, so did the pain.  It hurt deep down in my abdomen all night, even the ice and the prescription pain meds (which I hadn’t intended to take) weren’t taking the edge off.  That night and the following day were the worst. There were times that I didn’t know how I could deal with it.   

And then it was over.  Saturday my pain was almost gone and I stopped taking any pain pills.  

Sunday was a busy day at church, and I had no problem being up and about.  I felt good, but was pretty tired by the end of the day.

By Monday morning I was back to my normal routine, up before dawn walking the dogs, heading to the gym to train clients, and then home to write.

For my whole life, I have found my identity in my physical strength.  Other things about my life changed, but I always had my martial arts and my fitness.  Surgery stripped that from me temporarily, and I had to rely on others to help me in things I had always been able to do for myself.  It made me question where I get my strength from when I have none of my own.  God is the ultimate source of both strength and peace in any situation.  

It was a great experience for me.  Not only is my hernia fixed, but I have a new appreciation for all the small things that make up each day that I took for granted, and for God being my strength when I am weak.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

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