Wednesday, July 11, 2007

emerging from a dark place...

For those who don't know, I've had some major health issues over the past six weeks or so... here's a bit of what I've written along the way: On Tuesday, June 5, I found my way to the E.R. with the help and advice of my dad. I had chest pains, but after three hours of tests as well as x-rays, I was told that I was healthy. The E.R. visit led to a stress test as West Michigan heart on Thursday, June 7. After a full afternoon of tests, they said I was healthy, but… they did schedule me for an Echo of the heart for June 20. (something still possibly abnormal...) On Saturday, June 9, I woke to shortness of breath, chest tightness, and a large helping of anxiety. It was suggested that we call 911, and I found the house almost immediately filled with police officers, EKG wires onto my chest, and an ambulance ride to the E.R. (This time Kathy got to accompany me to the hospital.) There is nothing like your seven and four year old watching their dad being loaded into an ambulance... oh shit. My heart went out to them hoping I would be returning... Again I was told that my heart looked good after even more tests, another four hours in the ER, and another dose of anxiety. Still, I felt short of breath, tightness in the chest, a bit of nausea, and a sense of simply having the flu without most of the symptoms. Sunday and Monday were two long days on the couch wondering about the next minute and hour. Sunday had the hope for my doctor being available to see on Monday, but Monday told me that he wasn’t available until Tuesday. This morning did arrive; the doctor’s office was thorough with me taking nearly an hour in all (with just about zero wait time). Scott, the P.A., had a breathing test run on me. From the diagnosis of the breathing test, I have asthma. So, I’m on a large dose of prednisone to calm down my inflamed lungs and I am also on a twice-a-day inhaler. If the diagnosis is correct, I should have much relief within the next three days. With that said, an Echo of the heart is still planned for next Thursday. So, I’m sure that I’ll carry a bit of anxiety until I get a good report (hope) on Thursday, June 20. Until I know for certain, your prayers are nearly coveted. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ It’s Monday, June 11, and it’s six days after first not feeling well. I hope with all that is within me that my body fully recovers. Kathy is convinced; I am hopeful. A few reflections after two hospital visits to the E.R. and a barrage of tests: ~ I need to spend more time with my kids. It’s not that I am a bad dad; it’s just that they are so amazing and yet I find it easy to make telephone calls, work stuff, and e-mail messages equally important in my life. I think it was easier for our parents and grandparents to stay focused on parenting. They were often consumed with work, but it was usually work, church, and family that took the time. E-mail, voice mail, facebook, blogs, cable television, and the internet were not all pushing for their time. I love a lot of people; I’m a social guy, but this young family is amazing, and they need to have more of my time… period. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It’s Tuesday, June 12, and it’s day seven of not feeling so well. This morning we (my wonderful wife too) went to the doctor’s office. Scott, the PA, was thorough. He spend almost forty minutes with me. Thanks Scott. A breathing test was administered, and I failed wonderfully. So, Scott believes that I have asthma… I hope and pray that it’s asthma. I’ll live with that reality. I’ve had times of fear over the past week – deep, deep fear. Fear like I have never come close to experiencing previously in my life. If I survive this bout of bad heath for the long term, I hope there a several things that linger with me: 1 – I hope that I more deeply love each day and each person within each day of my life. While I always have hopes for the future, I need to embody agape’ love at each moment. ~ When the Apostle Paul says to ‘think not only of your own interests, but also of the interests of others… this is the life I want to live into more deeply. It’s occurred to me that there is nothing wrong with looking to our own interests, but when we look at the interests of others, then we begin to live as life is meant to be lived. If I am to live a life focused only on myself, I leave nothing behind for others, for the next generations. This has many implications. I’m not speaking only of leaving a legacy of the ways of Jesus. It means that we leave a legacy that mimics the ways of the Creator. While many people question the reality of a Creator God, hang with me if this is you. I won’t argue a way that you must believe or follow. I simply want to hold up my story and the stories of others. These aren’t made up stories. This is the story of my life, the lives of friends and family whom I would literally die for, and the lives of generations of God chasers who have invested into my genes. We need to love the creation. We leave legacies by the way we care for the entire creation… both the things that have been created and the things that are yet to be created. When we thing of our own interests, then we fail to thing of the history and future of the planet and the things beyond this planet. While we may not be contained by this planet forever (with an ever expanding universe), we have no need to ravage the resources of this planet for the sake of a robust economy and endless consumption. At some point, consumption turns into gluttony. In turn, we become unhealthy. While it’s within the biblical text, gluttony at all levels. It again means that we are thinking of our own interests more than the interests of others. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- It’s Thursday, July 5, and I believe that I’m about to see something good on the other side of feeling lousy and still given several possible diagnosis. I certainly know that anxiety/depression is one of them – no doubt here. While I believe that I can recount most every day over the past 26 (since the first E.R. visit), I also believe that I am sensing a return to health physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Daily workouts are reminding me that my body, at least the heart and lungs, are working well. I’m waking in the morning to three healthy kids crawling over me in my bed… sometimes needing to avoid the pee diaper that Nadia tries to drag over my head though. I’m able to get going by noon (better than a week ago by at least two hours), and from what I’ve read the Paxil should be kicking into gear within the next thee to five days. While I once believed that I would not ever get hit with depression, what do I know? Not so much I guess, but I do know that this entire health thing has thrown me harder and further than I ever imagined. I’m 41, and I continue to be called ‘young man’ by some of the older guys at the YMCA downtown. If only they knew I was 41 and feeling every bit of that over the past month. Still, today seems to be at least as good as yesterday. I’ve decided that brain drugs are not a bad thing if they help me cope with reality and if they make me a better husband, dad, and kingdom lover. Speaking of kingdom loving: This entire ‘thing’ has shaken my entire life, and my faith is certainly a bit in recovery mode as well. What do I mean by that? I don’t think that I ever doubted if God existed, but perhaps… I know this entire kingdom thing is real, but when I had not much hope, I deeply wondered. Perhaps it’s the longing for the kingdom of God to become our full and current reality. It seems that here in America where many of us have good shelter, quite a bit of safety, good food and good drink, along with good health care, the kingdom is tasted on a daily basis. Great coffee filling my nostils, good foods on the summer grill, laughing children… it all seems of God. Yet, that ugly issue of life coming to an end here on this earth also is our reality. Yea, I know that I’ve been too occupied with the end of life that over the past month. Sure, it’s a sign of depression. But, we also need to live with the reality that the kingdom is not yet fully here. Perhaps that’s why a rapture kind of theology works so well. We can simply believe this entire experiment called planet earth is a misfortune, and our miracle God will create something better elsewhere. Still, if we are to be true to Scripture, it seems that we need to be true to Scripture. In Revelation, John tells us of a re-creation of the heavens and the earth. So, the Creator of all good things doesn’t forsake his creation nor his creatures even when we are not so sure. Enough writing for the moment, but it seems this good tasting coffee is doing my heart, mind, and soul well. I trust that I’m begin restored to be the kind of guy that can at least attempt to keep in step with the Spirit in the life of my family, friends, and this community called West Michigan. ________________________________________________________ Wednesday, July 11... I keep feeling a bit better each day. Anna continues to ask how I am doing; I'm increasingly playing with them again. It feels SO good! I also know that health isn't a guarantee. Most of all, I hope to live into each day a bit more deeply... for those of you who have prayed and continue to pray, thanks.

4 comments:

Mike Croghan said...

Hey Randy,

I'm a friend of Mike Stavlund's; we met in Philly this spring at the philo/theo conference. Glad to hear you're feeling better, and I'll pray that this trajectory continues!!

Peace,
Mike

Mike said...

Thanks for taking the time to share all of this, Randy. We've been worried and praying, so it's good to get some of the details, and even more to hear about what's going on in your (metaphorical) heart.

God bless you and your family, even and especially in this journey. We love you all.

paul said...

grace and peace and healing.

Melissa said...

your cuz here...I love you!