Thank God for Surgery

I went under the knife again this past Tuesday. It was the third operation I’ve had in the past six years for the same old nose of mine that seems to give me constant grief. Fortunately, compared to the previous two operations, this one was relatively minor and the recovery isn’t too bad. The doctor used some instrument to shrink the turbinates (the spongy part in your nose) so that I can breathe better. I’m crossing my fingers that this is really my last.

Surgery can be a good thing. It is often needed when things in our body aren’t right, and operations are performed in order to allow our body to function as it should again. For me, surgery was done specifically so that my nose can regain its full function and lead to a better quality of life. For others, surgery can be a process that literally means life or death if something isn’t removed or corrected. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can get the treatment I need from many qualified doctors.

But surgery can be a painful thing, too. This seems to be the absolute theme in all three of my operations. The initial aftermath is difficult and physically demanding, at times unbearable. You might be dizzy or weak from the anesthesia and all the other drugs that they put you on. You might feel numbness and tingling all throughout your body. You might vomit pools of dark blood or scream in agony from the pain caused by urination. It is learning to be thankful for these things that is the challenge.

In these moments, when I am riddled in bed, wholly dependent on my ever-patient mother and father for my every whim, I can react in one of two ways. One is to be bitter and self-pitying. To play the “woe is me” card and to demand from God reasons why accidents happen and why I have to suffer. It seems natural to take this route, but this is the foolish road.

The other is to see the story beneath and above it all. To be reminded of how loving my parents are, holding me up when I walk, feeding me when I can barely chew, caring for me like I was a newborn not too long ago. Or to be able to think and pray for little boys and girls who are suffering even worse, hooked up to wires and machines in hospitals because of their leukemia. Or to remember the little ones around the world who are suffering everyday without food and clean water, those who are living out their darkest days of despair. You can learn to be thankful in suffering, too. This is the greater road that God paves.

Wisdom is the gift that suffering can bring. It’s just hard to receive because it comes in shoddy packaging. The wrapping isn’t pretty and we can’t be prepared to discover what’s hidden inside it all. But if it is given to us let us not forsake it. You might find that the lessons learned in these times are priceless.

As a friend once told me, “Don’t waste pain.” Indeed, pain is one hell of a teacher.

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Letter of Hope

From my friend:

So after having a talk with one of my friends, I wrote this. It was late at night and I couldn’t sleep. The conversation was intense and I just had to get it out. It was hard to hear about a person so close to me thinking something like that. It struck me hard. You can post it on your blog or whatever. I’m hoping it will help encourage people.

*****

Dear Best Friend,

I’m glad you’re still here. You told me about your childhood and all the crazy things that had happened. You told me how you had no hope. You told me how you tried to take your own life. I have to say that this is the one time I’m happy to hear you failed.

Best Friend, you have been a huge part of my life. If you had succeeded, you would have killed a part of me back then, too. I thank God for you and all He is doing through you. I wish you could have seen yourself now, back then. Maybe you would have realized sooner just how meaningful you are. Best Friend, I’ve never been great with words, but I really want to say I’m glad you’re still here.

Sincerely,

Anonymous

Special K

"You can photoshop, airbrush...just make my picture look good."

Tonight I had the privilege of taking my friend Kaori–or K, as she likes to be called–out to dinner at Cheesecake Factory in GardenWalk. I had a gift card and figured she would appreciate a good meal. At the very least I knew she’d be getting some fresh air. After all she hasn’t gone out to much of anywhere recently.

See, here’s the story. Kaori is a smart and dedicated medical student, but sometimes she gets a little sleepy. One night when she was returning home from a friend’s house, after a long week and awful hours at the hospital, she got sleepy at the wrong time. She fell asleep at the wheel, crashing into the median strip on the freeway. Her car was smashed like an accordion. It was a whole scene with police and firefighters and paramedics. They had to use the Jaws of Life to remove her body from the car; it was miraculous that her body still contained life. But her lower extremities were not spared. She was severely injured–both her legs below her knees were broken and smashed–and she would require several surgeries over the next few months.

Now, here she is, sitting in the middle of a hotel room. Bored out of her mind. I mean, imagine not being able to walk for sixty some odd days. I’d probably try to pass out everyday on the medication. Being a surgery “recoveree” myself, I felt her pain. So I figured she might want to go out and enjoy a nice meal. (Yes, it was just my desperate attempt to take a pretty girl out on a date.)

K doing the stanky leg, kinda...

At about seven I went to pick her up at her hotel in Garden Grove (she’s staying at hotels because they are closer to her operation centers). I was happy she’s on crutches now; not so much because it meant her recovery, but so that my twiggly arms didn’t have to wheel her around. (Just kidding…I know, I’m so selfless.)

We arrived at GardenWalk, close to Disneyland, where it was hip and happenin’ on a Tuesday night. I’ve only gone to Cheesecake Factory on a few occasions, and normally I’m not a big fan of their entrees. But Kaori ordered the Pasta something-something and I ordered the Bistro Shrimp Pasta–and they both turned out delicious.

We spent three hours enjoying the food and conversation. Kaori is a girl of many talents–she’s smart, has a memory of an elephant, speaks Japanese fluently, and can SING like an Asian Alicia Keys. (I personally think I’m a better Karaoke performer, though.) I like her because she keeps it real and laughs at my all jokes. We had a great time.

So, this night and entry is dedicated to Kaori, or whom I like to call, Special K. Cheers!

*****

K, I wish you a quick recovery and hope this experience will only make you stronger…keep your head up. God bless!