One week ago today I had a tonsillectomy at age 38. What was I thinking? Here’s a few observations, details and asides as well as a few things I’ve been learning in this process.
- There is no minor surgery when that surgery is happening to you.
- Comfort is directly related to humiliation…for example, the surgery gown is incredibly comfortable and incredibly humiliating (here’s a hint: don’t try to tie the back, just throw caution to the wind – and wear new underwear). Skinny jeans would be just the opposite, uncomfortable and well, the metaphor breaks down.
- The last thing I remember before surgery is telling the anesthesiologist I was going to be mad if my gold tooth was gone when I woke up
- Once the “happy juice” kicked in, I might have said something like, “My wife is from Brazil, but she’s white.”
- In the past 7 days: I drank close to 1,500 ounces of water, plus a bunch of Gatorade and Snapple; I took almost 100 teaspoons of Vicodin; I’ve eaten about 10 eggs and lots of Cup of Noodles; I have slept an average of about 2-3 hours per night until last night when I slept almost 12 hours (broken up into 3-4 hour chunks)
- I’ve watched 16 movies, lots of episodes of TV including watching Arrested Development from the Pilot and read 6-8 books.
I love being told that pain is a sign of healing. I’ve heard it before, but it doesn’t really help. I don’t mind the idea that itching means something is healing, but pain?
So what do I do when the very thing that hurts me is the very thing that heals me? After a tonsillectomy you’re told to swallow and drink a lot of water as it aids the healing process. Let me share with you the process of swallowing:
Phase one begins with moving liquid into your mouth and toward your throat. This is when your throat begins to spasm and great pain like vice-grips overwhelms you, but you push through.
Phase two is akin to trying to swallow a pinecone covered in miniature porcupines that are really upset. This is what would normally be called swallowing, as the liquid runs down your throat. Only it is really a pack of Tasmanian Devils running circles.
Phase three only last about six nanoseconds, which isn’t very long. It provides pure relief and for less than a blink of a gnats eye, you’re in bliss as the swallowing is over and you remember this was a good idea.
Phase four slowly rolls in as the after swallowing phase. The pain grows nominally and returns to whatever stage of pain you were in before this whole drama in the first place. All of this took about a second, but felt like nine weeks.
You convince yourself this is all worthwhile or you will end up dehydrated and dead. So you begin again.
I realize now there is a significant difference between being in silence and being silent. I spend a lot of time in silence as I love to be in solitude and prayer and just spend time in beautiful and quiet places. Many of us relate to this. But being silent is different. Over the past week, I’ve spoken very little. Even if you include me typing instructions into the computer and having it “speak” them to my wife (great idea by the way).
There is something important in me shutting up and not talking. Being quiet. Being silent. There isn’t a lot to measure or anything profound here…but let me tell you, it is powerful to take an extended season of silence.
With lots of time, but not a lot of energy, I’ve found myself in a unique way experiencing the presence of God. I have no doubt this is tied to my own silence, as sometimes I think I have it all figured out and just remind God to bless me and my efforts. But this past week has been special.
I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced the intimate presence of God through His Word at this level. There is a deep sense of being loved and known by God in the simple remembrance and reflection on God’s Word. I wonder if this has been lost on me in my attempt to develop doctrine. Maybe it’s been drowned in fear of somehow misusing the Word. Possibly I’ve been too concerned over what other people might think of something supernatural in my life. I do know this…
God met me. God saw me and I saw God. Jesus is so real to me in so many ways at so many times in the last week. As I spent time memorizing Psalm 139, simple phrases like “I awake and still I am with you” from verse 18 were treasures when I came out of anesthesia. God is alive and he lives through His Word. I am so thankful to be able to walk with Jesus, especially in times when I can’t sleep, I wonder if I’m dying because my throat hurts so bad and I haven’t really eaten in a week (or pooped for that matter, is that bad?)
So, if you’re considering an adult tonsillectomy, I hope you walk with Jesus.