Today's Phrase is:
"Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication"
Sounds like a great password to me...
This is the ridiculously long name of my upcoming surgery. 1:00pm PST on Monday, March 27th, 2017 here in Berkeley, CA. Surgery will last anywhere between 2 and 4+ hours (they have to be super careful around the spleen and diaphragm), will result in 1 overnight stay at Alta Bates Hospital, and then a 1-2 week recovery.
The lowest part of my esophagus (the esophageal sphincter) is no longer doing its job. It's damaged and eroded, and will no longer stay squeezed shut when I have food in my stomach. This creates the WORST acid reflux you can imagine. I've been vomiting for months, and the acid is doing a number on my voice. I need my acid to stay put, my voice to stay strong, and I'd like to chew food again (it's been liquid now for a while!)
When meds no longer do the job (and the acid is as misbehaving as badly as mine is), it's time for surgical intervention. In a nutshell, the top part of my stomach (the fundus) is wrapped around the lower end of my esophagus and stitched into place, helping create a new and improved sphincter. We hope. We pray.
Here's a handy LINK to an animated version
of what they will do during surgery.
(Trust me - it's animated - not fleshy!) The video has been a HUGE help to me in understanding the procedure. Still boggles my mind that doctors can do this sort of thing (to me, it looks like I'm getting my very own, internal football!), although this isn't any more boggling than when they gave me a coral eye implant HERE...but that's a different story.
I need to eat slowly and in small amounts immediately after surgery (no Ted's buffalo burgers for me for a while...) and will need to be careful how much air I get into my stomach, so no straws or gum. (The things I'm learning!)
As chance would have it, Spring Break begins on Monday, March 27th, which is the day of my surgery. I'm quite relieved to not be missing more class than I need to. And Susan, who was toying with coming out for Spring Break in the first place, is now definitely coming out to help with my healing and care. Heaven knows my spirit will be full with her by my side.
My thanks for your prayers - it's been a crazy Spring (isn't it always), and I've appreciated the support BIGTIME! I'm up to speed with all of my classes (even a little bit ahead on the readings), so I pray that I can stay on track with my classes. Profs have been great and prayerful themselves, my friends and family have been supportive and loving, and my church pals near and far have offered anything and everything. I am blessed to be so loved.
Perhaps it's because we're in the season of Lent, perhaps it's because I'm a Seminarian, perhaps it's because we just visited the Holy Land, but the five puncture wounds/scars that will remain on my body have been on my mind. Not because I'm scared - I've had multiple laparoscopic procedures before, and that part doesn't concern me. All I can think of are the five wounds of Christ: the two nails in His wrists, the two nails in His feet, and the final wound in His side. Or the nails in His hands, the nail in His feet, the wound in His side, and the thorns on His head. No matter where the wounds, the pain and agony of Christ was and continues to be real.
Please don't hear that I'm somehow comparing myself to Christ. Certainly NOT my point. My focus, however, has been crystal clear in the connection of these wounds and the season we are in. It brings me right back to the moment during the Sunrise Service, early in the darkness of Easter Morning, when we would go out to the courtyard to light the Paschal candle. A new, pure candle, representing the true Light of the World, Christ, would be lit each Easter.
As we gathered in the darkness of morning yet to come, with the mighty Rockies behind us and the open sky before us, the fire would be lit, and the candle would be ignited with the new flame of the Resurrection. The candle displayed the Alpha and Omega (Christ is the beginning and the end) and the numbers of the current year. It would then be pierced with five, wax nails: five pins that represent those five, wounds of Christ. Watching those nails enter that perfect wax is a powerful reminder of the terror of Good Friday.
As someone who has held this candle for years, the moment of piercing can take your breath away. At that moment, you are holding the only light that can be seen, as the fire behind you is now dying. All that is before you is a sea of darkness.
But then. Oh, but then: It would be selfish to keep such a light to yourself. What comes next always, ALWAYS filled me with joy: I would take my one, pierced and flaming candle, and share the light with all those who had gathered. One, two, ten, twenty flames now flickered in the standing congregation, often shivering in the early morning wind. What was once darkened shadows slowly become glowing faces, reflecting in the light that has now been shared. It's as exciting as if I were one of the women returning from the tomb with the good news of Christ being Resurrected. No longer dark, no longer cold, but filled with light. "Never dimmed by the sharing of this light..."
That, my friends, is what is on my mind these days.
Not the pain,
not the worries,
not even the recovery...
...but the LIGHT.
The light I cannot help but share,
the light that is in each one of us,
the light of the world to come!