Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Memory Revisited

The light fixture in our hallway went kaput. I decided to replace it with a track light so we could have illumination from the washer/dryer and up the stairs. Living in Arkansas I do not have much of an opportunity to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers, but from time to time they are televised nationally on Fox and I can see them then. I started to wonder this morning if that might be the case. Checking the online TV guide sure enough, they played Carolina and were on Fox. So I turned the game on and enjoyed working on the project while keeping track of the game. It made me think of a time long ago.

Our family lived in Sturtevant, WI from 1975 to 1980. We lived in a "starter" home. My Dad had not remarried and it must've been around 1975. It was the fall of the year and Dad had come down for a visit. We had gone to church and now were at home doing some fall chores, cleaning windows, raking leaves, etc. We had the Packer game on TV and a radio sticking out a window so we could hear the game while we worked outside. If something exciting happened during the game we would rush back into the living room to see the replay. A couple of times my father and I had to laugh because we would meet rushing into the living room Dad coming from the front door and me coming through the kitchen.

Today I was in the back hallway when Favre threw for a touchdown. Rushing back in to see the replay made me think of my Dad. I miss watching Green Bay play with my Dad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Conversations with God: 11/14/2007

I believe in God, no doubt about it. Do not confuse my belief with the fact that I am religious. I am not a member of a religious group, if you ask if I believe in Christ as our Saviour, no I believe he was an exceptional person brought to this earth to adapt a belief system. There have been other exceptional persons in this world, none perhaps with the impact of Jesus, but then at the time his impact wasn't so great. It was after his death that the power of Jesus became significant. At the time of his death society thought him a trouble maker and rabble rouser. Enough, this is not a comment on Jesus, his mission or purpose. This is about my conversations with God.

One skill God possesses that I've never found in any other being is the ability to listen. I talk, God listens. Does he answer prayers? Yes, every prayer is answered. The answer may not be to our liking, but upon reflection the answer is the best at the time and given the circumstances.

I was raised in the Methodist Church. In my middle adult years I was active in church activities. What kind of an event could change my thought process? The change was a simple one, noticed by very few yet profound in its impact on me. I am a recovering alcoholic, I have been sober for almost twenty-one years. Bill W., the founder of AA, wrote a book we drunks call "The Big Book." It is kin to the bible for our special group. In the book Bill recounts his relief from the urge to drink as a miracle. He was confined to a hospital bed in a New York City hospital for perhaps the fifteenth time and was hopeless in his fight against his disease. Bill asked again for God to relieve him of the urge to drink. That night a light entered his room, his body became warm with the healing salvation of God the urge to drink was removed, never to return again.

Now for those who don't have a drinking problem you may not understand how powerful the "urge" is. Those who smoke crack certainly can understand the physical addiction drugs can possess, well alcohol is similar and creates a power psychological need. Many alcoholics go through life fighting the urge to drink every day of their lives and that is why AA is so important as a tool to combat that urge. Some people are relieved of the urge to drink and while AA remains important they are able to devote some time to developing coping skills so life does not remain so overwhelming.

Some twenty-one years ago I was going through the travails of a marriage breaking up, an adulterous affair, a job that was going nowhere, and compounding everything was "john barleycorn." Finally in a token effort at reconciliation with my wife I agreed to undergo counseling for my drinking. When I met the counselor he doubted my ability to quit because I had a few beers the day before. I even told him I doubted my own desire to quit. The counselor then explain "the contract." The contract is a pact with God, a God of my understanding, each day, or every five minutes, whatever was required to not drink for that period. The man said, each day when you arise sit by yourself, open yourself up to God and ask him to help you through the day without drinking. All I want you to do is to not drink today. Can you do that? Sure, anyone can quit for a day. The counselor then went on to tell me that each day must begin with the same commitment to not drink, sealing the pact with a promise to God and a plea for his help in getting through the day. It sounds easy, but fact is an overwhelming number of alcoholics are unable to make this commitment day in and day out and relapse. Apparently I was more desperate than I thought I was, or I was open to God that day because he removed the urge to drink at that moment. That event does not often happen and the fight against alcohol remains a lifetime battle. Why me?

Well, why not? However the thought arose in my mind that day that I did not ask Jesus to relieve my urge to drink. I asked God. I did not fall on my knees, I did not spread my arms in supplication and beg to be relieved. I cannot even tell you a phrase I uttered, I do know that God relieved my urge to drink, it was gone and has never returned twenty-one years later. Now you know the event that changed my life.

I was 42 years old, I loved booze. I liked the taste, I liked the way it made me sociable, I like the way it helped me forget my problems. Yet it controlled my life. I could not cope with life without alcohol. I guess God understood my problem even when I didn't. So from that day forward the thought arose in my mind that it was God, not Jesus or Buddha, or some other figure associated with religions that relieved my urge to drink. The "Big Boy" himself had intervened.

So now you know why I talk to God, he listens. If you are real quiet, and don't bias your understanding with personal wishes sometimes he even answers in a fashion I can understand. It is not a voice, it is not some external mechanism that provides me with the answer, it is just an understanding that I have been answered and it is OK.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will I Ever Learn?

The gall bladder surgery went very well. I have some soreness and discomfort in the rib area and my shoulder hurts, but it is really minor compared to bowel resection recovery. Until today that is. Apparently the surgery and the Tylenol I was taking ganged up on me and made me constipated. This morning, about 2 AM I woke up with severe abdominal cramps. Laying there in the dark one's imaginings start to get out of control so I was feeling like perhaps I had some blockage and would have to undergo more surgery. The pain ebbed and flowed all night, and while I did get some rest it was little and interrupted by cramps.

This morning I called the Dr.'s nurse and she assured me that constipation following surgery frequently occurs. The nurse said she'd been there and done that. She recommended I get some Ducolax suppositories or some Milk of Magnesia. I guess I didn't hear "or." I called my wife, she left work early and picked up the suppositories and milk of magnesia. I was desperate, it hurt. So I took one in the rear and downed a shot of mom. Yessir, will I ever learn?

My hemorrhoid feels like a balloon, my butt hurts when I sit down. I've used a whole roll of toilet paper by myself and was treated to sitting on the john some 30 times or so. I don't have any constipation and the cramps are gone, but damn my ass is sore. Other than that I feel like a million bucks!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ten Months ago

Ten months ago yesterday I had a bowel resection. I've written about that in this blog for some time. Things generally progress and I get better and better. Coupled with my weight loss (on purpose), the ability to get rid of some of my meds, and a steady exercise routine I am feeling as well as I have in 20 years. I can tell you that recovery continues for a long time and is ongoing.

However, yesterday I had another surgical procedure. My gall bladder had been acting up for a few months. The medical folks diagnosed gall stones when I had a CT scan prior to my bowel resection, however the cancer took precedence. Lately however, I have been having some fairly severe gall bladder attacks and on advice of my family doctor and the surgeon it was time for it to come out. So yesterday, on the ten month anniversary I was back at the hospital, same hospital, same doctor but the results were very different. I had a laparscopic procedure. What a difference, I was in the prep room by 8:15 AM and out of the hospital by 1:15 PM. The surgery took about a half an hour I was told. I feel great the day after. My abdomen is sore near the rib cage, it is sore if I cough, but other than that I feel fine. I have no stitches, band aids cover the small incisions, there are four of them.

I did have very sore shoulders. I was told by a coworker that your shoulders get sore because the air used in puffing up your abdomen does not all come out so some migrates up into the shoulder area and is absorbed by the body. The result however is shoulder pain, which I did experience. Tylenol has proven to be sufficient, I have not needed any pain pills.

So the saga continues. From the bowel resection I still have some bowel issues. I continue to go a little a lot. It does seem that I have some regularity but I may go a number of times a day. I am more and more comfortable and am feeling great. I must admit that I wondered at times if I would ever again feel this good, even before surgery. My weight was a real hamper to my overall health and now, things are good.

Good luck to all, and God Bless!