Finally, a really good day!
Monday, August 28, was a day I was not looking forward to. It was the day Kerrie and I would have to drive back down to Sunset to get my stitches removed. I had never before had stitches – and I had no idea what to expect. In my imagination, I was afraid each of those thirty-six stitches was going to be a tugging and pulling affair in which all sorts of unpleasantness could go wrong. And the staples! That didn’t bear thinking on…
But boy was I wrong. Ruth was my neurosurgeon’s Physician’s Assistant. She had me lay down on my chest, whipped out a pair of scissors that looked an awful lot like the kind we use to cut tape off athletes’ ankles, and before I knew it, thirty-six stitches were gone! And then for the staples.
“Robert, you are going to feel a pinch…”
Ha! I felt nothing at all. The last of the staples out and I felt I had finally caught a medical break. Something had actually gone better than I had feared!
Ruth gave me the same neurological check up I had received so many times while in the hospital, she answered a few questions Kerrie and I had about my recovery – especially about the fact that my swallow seemed to get no better and my speech was so very weak. Orders were put in for therapy appointments to begin during my third week of recovery. She seemed pleased with the fact that I was talking, however quiet and raspy I sounded.
On the way home, Kerrie suggested driving through McDonalds for lunch. This worried me. I didn’t know what I could eat from their menu. I ended up ordering a large fry and a large Diet Coke. Since being in the hospital, my eating habits were no fun at all. I would eat a small cup of diced fruit, drink one of my Ensure Shakes, and be exhausted from the work of commanding my body to swallow. I was forcing myself to eat little snacks and drink those shakes throughout the day – working really hard to get at least 1,500 calories down in every twenty-four hour period. What a way to diet! I was hungry all the time, but the amount of energy it took just to eat soft foods made even the thought of eating a very unpleasant affair.
So as we pulled out of the McDonalds drive thru, there I was – staring at a massive red container overflowing with French fries. I had also asked for a small cup and filled it with about a dozen ketchup packets since I was apprehensive about swallowing dry food. One at a time, I lathered those fries in ketchup and I ate those fries. All seventeen thousand of them.
It seems silly looking back on it, but finishing that large fries was huge. The large fries equaled 498 calories – the ketchup comes in at 20 calories per packet. I had just eaten, at one long, slow sitting in LA traffic, about 600 calories! By far my best since surgery.
Upon arriving home, we received a wonderful card from Ken and Joni. I have read that note a dozen times now at least. And it resonates so powerfully – especially knowing it comes from a couple who have endured and overcome so much in a lifetime of ministry with a disability to people with disabilities all over the world.
This is what they wrote:
Sometimes when you are in a long, tiresome season of very slow healing, you wonder if you ever will come out of it. Days drag on, especially for the first few weeks, and you have to fight off anxiety because everything seems to be taking forever; healing is happening way, way too slow.
Bob, I realize it’s a slow healing process, but consider these words by Fredrick Faber, “In the spiritual life, God chooses to try our patience first of all by his slowness. He is slow: we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity. Thus grace, for the most part, acts slowly. He works little by little… There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it over-shadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them… Wait, and He will come… and when He comes, go with Him, but fall a little behind; when He quickens His pace, be sure of it before you quicken yours. But when He slackens, slacken at once: and do not be slow only, but silent, very silent, for He is God.”
It had been a good day. A worry had proved to be nothing at all – the stitches and staples removal had been a piece of cake. I had attained a new high calorie mark in a single meal. Getting calories down was a huge part of my healing process – that large fry was a big win. And I had been greatly encouraged by a simple reminder from good friends that God is at work in the details of our lives – especially when things seem to move so very slowly.
May your day be full of pleasant surprises as you face your fears and fries alike! And may you be strengthened in your humble patience as you wait for our slow God – who is always exactly on time!
N.B. Yes, that is the actual empty fry container. A trophy of this strange season of recovery!