Monthly Archives: December 2009

May God forgive me

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “I complained I had not shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with the pain and changes to my life as a result of the recent surgery. I’ve looked forward to a day when I can wake up feeling ‘normal’.

This morning on Sine TV I watched the BBC Songs of Praise. The programme came  from Ireland and commemorated Mothering Sunday. It included an interview with a lady who had just had her first baby. Nothing remarkable in that, except that when she was a toddler, this lady was pulled barely alive from a burning vehicle. She lost more than 75% of her skin and has endured more than 20 years of operations and pain. The surgeons have reconstructed her face and fingers. She has a wonderful husband and has given birth to a lovely child. It was humbling to hear of her physical struggles, wrestling with her faith and her realisation that God has been with her all the way.

It also made me realise how much I have to be grateful for. I have been in pain, but nothing like hers or many others like her. It made me feel ashamed that I have complained of my lot.

The apostle Paul tells us to give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20) and in everything. It is sad that it takes someone in a worse situation to remind us how little we have to complain of. Nothing can separate us from the love of God …

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Posted by on 13 December, 2009 in Devotional, Personal


Learning to identify

With the various treatments and experiences I’ve gone through over the past 14 months I’m learning to identify with different groups of people:

1. When I had the radio-active spheres inserted into my liver I became an outcast for a week. I was not allowed closer than 3 metres from people. My food would be brought and placed 3 metres away for met collect. When I saw my wife needing comfort I was unable to get close to touch her or comfort her. I discovered what it was like to be a leper.

2. Following surgery last week I was hooked up to an epidural drip to ease the pain on the perineal wound. The down side was that my legs were initially totally unresponsive. No matter how much my brain tried to communicate with the muscles in my legs and ankles to move, there was no response and I had to move my legs into place by hand. One evening I felt under the sheet and discovered what I believed was a heat pad. It was my leg but I had no sensation in it. I discovered a little of what it must be like to be a paraplegic.

3. I eventually regained feeling in one leg and partial feeling in the other. I was encouraged to walk with the aid of a nurse. I could manage if my bad leg would lock at the knee. Occasionally it wouldn’t and would fold under me. I wondered if this might be what it is like for a stroke victim.

4. After the epidural drip was removed from my spine, feeling gradually returned to my nether regions. I had a long perineal wound with many stitches from the operation. Trying to sit on this wound was painful and walking would occasionally cause one or more stitches to pull which added to the discomfort. I now have utmost sympathy for any woman who has had perineal stitches following child-birth.

5. We all have two personas: one we present to the public and one we tend to keep private. Most of the time my attitude has remained positive and I have sought to find the silver lining in every cloud. I have never lost the sense of the Presence of God through every trial, but there have been times when certain procedures or treatments have seemed “a bridge too far”. There are times when it all seems too hard and there is a great desire to escape the pain one way or another. There have been times when heaven has seemed a very attractive alternative. After all. with the sure and certain hope that belongs to those who trust in Christ, death holds no fear. I will not be too critical of those who decide not to seek further treatment: those who appear to give up the fight for life.

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Posted by on 5 December, 2009 in Personal


Pathology of tumour

The surgeon described the effect of the radiation therapy on the tumour as “phenomenal”, however the pathology report on the excised area showed there was still some active, aggressive cancer inside the tumour. All the margins of the excised tissue were clear and only 1 of 3 nodes found contained cancer. The surgeon was naturally guarded about a prognosis but was very satisfied with the results of the surgery.

It confirmed for us that we took the right course in proceeding with surgery. I had debated its wisdom and wondered if we should have gone ahead. If we hadn’t, there would always have been a question over whether there was any cancer left in the rectum.

The next step is that in about six weeks, following recuperation from surgery, I will undergo a further course of chemotherapy as a ‘mopping up operation’. This is to chase down and destroy any cells that might be at large in the body that are not presently detected. I had hoped the operation I have just been through would be the last but I guess having come this far it seems silly to not pursue it to the end.

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Posted by on 4 December, 2009 in Medical, Personal


Over another hurdle

Home again, and ahead of schedule. I have been thrilled at how things have worked out.

The four to five hour surgery took two hours!  While in recovery one of the nurses commented that it was “almost too perfect”.

I had an epidural line in for the first few days plus IV drips for food and pain. They were all gone by day four. Unfortunately the removal of the in-line catheter did not go as planned so that was re-inserted and will stay there a couple more weeks. I had a mild fever for a couple of days that slowed things down a little, but overall the experience was not too bad ( if one overlooks the sharp pains of mending muscles when coughing and the tugging of stitches in the perineal wound)

I was discharged on day nine. I am finding it a little uncomfortable sitting down. That should ease over the next days and weeks. I am getting used to the Stoma Bag – it is quite a lifestyle change and has this embarrassing way of noisily venting gas at inappropriate times. At least the bag filter removes any odour!

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Posted by on 4 December, 2009 in Medical, Personal