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Reflections: Let me tell you about my surgery

I’ve always heard it said that we seniors have several distinguishing traits, including talking about our surgeries. I used to roll my eyes in pastors’ meetings when “the old guys” told us about their latest procedures, but more recently I’ve begun to listen intently.

My latest medical escapade ended on a hopeful note.

A norovirus sent me to the emergency room fevered and dehydrated in late February. The doctor suggested a follow-up with my primary care physician. She found liver enzymes hadn’t returned to normal and recommended a CT scan. I told the scheduler I’d rather be shot dead than locked in a steel tube, but she explained it was an “open” procedure.

However, it was a torture chamber.

The tech stuck me four times before finding a good vein. This led to marital discord when my wife told me it was my fault for being dehydrated. I explained it was his fault since he had the big needle. Then in the middle of the procedure I felt cold liquid running down my face. I knew blood would be warm.

The tech stopped the procedure and said the IV tube burst, and this happens one of every 50 times. I won the lottery. Thus, I had to go back a day or two later to complete the procedure and get another stick. That’s five, if you’re counting.

The liver scan found my liver A+, but a “thickening” in the bladder. The doctor sent me to a urologist who said I had a “small mass” in the bladder and recommended removing it soon. My visit with him and the surgery happened only over five days, so things moved quickly.

The first time I heard someone along the way say “cancer” was unnerving. It was cancer, but the pathology report found it was non-aggressive, fully removed and no further treatment recommended.

I’m still amazed at two things.

One is the circuitous route to surgery. The surgeon said many cancers are found “accidently” as mine was.

The other marvel is technology. The surgeon did his work with a tiny camera and knife. My discomfort was minimal, except for the five sticks in the CT lab! Actually there was never any pain from the tumor, so I’m unsure what would’ve happened had it not been seen with X-ray.

Life is filled with inexplicables. I can’t explain cancer or tornadoes. I can’t explain why every crime isn’t a “hate crime.” I can’t explain why good people sometimes die alone and in pain. I can’t explain why Americans can’t be one nation under God.

But every experience, I believe, can make us stronger people. At least we should grow in our compassion for others who hurt.

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.

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