This week, I will undergo another surgery. I have lost count of the number of surgeries I have endured over the years for different maladies, but a couple of milestones will be marked in the coming days that have not escaped my notice. This one is a direct result of a major surgery I had 11 years ago to remove the remnants of a malignant intestinal tumor that had survived a battery of chemo and radiation treatments. Last year, the mesh used to sew me back together deteriorated and became infected. It was a nasty business that required significant work to remove the affected tissue and left my abdomen susceptible to hernias. Just as feared, I developed one right under the rib cage…a rather sizable hole in the gut that demands to be mended.
Over the years, I have maintained a continued relationship with my original colorectal surgeon, Dr. Tam Le, a highly skilled man of his profession and a compassionate healer. I am indeed fortunate to have done so, because I have been able to directly seek out his services when necessary…unfortunately, all too often. Not only is this the eleventh anniversary of our doctor/patient association, but it also will be the eighth surgery he has performed on this old body. We share a joke that we can’t quite decide if he is my “private surgeon” or if I am his “private patient.” Either way, the man has seen more of my guts than any other in the universe, and I am better for it.
And so we will rendezvous again under the lights of the operating room. I always try to prepare some humorous comment to make right before the anesthesiologist puts me out. This time I may rely on an old cliché that seems particularly appropriate, “You know I love you, doc. But, we have to stop meeting like this!”
This is not supposed to be a life-threatening procedure, but I can’t help but be reminded of my mortality once again. There are many cases of routine operations that have suddenly taken a turn for the worse for some unanticipated reason…some of those have been made quite public when they’ve involved a celebrity or other luminary. While I’m not overly concerned, there is enough anxiety to warrant prayerful contemplation of the weeks ahead. Dr. Le has said this won’t be the run-of-the-mill hernia operation due to its location, size, and the weakness of the tissues from past incisions. So there will be some rough road to navigate, and I am compelled to turn to the Lord for his blessings…thanking him for those of the past and asking for more of the same. After all, tomorrow is not promised to anyone. In fact, just the opposite is guaranteed:
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. –James 4:14