Today marks day seven since my skull gave way to a five inch incision to retrieve a brain tumor capable of so much damage including shortening my life. I’ve been living with this knowledge for about six months in an elongated search for a best solution. Because of my young age it was recommended that surgery would best suit the situation. Yes 50 is not old! Yet the risks were still high. So much could happen; one proverbial “false move” by the surgical team and…
I am a public speaker of sorts. I stand in front of audiences of all ages and encourage them to live with hope and make a difference to someone somewhere somehow. I live in a foreign country and I usually speak in a cross-cultural setting. I love this life! Would this all now end with the bedeviled tumor stealing my loved life away? Would I soon limp out my faith-walk with facial paralysis, deafness and a host of other risks that I cannot even pronounce? Yes, the dreaded ‘risk talk’ and signatures, well mine … on the dotted line, from a doctor reminding us this was not a risk-free surgery.
My wife and I had been having these conversations for awhile already. Surprisingly to me the one risk that I hadn’t even contemplated, but she did, was, “Would my hisband experience heart arrest under anesthesia?” She was struggling with the death question. These were real questions taking turns taunting us over the six months. At times I wanted to just pretend that nothing would happen if we just did nothing, leave the thing alone. You know, just pray! Pray pray it away.
Pray. That I did as best as I could. Most times I felt so distanced by the unfairness of the situation that I could barely pray a prayer for myself. It was a humbling lesson in being human like you and everyone else, or as one leader casually put it, this was a reminder of my mortality, but it really was more than that, it was a lesson about faith. I was face to face with a never before experienced situation that carried huge risks. Never had I spent a night in a hospital room. Never was I faced with something so drastic that could change the way I interfaced with the world. I had to step out in faith. I had to believe. I had to feel the fear and then walk into the admission room in some faraway hospital in a country I knew not and by an aged surgeon from Iranian ancestry that I had never heard of before. Oh my God!
People who know me well would say I am generally smiling, passionate. They may add that maybe I try too young to stay young, that I am witty and like to use humour, even corny humous, and most agree that I am transparent and outgoing. I tried not to change a thing about me during the six months of tumor awareness. But the thing, yes this thing, was starting to maybe change me, ever so slightly.
Every week at Newsong the team, led by Daniel, vowed to pray. Every week I would humbly update about not knowing the next step and let my friends lay hands in fervent prayer. People around the globe who knew me were getting concerned. I was concerned! When approval was made for surgery in Germany a series of miracles took place to provide for all our needs to go there. A date was scheduled, air-tickets booked, hotel booked and warm winter clothes to boot! The Newsong gang called me up one more time and I spoke out loud, “No please, let me be the one to pray! And the words flowed from a depth of peace that I had yet to experience up until that moment. Something changed in me. Had I started to become more fearless?
Early in the morning of December 11, 2012 I was rolled out of my hospital room and taken to the Surgery room. I remember nothing but the rolling sensation. I saw no faces I recognized. I heard no noises. No one was holding my hand. I remember no conversations. The lights were out quickly.
The next thing I remember was me sitting up and vomiting on the floor. In fact the next morning was all about vomiting viciously whatever there was or wasn’t in my stomach. Unbeknownst to me Patricia, my wife, had spent the night vigil with her friend, Tina, catching the wretch in a bucket. Yet when i began to be aware of my surroundings all I knew was that I was a alive, some sort of human being that was violently reacting to some invasion and I could not remember what!
And then the news. The good news. The surgery was a success! I could move everything. I felt the tickles on my feet. I could smile wide. Yes, I saw double, but my right eye was wide open and I could shut it at will. The tumor was gone and I was going to be alright. Tough I was groggy, in head pain and uncomfortable with all the catheters and machines connected to keep progress, inside my heart there was relief, incredible relief. I was so happy and I couldn’t wait to tell Patricia!