Reflux

What do I have to be thankful for? A Lightbulb

What do I have to be thankful for?  These past few months have been the worst period of my life.  A time of despair and gloom.  Thanksgiving?  No thanks.

I went to the ENT in August having a hoarse voice, but otherwise feeling great.  He put me on three medications that made me feel bad, and gave me reflux.  He thought I had reflux already, even though my only symptom was my voice problem.  Maybe he’s right.  All I know was that before those medicines I felt great and after those meds, I’ve felt miserable

I tried going on and off meds.  I tried switching meds.  I changed my diet.  Low fat.  No ice cream.  No cookies (Shannon’s an amazing baker).  Stopped eating anything after 7:00.  Propped up our bed.  Got a wedge-shaped pillow.  Loosened my belt and untucked my shirt.  Nothing helped. 

I had headaches.  Reflux in my throat.  Cramps in my stomach.  I’ve lost 20 pounds.  I’ve slept badly, waking up anxious.

I have seen 2 ENT’s, 2 GI’s, a speech therapist, a nutritionist.  I visited a medical professional 2-3 times a week.  I had a colonoscopy, and endoscopy and a mole removed twice (just to be safe).

Since I didn’t have enough crisis in my life, Superstorm Sandy came.  We lost power for 4 days.  During this time, I was supposed to have the stitches removed on my mole-removal wound.  But the doctor’s office, like everyone else, had no power, so my stitch removal was delayed.  During the delay, the wound got irritated, so I was put on an antibiotic.  The antibiotic made my reflux worse.

And yet, despite my misery, there are still things to be thankful for.

Friends.  Friends have listened.  They have prayed for me and with me, spontaneously laying hands on me in classrooms and shopping mails.  During our period of powerlessness, friends shared showers, meals, and even a generator.  When I told author Frank Viola about my struggles, he sent me a chapter from  his book, Revive Us Again, how God brings light out of dark times.  Friends have sustained me.

Family.  All the things I said about Friends, ditto with family.  Prayer.  Sympathy.  Support.  But my family has blessed me particularly with humor.  My soul needs to laugh.

God’s word.  The psalms have been my constant friend.  Giving words to my thoughts, fears, hopes and prayers.

God.  I’ve never been closer to God.  Desperation has driven me to God.

Hope.  God is healing me, slowly.  My voice is better.  The headaches have diminished.  Sleep isn’t great, but it’s improving.

God recently gave me a light bulb.  I was in my office reading and praying through Psalm 107 when my friend Tony stopped by to give me lightbulb that I needed for my lamp.  I asked for the bulb a couple of weeks ago, but it was a unique bulb, so it took awhile to find.  After Tony left, I looked down in my journal and read what I prayed right before Tony arrived:

Bring me out of darkness and gloom (see Psalm 107:10).

Perhaps it was just coincidence, but I don’t think so.  I prayed for God to enlighten me and he sent a lightbulb through a friend.  That lightbulb was a sign that God listens and wants to illuminate my life and heal me.

I’m thankful for lightbulbs.

What are you thankful for? 

The Silence of the Lamb (Part 1)

And behold, you will be silent and unable to speakthe Angel Gabriel to Zechariah (Luke 1:20).

There are 28 Zechariah’s in the Bible (according to The New Bible Dictionary).  But I feel a deep bond with the one who was the Father of John the Baptist right now.  Because he doubted the word of the angel that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, he was striken mute.  The mean God of the New Testament strikes again.  No one is struck mute in the Old Testament.  (I’m an OT guy.)

I have been struck mute.  Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like.  My vocal cords have somehow become damaged.  My ENT told me I should not talk unless absolutely necessary until my vocal cords heal.  The Silence of the Lamb (our housemate, Dave suggested that we watch a certain film with a similar title, see 2nd image).  I need to talk when I teach (Mondays, Thursdays), but otherwise I’m trying to avoid speaking completely.

Possible causes of my vocal cord damage:
1) From yelling while coaching.  I’ve coached my sons’ soccer and basketball teams the past 6 years.
2) From teaching too much.  It’s my job.  I talk a lot.  I’m loud.  Ask the people who work with me.
3) From reflux.  Reflux is caused in part by stress.  This past summer my wife’s brother Randall passed away, my mom passed away, and my dad was hospitalized.  It’s been an extraordinarily stressful summer.

I was given an array of meds to help with the Reflux.  A few days after I starting taking these meds, my reflux became worse.  I don’t know why this happened, but my stress levels have rocketed up lately.  One of the meds gave me headaches and now I can’t talk about how I’m feeling.  There’s a lot going on, but I don’t have a good way to express it.

To be honest, this has been brutal for me personally.

To help me express myself, my wife Shannon downloaded Verbally, an app for my iPad that speaks what you type.  It works pretty well, and I shouldn’t complain because it was free, but it’s not very loud.  I’ve grown accustomed to being loud.  So people can’t hear me “speak” unless everything is quiet.  There are two voices in the free version, “Rosie” and “Dave,” but “Dave” does not sound at all like Dave.

So, now I’m wondering, is God punishing me for some sin?  God was clearly punishing Zechariah for his doubt.  There are certainly many sins of mine that God could be targeting.  (I don’t have time to list all of them here.)

What do you think, does sin cause illness?  What relevant biblical examples can you think of?

Images from http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/zechariah.html
http://natashabagley4.blogspot.com/2011/02/silence-of-lambs-poster-analysis.html