OK ... y'know those irritating people in the express lane who have 30 items, write a check, ask for a price verification, want a pack of cigarettes AND have to have a manager come verify their check? Or those people in the Wal-Mart customer service department who are returning an item the day after Christmas, and they don't have a receipt and can't prove that they -- much less the item they are returning -- even exist? Or those people in the bank drive thru who don't have their check written and can't find their drivers license and have forgotten to endorse their check? You know those kinds of people?
I am all those people.
No, no, no ... it's true. I am. You'd think with all the heart testing in the winter and spring that necessitated all the prayer lists that I was done enjoying my share of attention. But now ... NOW I am hogging the spotlight (just as I am prone to do as some people would argue). With the coming and going of this week, I have enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame plus another 15 just to be safe. I have also way overstayed my ride atop God knows (and he DOES know actually) how many prayer lists.
I have experienced the discomfort and fear of a low-functioning heart. Returned for a test in a Dallas hospital in May that included tubing my jugular vein.
But if all that isn't enough ... I give you ... (insert drum roll here) ... an emergency appendectomy. Please take it. I'd rather not have to go through it again.
It's to the point where people are beginning to roll their eyes when they wonder why I'm not where I'm supposed to be and people no doubt have taken to asking, "Is he sick again?" People's prayers begin with the line, "Once again Lord we ask your blessings upon Jimmy, who this week has ... "
Emergency appendectomy. It's all the discomfort the name carries with it -- and more! It doesnt sneak up on you. It grabs you by the gut and won't let go until the nasty little appendage lies squirming, life draining from it in a specimen dish, extracted and blood ugly. And even four days after it has been extracted it leaves you limping, slow to respond and in uncertain in your movements.
Must've been about 2 Monday morning, I don't know, I was asleep -- and sick. I'd been back in town a little more than 24 hours from a trip to Lajitas, a remote, middle-of-nowhere resort town along the Texas-Mexico border. Beautiful and gorgeous, but the very picture of desolation so authentic that movie producers either won't go or cant get there.
Two a.m. in the morning Monday I wake up in my bed at home and remember vaguely feeling a little discomfort. And every 30 minutes until 5 a.m., the discomfort grows until it is so totally unbearable that it prompts the dreaded statement to my wife Karen: "Something's not right" (which is maybe the scariest thing a person ever wants to say about his or her body and its functioning).
8:30 we see our trusted family physician who recommends immediate check in; 10 a.m., by the time we wrangle through the lovely registration process, I am lying in another bed writhing with pain. Then 11 o'clock comes and I lie writhing with some painkiller on board. Noon comes and finally 1 when I am wheeled away to a CT scan room where I am invaded in an entirely unmentionable way just to prove that I have what I have. After it is diagnosed that I am in fact in tremendous pain, I am taken to the great O.R., where someone puts a mask on me and I fade to black just like in the movies.
Next thing I remember was Karen, my daughter Jennifer, a coworker of my wife's and an Arab guy praying over me. I kept opening my right eye and seeing this scene, wondering if I was at the gates of heaven. Yet since I vaguely recall seeing Dr. Phil on in the background I figured I either must still be alive or in hell. (And the Arab guy, by the way, is my great friend, Billy Raies, who dropped everything to come by and pray for me to be OK, for which I am quite grateful).
The painkiller and anesthetic worked together to twist and tangle the remainder of what thoughts and words I had the rest of the day and I apologize to anyone I spoke to this past Monday evening (including the Bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo) for anything I might have said. "Twasn't me. 'Twas the drugs.
But thank you all for your prayers. They have once again proved the difference. Gotten me from dark to light. Guided me through places I could not have gone alone. And I thank you. But I am through now. I am done hogging the front of the prayer line. I have no intention of returning to any assisted care facility anytime soon. I have grabbed my receipt, gotten my money back in the return line and cashed my paycheck and I ... am ... outta here.