Posted by: trevormeers | September 4, 2010

Before I Forget…

You know how you sometimes get a thank-you card so long after a wedding that you can’t even remember buying that crockpot for the new Mr. and Mrs. Jones? Do you remember the 10 lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17 and how nine of them ran off to celebrate without so much as a “thanks for the effort”? I don’t want to be that guy. So before events rush away from us on life’s ceaseless current, I want to circle back to publicly share a few of the things we’ve been grateful for in the last month.

  • Merciful timing. It was a Monday when Katie started having serious balance problems. By Wednesday evening, we were scheduled for spinal surgery. This happened one week before I was scheduled to spend five days off the grid in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. If Katie’s symptoms had appeared one week later, Teri would have been handling the testing and decision to operate without me, and I would’ve had one doozy of an update from home when I called in from Buffalo, Wyoming, that Friday. And as a bonus, I now have a week’s worth of backpacking food for eight men in my basement, ready to satisfy my frequent Spam cravings.

    Native Nebraskan or not, I'll admit to anyone that we've been treated just fine by Iowa--and its neurosurgeons.

  • Being here, period. Nine months ago on a Monday morning, my 4Runner was doing its best impersonation of an alligator’s death roll on an icy Highway 65. If things had gone differently, Teri would’ve been handling this entire thing without me.
  • Two pastors who made a total of four trips to Iowa City to see us. Among other services during their visits, one gave me a suggestion on a good IPhone Bible app, and the other reminded me of the name of one of Katie’s medications during a conversation with a doctor.
  • Living in Iowa. Certain high-powered local AM radio stations may think only native, fourth-generation Iowans can appreciate the place. But when you turn out to have a kid with brain stem issues and then find yourself living 90 minutes from one of the world’s preeminent neurosurgeons, it’s hard not to identify with the baseball player who came out of the corn near Dyersville and asked Ray Kinsella, “Is this heaven?”
  • A big list of church friends who said, “How can I help?” and meant it. They helped not when it fit their schedule or their idea of what appropriate help would be, but when and how we needed it. One arranged a baby-sitter (another friend who had visited us in Iowa City) on short notice so she could deliver a meal to us on-time. Another family kept Allison for days, even while they dealt with a basement turning into a wading pool. Many others near and far sent notes of encouragement and support. We’re absolutely humbled by their concern, and convicted to go and do likewise for others down the road.
  • Family. Thanks for picking up the gyros, watching Alli, dealing with the invalid old dog’s afflictions, checking on the house and giving us a chance to get away from the hospital room and pelt each other with acorns out by the kiddie train.
  • A neurosurgeon who not only has hands like Yo Yo Ma, but genuinely cares about the details of his patients’ care. Talking to me privately late one Friday night in the hospital, one of the surgeon’s residents said about his boss, “It’s no coincidence that he’s both highly accomplished and that he cares about his patients.”
  • A gastrointestinal doc in Des Moines who, about six years ago, refused to take a couple of off-the-cuff opinions from his colleagues that the blip on Katie’s neck in an MRI was nothing to worry about. He said, “I’m not comfortable with that answer. There’s a surgeon in Iowa City I think you should see.” If he hadn’t taken that interest that went beyond the strict limits of his job description, we may have a kid with serious spinal problems that were still undetected today—or that had revealed themselves in truly bad ways.
  • Grace that truly did rise to the occasion. God promises He will deliver the strength we need for the occasion, and Paul wrote of a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” Of course, we haven’t been without stress, plenty of it still lingering. (I half-woke two nights ago, saw red hair in front of my face, imagined Katie had somehow made it into our bed and started trying to find a neck brace to strap onto Teri before she jabbed me awake.) But our state of mind has been, just as Paul said, inexplicably cool in light of the situation. I hope anyone who notices that understands that the source is nothing within us. Well, actually, I guess it is. (See Spirit, Holy The)
  • Being on the other side of this thing. Three weeks ago, Labor Day weekend seemed to lie across a chasm we could scarcely conceive of crossing. But somehow, we’re across and better off than we dared hope to be.
  • A rock-solid big sister. Allison has known nothing but living with a little sister who just doesn’t follow the same path as anyone else’s siblings. But it’s still asking a lot for a fourth-grader to deal with a sister enduring 10 hours of surgery, a week of sedation and a medical team bigger than the Hawkeyes’ coaching staff. But the only tears we saw Allison shed came when we got home, because she had to leave Katie to go back to school.
  • A smiling kid. If you see Katie anytime soon, you may not notice it since she tends to be flighty with crowds right now. That happens when you’ve been gang-tackled by people with scalpels, needles and anesthesia masks for most of a month. But at home, she’s laughing more than we’ve ever seen—and she was a happy kid before. Is she simply thrilled to be home and away from Those Who Wear Scrubs? Very possibly. Or is she now free of chronic pain that we didn’t even know she had? The answer could make me both very sad for the past and very happy for the future. We’re choosing to focus on the latter.

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