A year ago, death knocked at my door. He was, at that time, a polite sort and I wasn't sure who it was. Likely, this was just denial on my part but we conversed over a period of about 48 hours. In the end, when I could hardly garner the ability to converse, others more acquainted with my situation convinced him to leave and to return at a later date.
The night of September 1st, after returning to my hotel post family reunion, I got sick. I hadn't felt well in a few days, but that night I had chills, trouble breathing, and slept (what little sleep I got) sitting up on the couch. A smarter, or perhaps just less stubborn or afraid, person would have went to the hospital then. The next day I didn't do anything but sit around the hotel room. I felt better than the night before, but only marginally so. The next day I took a shower and left the hotel, ready to drive home.
The trip was something of a nightmare and as I approached the exit for my home town, I knew I could not go home. The question, in my mind, was either to drive to the hospital in my home town or to continue on up a couple of exits to a larger hospital. I was fairly certain that my town’s hospital would send me to the other hospital anyway, and the distance was roughly the same, so I continued on up the road.
I remember very little after getting out of my car and into the wheelchair at the entrance to the emergency room. I don’t remember being wheeled into the hospital and only vaguely recall them cutting my shirt off. I’m told my O2 saturation level was thirty-seven percent. Below ninety percent and they will typically put you on oxygen, so I was in bad shape.
I ended up spending sixteen days in the hospital. The cause of my problems was a blood clot in my venal system (the system that returns blood from the lower body to the heart). Apparently pieces were breaking off and causing problems for my heart and lungs. They put an IVC filter in the vein (it’s since been removed) to stop any more pieces from reaching my heart or lungs and put me on blood thinners. Other conditions and complications lead to compression socks, a CPAP machine, and a reworking of the medications I was taking.
It’s been a long year, with a fair number of challenges, but I've had a lot of support. The doctors and nurses at St. Francis provided great care and were a big encouragement while I was there and for follow-up visits. The home health care professionals that checked on me for over a month after my return home were also supportive.
My three brothers and my sister, especially the latter, also deserve more thanks and gratitude than I can ever give. I have never been the most personable of people and they've had to put up with me for all my life and most of theirs, but still they showed great kindness and patience in helping out. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that work has shown great patience with my recovery. I was off for two whole months and even after returning I have been slow to get back to my previous level of productivity.
This year’s family reunion, and the anniversary of the event, have had me reflecting on what, if anything, I learned from it. There’s no doubt that in many ways I’m in better health than I have been in years. I’m a hundred pounds off my highest weight (with about 80 more or so to go to hit my goal). I’m eating better, though some old habits have crept back in recently that need to be reined in. My blood sugar is under control. Mobility is still a bit of an issue as I’m unsteady on my feet. But overall, I’m comfortable with the progress of my physical health.
Mentally, socially, and spiritually though I can’t say that the event had the impact I might have expected. My brush with death hasn't had a great impact on my priorities or my activities, generally speaking. I haven’t put together a bucket list (aside from Stephen King’s tweeted number one item, not to kick it) or resolved to accomplish something in however long a time I have left. I’m not even sure I consider the last to be appropriate, but I do think there should have been more of an impact.
So here I am. Before yesterday I haven’t touched this blog in a long time (over six years) and that’s going to change. The content will likely not be as theologically deep as it was in the past and because of that I considered starting fresh. But this isn't about starting fresh. It’s about connecting who I was with who I am and with who I hope to become.
I don’t disavow anything I recall having written previously for this blog in terms of the core beliefs. I do wonder about the spirit in which of the things were written and wonder if some of the topics were worth the effort. I’m increasingly convinced that, as important as soteriology is, we in Reformed circles have been too defined by it. Instead, all Christians should be more defined by theology proper, i.e. what we believe about God, and especially by the implications of believing in a Trinitarian God.
Foremost among those implications is that all being is relationship. After all, if we are created in God’s image and God has always existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then our being too is wrapped up in relationship; first in relationship with God and second in relationship with each other. After all, aren't the two greatest commandments to love God and to love our neighbor?
So I continue on a journey. A journey for unity in a world that seems bent, to me at least, on creating division. But I do so on the foundation of what I believe to be true, i.e. on verity. During the first phase of this blog’s existence I focused more heavily on the verity piece. Now I want to struggle with how, without minimizing truth, I can strive for verity.
If I have a life verse, one that has been with me that I've tried to let guide me more often than any other, it is Romans 12:18:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (NASB)
So come, if you will, and let us walk together seeking unity in truth as God, in His mercy, grants us wisdom.