The puzzle is starting to come together. My surgery is officially scheduled for tomorrow, 2/10/21, my 35th birthday. It was bittersweet as nurses and doctors started to realize that I was having surgery on my birthday. I was greeted with awkward “happy birthdays” and an overload of information about how craniotomies work, in particular, the risks associated with this kind of surgery. My responses ranged from sarcastic “thanks” to silence.
I sat around most of the day waiting with a few tests sprinkled in. Most memorable were the cognitive exams where I was tested with brain-teasing puzzles and memory games. I remember thinking, I’ve never been good at things like this. Who can easily remember 7-10 random words and then repeat them back? They were tedious and frustrating at first, but ended up being a good distraction.
As the day waned I found out my surgery preparations would start very early the next morning, around 4 AM. I’d have to stop eating after dinner and could only have water from then on.
That night I had a birthday celebration over FaceTime with my family. I was even able to get a piece of cake 🎂 with my dinner. Later, I made a few frantic phone calls to people I love, imagining the worst case scenarios. What if I never came back conscious after I’m put under? So much to say with so little time. I wrote quick notes to the boys and Kate that I hoped would never see the light of day.
I listened to a favorite sermon by John Piper, probably two or three times: The Glory of God in the Sight of Eternity based on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. It’s always moved me, in part because I was there in-person when he preached it in 2013 at the Legacy conference in Chicago with Eric, Jordan, and Keywan. Mostly, though, because of the powerful hope in God it proclaims for those suffering.
We were sitting in the balcony to his left and at one point in the sermon (captured profoundly in a clip during this song by Shane and Shane) he says the following:
“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain … I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40 … don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.Therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.“
- John Piper
I needed these reminders on the doorstep of uncertainty and unknown - this is not meaningless.
Apparently, I also needed another COVID test 😭. I remember thinking to myself “all I’ve been exposed to are hospital staff!” There was a male nurse in and out that evening who was very kind to me. I think his name was John, but I don't remember for certain. He left his shift that night and reassured me, “you’ve got this.”
Overall, I went to sleep feeling at peace, prepared and buoyed by the Lord to face what comes in the morning.