The Joys of Surgery

It was just standard bunion surgery – a bunionectomy to be precise. Who knew there was such a term as “bunionectomy?” The sound of that word makes me cringe. After 20 years of painful walking, I decided it was finally time to get it corrected. I’ve had several surgeries at this point in my life and this one ranked low on my list of concern. A few days before surgery, however, I found myself feeling more and more anxious. Let me explain.

It all starts when they take you into a surgical room in which the temperature is about 50 degrees and ask you lie on a table that I swear is only about 2 feet wide. Instantly my mind is trying to comprehend how regular people fit onto this table. I mean, I’m only 5’2″ and relatively petite, so….anyway, maybe they have several sizes. The anesthesiologist gets my IV going – RIGHT IN THE CROOK OF MY ARM. What the heck? Bad sign. Next, he asks me to roll over to my stomach. Sure dude, I can do this no problem. I’m shaking from the cold, ticked because you just put an IV in the CROOK OF MY ARM and I have to roll over on this pathetically narrow table. No biggie, I got this.

This is the part causing my anxiety. Now he is going to put a nerve block into the back of my knee. This will deliver numbing medicine so that I can be AWAKE for this thrilling procedure. I tell him I’m a tad freaked out. He says I need not worry, reaches over and delivers a little “something” into my IV and the next think I know I’m on my back, the sterile curtain is up and I hear the surgeon using power tools on what I assume is my foot.  I proceed to have a lively conversation with the surgeon I cannot see while under the spell of that special “something” placed in my IV. I hope I didn’t spill any secrets. #sorrynotsorrybillclinton

I ask to see my foot before he wraps it up, so when the time comes, I reach up to pull down the drape and there is my foot in all it’s glory with sutures and a very strange-looking color. The color of death. We use a tourniquet for this operation so it’s basically bloodless, he says. Just don’t forget to remove it, I say.  Hey, I’m kind of funny while under this “something.” Still, I worry he may accidentally forget. He didn’t.

Back to the recovery room and all settled into the bed. Nerve block is still slowly dripping and will stay in for several more hours. You can’t get up to use the bathroom for at least 12 hours, says the nurse. Just let us know and we will bring you a bed pan. The first experience with the bed pan was awkward but successful. Never mind while you’re “on” the bed pan it feels like your belly button is plastered on the ceiling. I think I heard several vertebrae crack. The second call for the bed pan produced the same nurse presenting me with a new, sleek and slim bed pan. I should have known. DO NOT, under any circumstances, EVER use this bed pan. The words sleek and slim are fine when discussing yoga pants, but NOT bed pans. Yep, the worst thing happened. All up my back and in my bed. But of course you don’t realize it at the time because it’s the same temperature as your body. Is this some kind of sick joke? Someone at a medical design event announcing, “Look at this amazingly sleek and slim bed pan we’ve designed. Let’s not tell them it usually leaks! Buaaaahhh!” Thankfully, the nurse handled it with humor and lightness, so I was grateful for the sponge bath and new sheets.

IV pain meds were given as needed while the nerve block wore off. Oh the pain! I can see now why they say this is one of the most painful surgeries out there. I could have complained about this pain, but it was about this time when I realized how blessed I am to be able to even have this surgery. It’s really a first-world problem and I have nothing to complain about. I didn’t NEED this surgery. Sure it HURT, but as I reflected on my surgical blessing, I remembered that some people are Hungry, many are Underprivileged, other are Rejected or Targeted. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this blessing.

May I use my new foot to serve those who are truly hurting.


The Cadence of Cancer

I am not a dancer. Grace, beauty and form in its purest form. I admire those who do it well, making it look effortless. Misty Copeland is as close to earthly perfection I’ve ever seen.

In high school I was the consummate band geek, at least I thought so. Years of color guard and marching band, hours of year round practice. We took our small town band to competitions all around central New York State and garnered dozens of trophies now gathering dust somewhere in a closet of my alma mater.

There’s a cadence still echoing in the recesses of my mind. Those four anticipatory beats given seconds before we were to begin. Get in position. Know your spot. Rehearse the next sequence. Give it your all. Strive for perfection. Execute it like the world is watching. Places everyone. Here we go…

And then, when we were frozen like mannequins and the hush enveloped the space for a brief second, we anticipated her staccato shouts and metronomic claps. We felt her expectation. Just a few steps closer to the illusive perfection. FIVE… Do whatever it takes, move another patient, get her in here on the 5th for a double biopsy. SIXJust ice the bruises, rest, wait. We will call you with results. Try not to worry. SEVENI’m fine. I’m going to be fine. I have to be. But they said everything except the C-word. She kept saying…really worried…about me.  EIGHT! The call came on the 8th. So sorry to give you this news over the phone. It’s cancer. You will need to come in right away…MRI…blood work….meet with surgeon…chemo…radiation…treatment has come a long way…excellent  doctors…support groups…survival.

At the flash of EIGHT, your legs snap to the precise steps, pressing toward the next movement. It’s second nature; you’ve practiced it a thousand times. You’ve got it down. Everyone surrounding you comes together in calculated movement and melodic sound to create a masterpiece. Unique. Exciting. Captivating. Winning.

So I march onward. I never expected this performance, auditioning in silence, awaiting my turn on stage. The spotlight illuminating, accentuating. I bend toward the Source. I was chosen for this performance. He leads me through every movement. I will sway to the cadence until the light fades.

And be humbly grateful.

If you know someone going through cancer, reach out to them today. Don’t offer solutions, just listen. Bring a gentle breeze of fresh air. A small effort on your part can have lasting impact. It is often the words and deeds offered in humility that last longest.

And if that person is you – wake up, rise up. You have today. Be present. Worry less. Pray harder. Love intentionally. Forgive. Pass it on.


Dinner with Colin


Dear Colin,

You don’t know me. I don’t know you. But I want to have you over for dinner. I make a mean pasta sauce with hand rolled meat balls. Lots of garlic. I would spend all day simmering my sauce and cleaning my house. I’d get out my good dishes and cloth napkins. The candles would be lit and I’d ask Alexa to play some nice jazz.

Honestly, none of that would matter though. You see, I merely want to listen to you. While I have a plethora of questions tumbling around in my head, I truly just want to listen.

I read it this week. The war poem penned by Francis Scott Key back in 1814. All four stanzas. I read it and reread it. I begged my mind to open up, my presuppositions to fall away and my emotions to stand down. I read Key’s own words and studied his cases as a prominent D.C. lawyer. I’ve spent days arguing with my inner self over this information.

I’ve also followed your story, your brave actions on behalf of marginalized Americans. You inspire me to listen. To ask, to seek, to cry.  I desperately want to see real change.

What can I do? I’m not famous, I’m not rich and I feel powerless. I’m just a regular white woman. Yet, I realize that sounds like a lame excuse. I want my cage rattled so the angry lioness will roar, not to attack with violence, but to speak with empathy and concern for my neighbors and friends.

I am so sorry. But I’m listening, reading, watching, poised to act. Why 400 years seems to never end. Why it just morphs into something else. When will we stop the rhetoric, set aside this absurd not-so-merry go round, and actively listen. How long is it going to take? How many more funerals do there have to be?

So, if you get this message, come on over. I promise to give you a genuine hug, an amazing meal, and two willing ears.

Yeah, I think we could be great friends.

May all your days be filled with hope, joy, and peace.

I Hate Orange

Yep, it’s true. I hate orange. I avoid it unless absolutely necessary. I own very few orange things. A scarf I wear on St. Patrick’s Day, a pad of sticky notes (but I certainly didn’t pay for them), a kitchen unitasker, and an inconsequential embellishment on a sweater that was a gift from a dear friend.

I love several orange things however. Cantaloupe, the Syracuse Orangemen, and especially the glorious Monarch butterfly. As the summer daylight wanes, you can find me scouring the landscape in search of larvae and milkweed. I set up my little butterfly station in my kitchen and I marvel at the life cycle over and over again. I never tire of watching it. Kind of like my own personal version of “Groundhog Day.”


I want to play hooky for a month and just live a saturated Monarch life.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just press pause on life whenever something glorious is happening? If we could drink it in, slowly, drop by drop without interruption? My life’s pause button would be worn out in mere days.

But we can’t.

So I attempt to slow down, receive the beauty, and repeatedly utter gratitude to the One who gave me the honor. I will press on toward intentional gratitude, even when I don’t feel like it.

What do you do to intentionally slow down? Reflect and share. While I wait, I think I’ll go throw out that orange kitchen unitasker.