I know. I don’t look very miserable in this picture. That was a good day coming forth from hyperbaric O2 therapy number whatever for deep wound treatment to my radiation-decimated jaw. I managed to prevail on the nurses’ good graces that day to get some pics from the bowels of the compression chamber so others could have some idea of what my new normal looks like these days.
I’m not hooked up here, of course. There is no O2 flowing. But this gives an idea of the rig I have to wear as a delivery system of 100% O2 for three thirty-minute periods, five times a day at Florida Hospital South. All sorts of fun.
So far I’ve navigated twenty-one of these. Nineteen to go. The adjustment hasn’t gone all that rough. I read a good bit of the time now. Apart from the occasional nausea bout, things go pretty smoothly.
Unfortunately I don’t have much progress to report. Hence my word “misery.” This past weekend my pain spiked. I cut church. If you know me, I never want to give up a preaching opportunity and chance to worship with God’s people (Heb. 10:24-25). Oops. I probably should have put them in the opposite order. Oh well. Sunday is the best day of the week, by far. I am thankful for an extraordinary pastoral intern who stepped in for me at the last minute. You can listen to his message here.
With the pain spike came a fever on Sunday night. OK, now I’m getting nervous. Long story short, after consulting my dentist, infectious disease doctor, and oral surgeon since then, we have a unanimous verdict. Off to the hospital I go. It’s time to circle the wagons and call in some big gun consultants to play what-do-we-do-with-what’s-left-of-this-preacher’s jaw. The idea is to get my pain under control. I’m all for that. Then to get me hydrated and built up nutritionally. Not only can’t I eat; I am also having difficulty swallowing. It hurts that much. Then, Lord willing, next week they will operate again to remove more dead bone and hopefully save the jaw. I’m not kidding on that one. If my mandible gets a pathological fracture, I’m looking at some sort of radical replacement surgery I DON’T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT! Has my sense of urgency come across the page? Please pray for mercy for me in this regard. I have read about this procedure. I would really rather avoid it, if at all possible.
But if I do, my mandible mentoring, miserable as it might be, will continue with sovereign efficacy. God wastes nothing in our suffering, whatever its nature. In hard providences like these, I remember verses like Psalm 119:71.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
This slow learner apparently needs an extra dose of afflictions that he might learn all the more the treasure of treasures, the law of the Lord. Mentor me, oh my Master (and I don’t mean my mandible, but my mandible-maker), but please, I beg of you, go easy on what’s left of this poor man’s miserable jaw. Amen.