I was scheduled for a 9:00AM “go” time for surgery at the hospital down the road. Which means we don’t have to be there ‘till 7:45. Think Again. I woke up at 6AM to my coffee maker brewing away, turned on my phone and there was a text message: “I told you that case was at 7:30AM, yeah?” Uh, no, you didn’t. But then this is the norm in the business
I called and said it wasn’t gonna happen. I’d meet at the hospital.
Oh, yeah, that’s right. If you don’t know, I have been getting trained up in a new job. Cryosurgery. Basically, I assist surgeons in freezing prostate and renal cancer. Or to put it bluntly, “I freeze nards for a living.”
So I am downing coffee to wake up and sitting here in a half-chuckle with God. “Really? This is gonna be one of those days?” I normally like at least 45 minutes of silence, sipping coffee, listening or talking with the Artist about what kind of colors he wants to use to make me today. That was reduced to maybe 10 minutes, instantly. And I read this, “Look to God, allow yourselves to be delivered, accept help.” (somewhere in Isaiah 45) And it woke me up more than coffee ever will. I didn’t hear, “accept help.” I heard, “You usually work much harder at life than you need to. Receive the life that comes to you today.”
Kushner says of life in the wilderness, ”It is a place that demands being honest with yourself with regard to the cost in personal anxiety. A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you...Your logic cannot promise you the future. Your preconceptions cannot protect you.”
Bring the two together and you have the makings of great possibilities.
So I went off to OR and into what I thought was surgery. But the Doc wanted to check if the cancer in our first guy had metastasized. So that meant waiting for upwards of an hour or more. During that time I met another surgeon, a urologist we work with in Arizona. He’s getting ready to leave his practice and down shift work so he can have more of a life, less of work. He’s, also a great teaching Doc - he pulled me aside in the OR to walk me through some spot-on stuff I wouldn't have understood otherwise that was fascinating, too.
Once we got into the OR, there were just too many people - extra Docs, residents, nurses talking, us, etc. But it was fun. I learned a lot about how different people see life in the surgical world just by watching and listening. Some were talking about The Simpsons, some were talking about Hawaii, others were talking about porn, and some where talking about arizona. I learned that a Doctor who should be retiring is actually just as passionate about teaching and talking urology surgical procedure as ever, excited about life.
Our second patient, Mr. Ungoto (not his real name), as they brought him out of anesthesia, tried repeatedly to get out his bed - with a breathing tube still in his mouth. He kept fighting and fighting to get out while I was next to him stowing gear. I couldn’t help but see myself in this huge man fighting a reality he had just woken up to. He needed to accept help and relax or he was going to hurt himself in new ways. And because of his size, ultimately the choice would have to be his to trust his Doc.
Once we wrapped up the case we headed to lunch at The Wynkoop. We had a great lunch over even greater beer while talking through the day, my screw ups, skiing, beer. Good times. I stopped by home afterwards to change and head to the gym where it was filled with more people than ever, but was used to that after the OR:) At one point I looked over and this mom was trying to comfort her crying 2-year old daughter, who stopped instantly when she saw other kids her age walk in - she wanted to play with strangers. I saw a guy who was apparently a stroke victim working the weakened parts of his body with the same diligence as the 19-year old bean pole kid next to him. All this while I listened to Rob Bell talk about the regenerative process of skin cells and life and the love of God. Yes, strange.
Home for just a little over an hour I was off to meet the crew of guys I’ve shared drinks and life with nearly every tuesday for over 5 years. That followed by an amazing conversation with Jenn till too late into the night; the kind of time talking that we haven’t had in awhile, encouraging and affirming, enjoying each other’s story - life giving beyond just any old means; about what grace is and isn’t, what it means to be human, fully human and no less than who we are created to be; about how the world is changed only when we start living out of our own skin, and not out of other’s. At the end of the day, I am exhausted, as I should be. But I feel like I have walked though it seeing things I wasn’t looking for, receiving moments that otherwise would have been nothing but another blip on the screen. “Being open to the flow of life around you...A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you...Your logic cannot promise you the future. Your preconceptions cannot protect you.”
This is not how unexpected early mornings are supposed to be. I am supposed to be off kilter, grumpy, short fused, and playing catch-up all day long. Only... I dropped all that, when offered a chance to receive a different kind of day. Unlike Mr.Ungoto, there just wasn’t any reason to fight to get out of the bed in which I was being carried safely.
And who ever said Life was boring wasn’t paying attention...