Back in 1993 to 1999, I flew pretty often. There were some seasons when I was gone several weekends in a row or a few weeks in a row speaking at camps and conferences and going to meetings. I was very used to flying. I didn’t mind it until we would hit the bumps. Thankfully most flights were pretty smooth but there were a few that left me with white knuckles from grabbing the bar.
Life is full of bumps. We can fly smoothly through it for months or even years without hitting any major bumps. Eventually, for all of us, the phone rings with bad news, or a doctor shares words that none of us want to hear.
I remember one flight into Denver when we were hitting bumps so strong that overhead compartment doors popped open. I swear I saw my diet Coke jump up out of my cup and then land back in with a splash. I’m not sure that actually happened but my memory says it did. After we landed in Denver, with literal applause from the passengers, I learned that we were the last flight allowed to land before they closed the airport! A giant snowstorm was pounding Denver. That was the worst turbulence I ever experienced. It left me with white knuckles from gripping the armrest so tightly.
Before the news of my needing a liver transplant, I had only experienced mild to medium turbulence in life. It was all the normal stuff: the financial challenges, unemployment, and marriage squabbles, but none of those caused white knuckles. The news of my needing a liver to survive was our first white-knuckles turbulence. That was about 12 years ago.
I’ve had a few little bumps that seemed like bigger bumps only because of all I went through but, overall, things have been pretty smooth. And, realistically, this turbulence that’s making my knuckles turn a bit white right now isn’t even as big a deal as my mind is making it.
No one likes the C word, right? When any of us hears the word “cancer” we get a little catch in our throats. That’s my turbulence – the c-word – and it has nothing at all to do with my liver. It’s totally separate. Lucky me, right?
I have prostate cancer. It’s not even big-deal, aggressive prostate cancer. It’s just “moderate risk,” monitor-or-treat cancer that went from nothing, to a little bit more than nothing in the last year. I can either treat it with chemotherapy, targeted radiation, or robotic surgery. Or, I can do nothing and have a third biopsy next year to see if it has gotten worse again. My fingers are tightening, stress is building, knuckles whitening…
I don’t want to deal with it, so, taking the advice of people I trust, I’m going to surrender to the robot in the Fall. This whole process is triggering emotions, fears, and nerves. It’s turbulence.
My faith is strong but my nerves (my docs call it “PTSD”) are making me bounce like I’m going into Denver again. It’s affecting me in ways I don’t like, ways that make me feel guilty and even ashamed. I stand up in front of people every week, as though I have everything figured out and never worry about anything. I give life lessons, talk about facing trials and tell people they can meet every challenge with God giving them strength.
I believe that. I’ve experienced that. I know it’s true and I know my God has not left me. I know he’s here with me and I KNOW I will face this and get through it but, I still will feel all the feels. I even know that, in terms of medical advances, this is no big deal at all and not even scary. I’m not going to die but the irrational side of PTSD is winding me up and making my heart race. It’s placing a 40-pound, invisible weight on my chest.
I feel stupid because of the way I am reacting. I feel like a faith failure and a disappointment to God. I’ve even been asking myself what right I have to stand up front on Sunday mornings. The enemy has been using the word “hypocrite” in my mind. Is he right?
Back when I started writing all the transplant journey stuff I promised I’d write honestly. Thankfully, I haven’t had much to write about. Life is good. Very good. Even with these challenges ahead of me, it will still be good.
Now, if only I could get my emotions, my mind, my nighttime dreams, and my blood pressure to believe it too. If only I could get my feelings to be more rational.
If you could join me in praying for peace, that would be swell.