Just a few minutes a day

 

Just a few minutes a day … April 16’ 2014 

Walter Turner turned 85 years old today. Don’t know who he is? Neither did I one month ago. I know him now and count him as a friend. The two of us brought together by God’s mercy and impeccable timing. I’m not to sure he fully realized it was his birthday as I sat across from him in the Nursing home today. He sits in his recliner in the corner of the room nodding in and out of wakefulness as I speak a few words of encouragement to him. His wife, Martha, is there by his side as well, ever present regardless of when I visit. She says he hasn’t been doing to good lately and she thinks he has suffered several mini stokes this past week. She says they don’t call the doctor any more or rush him to the hospital when they occur. There is nothing else more that they can do for him she says. There is a sad quiet dignity in her voice and a resignation that is backed up by her softly spoken words to me that she is ready to let him go. She is suffering greatly and I can feel the anguish in her voice crying out. I move my chair closer to hers and we embrace and we both tear up as we pray that God’s timing will be merciful. She tells me in their quite talks together he talks of going home soon and wanting to leave. She knows the end is near but doesn’t understand the end game or why it lingers with such unknown purpose and pain. Neither do I but our view of life is so limited. God’s view is perfect and so far beyond our comprehension. All we can do is to keep loving and living but we do tire of life’s persistence when no purpose but suffering appears to be served. We do what we have always done our entire life. It’s all we know how to do so we continue to do it until the very end … loving and living with each other through the joy and the pain of life … even when it least resembles life. Walter is waken gently by the nurse and she reminds him that he should go to the bathroom and pee. He forgets to do that sometimes and he can’t often find the bathroom by himself when he remembers he has to pee. He manages to fend her off for now saying he is ok and doesn’t need the bathroom or want to be moved at the moment. She pulls up his blanket and gives him a loving pat on the shoulder as she departs. His eyes close again and his breathing returns to mostly sighing in and out. I place the Car Magazine I brought him next to all the Birthday cards on the table next to his bed. Martha thanks me for the gesture and smiles through the tears as she hugs me tightly as I say goodbye. I walk out of the room  and over to another one just down the hall where Miss Lisa resides.

Miss Lisa has Alzheimer’s and is also around 80 years old. Last time I visited her she told me she likes to read romance novels so I had brought her a new one to read. As I entered the room she is not in her bed but her room mate is so I introduce myself to her and ask if she knew where Lisa was. She is a very small woman and very frail but dressed nicely and laying back on her bed pretty much staring off into space until my direct question to her about Lisa’s whereabouts sunk in. She is quick to respond that Lisa had family visit her today and they took her out of the Nursing home for the day. I asked her if she didn’t mind if I could instead visit with her for a little while. She said sure and I sat down on the bed beside her. Her name is Myrtle she said, she even spelled it for me, and I told her my name. Words are extremely hard to come by during these visits and I always pray in my car in the parking lot before going inside asking God to please give me the right words of encouragement to say and he always delivers. We start off talking about family. She says she has no one any more. Parents are dead and she is the last of 12 children. I disguise my tears as best I can but they well up in my eyes as I begin to tell her about my family. I succeed in fending off the tears and we begin to share a little about each other. Turns out we are both the youngest of all the kids in our respective family so we have something in common right away. She tells me she likes Women magazines and I promise to bring her one the next time I come. She says she may not be here next week or even tomorrow but I reassured her she will be and that I will be back. We continue our chat for several more minutes before I stand to depart. I’ve known her only for a few minutes but I can’t resist giving her a hug and she readily accepts it. She tells me she will tell Lisa that I came by and she will tell her about the romance book that I left. I said thanks and that I would see her again.

As I walked back out into the hallway on my way out I passed by so many more rooms. Each one filled with a life fully lived yet often forgotten or ignored by family and friends. Oh what joys and stories they have to tell about their lives. So much we could learn if we only took the time to ask and listen. I miss my Mom and Dad and they have been gone so long now. How I wish I would have taken the time to ask them about their lives, what they experienced and how they lived. Selfish I was at that time in my life and selfish no more I hope to be. I wish we all could give a few minutes of our day to someone else. Our time in this life is fleeting and finite … what greater gift is there that can be given to another than the gift of your time? I’m blessed to have the time to do so and I thank God for the courage to do it. It only takes a few minutes on any given day and it can be done anywhere anytime you decide to take the time.

 

New Years Thoughts

Time is wasting … punctuated by the time honored tradition of reflecting on things passed while denying that there’s more fat around your midsection than last year at this time. What to make of 2014 …

Head straight, look forward not back. Look up for strength not down to your fall. Keep both eyes on what is good and avoid the dark. Read the Bible … then read it some more. Choose to be healthy. Keep your heart true. Be grateful in all things. Strive to be humble. Love much. Then love some more. Especially those closes to you. Respect everyone. Enjoy creation and imagination. Be adventurous. Give your time and your money where there is a need. Listen. Think. Then Speak. Enjoy life … but keep it simple. You are … so be happy where you are. Rejoice in that you have been given all this and more … Thanks be to God. Give praise. Keep hope. Smile

Be at rest and do your best to change

Re reading some of my earlier journal entries and writings appears to be about as useless as writing about my thoughts and feelings in a journal in the first place. I learn nothing and change even less in my life. I actually go into the negative if that is possible. I literally owe myself. I’ve borrowed against myself and I can’t repay the precious time I’ve wasted. I change nothing and then do the same again … and of course the results are the same. Rocket Science no doubt but I crave an understanding. No … take that back … I do understand. What I crave is an “action” and the “will” to carry it out. Where is my will anyway? Have I no control over my own mind? How can a fully developed thought be left to perish, or even worse, thrive only in the mind as if it’s already been done in reality. Yet this stage of life sits quietly empty with no actors performing. The audience waits for the next scene to unfold not knowing of the struggle backstage to burst forth in change. Why is it so hard to age your life in a way that makes you feel content with who and where you are before going home for good? Be at rest and do your best to change … God determines the rest.

Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living” I think I examine too much.

Dec 2013 – 6 Month Update

Having just passed my 6 month anniversary of my Prostate Surgery from earlier in the year thought it best to share where I’m at. My next PSA blood check is schedule for next month – Jan 2014 to make sure the cancer is still gone.

WARNING: Straight talk below so read on at your own risk of being offended.

Two areas of concern for me and I’m sure for any man after having their prostate removed via surgery (Davinci) was regaining total bladder control and full sexual function. All I can say is almost one out of two so far is far from ideal but beats being put 6 feet under by Cancer. 

First the bladder. No one likes to pee on themselves or leak/spot pee at various times of the day in their pants but that’s a reality for men recovering from this type of surgery. I hated it but was reassured by the Doctor after surgery that I was well ahead of most men at the time and that it would eventually stop. Well that was six months ago and now 6 months later I still leak occasionally. Absolutely hate it but have to admit I have improved significantly over that timeframe but it has been extremely slow going. Kegel exercises are the key to strengthening those muscles down there but even with those I still have a ways to go before I hope all the spotting and leaking is totally dried up and gone forever. In the meantime it is a constant daily annoyance and can become very debilitating psychologically in addition to being every present on my mind. 

Now, as far as sexual function for me at this stage it’s a no go. Sad to think but I truly feel and know my penis and all the pleasures it has brought me and my wife over the years will likely never recover. Of course, even without the cancer I wasn’t rewriting any of the sex record books anyway but it would have been nice to have had another go at them, even though prior to going into surgery performance was already declining. Yes, I’m aware of all the pills/devices available but I’m not going to jump through the hoops just yet to get an erection by any means available. I am on the Viagra but it only allows just the hint of an erection but nothing strong enough for penetration. Orgasms occur but only briefly in my mind … not near lasting enough to satisfy a partner. It’s not a body and mind experience any more the way it used to be. The fact a man can’t ejaculate semen after this surgery is another big negative and something that I strangely miss dearly. To top it off I am currently experiencing a little spoken of side affect called “Climacturia”. Disgusting topic so not going into any details here but you can click on the link for info. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to have sex. Doctor did discuss the dry ejaculations but not the possibility of Climacturia and I didn’t dig that deep in my pre surgery research. Wouldn’t have changed my mind I don’t think but something I would have liked to have known about prior and the surgeon never brought it up.

These are the issues I’ve had to live with and deal with daily for the last 6 months after prostate surgery. Hope by sharing these very personal details someone else might benefit from my experience.  Life is good and I’m still going strong and I’m here to attest to that so it not all bad news. I do think sometimes and wonder if I should have done the radiation treatment instead of prostate surgery and kept my prostate intact but I think that’s human nature to think what if. We always wonder if we make the right decisions but the truth is we live with what ever decision we make.

Hoping my blood work next month will continue to show the cancer is still gone. I’ll give another update on my recovery issues above in another 6 months.

-Donnie

Admit or Confess?

Confused and despondent to the point of panic. Able to admit but not able to confess sin. There is nothing to be gained here. Admitting will never be enough to allow me to live in harmony with God the way confessing will. Its what separates me from God and where I want to be. Where I am and where I need to be spiritually are so far apart there seems to be no way to span the gap. It’s depressing. Oswald Chamber’s touches on this in one of his devotionals … the contrast between admitting our sins to God or confessing our sins to God. Big difference.

Unfortunately, I’m an Admitter … although there is no such word. When  I admit my sins to God … it’s like yeah … I did it again … what are you going to do about it I can’t stop it? attitude. You got to know God is tired of hearing the same thing from me night after night of prayer filled only with remorse. For some incredible reason that I can not understand God listens and waits on me anyway allowing me my way. It all seems to be ok with God. God gives me that choice. He does nothing about it but the Holy Spirit that is deep with in me convicts me deeply more and more each day I sin. I make my choices everyday to sin but it’s becoming increasing more difficult each day to bear the shame and that is a glimmer of hope that one day I’ll be a Confessor of my sins.

This is what I think the Confessor is like …. The person that confesses their sins are truly sincere, contrite, humbled and are ready to receive the forgiveness and freedom that come from truly confessing sins to God. They are ready to act now and be free of their desires because they know once they give up their will to fight it it will become God’s fight and they will succeed. Jesus provides the only freedom from sin.

What the Admitter doesn’t have much of that the Confessor has enough of is FAITH. One must see and accept the truth and once that is done you have to step out in faith to confirm it.

Father … Please increase my faith so I will take that step

Good to Go – Cancer Free

Just got the call from Vanderbilt hospital …. My PSA level was UNDETECTABLE …. which means I’m good to go – no sign of cancer any more … next check up is in 6 months. I can’t begin to express how relieved and happy I am … it’s been a long difficult  5+ months and now the best possible news. Now its checkups every 6 months to make sure it stays gone. Praise God and thanks to everyone that have been keeping me in their thoughts and prayers all these months. This is truly the sweetest of all days.

Donnie

Tomorrow’s Sweetest Day

6 weeks since surgery tomorrow but today was a trip to Vanderbilt Hospital for my long anticipated follow-up and blood work. Doctor said the usual positive things. From all accounts my bladder recovery is ahead of the norm and time will address other issues and concerns he said. He was confident they got all the cancer but held out the possibility there could still be some left behind as there was cancer cells found growing on one of the edges of my prostate. My PSA blood work will answer that question. They drew blood today and I should get a call tomorrow with the results. My two new friends that had the same surgery on the same day as me have both had there blood test completed and both had great results as their PSA levels were undetectable. This is what you want it to be. We are hoping when my results come in we will be 3 for 3 that are cancer free. It has been a long journey since my diagnosis back in February.

Today was sweet but tomorrow will be even sweeter.