People naturally seek comfort; we seek predictability; we seek rhythm. We seek rhythm in music and last night some us tried to find that rhythm when we took salsa classes at our Quinta. We learned the steps, practiced without partners, and then got paired up and gave it a whirl as well as a few spins. Bob and Marilyn Ewing, who are on their 92rd trip (that’s right!) to Guatemala, joined in the fun and as Bob talked about it with me today he confided with me that, “music is the rhythm of the soul.” Our medical team seeks predictability in cases, whether it is the amount of anesthesia to administer to put a patient safely to sleep or the orientation of their patients’ organs (basic scientific-method type stuff (which is founded on the principles of inductive reasoning (which was pioneered by another man with the last name Bacon (not that anyone asked or cares.)))) And people seek comfort from both physical and psychological distress. This morning Reverend Silverio described for us a recent time he was in a distressing situation. He talked about how Hurricane Harvey destroyed his house and totaled two of his cars. “One thing,” he says, “that I have a hard time doing is asking for help. I like to work on things myself.” He then talked about how thankful he was for the destruction of his possessions because it allowed him to see that “it is a beautiful thing to be dependent on the Lord.” This immediately brought to mind the passage in Matthew 6:28 where Jesus says, “28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” I love being reminded of assurances like this.
Drs. Manish Wani and Jeff Chimenti work together in the same surgical group in Texas and, being ENTs*, they do a lot of things that I could not adequately describe to you. Needless to say they are very used to hearing about hearing issues. In just the first three days of surgeries they have already performed 54 procedures on 28 different patients. They work with determination; Dr. Wani pacing the halls between patients rearing to go for whoever is next, and Dr. Chimenti performing surgery only moments after he removed his own IV that was administered because he woke up sick on Tuesday morning. Along with the countless tonsils and adenoids they’ve removed, the ten septum’s they’ve repaired, and the many turbinates they’ve reduced or removed, Dr. Wani worked on a little girl named Keillyn today who has had hearing issues because of a hole in one of her eardrums. The Tympanoplasty he performed will help her regain a better sense of hearing, and the many nasal surgeries will help their patients (and the patients’ families) breathe easier. These two doctors really exemplify something that Kathy Huebner quoted from a friend this morning: “Blessed are the flexible, because they will not be bent out of shape” – nothing bends these two out of shape.
How we react to the discomfort, unpredictability, and arrhythmia can tell us a lot about ourselves. With the same senses that are being worked on and repaired this week by our surgeons can see the beauty in the chaos? Can we do what Marilynne Robinson’s character John Ames does in her novel Giliad and “Open the scroll of conch and find the text / That lies behind the priestly susurrus**”? Can we take in the chaotic world around us and observe Truth? The ORs and PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) are always a constant buzz of activity with beeping, crying, music, and orders. If you stand and listen to all the commotion for just a minute, you can hear it. You can hear of the priestly susurrus, you can feel the beat of the salsa del hospital (without anyone missing a step), and you can see both the patients and medical team awaken from a sort of anesthetic-cloud that can follow us around in our every day life. For a patient, this cloud is beneficial because of the intense pain that it keeps them from experiencing for a time, but if you ask any anesthesiologist I bet they’ll tell you that it is not good for anyone to ‘stay-under’ too long. I know I don’t like experiencing pain. I don’t want to feel discomfort. I want to be in control. I want to dance to my own tune. But although it might seem nice to be dancing in your dreams, you can only really take part in The Dance when you are awake.
*ENT stands for surgeons who specialize in Ears, Noses, and Throats
**Susurrus means whispering, murmuring, or rustling. As in, “the susurrus of the stream.”