Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hi, I haven't written anything here in quite a while. I have been writing on my website instead. I will no longer be updating this Blog. If you wish to see my writings, please visit my website at http://Godmadeus.com You can also connect with me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/servantofElohim Thank you -robby

Friday, May 6, 2011

Live life without regrets

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

What do these verses have in common? The answer is perhaps the most important lesson a parent could ever learn. I connected with a childhood friend yesterday by email, and today we talked on the phone. We had not spoken in twenty something years and much had changed. One thing that had not changed was our faith in God. As children we both had faith in God but it simply wasn't something that we spoke to each other about. I remember going to church with him a few times, but I don't think we ever spoke of our relationship with God back then. Today, God dominated our conversation. My friend and I were both brought up in a Christian manner from a very early age. By the time I was 13 my family no longer went to church although God was present in our lives. My friend's family continued their active church lives and God was very apparent in their lives up until the time we lost contact with each other. Today we both thank God for the early spiritual foundation that our parents and the church provided. We spoke of this spiritual foundation toward the end of our conversation today and after we hung up I began to give the subject some thought. I simply cannot imagine where my life would be without that spiritual foundation. When the times were rough, where would I have turned if I had not known that God was there? When my heart was broken, to whom would I have looked? When I was lonely, where would I have turned for comfort? When I was told my life was over, what different choice would I have made?

My friend and I both had seemingly abandoned God at various points in our lives by making very poor choices. We have also both paid a price for those poor choices. Are the prices we paid what brought us back to God? Absolutely not. What brought us back to God is the knowledge that the love of God would have prevented the pain, had we simply listened in the first place. But what if there were no spiritual foundation? What if we didn't know that God was real? What if we didn't know that God wanted us to be happy? What if we didn't know that we could rely on God when everything else in life had failed? To whom or what would we have turned? Everyone makes poor choices in life at one time or another. Many times, a poor choice will have the appearance of solving a problem or issue. I say "have the appearance" because a poor choice will never solve anything. It may delay the inevitable, but it will never solve the problem. Will a cigarette solve the craving of a person trying to quit? No, it will simply delay the inevitable next craving and deepen the addiction. A simple prayer with belief will solve the craving. The problem is that if the person doesn't ultimately know that they can rely on God, it will not occur to them to say the prayer. The spiritual foundation must be there from the beginning. That is what Proverbs 22:6 is telling us.

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

What happens when a person marries a person of a different faith or a non believer? This is a concept that we have a hard time comprehending when we are young. When we are young we let the temptations of the world cloud our judgment.

We tend to base our relationships and attractions on things which are ultimately of little or no significance. Appearance will diminish in every case. No one looks as good at 80 or 50 as they did at 21. No one. Yet when we are young we base our relationships primarily on appearance. We often choose who we will be with when we are 50 and 80 based on what they look like when they are 18 or 21. That is a recipe for a divorce at the very least. When we are young, we fail to see the future. We give little thought to our destiny. We fail to understand that our priorities will change and in many cases we do everything in our power to hinder that positive change. We make relationship choices at ever earlier ages that will affect us and our true partner in life in the future. We create bonds that should never be created. We rob our own future of the lifelong enjoyment of a special bond that could only exist between two people. We trade the special for the ordinary, and deprive our future spouses of the special and condemn them to the ordinary in our ignorance. What a foolish time we must all pass through on our journey to spiritual growth and maturity. Even a good spiritual foundation is often set aside in this foolish time of our lives.

When that particular foolishness is over and we feel we have achieved a certain level of growth we will on occasion backslide in another area. Then it is the stones that we have placed upon our spiritual foundations that we must rely. Now we have most likely combined our foundation with that of another person. If our foundations were the same from the beginning then we could simply continue building together interweaving our stones to build a unified temple which glorifies God. That temple will be very strong and will sustain any two people in a relationship. Both people in the relationship will always have a strong temple on which to rely. But what if the foundations were not the same from the beginning? If the foundations are not the same from the beginning, then a strong unified temple cannot be built upon both foundations. One foundation must be discarded, allowing both people to build on one foundation, or each person must build on their own foundation. Two individuals building separate temples will come into conflict with each other when it comes to children. Will the foundation for the child be built by the Mother or the Father? If the parents are building the child's foundation with different substances, it will be weaker than the foundation of both parents. That is what 2 Corinthians 6:14 is telling us.

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Man has rejected this lesson from the very beginning. We see a great example of this in Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. This is the beginning of the chapter in the Bible that is telling us about Noah and giving us the reasons for the great flood. The reason for the great flood was that the people had a poor spiritual foundation. This verse is showing us that the reason for the poor spiritual foundation was because the people of God were not concerned with what was truly important when they picked their spouse. What does the Bible say they were concerned with? Look at the verse again. "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair". The men of God were basing their choice on looks rather than what is important. Looks were more important than spiritual foundation. Has anything changed since that time? I suggest that the only thing that has changed is the list of things placed above "same faith" when selecting a partner.

A person who is on their own for the first time in their life will inevitably become lonely. Who will they turn to for comfort? A friend, an attractive stranger or God. Only God will provide true comfort. Everything else is an illusion that will compound the loneliness with much more severe issues. There is a common saying "live life without regret". Does that mean we should leave no road untraveled? Perhaps it means that God will spare us from the pain of some of those roads if we will simply listen. If a person truly wants to live life without regrets there is only one road, one way. The Godly way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Roles




A van pulls off of the pavement onto a country road then turns onto a smaller dirt road that appears to have little traffic. The van stops on the edge of the road and a woman exits the drivers compartment and walks to the rear of the vehicle. A minute later the woman is back in the drivers seat and a skinny yellow dog stands trembling as the van pulls quickly on to the road and speeds away. The dog doesn't attempt to follow, she just stands there looking around. She is very skinny and hungry. She sees a couple of other dogs coming down the road towards her and she decides to avoid them heading into the woods. She walks for a few minutes and then finds herself being chased by yet more dogs. Aggressive dogs. She runs deeper into the woods and finally the other dogs turn back. She slows to a walk and wanders aimlessly through the woods. She spots a rabbit and gives chase, but it disappears into a hole. She is tired and lays down by the hole to wait for the rabbit to come out. She falls asleep. It is night and very dark when she wakes up, rain is falling and she searches for some sort of shelter. The wind blows and lightning lights up the sky followed by loud roaring thunder. She sees some lights in the distance and heads in that direction. When she gets to the lights she sees a couple of cars a shack and a dog on a chain runner. The dog spots her and starts to bark. She slinks under an old pickup to get out of the rain. The other dog keeps barking, but he is on a chain and can not reach her. She believes she is safe. Suddenly the door to the shack swings open and the figure of a large man looms in the doorway. He yells at the dog on the chain “SHUT UP!”. He then begins shining a flashlight about searching for what is making his dog bark. His light lands on the eyes of the skinny yellow dog. Suddenly he is pointing a rifle at the yellow dog. She sees a flash, dirt stings her face as the unmistakeable boom of a gunshot roars through her ears. She runs back into the rain as he fires another haphazard shot in her direction. She runs as fast as she can for the next several minutes, lightning flashing here and there. Thunder roaring, heavy rain pelting her, she is soaked through. She continues running unable to see clearly at times. At one point she leaps over a pile of brush and lands on something soft. There is a loud grunt and whistling sound, and the softness below her feet rises quickly throwing her off balance, but she regains her balance and continues to run. She hears a deer's hooves pounding the rocks, headed in the other direction blowing to exclaim his disgust at being “run over” by an out of control dog. The dog finally slows to a walk as she comes to a place where water is flowing into a pond. She spots a clump of cedar trees on the dam of the pond and beds down beneath them. The storm finally subsides and sunrise finds her on the move again. She sees a couple of horses and walks towards them. There are a couple of houses and a barn and some sheds. Near one of the sheds is a pile of hay. She sniffs around awhile and decides the hay is a pretty safe place to be. A man and a woman come out of one of the houses. The man spots her but doesn't come near her. Instead he and the woman get into a pickup and drive away. A woman comes out of the other house. She too spots the dog and she too drives away. The skinny yellow dog is hungry and snoops around looking for something to eat. She looks but doesn't find anything.




The following morning I got up and fed the horses and looked to see if the dog I had seen the day before was still around. I didn't see the dog so I finished feeding the horses, then the chickens, our dogs and cats and then headed back to the house to get ready for work. My wife and I stepped outside and were about to get into the truck when I saw the yellow dog that I had seen the day before. There she was laying in a pile of hay again. I pointed her out to my wife saying “the last thing we need is another dog, two is enough”. My wife agreed and we both got into the truck. “I wonder if she has eaten” I said. My wife looked at me and said “I don't know”. I said “I bet she is hungry”. My wife agreed. I got out of the truck, got some dog food and poured it into a container as I headed for the yellow dog. She wouldn't come near me, but didn't run away either. She cowered just out of reach. I got down to her level and coaxed her a little closer. I could tell she was very hungry, but she was still too scared to come near me. I left the food for her, and then headed off to work with my wife. That evening when we pulled into the driveway our eyes searched the hay pile to see if the yellow dog was there. She was. I got some more dog food and headed in her direction. This time I didn't leave the food, but sat next to it. She made her way to it crawling low on her belly. She started to eat and I reached slowly to pet her. After a few minutes we were friends although she was still wary. She followed me back to the barn where she met my wife. My wife and I checked her over good finding that she was in good health, although she was under weight. We treated her for fleas and ticks and fed her again. I sat with her for a couple of hours as we got to know each other. I don't remember how it came to be, but we named her Sandy. We took her to the vet and found out she was already spayed. The vet confirmed that she was in good health but would need extra rations for some time to put on some more weight.



That was over two years ago and much has changed since then. I was diagnosed with cancer. I have been in and out of remission several times, had a stem-cell transplant and have had more than my share of chemo. After the Stem-cell transplant I went into a short lived remission, then took more chemo. Then went into remission and went through radiation. The radiation Oncologist said he had never met anyone who had survived as much chemotherapy as I had, and as such couldn't tell me exactly how my body would respond to the radiation. As it turned out, my body responded just fine to the radiation. I had a bit of a sore throat, but all in all it was a cake walk compared to what I had been through previously. I had another PET and CT scan after the radiation and was told I was still in remission. That was about two months ago and yesterday, I made the trip back to Little Rock for another scan. I go back in a few days for the results. I don't know what it will show, but am prepared mentally either way. I owe that state of mental preparedness to my faith and my relationship with God. I have struggled at times to understand that relationship and my role, not only in the relationship, but also in the world. We all have a place in the world and a role to fulfill and sometimes it takes courage to acknowledge that role and accept it. I believe that cancer has a role to fulfill, also. It molds us just as surely as any other life event. There are positives to having cancer just as there are negatives. Cancer forces a person to come face to face with life and death and all the “big” questions of eternity. It forces one to find the answer. The one true answer to the meaning of life. Do you know the meaning of life? Do you want to know why we are all on this circle of water and rock spinning through the cosmos. It is very simple. You, I ,We. We are all here to serve God and to be be happy doing it. Does God want us to be miserable? NEVER! God want's us to be happy, what ever our role in life happens to be. We do not get to choose our ultimate role in life. We can make choices that effect our life, but ultimately what role we have in life was determined before the foundations of the earth were laid. The Bible teaches us this. We should then be thankful that God created us for a specific role. If that role is to die an early death. Be Thankful that God thought of you and created you for a purpose. If that role is to give birth to a child that will die the next day. Be thankful.. You just helped create an Angel. There is no question of that child's salvation. What greater gift could the child receive?



How did I come to this knowledge? I came by it through observation of my relationship with my animals. God gave us dominion over the animal kingdom. Humanity is NOT a God to the animal kingdom, however that relationship that exist between animal and man is in some ways representative of Man's relationship with God. We can learn a lot by watching the animal world. Our influences on it are not unlike the influences God has on our lives. For instance I have a dog named “Polar”. Polar is a 100 plus pounds of pure dumb mutt with a heart of gold. She is epileptic and she must be given Phenobarbital twice daily to control her seizures. There is something special about this dog as other animals adore her. If you put a cow in the pen with her, the cow will follow her around continuously. Put in a Goat and the goat will soon be her pillow. There are pictures on my Face book page if you doubt this. What ever animal is kept with Polar ends up loving Polar. The flip side to this is that Polar is the hardest dog I have ever had to try and contain. She also doesn't have the sense to find her way home once she is out. The last time she got out, I got a call from a neighbor about a mile away as the crow flies. Polar was setting on her front porch and wouldn't leave. Polar had made her way down a very steep hillside, through thick briars, crossed a river and had been skunked to arrive on this person's porch. The point is that she is incapable of finding her way home. She is fearless and to the right person would be downright intimidating when she charged them looking for affection. If there is a loose place in the fence she will find it. She constantly checks for weaknesses in the fence and if one exist, she bull-dozes her way through it. She is contained by a chain link fence with cross ties laid end to end at the base of it. The chain link also has an electrified ribbon running the entire perimeter near the top. If Polar was left to her own, she would not make it very long. She would be hit by a car, shot by a scared person, attacked by a wild animal, kicked by a horse, or simply get lost and starve to death. She has no hunting instincts at all. She requires companionship. Some dogs are fine being alone. Polar is not one of them. She must have a companion. All of that said, she has a role in life, and that role is to comfort others, whether the “others” are from the animal kingdom or the human kingdom, Polar comforts. This is her preordained role in life that I believe she has accepted. We contain her for her own good to protect her from what would surely befall her, if she were left to roam. I think God protects us in this same manner. Have you ever wanted something that was just not meant to be? Maybe it's more money or a better car. It could be anything. What would happen if you got everything that you wanted? Would you be happy? Would it change you? If it did change you, would it be for the better? God knows how it would effect you. God places boundaries on each of us, just as I place a fence to set Polar's boundaries. God sets obstacles to form our boundaries. Would you trade your salvation for a pot of Gold? God removes that temptation through obstacles so that many of us never have to make that choice. Thank God.



I have another Dog named Sandy. You read about how she came to be with us in the beginning of this story. Sandy is not fenced, she is free to leave at any time. She chooses to stay here and makes a good watch dog. She greets all visitors with a bark and the wag of her tail and is still wary of new faces. We don't have to worry about her biting someone, because she is simply too scared to get that close to new people at first. A few minutes later and she is their new best friend. She is very smart. It takes only about 20 minutes to teach her a trick. She is gentle and can be seen bathing a cat on any given day. She has hunting skills, but chooses not to exercise those skills on our chickens. Her role is to serve us by letting the whole place know when something or someone is around. She stays very close to home and I have never had a complaint of her being on anyone else s property. She is content in her role. And as a result, she has her freedom and more attention and interaction with people than our other dogs that are fenced. Her reward for being content and the ability to self-contain herself is her freedom. What a concept. Humans are no different. If we are spiritually mature enough to maintain our own boundaries, our reward from God will be fewer obstacles. We must be content in our role and willing to abide within a set of boundaries. If we are not, God will place obstacles in-order to form the boundaries that we need.



What if Sandy left and went to live at another house on a busy road with owners who neglected her. Owners who never trimmed her nails, treated her for fleas or ticks. Owners who didn't pick the thorns from her feet or seek medical treatment for her when she needed it? She would be just as free, but her life would be much more dangerous. She would run the risk of being ran over by a car. She would be in more pain, more often. She would hunger and would be forced to provide for herself at times instead of relying on me. Her life would be much harder and she would likely die an earlier death. I would hope that if that ever happened, she would remember the love that she had here and she would return to us, for our sake and hers. It is much the same with God and humanity. We can refuse to accept God's will for us, our Role. We can run off and drink liquor to excess and live an unhealthy lifestyle. We can have sex with multiple partners and run the risk of disease. We can be unfaithful to our spouses and destroy our own foundations for happiness. We can do all those things and suffer the consequences of those actions. God will always be waiting for us to return. The grace of God is boundless. We can return to God at anytime. For our own sake, and for God's sake. This makes God happy. God wants to protect us. It is our reward for serving God.



I have yet another dog named Sidney. Sidney is in many respects, much like Sandy. He could be left outside the fence and he would do just fine. He wouldn't chase the horses or cows. He wouldn't bite anyone and he would hang around and always find his way home. He is in a fence though. Why? His role is to be a companion to Polar. She requires this. Mentally she is weaker than the other dogs. It is just how she is. So Sydney is confined to a fence through no fault of his own. This is just his role in life, and he appears happy with it. So what is to be learned from this? That life is not fair? That is true, but I don't think it is the lesson that we should take away from this. The lesson is that we should be grateful to God for our existence no matter what role is chosen for us. We should make the best of that role no matter what. If this means we are found guilty of a crime we didn't commit and must spend our life, behind bars. Then so be it. If it means we have some disease. Then so be it. We must embrace our role and make the most of it, even though we may not understand it. If my role is too be done with cancer. I will embrace it. If my role is to live with cancer, I will embrace it. If my role is to die with cancer, I will embrace it and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and me that I had the opportunity to serve God.  
 
 If you like this and would like to read more chapters of my story, You can do so at http://www.robbylockeby.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Freedom

A man sits in his house on the backside of 44 acres writing this blog. Suddenly, the silence is broken by a faint “Boom….. boom..boom….. boom……boom..boom”. The booming grows increasingly louder. “Boom….. boom.. boom….. boom……boom..boom”. The booming settles out at a constant volume and continues and the minutes pass as the increasingly annoyed man tries to write. He finally decides it has gone on long enough and places a call to the local Sheriff’s office. “There is no noise ordinance in the county” States the officer on the other end of the phone. “Well we need one,” says the unhappy man before he hangs up.



Nine hundred miles to the North East the sound of a military jet roars overhead to the cheers of a large crowd. Seconds later and some distance away a phone rings at a 911-call center. The 911-operator takes the call from a disgruntled nightshift worker who is unable to sleep because of the jets roaring above the city. The operator politely explains that it is an air show, which will be over in a few minutes. The operator thinks to himself “that’s the sound of freedom.” The nightshift worker thinks to himself “what a waste of taxpayer money”



Twenty one hundred miles to the South West, a woman is on her way home from work. She turns onto her road on the outskirts of town. “Pigs, they live like pigs” she thinks as she drives by a very cluttered and junky looking residence. There is a man stacking bricks in the yard adding to his wealth of stockpiles. The man dreams of a day when the bricks he is stacking will be fashioned into a barbecue pit, and that pile of stones will be a foundation, and ….. He stops for a moment to admire his bright purple fence. “We could have only dreamed of such things in the old country, “ He tells his son. “We could have never afforded such things there. Here they are happy when we come to haul these things away for free. We will have a much better life here.”



1200 miles back to the East; a smile comes to a man’s face as he admires a paper target displaying a very nice grouping in the center of the target. Down the hill, on the edge of a valley, a teenager smiles proudly as he stands outside of his car. He can actually see the roof of the car flex and vibrate with every “boom” of bass. He has worked hard and saved his money. Today he used his savings and has just finished installing the amplifier, which powers 4 massive 15” speakers. Now he has a chance of winning that stereo contest come Saturday. The booming bass reverberates across the valley and up the hill to where the previously annoyed man again sits down to finish writing this blog.



I have had some time to think as I made a few booms of my own. I no longer desire a noise ordinance for the county. My target is laying here in front of me and I can’t help but smile, thinking that freedom is a pretty valuable thing. I type this to the rhythm of the bass reverberating across the hills of the Ozarks. I have come to the conclusion that I need to remember that; The price of freedom is the responsibility to always be courteous and respectful of others, and the obligation to be tolerant of others when you feel they aren’t courteous and respectful to you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American Idols

Who is your Idol? John Wayne? What profit is there for anyone to have an imaginary character for an idol? A foolish person will idolize a character, which no one can measure up to. A child growing up idolizing such characters will, never posses the personal growth they may have had otherwise. They idolize an idea, which has qualities that are unattainable, unrealistic and lack the qualities of a true “real life” role model. I mentioned only John Wayne but he is just one character out of thousands who are idolized throughout America and throughout the world. Those stars seem irresistible to most. Why is that? Draw your own conclusion. Why is it that so many still idolize a pro boxer who raped a woman and bit off an opponent’s ear? Why? How? If he wasn’t famous, few would want anything to do with a guy like that, yet many buy tickets to his fights. How can a woman who is responsible for brutally ending the career of an ice skater have a more prominent place in culture than the woman she is responsible for injuring? She is still on TV being paid way too much for the thug that she is. Why do so many buy tickets to see and idolize so many stars whose personal lives are drunken, drug riddled cesspools? Why does any parent let their child purchase and listen to music about killing others, even promoting the killing of police officers? Why do Americans idolize this type of behavior? How is it even possible? Think about it. Is God behind these so-called idols? No? Who then? Do you think God wants any of us supporting these stars? If God doesn’t, who does then? Draw your own conclusion. What does it teach a child whom watches his parents ignore the character of a star because they sing well, fight well or play well? There are too many irresistible lures too list. Who or what makes those lures so irresistible? God? Could it be something or someone more sinister? Is this healthy to idolize movie stars, sports stars, rock stars, country stars, comic book heroes etc? Is it of God to join with thousands of others to cheer a person? Do you cheer God in that same manner? How do you worship God? Do you show up to church once a week and listen to a sermon? How do you support your favorite movie star? Do you buy a ticket for every movie they make? Do you feel their presence in the theater? Do they make you laugh or cry? Do they make you feel real emotion? Do you feel a fondness in your heart for them? Do you experience those same feelings for God? Does God touch your heart in the same way? How do you idolize your favorite sports team or music performer? Do watch every game? Do you go to church for every service? You can’t watch every game and go to every service anymore. The games are on at the same time the church doors are open. Is that a coincidence? Maybe it is. What does God think when you join thousands of others to cheer a music star or sport’s team? Do you cheer the same way for God? What is more like worship? Dragging yourself to church once a week because it is that day of the week or the cheering and excitement at these music and sporting events? The Bible tells us over and over to throw away our false idols. Are these not false idols? You don’t think this is what God and his disciples were talking about? How much time is spent watching them, shopping for products made by or endorsed by them, or reading about them by Americans? If it weren’t about the idols, if it is about the game, you would watch a peewee game. They cost less to watch and the outcome is far less predictable. If it weren’t about idols, you wouldn’t fight the crowds and spend ridiculous amounts of money to see a show performed by a drunk or drug user. If it isn’t about the Idol, why is it called American Idol? If it isn’t about the Idol, why is it called the immunity Idol? If it isn’t about the Idol, why does the host say: “this is the idol you now covet”? Are Americans spending the same amount of energy, time, and money on their worship of the Lord that they spend on the alluring idols? If the answer is no, then those idols have a higher priority in the average American’s life than does God. That is the very definition of an idol before God. But God knows your heart. Right? You better believe he does. Do you know your heart? Be honest with yourself, do you show more heart at the theater or the pew?




It isn’t possible to trick someone into accepting Jesus. I am not saying some churches don’t try, but ultimately it just can’t be done. Your heart has to be in it when you accept Jesus. You can’t simply recite some words and poof your saved. It must come from the heart. It is possible to be led astray however. It is possible and the temptations are very prominent. Who or what is behind making those idols so alluring? It is getting harder and harder to have your heart in the right place while living as an American. Our sensitiveness to evil is constantly under attack. You have no doubt heard about being desensitized. We are subjected to movies depicting realistic killing, abuse, horrors and other perversions. The news sensationalizes every horror from around the world and keeps most people glued to the couch rather than living a wholesome life. Will anything be solved by some commentaries about whatever happens to be making the news this week, or will it merely steal a piece of your life, raise your blood pressure and add stress? Who is behind the allure of the media? God? Why do all of the reality shows subject the players to conditions, which make them betray God? I saw one young man on Amazing Race say;” we do not worship other gods”. He made that statement as he was literally bowing down on his knees to some false God of the East. He seemed to think that by saying the opposite of what he was doing, it somehow made it right. Actions speak louder than words. He would have lost the chance to win a bunch of money if he didn’t bow down to the false god. Who is behind putting the young man in that situation? God? We as Americans are bombarded from every direction. Walk into the hardware store and pick up some spackling paste. One of the most popular brands is “Red Devil”. It is a good product. Good = Red Devil. Not comfortable with that association? One of the most popular saw blades on the market is the Diablo brand. Most popular = Diablo. How do these associations come so easy? Is it a coincidence? Maybe. Why would anyone name a product after the devil? Who is behind it? God? What is that hand gesture so many people make symbolic of? You know the one: index and pinky up right. The person who makes the gesture sometimes sticks out their tongue for added emphasis. That is symbolic of the devil’s horns but few ever give it a second thought. Pop culture is full of these types of things. What about when one person bows to another chanting “we’re not worthy”. It’s just a joke right? Maybe. Maybe it is also one more way to desensitize us.



Have you read my articles about the true origins of our holidays? If not, give them a look. Several times a year Zeus rears his ugly head right here in America and has most of the population following in the ancient traditions of worshiping false gods.



How many Americans are having their lives stolen by alcohol or drugs? Who or what is behind those all too alluring thieves. Is it God? Why has the television desensitized us to sex and lewd behavior? Why are gangsters and mobsters now idolized by some people? Would they feel the same if it were their money being stolen, or their child kidnapped, or their legs broken? Why is the thought of those things happening to others so alluring to some? Is that of God? The Internet brings pornography and every other evil right into your home. Who or what is behind that? Is it God? Never before has the temptress been able to so thoroughly penetrate almost every home in America. Is that a coincidence? Maybe. God tells us to separate ourselves from the world. Is it still possible to do that in America or anywhere else in the modern world? We are all controlled by money to some extent if we want to live a civilized life. Most are slaves to credit. Many will do almost anything for the right price. There are shows on TV, which prove this over and over. There is always a new gadget that is so alluring we must have it. To get them we must have that almighty dollar, the one that actually carries the markings of the beast. Who or what is behind making these things so alluring? Who is behind all of these idols and the worship of them and of money? Who has tricked the American people into believing our currency is worth worshiping? Who has tricked the American people into believing its ok to have idols and somehow it is ok to worship them too as long as it is not called worship? Is it God? Or does God just see America for the great whore that she has become both financially and spiritually?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Down

Snow fell softly outside the parking garage where I stood in my hospital gown, matching pants and black boots. A siren approached and was silenced as the ambulance pulled into the emergency entrance 3 floors below. I lit up a cigarette and inhaled deeply. My fingers fidgeted with the central line going from my neck to the IV pump. I watched the fluid in the bags drip, drip, drip into my line. The front of the IV pump was lit up and the word “CHEMOTHERAPY” repeatedly scrolled across the display. I must be insane, I thought as I took another pull from the cigarette. This was the lowest point I had been mentally since I was diagnosed nearly a year and a half earlier. Two weeks before I had been released from the hospital. I had spent those two weeks trying to get one of our rental houses ready to rent. I was pretty weak from the disease and the treatments I had been receiving. I was unable to work for more than an hour or so at a time. The night before returning to the hospital I had worked late into the night trying to finish the painting on the rental. I had failed to finish. The following morning I had gotten up early in preparation for the 3 and a half hour drive back to the hospital. My wife and I said goodbye on the back deck. We were both on the verge of tears and her eyes searched mine intently. Our lives had been in upheaval for the past year and a half. All of life’s little pressures were converging on us. The previous month had been very hard on her, as she had managed our household alone for the most part. I had felt that she was nearing her breaking point. Her eyes searched mine for some sign of hope as we said goodbye. I wasn’t sure that I could honestly give her the hope she desired. The walk to the Jeep seemed unusually long and I felt her eyes on my back as I took each step. She seemed to be pleading with me for some sort of reassurance, a reassurance that I wasn’t capable of giving. Something about the situation seemed very final as I pulled out of the driveway. I made the drive back to the hospital expecting to start the final stage of a stem cell transplant. I met with the oncologist and he explained that the previous chemotherapy treatment had not reduced the cancer to the level desired to start the final stage of the transplant. Now I would undergo another treatment similar to the one I had just completed 2 weeks earlier. I would then be given another two-week rest period and then be back to try the transplant again.




Each round of chemotherapy had taken a toll on my body. I had continually felt weaker after each treatment. I could do less after each treatment. Now I would be hooked up to chemo again 24 hours a day for 4 days. I had long since reached my lifetime maximum dosage for some of the chemotherapy drugs that I was being given. The doctors were telling me that they were simply weighing the potential risk against the potential benefits of the drugs and that I had little to lose. I was a little fuzzy about that whole “do no harm” thing at that point. I was also taking some pretty serious drugs like Thalidomide. Something that I was taking was doing nerve damage. My left hand was numb. It felt like it had been injected with Lidocaine. My fingers continually had that “prickly” feeling that one gets when a limb “falls asleep”. My legs and arms did “fall asleep” after only a minute or two of not being moved. I had tried to keep the effected limbs moving when this sensation had first started to occur. Now I didn’t bother until it became painful.



The disease continually took its toll. The lymph nodes around the blood vessels were swollen and restricted the blood flow to my brain. This made me tired and had been an increasing problem for sometime. The knowledge that death was knocking was also taking a toll. I had not expected the transplant to cure my disease, but I had thought that it would give me more time with my wife. This latest news had me thinking that perhaps this treatment would actually shorten my life because of the physical toll it was taking. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that in my greed to hold on a little while longer, I had made things worse. There was also an economic price to be paid. I had good insurance, but even so this type of treatment was expensive. The New Year had brought a renewal of the deductible and coinsurance due. All of these things had combined to deal a blow that I was finding hard to deal with. It would have been much tougher without the support and assistance of friends and family. A few days before my return to the hospital an unexpected check had arrived from my mother. It was enough to cover the deductible and coinsurance. I hated borrowing money, but was grateful for the help because it had been a couple of months since I had any real income.



I stood there in that parking garage smoking and pondering the situation. I was disappointed in myself for continuing to smoke. I also knew that smoking was doing far less damage to my body at this point than the chemotherapy was. It appeared to me at that point that I would probably lose my so-called “battle with cancer” in the next few months. Smoking certainly wasn’t going to kill me that fast. I had quit smoking before and knew how hard it was going to be. I simply decided that quitting wasn’t worth it under these circumstances. Maybe this was a twisted rationalization I made in order to justify another nicotine fix. Looking back, I don’t think so. It was a way of removing one stressor that would have little affect on my physical health. I decided to put “quitting smoking” on the back burner until my life expectancy was a little less tenuous. Making that conscious decision gave me a sense of control that had been lacking, but still there was something missing and I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that I felt very much alone, which was abnormal for me. I was rarely if ever lonely, even with no one around.



I returned to my room and life in the hospital resumed at it’s monotonous pace. I marked time by the delivery of meals and medication, which took place at specified times. Medications came morning and night. Blood draws every morning at four thirty. I passed the hours by playing games online and eventually lost track of the days as “chemo brain” fogged normal thought processes. I took a walk every day to get my nicotine fix, but no longer walked for exercise. I found myself falling into a depression and couldn’t pinpoint the reason. My wife made the trip to see me every few days and we talked nightly on the phone. I still felt very much alone. I finished the chemotherapy treatments and my blood counts fell as expected. I knew when my counts had bottomed out before the nurses drew the blood for the test. My body was screaming it at me. I was shaky, and jittery. My vision would go black and I would get light headed every time I sat up. I would wait for everything to clear then stand slowly and hold on to the bed rail, as it would happen again. I was weak to the point that each step felt like a chore. Everything had become very much routine, yet I felt more alone than ever. Something was missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I would like to think that if I hadn’t had “chemo brain” I would have figured out what was missing sooner. The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have. My blood counts were confirmed to be very low when the test results came back. The Doctors wait until the counts recover for two days before confirming that they have indeed bottomed out. I was getting impatient though. I knew my counts would begin climbing over the next few days and I wanted to get out of the hospital. I told the Doctor as much and packed up my things, got dressed and stood in the open doorway to my room. I couldn’t stand for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I placed a chair behind the door and rested frequently, but made my presence known at the door. The doctor finally came back and told me I would not be able to leave that day. He said he needed to see my counts improve substantially for two days in a row. I was disappointed to say the least. My wife came to see me the next day. I told her that I was ready to go but they wouldn’t let me. My white blood count had risen by .01. Not nearly enough to qualify as substantial. I suggested that we go see my Oncologist to see if he would “spring me”. She reluctantly agreed. We walked across the hospital to the Oncologist’s office. I didn’t have an appointment but he agreed to see me. We sat in the little conference room hopefully waiting. All hope was lost the instant he entered the room. He entered the room in full tongue lashing mode. He basically told me that I was being impatient and should be thanking God that I wasn’t in the same condition as the other patients undergoing the same treatments. The instant he said “thanking God” I knew what was missing for me. I had been going through the motions and praying daily, but my heart had not been in it for about 2 weeks. I promised not to ask to leave again and left his office humbled and ashamed but calm. Calm, because I knew what I needed to do to “get right”. That night I opened life’s instruction book for the first time in a week or so and read and offered heartfelt prayers late into the night. The following morning I was on my way home.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eyes

The river was more than 100 feet below as I hugged the narrow canyon wall. The first two knuckles of my fingers penetrated the small handholds I had dug out. I used my right foot to kick the soft canyon wall several times to get a small indention. I put the toe of my boot into the indention and slowly put my weight on it. It held. I moved my left foot to the indention my right foot had just vacated, and began digging out another handhold. It was a slow process making my way across the canyon wall. I had been in similar situations before but this time was different. I was not alone. My wife was with me. She was raised in New England, Bermuda and on the East coast. She was not accustomed to experiences like this, or at least she wasn’t until we married. I had taken her on her first camping trip little more than a year earlier. Now we were clinging to the side of a canyon wall in Iceland with no ropes, no rappelling gear and no safety net. A canyon so inaccessible that if we fell there was no chance of rescue and quite likely our bodies would not be found for years. No one on the planet knew where we were and there was no way to call for help. We were truly alone with nature. I again used my right foot to kick the canyon wall in an attempt to make the next toehold. As my kick landed against the cliff wall, a 4- foot by 4-foot section of the wall fell away beneath me. Most of my toehold for my left foot was suddenly gone. My right foot dangled in midair. Both handholds were intact. I watched as a bowling ball size rock bounced off of a small ledge below. It bounced out into the canyon far enough that it appeared it would land in the river. Distances are deceptively greater in situations like this. I watched the rock all the way to the bottom as it smashed against a large boulder more than fifty feet from the edge of the water. I studied the wall carefully before attempting to again make the toehold. This time it held. Several minutes passed as we slowly made our way across the cliff face. I checked the distance to firmer ground ahead. Then pushed my upper body out slightly so that I could turn my head to look behind me. I looked past my wife to judge the distance we had covered in this section. Our trail of foot and toeholds was easy to see across the canyon wall. I estimated that we were about half way across that section. We would be on firmer ground in another forty-five minutes or so. I was in the process of turning back around when our eyes met. Those windows to the soul, which can relay messages and emotion with such efficiency that words, simply fail to compare. Earlier in the day, her eyes had portrayed excitement and adventure. Now they were welled to the point that I felt a tear might drop at any moment. The excitement I had witnessed earlier in the day had been replaced by fear. Up until that moment, I had been oblivious to the fact that she wasn’t enjoying our little adventure at all. I have to admit that it was somewhat frightening, but I knew everything would be fine. She did not. She was following behind me on blind faith. In the 20+ years since then I have paid much more attention to those beautiful blue eyes. From across a crowded room they have said, “lets get out of here”. On a sandy beach, they informed me that my eyes better not lower from hers. I was to not even glance at that bikini walking past. Those eyes spoke to my heart on many occasions. I remember watching her fingers glide softly along an iceberg as we floated past in a rubber boat. I looked up to find her eyes were filled with child like wonder. Together we watched the sunlight provide dancing rainbows inside the ice. In the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but ice, we sat, shivering in our parkas sipping Champaign with friends at an oddly placed picnic table. We talked and laughed and toasted, and in her eyes I saw only girlish delight. Walking among huge boulders on a black sand beach in Oregon, her eyes portrayed complete contentment. She was in her element, when I felt out of place. When we dined on food normally reserved for those of a higher station in life, food with names that I couldn’t pronounce. Her eyes told me what would taste good and what wouldn’t. When we looked into each other’s eyes, high above the city surrounded by suits, ties and fancy dresses, her eyes comforted me. Over the years those eyes have spoken to me in many ways. They conveyed to me when she was happy, sad, angry, disgusted or hurt.

Now my wife was looking at me through tearfully hopeful eyes, asking will you do it? I looked at the doctor across the room and then back at my wife. This decision didn’t have to be made at this moment. A month would make a difference, a week might make a difference, but a day wouldn’t. I honestly felt that a stem-cell transplant was not going to help me, but those eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes that had taught me so much about life. Those eyes were pleading with me. I simply smiled and said “yes”.

There was no turning back now. I was committed. The plan was that I would enter the hospital in about a week. I would receive chemo 24 hours a day for 4 days through a central line, which would be placed in my neck. I would also be taking several different types of chemotherapy pills for 5-7 days. I would then remain in the hospital for another week while my blood counts dropped, bottomed out and then began to recover. They would then swap the central line out with a larger line, which would enable them to harvest stem cells from me. Then I was to return home and rest for a couple of weeks before returning for the transplant. When I returned for the transplant I would be given high doses of chemotherapy and then the stem cells that they had collected on the previous trip would be given back to me. I learned that the transplant wasn’t the cure for the cancer. The dose of chemotherapy that I would take when I came in for the transplant was actually a lethal dose. By giving me the stem cells at just the right time in the treatment it would allow me to survive the “lethal dose” of chemotherapy. After I received my stem cells back, I would again remain in the hospital while my blood counts bottomed out and then began to recover. Then I had a 50/50 chance of going home to a more normal life.

That was the plan, but reality was a little bit different. I had been taking an alternative treatment that I had found on the Internet. It was a mixture that I drank twice a day. Recently I had begun to have stomach pain. The pain continued to get worse, so I quit taking the treatment. My stomach pain was manageable as long as I ate at regular intervals. About a week before I was to go into the hospital I was having a rather long day. I finished up work just in time to head into Missouri for a meeting where I was expected. No time for dinner, it would have to wait until after the meeting. About 10:00 P.M. my stomach pain was severe and the meeting was still going on. I wasn’t able to really concentrate as the others spoke. I found myself asking people to repeat them selves when I realized that they were asking me a question. This is the worst that the pain had been thus far. Finally the meeting ended and I quickly made my way to my truck and began the thirty-minute drive home. Once home, I washed down a couple of pain pills with large amounts of milk and began eating. The pain was back under control within a couple of hours and I was able to get some sleep. The day that I was to go into the hospital I was also scheduled for a PET scan and a CT scan. This meant no food or water after midnight the night before the scans. The day of the scans was finally at hand. I packed my suitcase, kissed my wife goodbye and headed for Little Rock. It was late morning when I arrived at the hospital. The stomach pain was back but manageable. I completed the first scan and then had a 2 and a half hour wait for the next one. By the time I finished the next scan the stomach pain was debilitating. The scan had taken longer than expected and I was now late for the appointment with my oncologist, so there was no time to eat. I made my way across the hospital to his office. I think when the staff looked at me they knew something was wrong. They quickly brought me into an exam room and the doctor was there within minutes. I told him about the pain and he handed me some pictures from a test that had been done earlier. The pain was too distracting for me to really look at the pictures. He sent me down to another part of the hospital and told me that he had made arrangements for them to give me something to help with the pain. I went where I was instructed. After a 30-minute wait, my name was called. I followed the nurse into a room full of recliners surrounding a center counter with computers and nurses. There was an IV pole next to each recliner. I recognized this as a chemotherapy room immediately and knew which recliner was mine. It was the only recliner without a body in it. This was much larger than the chemo room back home, and much more busy. The nurse worked quickly and had a needle in the vein of my arm within seconds. She told me this was a large dose of morphine and asked if I had taken morphine before. I said “no”. She said that if she gave me the entire dose I would be asleep for a while and suggested that I take only 1/3 of the dose. I agreed. She slowly injected the miracle juice into my arm and I felt my face flush and warm, then relief. Instant relief. She had me set there for a few minutes while she monitored my vitals.

I looked at the other patients setting around the room. This had become an all too familiar scene for me over the last year and some months. I had developed categories to fit each type of patient. First there were the discounted. I called them that because they always exaggerated their discomfort level and one never really knew which category they belonged in so they were discounted altogether. These were the hypochondriacs who were lucky/unlucky enough to have a serious disease. They craved and fed on attention. They would need pillows behind them and under them and around them. They would need blankets and more blankets. They would often sit and gag and spit up throughout their treatment. Simply put, they were annoying and disgusting not only to the staff, but also to the other patients, visitors and even their own family members. They really put a downer on the whole chemo experience. That may sound odd, but often times the chemo experience could be quite rewarding. The chemo experience was visiting and bonding with others in a similar circumstance. You shared in each other’s highs and lows. It sometimes felt as though you were all on the same sports team, trying to accomplish the same goal. When things went well and one of your teammates finished their treatments and was not expected to return. You were happy for them, but at the same time, a little sad. They wouldn’t be in your little group anymore. The next category were the freaked out. These were usually but not always newly diagnosed. Nothing could be said to them or done for them to provide any level of comfort. They perceived their situation to be somehow different and worse than everyone else’s. They often times graduated into the discounted category. I fell into the next category as most cancer patients did. They may or may not have been bald and they appeared fairly healthy. They read or talked to each other or family members while receiving their chemo. One might notice an occasional twitch or spasm. Nothing more. The next category was the unhealthy but alive. They were thin and hairless, but their eyes were open and still held life in them. They joined in the conversations or read. They were sometimes on oxygen and often might have other health issues. Then there were the half-dead. Their wheel chairs sat next to the recliner they were in, or sometimes they received their chemo in their chair. Some of them had additional problems such as diabetes. One such woman was skeleton thin except for her legs, which were swollen beyond any point that they might be useful for anything except holding up a blanket. Her arms were so thin that one could easily discern the two distinct bones running lengthwise in her forearms. No blood veins were visible. She was receiving her chemo through a port in her chest. It would have been impossible to find a vein large enough to get a needle into it. Her skin was wrinkled and sagged on her arms, neck and face. I wandered about her age. She looked like she must have been over 100 years old, but in truth she was probably less than half of that. Her head hung down and to one side. A caregiver wiped drool from her mouth. She rarely looked up and when she did, she didn’t make eye contact with anyone or anything. Her head would swing in a wave like motion and it was clear that her neck muscles were too weak to control her head movements properly. Her eyes were grayed with no spark left within. Those eyes did not speak to me, but her face told an endless tale of agony and misery and suffering. I wondered why she continued with treatment. Wouldn’t a seat at the feet of Jesus be better? I wanted desperately to get up and ask everyone to gather around her and then ask her if she was saved. If she answered “no”, we would pray for her to be healed to give her more time to come around. If she answered “yes”, we would pray that Jesus take her away to a better place. I wanted to, and I should have, but we do not live in that world. I rationalized there must have been some reason for her to hang on like she was doing. Who was I to interfere? I continued scanning around the room to what I thought of as one of the rolling dead. They were all the same. They received their chemo in a wheelchair or in a bed. Their heads hung straight down in front of them and they never looked up. Their eyes were closed. Those windows to the soul were forever cutoff from this world and would relay nothing more. They were often hooked up to an oxygen machine. They sometimes had a belt around their chest to keep them from falling or sliding out of the wheelchair. A caregiver might lift them up every once in a while as their limp body slumped ever lower. The wheelchair footrests would be pushed as close together as possible and I wondered if their legs weren’t sometimes tied to the wheel chair to keep them from sliding out. They rarely moved. When these people died there would be no outwardly visible sign. I wondered how long it would take someone to notice when they did pass on. These people did not appear to be able to communicate with anyone. No one talks to the rolling dead. They talk at them in a patronizing high-pitched tone normally reserved for very young children. What right does anyone have to subject these people to this type of living hell? The rolling dead do not live. They simply exist. If anyone there was truly compassionate, they would have rescued them from their rolling hellish prison with a lethal dose of morphine.

The morphine nurse came to tell me that my vitals were ok and I could leave any time I wanted. She told me the rest of the dose of morphine would be there for 4 more hours if I needed it. After that it would be discarded. She asked how long it would be before I was admitted into the hospital. I told her that I didn’t know. The oncologist’s nurse would call me when a room was available. I walked to the cafeteria feeling like I was in la-la land. I ate and remember little else. I was still setting in the cafeteria when my mind started to return to the real world and the intense pain that existed there. I sat there contemplating whether or not to get the rest of the dose of morphine. I didn’t really want to go back to la-la land but the pain was bad. I had survived worse pain before though. I was getting soft, I thought to myself. I tried to distract my mind by counting floor tiles, ceiling tiles and what ever else was around. My cell phone rang. It was the morphine nurse telling me it had been 4 hours. She had to throw out the morphine unless I wanted another dose. I didn’t know how long it would be before a room was ready for me and I quickly rationalized myself back into the temptresses chair. This time after entering la-la land I went out to the parking garage where I had parked. I had started smoking at an early age and had continued the habit into my thirties. I had quit for six years, but had been smoking again now for about 2 years. The doctors had told me that smoking had nothing to do with my cancer, but that I still needed to quit. My plan was to quit when I was admitted into the hospital. I lit one up and smoked guilt free for the next couple of hours in la-la land.

The next time my cell phone rang, it was with news from the oncologist’ nurse that my hospital room was ready. I grabbed my suitcase and headed up to the seventh floor. I was greeted by a very nice nurse who showed me to my room, then left me there telling me to make myself comfortable. I had been in a hospital for a few hours once before. That room was much different from this room. This room was nicer and larger than a lot of hotel rooms. The nurse soon returned with a computer on wheels and started asking me questions. One of the questions she asked was “have you fallen in the last 3 months?” I tried to remember and thought to myself; it was winter, it had been icy. I think I recalled tripping over a branch and falling when I was deer hunting. I told the nurse that I couldn’t recall specifically, but I was sure that I had fallen in the last 3 months. This was a big mistake. I was branded as a “fall risk” for the remainder of my stay. A nurse had to come and walk with me before I was allowed to leave my room by myself. “Fall Risk” was written on a placard outside my door and on a wristband that I had to wear. This brand continued to haunt me through every stay that I had at this hospital. The computer couldn’t remember what I was allergic to or what foods I didn’t eat, but it remembered that I was a “fall risk”.

The morphine had worn off and the stomach pain was back to its normal, tolerable dull roar when I awoke the next day. A doctor came in and we looked at the pictures my oncologist had given me the day before. They were pictures of my esophagus, stomach and part of my intestines. They revealed that my alternative treatment had burned my intestinal tract in several places and had actually burned a hole in my stomach. This is what was causing my stomach pain. He prescribed some medication that would help this heal. He told me that it would not completely heal until after I was finished with all of the chemo that I was about to take. I was fitted with a central line and hooked up to chemo. I began taking dozens of pills everyday. Most were chemo, 2 were for my stomach and I honestly don’t know what all the others were for. I would ask about each pill, and if it sounded like something I didn’t need, I wouldn’t take it. This action was mainly reserved for the stool softeners that they insisted I needed. I knew otherwise. The four days of chemo passed by as I got to know the staff. Once the IV chemo was completed, they started giving me a shot twice a day in my stomach. It was a growth hormone, which would force my body to produce stem cells, which would then be harvested. Everything was progressing well and was pretty much what I had expected except that I hadn’t quit smoking. I wasn’t smoking much, but a few times a day, I would slip on my black “cowboy boots” and head for the great outdoors to get my nicotine fix. The nurses had pity on me and brought me some hospital pants to wear with my hospital gown. They said it wouldn’t look as funny with my boots. I didn’t really care about that. I was however grateful for the small amount of privacy the pants provided my caboose. Occasionally I would go a day without smoking, but this was rare.

Four or five days into my stay I developed a small amount of pain in my spine. An hour later and the pain had increased dramatically. I tried “walking it out” to no avail. The next time the nurse came in I told her what I was experiencing. She informed me that it was caused by the growth hormone, which caused the bone marrow to work over time. She said some people had no pain and others had severe pain. I was in the latter group, as I would soon find out. She brought me some pain pills and then a doctor came to see me. He asked if the pills were working. I told him “not yet, but I didn’t think they had time to work yet”. He said he could give me something stronger if I needed and encouraged me to take him up on his offer. I thought back to my experiences with la-la land and declined his offer. Thirty minutes later I was regretting that decision. One hour later I was requesting my good doctor friend personally escort into la-la land as quickly as possible. My pastor came to see me at that time. We talked as I squirmed in agony. The pain was constant, but more intense pain pulsed in waves in perfect rhythm with my heartbeat. Frequently a wave of pain would hit me with such intensity that I would experience an uncontrollable gasp as it took my breath away. I had been cut, scraped, punched, kicked, burned and had broken bones and most recently experienced fairly intense stomach pain. Nothing I had ever experienced compared to this. The nurse finally arrived with some morphine and told us both that it would knock me out. My pastor said he would stay until I was out, then he would leave. She squeezed the morphine into my central line and I felt slight warmth across my face. Nothing more. The pain was still there as intense as ever. She returned in a few minutes with more morphine. My pastor again said he would stay until I was out, then he would leave. She injected the morphine, faster this time I noticed. I felt warmth on my face and the pain lessened slightly. This time the miracle juice barely took the edge off. My pastor and I continued to talk and soon I was squirming again. The nurse came in to check on me. She must have known that I would be in pain, because she had made arrangements for a stronger pain medication and had it with her. She said I would be out immediately once it was injected. The pastor and I did our, by now, familiar goodbye ritual again. He talked to me, she injected me and we all looked at each other. All of us were waiting for my conscious switch to be flipped. It didn’t happen, but I did enter la-la land this time and the pain was almost completely gone. The pastor and I talked for a bit more then prayed together. He could see when my eyes were finally getting heavy. He stood up to say goodbye. I never saw him leave the room. I was out. The next couple of days were a blurry haze of semi-consciousness and deep sleep. I vaguely remember nurses asking me if I needed more pain medication. I don’t remember answering them, but am sure that I did. I only remember getting up to go to the restroom once during those two days. I know I went more, but don’t remember it. One of the nurses brought my plastic urinal and hung it on my bed at some point. I came out of a deep sleep and into a drunken slumber long enough to get it back into the restroom. I had to hold myself up with my arms. My legs worked very poorly or not at all for a short time. I remember trying to figure out how to get the urinal back in the restroom since I required my arms to help me walk. I thought it made perfect sense at the time to bite down on the lip of the urinal and that way carry it back where it belonged in my mouth. Thankfully before that could happen, I realized that I could simply toss it instead. It hit the doorframe, but after a round of drunken urinal soccer, it ended up somewhere in the restroom.

During one of my semi-conscious moments I rolled over onto my stomach. This simple action apparently prevented me from getting my next dose of miracle juice on time. I was able to become aware to the point that I could feel the pain again. This time when the nurse asked if I needed more pain medication, I was able to tell him yes but less than before. I made sure to be on my stomach covering my central line when I went out that time. The next time I was asked, I declined the miracle juice. The pain was still there, but not nearly as intense. I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to lie there. That is probably just what I would have done if it had not been for an over whelming urge to feed my nicotine addiction. I grabbed my coffin nails, slipped on my boots and stood up. My vision went black and I was instantly dizzy. I steadied myself and waited for it to pass. I stood there for a moment taking in what I was feeling. My spine felt empty, like a hollow tree. It felt like it might simply snap into at any moment. I hadn’t known that it was even possible to feel pain from inside a bone until this experience. I had broken bones before, but didn’t remember the bone actually hurting. I recalled more pain from the damaged flesh around the broken bone. Not the bone itself and certainly not inside the bone. I took a small step. My legs were a little shaky but I was able to walk. I waved at the nurses gathered around their station as I passed by. They welcomed me back to the real world. I thought I saw something in their eyes telling me that the worst was over for this stay. I could have imagined it, but it turned out to be true any way as the rest of this stay was uneventful. The nurses had referred to me as a walkie-talkie before my little bout with the bone pain. This is what they called patients who could walk and speak, as most of the patients in this wing were not so fortunate. I stumbled to the parking garage and lit up. I breathed the smoke deeply into my lungs and exhaled slowly thinking how glad I was to be a walkie-talkie again.