Who Needs an Appendix, Anyway?

Quick summary of events: after a week of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, our 7-year old son Taylor had surgery at 3 a.m. last Thursday to remove his ruptured appendix. I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow account, but the whole experience was fairly traumatic. He came home after four full days in the hospital and is well on his way to recovery. A few random thoughts in the wake of a rough week:

1. The human body is incredibly designed. It tells you when things are broken, although it sometimes takes a while to figure out the exact message. I know God has a purpose for the appendix. Maybe someday in eternity, we’ll find out what it is. 

2. It’s very hard to watch your child in pain when you don’t know what’s causing it.

3. When their children are threatened or in pain (see number 2), Mama Bears will do what is necessary to protect their children. I’m very thankful for a wife who cares more about her kids than herself.

4. There’s a big difference in how you feel when you don’t know what’s causing a physical problem and how you feel when you figure out the reason. Before, your mind runs wild and you contemplate all sorts of avenues for action without really know what the best course is. After, you can focus on a specific plan. You know the problem and you know the solution – you just have to make it happen.

5. A corollary to number 4: there’s a big difference in the way men and women process events like this. While I see my son in pain, I’m focused on how to fix it. Once the problem is solved, I’m good. While my wife also wants to fix it, she has a more difficult time because her baby is hurting. Once the problem is solved, she can’t just turn off the emotional distress. 

6. After multiple viewings of A Dolphin’s Tale 2 in the hospital room, I feel well-qualified to make this statement: Harry Connick Jr. is a much better singer than he is an actor.

7. I’m impressed with my son’s independence, stubbornness and resolve. The nurse would tell him how to move to keep from hurting himself, and we would try to help him. He’d hold his hand up and say he wanted to do it himself, and he would. These are qualities that will serve him well in life, and I’m glad he’s developing them now.

8. The body of Christ is a beautiful thing when it moves into action. Hundreds of people prayed for our son. Dozens asked about him, called, texted, stopped by the hospital. Our church family brought meals (FYI – food is always welcome when you’re stuck in a hospital), friends sent gifts to cheer Taylor up and his class all chipped in to buy him a big Lego set. When a friend is having a hard time, they do want to hear from you. They may not be able to respond right away, but it helps to know you care.

By the way, Facebook is a fantastic tool for times like this. As Taylor went into surgery in the middle of the night, I posted a status asking for prayer. Several people immediately commented, and hundreds more followed over the next few days as they tracked his progress. 

9. There were many moments over the last week and a half that we held our son while he cried, his face a mask of unrelenting pain. In those minutes, we would have done anything to trade places with him and ease his agony. God the Father faced just such a moment with his Son more than 2,000 years ago, and he did what is unthinkable to any parent: he turned his face away. The pain and heartache the Father and Son felt was real, but it had a purpose – to bring sinful man back to holy God. That kind of sacrifice demands our soul, our life, our all.

10. The truest sign your child is recovering from a major illness: the sassiness returns.

11. The best kind of laughter is when you want to laugh at something you find hilarious, but your stomach really hurts when you laugh, so you hold your belly and try to keep the laughter inside, but you can’t fight the grin working its way out and your mouth curls up and and your body shakes and your eyes light up and you’re just so happy to be happy. That’s what I saw in my son in the days after surgery, and I loved every second of it.

12. We got the initial call with bad news, but good news followed soon after. Four days in the hospital seemed like forever, but we’re home now and it’s mostly over. Many people don’t get good news. They live with chronic illnesses in their children or they lose their children forever. My heart goes out to them, and I want to remember them because their hurt doesn’t stop. The outpouring of support we received was incredible, but it was for a short time. They need that same kind of support every week

13. Taylor is pretty much back to his normal self now, although his scrawny body still needs to recover some weight. For a while, his happy grin was far away, and the night was dark. We knew morning would come, but it was hard to see when or where. Into that darkness, we said, “O Lord, be gracious to us, we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble.” (Is. 33:2). He heard our prayer. Joy comes in the morning, and so did Taylor’s smile.