Today, March 30th, is my one year anniversary. One year ago was my surgery, when I weighed 414 lbs. Today, a year later, I weigh 234. In thinking of that, and everything that has happened in this year, this was the result…
Wait upon the Lord.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – we all hear that. We say that. We tell others that.
And inwardly (sometimes outwardly, to be honest), we roll our eyes. “Yeah, right. Wait. Lovely. That’ll help. Thanks.”
(I’m pretty much talking directly to myself here – any resemblance to individual attitudes or situations is… well… you know.)
So, allow me to reflect on God’s timetable, and how it’s been implemented in my life this past year. After all, I only can see where I’ve been.
God’s timetable can sometimes only be seen in reverse, by the way. At least, it seems that way to me. Going forward, seeing it in real time? We don’t seem to be able to connect the dots in the middle of it all. But looking back? The pieces fit into the puzzle beautifully.
So, here’s some of the journey. Look at this and tell me that it’s a coincidence…
I’ve been through two medical fasts, regained the weight I lost, applied for surgery twice and been denied both times. I was laid off from a job I truly loved, at a place I’d been for almost 20 years, been adrift looking for purpose for a few years, and really felt broken, depressed and forgotten. This brought me to…
January 2009 – I started at Weigh to Wellness weighing 480 lbs. My doctor recommended them – I had no idea who they were. Through their amazing care and guidance, I went through a third medical fast and lost 50 lbs, down to 430. But then, without trying all that hard, I not only kept the 50 off, but lost another 10 lbs. This led to…
December 2009 – Dr Turke at WtW suggested that I reconsider surgery, pointing out that my body seems to settle at a new weight, rather than immediately trying to gain again.
For the record, if my body tends to settle at a new weight, how did I regain all the weight I lost? I was down to 366, and went back to 480. How did that happen? After the layoff, I went semi-quietly insane for a few months and the food addiction took center stage. Every addictive behavior surfaced, old habits took over, and there we went.
Dr. Turke also mentioned that the surgery is so much more than just a smaller stomach – the changes are deep and have an impact on many, many things. Oh, and the surgeon she’s established a working relationship with just happens to be the surgeon I had talked to the first time I applied for surgery, Dr. Paul Kemmeter, who Vicki and I liked very much.
Dear ones, sometimes as we wait on the Lord, He is waiting for us. He lays the path in front of us and says, “Child, will you trust Me? Will you place one foot on this path? Will you say yes? You can’t see beyond this point, but I can. Will you trust Me to not only guide you, but to prepare the path before you?” I consider, we pray, I say “yes.”
January 2010 – I apply for insurance coverage for bariatric surgery. We go through the various tests and screenings, get all the proper documents and stuff filed to the proper people, talk to Dr. Kemmeter and decide that the surgery he originally recommended is the one that we’ll pursue. Then we settle in to wait…
In the meantime, God gives not only a sense of peace but anticipation. Instead of “the last resort,” He begins to prepare me for the joyful journey to come, to see this not as the end but the beginning.
Middle of March 2010 – Approval can take up to eight weeks but we hear back after two. “We’re calling to schedule Cal’s surgery.” “Oh – the approval came through?” “Yes, it did.” “Great – so when is the surgery?” “In two weeks.”
Like that, we began the countdown to surgery. God had laid the groundwork so that when the call came, everything was already in place.
March 30, 2010 – Surgery day, and I’m down to 414 lbs, having been focusing on my eating for the previous two weeks. All goes exactly as we had been praying, the procedure completed, everything was fine. When I awake from sleep, God speaks these words into me:
My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…
April 2010 – My surgery was on Tuesday. The following Sunday, Easter, I was at church, rejoicing with my brothers and sisters. In a wheelchair, moving slowly, taking in nothing but liquids, and smiling the whole time. I get up and walk every three or four hours. No more diabetic meds since the hospital, and the pain meds are taking away the arthritis pain as well. Walking is good – very good.
Six weeks later, we ask what we should be doing for arthritis pain, since I’d been using the meds from the hospital. Dr. Kemmeter replies, “take your arthritis meds – that’s why we did this particular procedure.”
I take my pill. And for the first time, the medicine takes care of the pain. Doesn’t just mute it or dull it, but knocks it out. My chains are gone…
Pain-free legs lead us to…
May 2010 – TerraTrike releases a new model, the Rover, their first trike with a weight capacity over 300 lbs – this one handles 400 lbs. I rode the prototype, grinned my face off, and Vicki says OK to a pre-order. That gives me time to get under the 400 lb weight limit, although I’m already slightly under it.
June 2010 – We had heard of delays in Rover deliveries and expected that mine would arrive in late July. Then we get the call mid-month, “Cal’s Rover is here!”
Yee haw! Rover arrives just in time to become my main replacement for overeating. Being out on the trike helps my body, clears my mind, and heals my spirit. In fact, as I wrote this on Tuesday, 3/29/11, I’ve already ridden three miles to work (at 4:45 this morning, in 20 degree temps), two miles to the coffee shop where I’m sipping and writing, and I’ll ride two more back to work and another three home. Yeah, I’m a trike rider.
Also this month, I used the wheelchair for the last time at Festival 2010. It came home, went in the basement shortly thereafter, and there it sits.
The weight continues to drop…
July 2010 – I’ve realized how important writing is and how I need to be journaling a lot. It helps me clear the chaos and also raise the stones to help me remember just how far God has brought me. When darkness and confusion threaten, the stones remind me that God is there, He has been faithful, and He WILL be faithful.
August 2010 – We’re having the best summer ever – riding, moving, breathing, living. I’m getting a little restless, and feeling a little guilty that I don’t bring any income in to help keep us afloat. Vicki points out that learning my new life IS my job – other things will follow when it’s time. In the meantime, God provides, keeping our noses just above water. My chains continue to fall – diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis pain – God is rebuilding me.
September 2010 – Fall riding is amazing!!
November 2010 – sleep studies, to check the level of my CPAP machine. I’ve been taking off the mask or sleeping without it, and although I know I shouldn’t do that, sometimes I just roll over and don’t feel like putting the mask on.
Episode rate (how many times per hour I stop breathing): Originally 106, now down to 30.
Pressure level: Originally 14, now down to 7.
(the machine starts at 5, btw…)
Significant change, eh wot? Then these words…
“Now that is when you sleep on your back. The next line is when you sleep on your side.”
Episode rate: Zero.
“We train you to sleep on your side, you don’t need the CPAP.”
If you heard a loud CLUNK during the month of November last year, it was my jaw hitting the floor. Never, in my wildest dreams or imagination, did I ever think I’d no longer need the CPAP.
December 2010 – We take our first long trip away since surgery, to Missouri for Christmas. Firsts for that trip:
No CPAP, special pillows, or air bed to keep me in an elevated position.
Only gear needed for sleeping: one queen air mattress, basic pillows. Vicki and I shared a mattress for the first time in many, many years. On the floor, no elevated bed, and I got up and down under my own power.
No wheelchair. Did some walking and shopping in Branson, all on my own two feet.
No worry about breaking a chair, fitting in the shower or breaking a toilet seat in someone’s house. (These are all common concerns of the obese… And yes, they have all happened to me.)
January 2011 – Although the physical changes have been wonderful, the mental changes have been very challenging, overwhelming at times. I take a month off from everything – playing, worship team, etc. to just sit, think, and write. To get off the roller coaster and let the dust settle.
And God shows me the path I’ve walked – the one that He prepared for me to walk. He shows me some of the reasons for all the grace He has showered on me. He reconnects me to worship, softening a heart that had grown closed and cold. He heals and restores my mind, giving some clarity in the chaos. Just at the right time, I take my first Tai Chi class, beginning to develop balance and strength in my new body.
I run errands. I shop for groceries. I do things that Vicki would have to do on top of her full-time work. She comes home and doesn’t dread asking me, “so how was your day?” The answer now is (usually), “great! I did this, took care of that, etc. etc. etc…” She sometimes has trouble keeping up with me.
That makes me smile.
February 2011 – After a month of thinking and healing, God prepares the next piece of the puzzle, putting things in place to bring about some emotional and mental stability, just at the time when I’d be able to accept it for another good gift.
I sat on a panel with Dr. Kemmeter and Cathy, the surgical coordinator discussing treatment of obese patients. Me? Having enough confidence to do that? All by myself without Vicki driving me there and holding my hand all the way? Impossible.
But, I did it.
March 2011 – With these things in place, He begins to add things to my life – work with Sozo Media Group, playing at WCSG’s Father-Daughter banquet and actually standing up to play, being able to get things done at home and do things FOR Vicki, instead of her having to wait on me.
And, most recently, my Rover has been sold to a dear friend, to encourage him in his journey. I have a new trike, a TerraTrike Cruiser which I call Big Blue, sitting outside here. Big Blue is faster, lighter, and has a 300 pound weight capacity. I no longer need the capacity of the Rover, and am well under the weight limit of the Cruiser. In fact, I now fit on every trike that TerraTrike makes. Never thought that would happen.
All this, and now my one year anniversary. 414 pounds to 234 in one year. Both physically AND mentally, I’m in a totally new and wonderful place.
Now, dear reader, tell me that this was just a string of lucky happenings. Tell me that it all fits together, just at the right time in the right order, as a happy accident.
I won’t believe you, but feel free to tell me anyway.
We know that “God works all things together for good to those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, which can either be a great comfort, or a bat to hit someone over the head with.) Can you see that, when the working together is going on? Can you see it in real time? Maybe a glimpse or two, but to see all things working together? Not me. I can’t see past my nose sometimes.
But knowing that this is true, that He IS working all things, present tense. To see where He has worked, to see the things He has drawn together at the perfect time, and in the perfect order, where some would see random chance. Then to see Him drawing them together right here, right now, it gives us the reminder that He is working, weaving all together in the right time, the right order, in the right places with the right people.
His work is nearly impossible to see in the moment, in the darkness, which is why we MUST remember, we must raise the stones and use those testimonies to God’s work to keep our eyes fixed on Him when the circumstances and events keep us buried in shadows. We must tell each other what He IS doing, right here, right now.
Dear ones around us are struggling, wandering in dark places, staggering under crushing weight, and to hear the truth of how He moves, how He works, how He loves right here and right now? That can ease the burden, shift the weight, shine a light into the darkness, and relieve the pain, even just for a moment. To give hope in a hard place.
Wait on the Lord. We don’t need to see His timetable – we just need to see Him. Wait on the Lord.