My ER visit in the desert

My ER visit in the desert

Last week, Cyndi and I got away to the desert for a few days of sun and golf. On Tuesday morning, I got up to take a walk. I realized that the right side of my face was sagging, my right eye could not blink, and I could not spit. (I know, gross…)  

I came back, woke Cyndi up, and said, “You need to take me to the E.R. I might be having a stroke.” Not a pleasant way to awaken!  

When I walked in and shared my symptoms with the person at the desk, I was descended upon by perhaps 10 people. IV, CT, MRI…very fast, very thorough. Obviously, taking it all quite seriously.  

The great news is, my MRI was “clean,” according to my doc. My brain is fine…no bleed, no aneurysm, no “calcification.” Wonderful to have such a healthy baseline.  

Which leaves Bell’s Palsy. (By the way, the giveaway that it is Bell’s is the unblinking eye, apparently.) The recovery time for Bell’s Palsy varies, I’m told; some folks get better in just a few weeks, while others might take a few months or longer. Most people with Bell’s Palsy recover completely within three to six months, but it’s simply not possible to say for sure what my own recovery will be like or how long it will take. No matter what, I plan to do everything I can to treat it. So, I’m on steroids, antivirals, and some eye drops to protect my cornea. In addition to a weepy eye, my slight facial paralysis (like getting a Novocain shot) makes eating—and watching me eat—quite the spectator sport. I’m using a straw and learning to shovel my food in at a certain angle.  

My speech is slightly impaired at this point, especially words that start with “F” and “P.” But most seem to understand what I’m saying.  

Then, there’s the angle to my lips that gives me a slightly Quasimodo look. I can’t laugh and smile like normal and lack my patented “smile squint” because, well, my right eye won’t squint.  

Funnily, when I returned to our condo and read my Bible In One Year passage for the morning, it was titled, “My Eyes Were Opened.” (God has an interesting sense of humor.)  

I’m fine…and I’m very grateful. I’m still figuring out how to navigate these modest obstacles—nothing compared to what so many of you have and are dealing with—and I remain hopeful that God’s healing work will continue. For which, I’d covet your prayers. Being able to speak without drooling would be helpful in my line of work.  

I had intended to preach tomorrow, but I’m not quite up to it. I’m grateful that my brother and faithful colleague, Pastor Ellis, has prepared a message to share with you as we continue our journey through Luke’s Gospel. In fact, I want to give a shout-out to the entire pastoral team and the rest of the staff for their support, prayers, and for stepping up to make sure nothing gets dropped. I’ve said it before and I’ll emphasize it now…we have a deep bench, full of humble and dedicated servants. You are in good hands! 

Above all, may I remind you that we, all of us, are in God’s hands. None of this catches him by surprise. And, as good Presbyterians, we dare to believe that even that which unsettles us can be used, providentially, for the Lord’s good purposes. I completely believe that. Completely. I want you to, as well.  

Well, that’s it. One more exciting health adventure from your Senior Pastor! I’d appreciate your continued prayers…and want to call out my dear Cyndi who is as good (and relentless) a caregiver as one could ever hope to be given.  

Blessings to you all, my Sweetheart Church. See you soon! 

Pastor Mark