A couple posts ago, I said, “Louise and I think that stress and anxiety are contributing to the slow-healing of my voice, and we’re doing what we can to keep me relaxed and focused on accomplishing necessary things only.”
I wanted that to be true when I wrote it. But the fact is, Louise and I were not able to do enough to keep me relaxed and focused on accomplishing necessary thing only. The voice didn’t get better and this combined with other factors to produce some heavy duty anxiety over the course of several weeks. This anxiety reached it’s height when I saw an Indian doctor, visiting the International Hospital of Kampala from Dubai--he looked down my throat with a dental mirror and told me there’s an “area of swelling” and recommended that I come back the following week for surgery--they’d put me under and go into my throat through my mouth and take a “piece of the swelling for a biopsy.” All I heard was “blah blah blah TUMOR, blah blah blah, CANCER.”
The days between the doctor visit and the surgery were very difficult--fear, apprehension, and anxiety often overcame faith and trust and hope. The procedure went very quickly, and within an hour I was being walked to the recovery room where I literally bumped into the two Ugandan doctors who were assisting the Indian doctor--they were all smiles--“Have you seen the doctor yet? We’ll let him tell you the news.” I was pretty happy to see them happy, and went to my bed. Louise came in a few minutes later and told me, “There was nothing to cut! They went in and found nothing!” I was as happy as I’ve been in a long time. Not only did I not have cancer, I didn’t have to wait a week for test results to come back and tell me that. The doctor came and told me he’d been afraid that he’d find something “sinister,” but was very relieved to get in and see only swelling that should reduce with rest, and my voice would come back.
With rest. I tried to get rest--tried to stay away from the office and only attend two practice sessions a week. I didn’t see how I could stay totally away from basketball--we were in the middle of the playoff hunt--every game a must-win game if we were to have a post-season and a chance at a championship. I’d try to go to practice and just talk to captains and let them run the drills, but I couldn’t keep myself from correcting and advising where needed.
Meanwhile, the time away from basketball and work wasn’t easy either. Chest pains, pain in my left arm and shoulder--things that had nagged on-and-off for weeks, began to be on more than they were off. It was difficult for me to just trust God for health and get on with life with Louise and Lily, let alone get on with social and work life on campus.
My voice wasn’t improving, my anxiety was growing. Louise was feeling the pressure of helping keep me together, as well as keep Lily alive and keep a handle on all the other things she juggles. Three different doctors in two months had told me to take three weeks off--total voice rest. I hadn’t done it. Again, we were sitting down to a big discussion about how I can get time off, and again we were agreeing that it’s so hard to get that kind of extended time off in Uganda. Louise’s phone rang--a friend from Ireland--Louise went outside to talk. Within 30 minutes she came back in and said, “They’re offering to fly us home for a month.”
I won’t drag you through ensuing conversations. We’re now in Bangor, N. Ireland. I was able to coach the first of our last three must-win games (we had to win that one by 11 points and won by 23), but I missed the second one (the guys won by 5) and the third one is this Friday night. I shuffled a few things with the Creative Writing class I’m teaching for Uganda Studies Program students, and arranged to take care of some assignments over email. Louise postponed the monthly Bible study she hosts until the end November. We’re in Bangor.
Sabbath. The last few weeks before we left Uganda, several friends--in encouraging me to get real rest--used the word Sabbath. That’s what we’ve been getting. We’re seeing very few people. My main responsibility is to light the fire in the fireplace in the morning, and keep it going all day--I wash the occasional dish and play with Lily and give her the occasional bath. Louise is still with Lily a lot and taking care of the house (we’ve been staying in a house left for us by the owner, who’s out of town for a month and graciously let us move right in), but she’s doing it all at home, with the occasional visit with friends who are thrilled to see her and catch up on things. In addition to rest, I’ve been seeing a fantastic counselor, name Dick--a retired Church of Ireland (Anglican) priest and a counselor by trade, who also spent 15 years of his early life as a missionary lecturer at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda--what is currently UCU! Truly amazing. So, besides being a very gifted therapist, he literally knows where I’m coming from in so many ways. God’s used Dick to teach me many valuable things the last two weeks. These sessions, along with some intense and valuable prayer sessions with the same people who paid to bring us to Ireland, have helped to make this a restful, but productive Sabbath.
Most notably, my voice is back. It’s probably only about 80%, but it feels like 100%. It was at about 70% within 6 days of being in Ireland--one prayer session and one session with Dick--Dick says the voice and the self are very closely connected, that I started to give my self the proper attention and my voice improved as a result. I’m a believer.
We still have 7 days of Sabbath before we fly back to Uganda. We trust that we’ll continue to reap the full benefit of these remaining days and be ready to head back to Uganda to with the necessary energy to work and live and enjoy the healthy life everyone is supposed to enjoy.