Category Archives: Suffering

A Medical Year to Remember

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The last year has been an interesting one for me on the medical front.   While this is getting somewhat personal, there really isn’t anything I feel needs to be kept to myself on it.   And there’s a couple reasons I’m sharing, from just thinking that my experience may help others figure out some other options in their health care to a spiritual component, keeping all things in perspective.   Kind of the theory that there are no true coincidences – everything has a purpose.

Around October 2015, I started feeling tired all the time.   Nothing specific, just didn’t feel right.   I decided to schedule a hair mineral analysis test and then do a consult with a Doctor who specializes in that area.   My consult, though, wasn’t until the end of March 2016.   OK, whatever.   I can deal.

It was Christmas 2015.   Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favorite day of the year.   I love absolutely everything about it.   I love what it means from my Catholic perspective – the birth of the Savior of the World, the humility in how He came to us, the joy that accompanied His arrival…  everything.   I also love all of our celebratory traditions.   I am not a person opposed to the gifts, the treats, the decorations, the lights, the music…   oh, the MUSIC!    I find it all enjoyable, awesome, and in no way detracting from the real meaning of Christmas.   Yes, people can go overboard and lose focus, but that is an issue with the person, not the thing.

So, it’s Christmas morning and…   I’m in pain.    And I know the pain.   Kidney stone.   I’ve had them a few times and have become intimately familiar with the drill.

OK, so in the past I’ve gone to the E.R., but now I know what to do.    Get ahead of the pain with pain meds.   Except this time I have an accompanying symptom.   My bladder feels so full I swear it is going to explode, except that I have continually emptied it.   This did not alleviate, and it was a tossup as to what was more uncomfortable – the pain associated with the stone itself or the unceasing feeling of a bladder that has no more room at the Inn.

This whole thing concerned me to the point where, once again, it was off to the E.R.    You need to understand here that I am cheap (I personally believe it should be lovingly referred to as prudently frugal).   A trip to the E.R. costs money, which now also causes psychological distress.   But it is what it is, and I needed to find out what was going on.

So, while the kids were celebrating their new presents I was in the hospital, as was my wife who was there to pretend she wanted to be there with me on this most celebrated day of our Lord.

OK, fast forwarding a bit, the docs were concerned about the bladder symptom as well and I had a CT scan.   The good news was that my bladder was in no danger of exploding, the bad news was that this was apparently my body’s current reaction to having the stone near it.   Yay.   In other words, suck it up and deal with it because there’s really nothing to be done, and there are no drugs that really take away the sensation of needing to urinate.

Oh, and by the way, it looks like you have some fat in your liver.   Eat less fat.

And so it was.   And I passed the stone that night, and life went on.

I had my hair mineral analysis.    And then my consult in late March as scheduled.    My analysis showed some interesting things.   Most of my readings were either low, or at the low end of normal range.    A few things didn’t show up at all.   I began a general protocol addressing my HMA results, along with the general knowledge of the Kidney Sotne issues, my propensity towards headaches, my general fatigue issues, and general GI/stomach issues.

Around that time, I had pain in my lower abs area.  OK, yes, near the groin if you must know.    I also had a bulge in the area previously unknown to me.   I’m thinking possible tumor or a hernia.   So I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for late April.

The night before my doctor’s appointment, I passed another kidney stone.   I didn’t go to the E.R. this time – I got ahead of the pain with the leftover meds I have.   Man, those things suck.

Doctor’s appointment – good news…  no hernia or tumor.   Looks like a fatty tissue deposit that I don’t really need to worry about, and the pain is likely a groin muscle strain.

Oh, but we need to talk…   the CT scan you had…  the diagnosis is SEVERE fatty liver.

Um…  what?   They just said I have some fatty liver and to eat a little better.

No, it’s severe.   Which is a bit odd, since all liver function tests are normal.   So, I want to run some more detailed tests to see what’s going on that aren’t as typical.   Oh, and by the way, back in 1996 when you had knee surgery your orthopedic surgeon ran a blood test that showed borderline underperforming thyroid function,.    I have no idea why an orthopedic surgeon would have run that, but since he did let’s do that too and see what’s going on there.

I won’t go into how I pass out with blood tests.

Fast forward to results:   (1) My thyroid is wonky.   Hypothyroidal.  (2) Copper is low.   Weird.   Alpha-1 % and Alpha-2 % are both low.   Weird again.   Outside of my doc’s expertise – see a GI doc.   Oh, and suddenly my blood pressure is really high.

GI doc – normal overall liver function, nothing to see from physical exam.   Probably nothing, but let’s run a couple other tests to rule everything out and be done with it all.   And, oh by the way, anyone reading a CT scan and trying to proclaim liver conditions as anything specific and assigning severity is guessing.   You can only do that from a biopsy, which we’re not going to do.   So don’t lose too much sleep over it.  And, oh, you need to pee into this bucket for the next 24 hours.

Fast forward to further tests:   Wilson’s disease, no.   But you actually do have low antitrypsin.   Interesting.   We need to do a genetic panel.

Final answers: (1) Thyroid is likely contributing to fatigue issues – I am not doing medication yet.   Talked the doc into giving me a few months.   Working with the hair mineral analysis doc on ways to address that, including putting iodine tincture on every day.  (2) I have a genetic condition that I won’t even try to describe in medical terminology.   Basically, I only produce 60% of normal antitrypsin levels.  Antitrypsin is produced in the liver.   I also produce a defective protein that is not recognized by the liver.   This might be difficult for the liver to eliminate, and could produce scarring and liver damage.    Antitrypsin also is what protects the lungs from all sorts of things.   A deficiency could lead to lung problems, including emphysema.   The good news is that 60% production should be enough for a normal and healthy life as long as I minimize my exposure to things that can cause lung issues.   No smoking for me…    I also may be more susceptible to prolonged cough symptoms that accompany colds and flu and may have more difficulty recovering, so I need to do my best to stay healthy in the first place and avoid as much of those circumstances as I can.  (3) High blood pressure is not quite where they’d recommend medication (I wouldn’t go on it anyway) but I need to monitor.   Buy a band.

Since then, I have no passed any more kidney stones.    I have a follow-up thyroid function blood test in November.   I have been on varying protocols with the HMA doc as new information has emerged from all these tests.

Here’s what is interesting to me.   There is almost no way under normal circumstances that I would have ever looked into or otherwise discovered that I have this genetic condition.   But now that I know I have it, I can eat certain foods and take certain supplements and do certain things that will really help me live a healthy life with this condition.   This all came about because of bladder sensation while passing a kidney stone, combined with thinking I had a hernia that I didn’t have.   Also, had my orthopedic surgeon 20 years ago not done a TSH test, I likely would not have pressed for one, and I probably didn’t give my doctor enough general information that would have led him to believe I needed one.   But now I know I have that issue and can deal with it.

I guess you never know what to expect, but I feel that this all came about in such a unique way that there was some guiding hand out there that decided it was time for me to get healthy and deal with these somewhat hidden issues.   As uncomfortable as it was, as much as I didn’t want to spend Christmas Day curled up in pain, and as much as it cost me I am nonetheless thankful to be where I am at.

I am a believer in both conventional medicine and alternative medicine.   I want to find a way to cure or help my body first through natural remedies, but also think there is a time where you accept the blessings of modern medicine as well.    I have followed the advice of the HMA doc and been doing some interesting things.    I feel better overall, my recent Hair Mineral Analysis shows improved mineral readings, and I think this is the first major step to getting back to where I need to be.   I’m drinking a juiced lemon every day that I can and taking a number of supplements.   I am using tanning beds to get natural Vitamin D and avoiding D supplements.    I have learned that the Vit D/Vit A/Vit K needs to be in balance, and it is likely mine was not.   I need to produce D naturally and I need A to remove excess D, and I need K to deposit my Calcium where it is supposed to go, and not in my Kidneys or arteries.    I am supplementing with copper to get that level up.   Exercise and sleep are very important – I am trying to do better with both, but old habits die hard.    Interestingly, my blood pressure is now back to normal levels.

I am also having my amalgam fillings removed.   I know this is a point of debate, and to be honest I am not certain how convinced I am that it is necessary.   But I’ve decided that if I do it, then any question about it is gone and I don’t have to worry about it.

I am willing to try just about anything that makes some kind of potential sense to me.

So, to finalize my thoughts on this, why did I blog about this today?   Well, first, from the standpoint of faith and trust, i am not saying there is no such thing as coincidence, but I think we tend to overstate what might be coincidence because – for whatever reason – it is difficult for us to believe that God is directly intervening in our life to bring something about.   What I think is interesting about this aspect of God in our lives is that seldom does He just give us a direct answer via a dream or something.   It’s not like He sent me a note, saying “Get your antitrypsin levels checked.   And your thyroid.   K, thx…   God.”    He finds a way to bring it about that may not even be all that pleasant, but nonetheless gets us where we need to be.   It’s almost like His price tag to giving us this information is an opportunity for us to join in Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.   Even on Christmas!

The other thing that is interesting to me is the timing.   I have been referring to Charlie Johnston and what he says is coming.   I don’t want to overdo it with that, but it’s worth keeping in mind.   If he is right, then the timing and the timeline needed to get all this straight for me is difficult for me to write off as entirely coincidental.   It could be that the time has come to prepare myself for the times ahead and be ready physically for whatever it is my family and others will need me for.

In any case, interesting times for me, and for all of us.

 

 

 

 

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Choosing between “#%*!@&#!” or “Thank You Jesus, for loving me this much”. Or Maybe a Little of Both…

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So, Saturday was wood-splitting say. I had successfully cut down a few dead trees and chopped them up to approximately 16″ lengths over the preceding couple weeks, and it was time to split the whole she-bang. The young boys begrudgingly put on their work clothes and assisted me with the task that was sure to be seen as encroaching on Lego and Star Wars time. Pity.

All was not lost in the family work. Splitting wood does have its appeal. After all, a year ago I invested in a very nice wood-spitter. The hydraulic kind that runs on gasoline, not the kind that gets swung over the head. While it may take decades to get the monetary payback out of it that would justify the purchase in pure dollar terms, it has nonetheless almost certainly saved a few trips to the chiropractor, and possible purchases of other wood that would have been necessary due to my own limited time and admitted laziness. The boys can appreciate a good hydraulic mauling of a log as well as anyone, and so I keep them engaged by allowing them a turn at the lever that controls the splitter.

The dangers of heavy equipment are never to be taken lightly, and so I overdo the message about keeping hands away from moving parts of things that could crush the fingers – or worse. They do quite well. But it only takes once, so vigilance is needed.

Anyway, we ahd a couple very large logs to split, and these were perfect candidates for vertical splitting. Under this scenario, one raises the splitter to vertical, secures it, and then moves the log to an upright position. You do this by rolling it in place so you don’t kill your back lifting it. And so we did all this with joy and success.

After the conclusion of this task, it was time to move the splitter back to the horizontal position. This is a quite heavy element, and moving it back to horizontal requires some strength and effort. When I first pulled on the handle, the entire base moved a bit. To secure it, I placed my hand on the steel beam under the hydraulic component and gave a good pull to move the top part down. Of course, as the balance shifted, it went from being difficult to move to difficult to stop. There are two metal brackets that stick out of the top unit that are used to secure it to the steel beam. Silly me, I managed to forget to move my hand, which just happened to be right where those brackets come down.

A moment of struggle wot push it back up followed, and I was finally able to remove my hand.

“#%*!@&#!” <== Due to being surrounded by young, impressionable boys, I thankfully internalized any foul language that I really felt like using.

Now, a couple thoughts here:
1) Thank God for heavy-duty work gloves. I do think I may have one or two less fingers at the moment without them, or at least one or two less usable one. Though, the greatest damage was to the top of my hand.
2) Thank God for Guardian Angels, who I will give credit for putting it in my mind to be smart and wear those gloves. Though, it can be noted that an inspiring thought of "um, move your hand, you idiot" would have been appreciated, I will still be thankful for what I did receive.
3) When really heavy things fall on your hand, it hurts. A lot.

So, I need to provide a bit of background on my immediately next thought after "#%*!@&#!"

An internet friend/acquaintance (he used to be an actuary who frequented a forum for actuaries I use) and I used to talk about religion and the Catholic faith quite a bit. He was a convert who loved the Church and eventually became a Priest. During that transition time he shared with me a little tidbit on our little sufferings in life that I never really forgot, and have tried to implent as an expression of gratitude for being able to join my little sufferings with Christ's redemptive work on the cross. He once mentioned that he had the habit of reciting a very simple and short prayer whenever one of life's stubbed toes or pinched fingers or anything else reared its ugly head. That prayer is simply "Thank you, Jesus, for loving me this much." This was not his idea, but was given to him by another friend. He loved the idea, and so did I. The idea, of course, is to try to take that painful moment and immediately think of what Jesus went through, and instead of being angry about the pain, be thankful for it. Sounds odd, but if you can get yourself in the mindset, it's a nice way to deal with those sufferings and offer it up for something or someone.

So, I admit that this particular time I had a little bit of a delayed response… this was no mere stubbed toe. This was something where I was afraid to take the glove off and see what I'd find. But, I did finally manage to compose myself and utter that prayer. One interesting way I was reminded to do so was that my entire left arm had a pain shoot up to the top and then felt very weak for a couple minutes. I was reminded of reading a study the crucifixion and about how the nails through the wrists would have been immeasurably painful due to the nerves that would drive the pain all the way up the arms. My pain was not nearly that bad, but it was a reminder for me of the pain that Christ must have suffered.

The hand looked pretty bad. It swelled up to twice its size and I needed to take a break, but I determined that I could continue my work, and so I did until I was finished. I was further comforted by our neighbor – an ER doc. Her son was at our house for the morning and when she stopped to pick him up she checked the hand out. Thanks be to God it seemed like I missed all the worst things that could happen. Probably nothing broken by the pain tests she gave me, and the tendons on the fingers seemed to be strong, suggesting no issues there. Basically, ice it and it will hurt for a while, but I'll be OK with no lasting damage.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me this much.

Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective – Part 5

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Continuing the path throught the Catechism as it relates to prophecy, I thought I’d pull out this passage:

269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the “Mighty One of Jacob”, the “LORD of hosts”, the “strong and mighty” one. If God is almighty “in heaven and on earth”, it is because he made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: “It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?

274 “Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God’s almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe – even if they be great and marvelous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature.”

If you are a person of faith, this isn’t anything new. But how often do we really subject our own thinking to this reality? In the face of miracles, we tend to be very skeptical. This isn’t in itself a bad thing – the Church herself is skeptical. But the nature of skepticism needs to be grounded in a question of discernment rather than doubt in God’s ability to work such a miracle. We should be open to things to the extent that we have an acceptance of God’s ultimate Power over everything. If He wants to intervene, even to the point of suspending physical realities as we know them, He can do it. Believing this doesn’t mean we automatically believe every word we read in private revelation. It does, however, mean that we don’t dismiss this things because they are too fantastic in one way or another to believe – as if it could never possibly happen.

This is an important thing to remember even as we read public revelation. Do we accept that God sent the plagues to Egypt? Do we accept that He can just as well send chastisements our way? And do we believe that He can and will transmit messages to people of His choosing in one way or another? We are not bound to believe private revelation. But we need to be careful of our reasons for dismissing it, as well.

272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Many of the prophecies we see and hear about have something to do with chastisements. These involve suffering. There is no guarantee that good and holy people will not suffer, as well. Often times we see such prophecies put in terms of “God’s wrath” or “vengeance.” These are human terms to try and put meaning to God’s actions. But God is a Spirit. He does not react to things with an emotional response. There is a reason – and a perfect one at that – as to why He does what He does. This suffering purifies the individual as well as the community. It is an administration of perfect Justice. It is also, often, His Mercy in action because the suffering will bring multitudes back to Him, who otherwise would have been lost.

The fact that such hardship is unpleasant, and seemingly unfair for certain individuals, should not shake our faith. We should, in our mind, understand that this suffering can be a testament of our faith and lead others to Christ. We can prayerfully join our sufferings to Christ. We can offer it up for other good. Even if our hearts want to wail out, first and foremost we simply cannot let our sufferings weaken our faith.

293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: “The world was made for the glory of God.”

294 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become “all in all”, thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.”

When the human race universally turns away from its Creator and gives glory to self, it usurps the entire purpose of the reason for Creation. Therefore, God has a couple choices: (1) let things go and allow His Creation to be a mockery of Him, (2) intervene to shake things up so that once again Creation glorifies Him, while being patient and allowing more people to turn to Him, or (3) end things.

301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end.

So, God simply wouldn’t let the first choice occur. Which means He chooses to chastise us for our own good. It has happened throughout history. And at some point, He will end it.

We do know from Scripture that the end will come some day. We don’t know when, but it will. From private revelation, there seems to be an indication that we will yet go through at least one more major chastisement before the final end times period. We’ll get to that someday. But all these items from the Catechism just help to clarify the reasons why these things must occur.

302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it

Believe it or not, we are being guided towards an ultimate perfection. And this is why, when things seem to be godless and out of control, something is coming. Again, I am not to know when or how, except that God has blessed us with some mystics and seers that the Church has recognized. But in the end, we’ll all get a clue:

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth.

I’m looking forward to that…

A Discussion on God and Chastisement (A Precursor to “Crossing the Moral Rubicon”)

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Originally posted on http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com on May 21, 2008.

This post will be religious and theological (and hopefully thought-provoking). I warn those of you who visit this blog for the stats on global warming that I am apt to change subjects (particularly on the data analysis that I do each month) in any number of directions. This is one of those directions. You should know that I have no qualms about embracing science and also being a man of faith. I find no contradiction. I will be discussing this a bit more in a subsequent post. For now, I just wanted to give the heads up that we will be moving into the heavy and controversial topic of God’s judgments and chastisements on our world, and how people of faith may look at this from different points of view, and what my view on the subject is.

 

Whenever one gets into a discussion about religion in general, it can be an experience of emotion and controversy. When you introduce people with decidedly different understandings of the nature of God, these little debates can flare up considerably. Add in atheists and agnostics, many of whom have strongly formed opinions, and otherwise mature adults can ignite a firestorm of ill feelings and insults. Still, the amount of controversy also depends on the topic at hand, and how religion and/or morality (not always one and the same thing) tie into that topic. Clearly, few people would get overly emotional by a position against murdering someone, whether that view be based on an understanding of Scripture, Church teaching, Ra the sun-god, or a secular view of morality and ethics. Certain topics are so reasonable that there is little debate. It is one reason why these obviously sinful acts don’t get time at the pulpit. Most people would sit there and think, “Why’s the good Pastor going on about murder being wrong? Everyone knows that!”

 

Of course, not everyone’s definition of murder will apply equally in all cases. Some equate capital punishment to murder. Some may equate self-defense or acts of war with murder. Some will argue that abortion is not murder, and that euthanasia cannot be considered murder because of the aspect of “compassion” involved in the act. Some will say that suicide is a right, and would not consider “self-murder” in any way analogous to a traditional idea of murder. So, even on the obvious subjects, the positions can stray to points of controversy.

 

The reason I point this out is because, while there are particular hot-button issues that really rile people up (abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, consideration of feeding tubes as extraordinary medical care, etc.) there is a broader topic that sort of underlies all these things that will evoke ridicule and criticism, even from otherwise devout and faith-filled Christians. That topic is the very judgment of God in a temporal fashion on this very earth for which these sins are committed.

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