judging

So there I was again, sat in the hospital waiting area ahead of an appointment. From my vantage point (and over the top of a cup of coffee) I could see one of the designated smoking areas.

It does feel somewhat incongruous that a hospital would set aside an area for people to smoke… But better than it happening all over the site I guess.

Anyway, as I watched I saw one chap in a hospital gown (thankfully he had trousers on) who was accompanied by two police officers. My first thought was to wonder what crime he’d committed. But then I realised that was jumping to conclusions: he could have been a victim, or a witness, or even a fellow police officer. Why did I jump to the conclusion I did?

It made me realise afresh how easy it is to pre-judge people. And that’s etymologically and philosophically where prejudice has its root.

Please God help me not to judge other people and jump to conclusions about them.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

not from here

There’s an ancient story of a businessman who got lost in the country lanes of North Devon. His supersatnav in his car was no help. Eventually he came across a farmer leaning on a gate and he stopped his luxury car in front of the farmer and pushed the button to lower the window.

“Excuse me, please can you tell me the way to Exeter?” asked the businessman.

The farmer thought for a long time and then said, “If I were g’win to Exeter I wouldn’ start from ‘ere.”

I was reminded of that story this week as I began a formal process of cardiac rehab. I had an introduction interview and was wondering whether I was so far out of shape that the physio would tell me we couldn’t start from where I was.

Instead, however, she was incredibly encouraging and positive. She has seen enough cardiac surgery victims shuffle into the process to be confident of positive outcomes and significant improvement through the course. And she gave me that reassuring sense of confidence too. She asked me my goals. When I told her what they were she told me that they were achievable.

In life we can only start from where we are. We might hope to be in a different place physically, emotionally, spiritually or geographically but we have to start where we are.

I find it helps immensely to remind myself that God always starts with me where I am (even if I am in the wrong place). He might want new / different for me but he always starts where I am and gently encourages me forwards.

He does that through good, wise friends, through engaging with my own thought processes, through what I read in the Bible, through surprising circumstances and sometimes through complete strangers.

And with that encouragement and a confidence-raising awareness that millions of people in history have trusted him we step forward together.

Be blessed, be a blessing

it makes no sense

Many of you will be thinking that this title could apply to almost anything I post online. But I want to offer it as a different way of looking at things.

There’s a passage in the Bible that says:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These are some of the final words in Paul’s letter the the new Christians in Philippi. They follow the instruction to pray in all circumstances. It’s important not to lose sight of that fact so we’ll turn over the corner of the page here to remind us.

So… back to the passage. What does ‘transcends all human understanding’ mean? For a long time I have thought of it in terms of cognitive ability. In other words the peace is so profound and complex that human beings will never comprehend it.

A second way if looking at it would be to say that the peace is above or beyond human investigations because it’s of God.

But reflecting on my recent experiences has led me to another way of looking at the passage. What if it means, in effect, ‘peace that makes no sense in the circumstances’? Before the internet heresy hunters start lobbing virtual rocks in my direction let me try to explain.

Before, during and after all of my surgical and medical experiences I had an all-pervading sense of peace about everything. Even when I was told that my heart had to be restarted with a shock I felt great peace. The source of the peace was an absolute confidence that God was in control. Whatever happened hecwas with me. I don’t think it’s insignificant either that many people were praying for me.

But in some if the circumstances I experienced the natural human experience would be anxiety, alarm, stress, or upset. It made no sense at all in the circumstances to feel the peace that I did.

It’s important to remember where I turned over the page earlier. Remember I was talking about the context for this passage being in the context of praying in all circumstances? It’s not a scientific formula that adds up the number and variety of prayers to produce the peace.

Prayer is a fundamental part of our relationship with God. The more we involve him in many different aspects of our lives the closer we’ll be to him, the more confident we’ll be in him and the easier it is for us to experience the peace that makes no sense in the circumstances when we experience tough times.

That’s been my experience anyway.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Oh yes… you might be wondering how things are going.

Hi folks. Sorry to have neglected you… this convalescing lark is quite busy. Yes I could have multitasked while doing something else. But I didn’t. No reasons. No excuses. Sorry.

For anyone interested in how I’m doing after the surgery the short answer is that I am making slow and gentle progress. Each day I try to keep mobile and in particular go for a walk outside. Each day I try to extend the distance slightly and aim to get home feeling slightly out of breath but not breathless.

I’ve managed to get out and about. Church on Easter Sunday morning is really special and I was determined to be there. Made it! I’ve also made it to my local Magic Club. I usually feel pretty tired afterwards but it’s good to be doing ‘normal’ things outside the house.

I’m now on a cardiac rehab programme (starts beginning of May) and hope to have a timetable for a phased return to work soon. I’m not rushing back but am keen to have some targets.

I knew this phase would be frustratingly slow. But it’s important to be patient as my body heals. As always I really appreciate all of the messages of support and encouragement and all of your prayers.

Be blessed, be a blessing

progress

Hello my bloggist chums. I’ve had a really positive week as I continue my convalescence following my heart ops. I had an appointment at the Cardiothoracic Centre this week and assumed it was a follow up after my additional unscheduled stay in hospital.

I had a chest x-ray and then was called in for a conversation with one of the surgical team. It felt like everything he had to tell me was good news.

My chest x-ray was completely normal. No problems at all. Yay.

They had reviewed an echo cardiogram that was taken while I was in hospital last time and that had shown that everything was going well. More than that, however, it revealed that my heart, which had been experiencing atrial fibrillation (beating out of sync), was now beating normally again and I would be able to stop the blood thinning tablets after 3 months! Woop.

He told us that the wounds had all healed properly and that I could return to a slightly more normal care regime (not needing clean pyjamas every day). Smile.

He said that he would recommend reducing the pain relief as everything was going well. Slightly scary but progress nonetheless.

Then he stunned us by saying that because of all the progress he was discharging me from the care of the surgical team! In other words, as far as they’re concerned their job with me is finished. I’ll be picked up by a cardiologist and the rehab team but as far as the CTC is concerned I’m well enough. That was so surprising that it took a while to sink in. However. Wooooooooohoooooooooo!

Thank you again for every encouraging thought, card, prayer, word and visit. I feel immensely privileged and grateful to have had so much support and I’m sure it’s contributed to my progress. There’s still a long road ahead. The rehab process is going to be tough. Losing the painkillers is painful. I’m still waiting to be told about when I can resume driving (should know next week at a pacemaker check) which will make a massive difference. I’m going to continue to pace myself but wanted to share the great news with you because you’ve been such a blessing to me.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Hospital etiquette

(This was the view from the ward window earlier in the week)

Etiquette is a bizarre thing. Nobody really knows who makes the rules of etiquette but somehow lots of people get upset if they are flouted. And even if you don’t know the rules you can still be culpable for breaches.

So maybe you can help. What’s the etiquette for telling people you’ve been in hospital? Just a quick visit to Accident and Emergency may not warrant much of a mention. But what if it becomes a longer stay? What length of stay needs mentioning, and at what point has it become embarrassing and too late to mention?

Some of the more astute among you will have realised that there’s more behind the questions than theory.

At the end of last week I had some intense sweating and (short story) ended up with my GP recommending that I go to A and E for some more tests. Those tests raised enough co cerns for me to be readmitted to the Cardiothoracic Centre. I’ve been there since (ahem) the weekend with a chest infection that they have been pleased to deal with using antibiotics.

At several times during my stay I have thought that I ought to let people know… but there have been some false dawns for hoped for returns home and other uncertainties that seemed to make it less appropriate to share news at that stage… and then time moves on…

So if anyone is miffed that I haven’t shared this sooner I do apologise. It didn’t feel that big a deal at first and once I realised it was a bit of a deal I felt a little embarrassed to say anything.

The good news is that everything seems to be returning to normal and I am hopeful that I’ll be coming home very shortly. To those who’ve been supporting and praying for me (and in the dark about this) thank you again. It does make a difference.

And if anyone can tell me what the rules are for informing people you are attending / been admitted / are remaining in hospital I’d love to know!

Be blessed, be a blessing.