Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brain surgery, take two!

Ok, here’s the good news! (and the story behind it)
My view from my room in St Vincents Hospital

I had radiation therapy in October to get rid of the last of the tumour (or at least arrest it’s renewed growth). That went perfect. I went to the Radiologist last Wednesday (Jan 21) for a three month check-up. He asked all the usual questions. All good. Then he said, “Anything else to report?” I told him there was a little leakage from the wound over the past month. He had a look and was truly surprised. “That’s not good, Dave. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s clear. Could be CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid) and that is not good.” Leaking CSF can cause meningitis… often a death sentence. He wrote an Email to the Surgeon right then and asked me to watch. He was very serious. I love Mike Daly. Google him, you will too!
The next day was my first day back at school as Chaplain at Sunbury Downs College. At about 10AM I received a call from Jane, my Neurosurgeon’s Personal Assistant. “Dave, I have an email here from Mike. Not good! I need you to have a CT Scan tomorrow and come in to see Paul (Neurosurgeon) next Tuesday when he is back in the office." So, I did.
Dr Smith was befuddled. “Never seen anything like it, Dave. Two years after the surgery the wound opens and leaks? I saw the wound a year ago and it was perfect! First time I’ve even heard of such a thing!” I said, “Well, I do love to be first! Maybe you can write a paper about it and be famous!” He laughed and then sent me to get an MRI.
Then straight into hospital. I mean right then. MRI 45 mins after my neurosurgeon saw the wound. Admitted that afternoon. That was yesterday.
Yesterday’s MRI revealed no leak.
Neither did the CT Scan from last Friday.
But the fluid and hole in the scar were very evident.
They slotted me in for surgery today. They said they would open the scar, find the leak with a microscope, seal the leak, patch the wound with muscle and tissue from my leg and close up the wound. If necessary, they would move jaw muscles to assist in strengthening the area. An ENT came in yesterday afternoon and walked me through the possibilities of major reconstruction if they needed invade the aural canal. Jin, the assisting Neurosurgeon came in last night and ran me through the possibilities – Including death. Such is surgery when you are going fully under for awhile.
At 11:50AM they drove my bed (It’s a Rolls-Royce convertible! Remote control seat—back and feet, drop down rails on all four sides, powered-adjustable height suspension, built in TV [when parked in my room] and… It has wheels!) to the surgery ward. I met the anaesthesiologist, Andrew. He was really nice guy but was a vicious wrist squeezer (mine not his). Then there was the nurse who was prepping me. I wish I could remember his name! He was cracking me up. I hadn’t had any meds yet, he was just very funny. He turned the three tone beep of one machine into a song. He said it was a hymn to make me feel at home.
They wheeled my Rolls into the surgery room. The previous time I was completely out by the time I reached this room. Interestingly, I recognised the lights on the ceiling. Two huge spotlights on long arms. I told the doctors and they said, “This was the same room you were in last time.” In the days after my brain surgery (two years ago) I had memories of a moment in the surgery room. I had wondered if those memories were invented, or true somehow. I must have had a sentient moment!
They pushed my Rolls (sideways drive, even!) against the operating table and helped me change to a new bed. The two Neurosurgeons checked my head/neck mobility and allowed me to stay on my back and turn my head sideways for the surgery. SO MUCH BETTER than last time when they put me on my side for the nine hour surgery. I had a bone-bruised hip for weeks afterward – couldn’t walk for two days!
Once I was on the operating table, they put an oxygen mask on and started the drip. Bye Bye, Davy!
Soon, I heard my name (well the Australian version which sounds like ‘Dye-vud’) off in the distance. I was back in my Rolls! And new people were looking in through the open roof. They wanted Dye-vud to open his eyes. They really wanted that. The kept calling him. Finally I decided to help. He couldn’t be that far away with them all looking for him in my Rolls.
Compared to last time, coming too was soooo much better. No vomiting. No chipmunk voice (I had a speech therapist on call last time and the warning that my voice may never be the way it was before the surgery) from the breathing tube. I’m only a little hoarse this time (like a Shetland vs a Clydesdale). I’m still speaking in bass range. No teasing from my three teenagers! Sorry guys.
Once I was able to help the nurses with their chronic disorientation (they are always asking for their current location and the present date–maybe calendar and map skills should be in their training…”OK Google”) I flexed my leg muscles to see if I could feel where the doctors took muscle and tissue from. I could not. I lifted my sheet and saw a new tattoo on my leg. It was a cross. I smiled, “Funny-man nurse strikes again!” Then I realised what the tattoo meant. They had prepped a spot for removal of flesh and then not taken any. I asked why. They said, “It was quick and easy. All good. A doctor will come and explain everything once you’re back in your room.”  
After I helped a nurse with the time – 4:30PM – I asked how long the surgery had been. “Just about an hour. We’ve been having a tough time waking you up.” Perhaps if they had an American on staff to yell “DAY-VID” I may have come down the dark alleyway toward the voice with the suspiciously friendly tone. In all seriousness, they had to give me an extra dose of wakey wakey juice. And then it still took some time. Oh, well, it’s all the same to me – I got my Rolls back.  
Back in my room, I got to see my lovely wife again. She is my strength and the most beautiful thing in my life! She is so supportive and compassionate. She watched me nap. She rubbed my feet. She kissed my cheek. She went down two elevators to the vending machine in the basement carpark and bought me Iced Coffee. Love that lady!
A few hours later, Jin the Neurosurgeon, came in and explained things:
He told me it was not CSF and there is no leak.
He said, there was dead tissue between my skull and the scar. The tissue had been breaking down into fluid and looking for way out. So, it made a way through the scar. The dead tissue-become-fluid was most likely tissue killed by the radiation in October, slowly desolving.* They removed all the dead tissue, moved a bit of muscle in my head to strengthen the wound and sewed me up. They sent a sample of the fluid to the lab to have it analysed. And so, when the lab results come back in, they will tell me all about it.
He said my leg was still intact because they didn’t need to use it.
For now, the news is, I no longer have fluid behind the wound, I have a renewed scar and Endone every three hours. Can we say, “Ahhhh, Endone!”
Oh, and a random staple in my forehead… forgot to ask about that. (Funny-man nurse again?)

Thanks for your prayers, Peeps. You rock my world!


*The primary Neurosurgeon Paul Smith saw me on Saturday and explained the fluid was actually dissolving bone from the reconstructed area. He said they removed all foreign matter (titanium plates, bone concrete) and replaced it with muscle tissue from my neck. They concluded that my body was rejecting the foreign substances. So, now, it's only me in my head!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sabbath School Starter — 2015 Q1 L4

The Beginning of Wisdom 

From Dave's Sabbath School Resource page
Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers' houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.    -- Jewish Teaching Story
To explore this idea more fully, read “A Story Like Jesus” on my blog.
Two Types of Travellers
Read Proverbs 1:20, 8:1-4, 9:1-6
Where is she shouting from? Whose attention is Wisdom trying to get?
What kind of woman is she? What has she been doing? What is she preparing for?
Who is likely to be drawn to her calls?
Who is likely to resist? Why?

Read Proverbs 9:13-18
Where is she shouting from? Whose attention is Folly trying to get?
What kind of woman is she? What has she been doing? What is she preparing for?
Who is likely to be drawn to her calls?
Who is likely to resist? Why?

The battle for the mind is a territorial war over common ground—a walk through town—not the high places or the deep places. Both Wisdom and Folly approach the common person in everyday life, hoping to unsettle their step on the gentle rise and fall of daily terrain. It is the little steps—the small choices of attention, focus and interest—that lead toward the embrace of one or the other, Folly or Wisdom. The mind is formed first in infancy through baby steps, then in toddler tumbling and finally in practice, practice, practice. The big successes and mistakes are really not so big at all but simply the destinations reached by consistent trudging in one direction day after day.

Read Proverbs 8:17 and 36
What is the result of loving Wisdom? What does this look like in real life?
What is the result of hating Wisdom? What does this look like in real life?

Reflect on the Jewish teaching story from the top of this discussion guide.
“Truth wrapped in story (parable) is loved and embraced by common people.”
How did the teaching style and content of Jesus illustrate this?
How does the idea of “Truth wrapped in Story” help you approach the book of Proverbs?
How does it give you pause at each pithy parable and short story that pass so quickly in this book of Wisdom?

Three Worldviews

In the past 50 year or so, the western world has been shifting worldviews from Modern to the Post-Modern. As the Modern (Industrial/Scientific) Worldview developed and strengthened from the 1700’s until the mid-1900’s its adherents learned that truth was provable. The Scientific Method was born and—as much as we twist, turn, squish and squirm—in most areas of life, you and I understand the world (think/believe) using this worldview. In the Modern worldview, truth is provable. The Scientific Method tells us, when we receive new information, to create a theory, test it, retest it forming proof, show our proof (and entire working process) to others in order to demonstrate that what we are teaching is TRUTH because it is verifiable and reproducible.

The Post-Modern worldview is so named because, largely, it is a reaction to the excesses of the Modern worldview. Science as truth led to some amazing discoveries (vaccines, air travel, global communication) but it also deposited a post-apocalyptic wasteland in its wake because PROOF=TRUTH needs no conscience or compassion. Right is right. Right? Not for Post-Moderns. Your right may be provable and reproducible but it may be very wrong indeed. While it is easy to demonstrate what the Post-Modern mindset stands against, it is difficult to articulate it as a worldview that stands on its own. For the Post-Modern: Truth, to be believed, must be experienced.

The Proverbs were written to a world and within a worldview completely different than anything around today. To understand the Bible and Proverbs particularly (due to their direct, truncated format) it is immeasurably helpful to understand the world and worldview of that day. There are many books available on this topic. Have a look at last week’s study guide for a quick intro. In a nutshell the Ancient Biblical Worldview was that all reality (truth included) is brought forth from God and then God commissions His creation to bring forth more of its kind. I call it the God-begat Worldview.

God begat Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22) then God begat Creation (Genesis 1:1). Creation (earth/ground) begat flora (Genesis 1:11,2:9) and Fauna (Genesis 1:24, 2:19); Mankind was brought forth from the ground (Genesis 2:7); Adam and Eve begat children; They begat children until Abraham begat Jacob (Israel); And, in time, Israel begat the Messiah—Jesus the only begotten Son of God. See how it works?

Humanity, created by God in the Image of God, has the special task to begat children not just physically but spiritually—shaping them in the image of God. That’s why the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is important—as we explored last week. Likewise, Proverbs teaches us, our nature continues forming after we leave our place of nurture. Lady Wisdom calls us from her well-built house and invites us to enter in. God is proposing a life-long relationship with us. “I commissioned your parents to begat you, then to shape you as you went in and out of their house. Now I want you to join with me so that my Glory might be made complete in you.”

Yeah, it can be a bit weird thinking about God as a Lover. He doesn’t shy away from it, though. He created us. He knows how we think. And He wants us close. Close enough to keep us away from Folly—she’s calling as well.  

So, that’s the God-begat Worldview. It’s a bit science and a bit love-story. It’s almost Modern or Post-Modern… but, it’s not. To avoid altering our worldview, we go through the Bible squeezing, chopping, sanitizing, fluffing and cherry-picking verses to suit us. Imagine if we stopped forcing God to fit into our worldview and invited Him to fit us into His. It’s not easy to change worldviews. It requires letting go. And holding on. If we resist the temptation to make God in our image, He will be able to continue making us in His.

The Beginning of Wisdom

Read Proverbs 9:9-12
These are Wisdom’s final words. What touches you most deeply? Why?
Verse 9 & 10 are set between Wisdom and Folly, portrayed as two women. If we succumb to her calls, what will we begat with each woman? How are these two verses the key to choosing the right woman?

Proverbs chapter 9 is the conclusion of the Wisdom letters. The rest of the book of Proverbs is filled with the short pithy sayings we typically think of when we talk about Proverbs. We have set a foundation—a worldview—for Wisdom. Wisdoms teaching is only truly useful, the short one-liners are only truly meaningful and accurate, if we build them on the understanding that “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.” Then it will all make sense.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sabbath School Starter – 2015 Q1 L3

From Dave's Sabbath School Resource page
Godly Parents

In Exodus 20 we find the telling of the Ten Commandments memorised by children and (most often) referred to in Bible studies by adults. In the book of Deuteronomy, there is a retelling of the Ten Commandments. In this retelling, Moses tells the people the story of the day they received the commandments. In this retelling, Moses has a point to make–a teaching point.
Compare the telling of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:1-21. Next, explore the context of the story in Exodus 19:1-25, 20:18-21 and Deuteronomy 5:22-6:9.
(This is a sizable portion of scripture and will take some time. You may want to prepare an overview with the key points that stand out to you in the way you want to present the lesson).
What is different about the settings of the two stories? (Exodus 19:1-25, Deuteronomy 5:22-6:9)
How does the telling in Deuteronomy add to/develop the story in Exodus?
What is different about the way the presence of God is experienced by the people?
What is different about the way the various commandments are presented?
What did the people ask for after hearing God’s voice? (Deut 5:23-27)
What was God’s Response? (Deut 5:28-29)
Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Who does Moses single out as the primary ‘retellers’ of the Law?
What ways does he suggest to create physical reminders of the Law?
It is said that repetition is the best teacher. How would these physical reminders reinforce the Law?
How would this benefit children?
The telling and retelling of God’s Law we have just studied was much more than a Bible study to God’s people in Solomon’s day. It was even more than a lifestyle. It was, in every sense, a worldview. By the words, actions and lifestyle of parents—day in and day out, as they slept, arose, ate, walked, worked and rested—the Law of the Lord was impressed upon their children.
Read Proverbs 6:20-23
Imagine you were raised as a Hebrew and lived in Solomon’s day. As a young person, about to leave home, you receive a letter from the Wiseman with the advice of Proverbs 6:20-23.
What would you have heard? What would it have reminded you of?
How would it have spoken into your worldview?
   (How is this passage reinforcing Deuteronomy 6:4-9?)
How would it have challenged what you have been taught?
   (How is this passage extending upon Deuteronomy 6:4-9?)
How is “the way of life” set for a young person by Godly parents?
This week, parents around the South Pacific Division (us included) welcomed over 8,000 children home from Pathfinder Camporee. How does a shared worldview give thousands of parents the confidence to entrust their children to the care of other adults? What does this demonstrate about a community who share common faith and values?
How does all of the wisdom in Proverbs rely on an understanding of the worldview implied in Proverbs 6:20-23? Why is this important?


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Sabbath School Starter – 2015 Q1 L2

The Protection of Wisdom

From Dave's Sabbath School Resource page
Have you ever had a time when you needed to be protected? Tell that story. Who protected you? From what? How did they protect you?

Have you ever had a time when you protected someone else? Tell that story. Who needed protection? From what? How did you protect them?

When you think of being protected, what kind of situations come to mind? When do we need protection?

Public Protection
How seriously do world governments take their responsibility to protect their people? How do they demonstrate this? What roles in society exist to provide various levels of protection to the public?

Private Protection
Some people take the protection of their family very seriously. What are some examples you have seen? What does a responsible level of family protection look like?

When a country wants to protect itself, men and women are trained to protect others. Consider the various levels of leadership required to ensure a safe nation—Soldiers, Generals, Commander in Chief—and all the various levels in-between. Compare that ‘public protection’ with the ‘private protection’ of you family. How are the roles, from actual combat to strategic leadership, filled by you? How have you trained for these responsibilities?

Personal Protection
Consider the following question before and as you read Proverbs 6:1-19. Take turns reading. Ask the group members to stop when they have an answer to the question. Have someone take notes in two columns: “Protection Needed” – “Suggested Action”

Q. What is personal protection and how is it put into practice?
Group Reading Instructions: As you read the passage, whenever you read something that we each need protection from, stop and mention that thing. Whenever you read something that says what we need to do to protect ourselves, stop and mention that thing. We want to create a list of things we need to protect ourselves from and strategies to apply to ensure our safety!
Read Proverbs 6:1-19

When the world’s wisest man collected and created wise sayings, they all demonstrated one core reality – “Before it is anything else, Leadership is Character”. How is personal character related to protection of personal, private and public relationships?

Read back over your list. What does each suggested action demonstrate character strength and wisdom?

Add to the list. What other things do we need personal protection from? What strategies of “Suggested Action” can we apply to develop character and accomplish safety in each area?

Many Blessings as you explore and Experience Sabbath School this week!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Sabbath School Starter – 2015 Q1 L1

Three “ifs” of Gaining Wisdom

Read Proverbs 2:1-5
From Dave's Sabbath School Resource page
Q1. This passage reveals three “if” clauses for gaining wisdom. What are they?

1st Level of wisdom – A Gift to be received. 
2nd Level of wisdom – An Answer to be heard.  
3rd Level of wisdom – A Discovery to be found.  

Q2. What physical things in your life have come in these three ways? When? From whom?

Q3. What “Advice” have you received in these 3 ways? When? From whom?

Q4. How do these three levels of Wisdom apply to your life as a follower of Jesus?

1st Level of wisdom – A Gift. Given to those who willingly receive. Open the gift of salvation.
2nd Level of wisdom – An Answer. Given to those who call out for understanding. Call out in prayer.
3rd Level of wisdom – A Discovery. Given to those who search long and hard. Search God’s Word.

Many Blessings as you explore and Experience Sabbath School this week!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...