Thursday, October 30, 2014

Going Under in Antigua: My Hernia is Fixed!

Fourteen years ago I had a double hernia fixed in Maine.  After about ten years the right side of the fix ripped.  For the past five years I've been living with a growing bulge in my midsection.  It wasn't painful, just annoying.

While I wasn't sure, I imagined that the fix would be expensive, so I kept putting it off.  I've never been able to afford really great insurance.  In recent years I haven't had any.  I now have insurance with a high deductible.

As the bulge grew, and the fact that I have insurance sunk in, I decided I'd research having it fixed.  My doctor noticed the bulge during my physical this summer.  He told me I needed to have surgery, the sooner the better.

I consulted a surgeon.  I was buoyed by his declaration that it would require day surgery.  My hopes were dashed when I discovered from the billing department of the Augusta hospital that it could cost in excess of $17,000!  We can't afford that.

Oscar Parades
We'd heard from missionary friends that procedures can sometimes be acquired in foreign countries, and that they are affordable.  Knowing that we were headed for Guatemala in October we touched bases with Mission Impact, one of the groups with whom we would be working.  They have a doctor on their staff.  I know him as Dr. Oscar.

What a wonderful man.

When we inquired about price he told me that he could do the surgery for much less than $17,000 dollars.  We didn't ask for any discount or special favors.  I felt like maybe God was finally opening a door to an operating room that I could afford.

Before I would spend a dime I decided that I would have the elders of our church anoint me with oil, lay hands on me and pray for healing.  This practice is known by some churches as extreme unction.  It is rooted in an admonition from James.  He wrote in his letter:
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
Lamenting his church's decision to abandon extreme unction a Scottish Bishop says the practice is, "The lost pleiad of the Anglican firmament.  One must at once confess and deplore that a distinctly Scriptural practice has ceased to be commanded in the Church of England, for no one can doubt that a sacramental use of anointing the sick has been from the beginning."

I am thankful my church never abandoned this Biblical practice.  In addition to this act of obedience, many Christian friends have been praying for this situation.

God is so good.  While I would have preferred a miraculous touch by the great physician Jesus decided to use the skillful hands and disciplined mind of Dr. Oscar.  And he allowed us to bless the private clinic in Antigua with some U.S. Dollars.

The hernia was repaired ten days ago.  While my first repair fourteen years ago was laparoscopic, this one was by direct incision above the tear in the muscle wall.

I enjoyed every aspect of the experience.
  • The antiquated American x-ray equipment.
  • A private clinic staff that spoke no english.  Fortunately Dr. Oscar spoke english, but he wasn't at the hospital much.
  • No forms to fill out.  None.  No paperwork at all.
  • A focused staff that just wanted to get the job done.
  • The relaxed atmosphere, including the anesthesiologist who was putting me under in the operating room while carrying on a conversation in spanish on a smartphone that was pinched between his ear and his shoulder.
  • The food was good, but a day in the hospital was enough.
The one thing I didn't enjoy learning after the fact is that I kept my wife awake the night of the surgery.  I snore something awful when I sleep on my back.  She quipped recently that she nearly put me out of her misery.  I'm glad she didn't.  Instead she made this embarrassing video with her phone.

Do you think I have sleep apnia?

1 comment:

  1. The answer is YES but I also observed your great humility in that you were willing to post this. :-) Susan B.