Posts tagged ‘problem of pain’

November 30th, 2012

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

by Max Andrews

I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:

Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.

As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw (R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
·      Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
·      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
·      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
·      Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
·      Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
read more »

July 20th, 2012

The Crohn’s Chronicles: One Long Year Later…

by Max Andrews

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

(Please click here to help me and others.)

I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

July 5th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Rudolf Otto

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Rudolf Otto (1869 – 1937)

More on his theology: Otto was a leading theologian of religious expression–a revival of Kierkegaard.  In 1917 Otto published his keynote work, Das Holige (The Idea of the Holy).  The outcome of the book was a sociological study of human religion and marked the distinction between ethics and religion.  The two cannot be equated.  Theological liberals maintained the idea that we should do what we know we should do.  The moral good may not be religious and the religious may not be the moral, which disagreed with the theological liberals).  Religion, to Otto, has to do with the numinous, that is, the realm beyond the human, which both attracts us and terrifies us.  This is what he called the mysterium tremendum. This is an unapproachable fear towards God.  C.S. Lewis illustrates this fear in The Problem of Pain.

Suppose you were told that there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told “There is a ghost in the next room,” and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind.

June 13th, 2011

The American Dream and The Kingdom Dream

by Max Andrews

Preface:  I consider this post as a rant on how God has blessed me.

I woke up today next to my wife at 6 AM to prepare for the day.  I have a full-time job but I work an irregular schedule, which includes some weekends.  I happened to have today off.  My wife started her second job today, which happens to be in the same office I work in (her other job is in retail).  We did our morning routine but I was lagging behind enjoying the slow morning.  I helped her with breakfast and saw her out to the car as she drove to work.  I remained home and had a rather large breakfast, which is unusual since I’m not normally hungry in the mornings.  I had two eggs, two pieces of toast with jelly, a blueberry bagel, and a Carnation Instant Breakfast chocolate milk (it’s good!). I read through some of my philosophy notes and read my Bible during breakfast while the cat kept trying to jump on the counter and bring sticks from the outside in the house (I kept the door to the kitchen open since it was a cool 74 degree morning).  I had my multivitamins, some I hate taking because they either smell or they’re large horse pills, and my medicine I need to take for Crohn’s.

After eating and reading I did a blog post on my devotions (not a typical devotion really, the imprecatory psalms?).  I enjoyed a nice long shower as I listened to some science podcasts and then cleaned up around the house (dishes, vacuum, sanitize, sweep the patio, water the plant that doesn’t want to live, etc.).  I then decided to go to the local library which is only a two-minute drive down the road.  I figured it was the American thing to do, if anything it’s the responsible thing to do.  I have free access to information, why not use it?  I get in the car and the “check engine” light comes on. No problem. The engine sounded a little funny anyways. I park the car and check my fluids.  Oil and coolant were low. I go to my shed (which is really an outdoor closet sticking out of the side of my house) and I happen to have oil and coolant.  I fill them up and I’m good to go.  (There may have been other reasons why the light was on but I’m not skilled enough to pin point, I have a good friend who is a mechanic who blesses us with his skills in that area, thanks Josh).

Anyways, I go in smiling, probably like an idiot, and ask to register for a library card, which I was given.  I have to learn German, quickly, so I looked up a few German books but I either couldn’t find the book or it really wasn’t in the catalog when I looked it up.  I strolled down the shelves and found the math and science section.  I decided to check out The Facts on File Dictionary of Mathematics.  I’ve been reading through Lawrence Sklar’s Space, Time, and Spacetime as background information for my research in the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God from cosmology, particularly as it relates to the multiverse.  I was researching the cosmological constant and the spatial curvature of the universe (this is an aspect of inflationary cosmology).  I wanted to understand inflationary cosmology more fundamentally so I decided to get my hands dirty and I need to learn more about Euclidean geometry and what it means for the universe to be flat, spherical, or hyperbolic in its spatial geometry and what that means for a negative, 1, or positive [1+] curvature.  I drove back home and here I sit…

Throughout my day, as short as it has been thus far, I couldn’t help but think about two sermons I’ve heard recently on the Kingdom of God.  One of them included the “American Dream” and how it is so contrary to the Kingdom of God.  I thought to myself, “I’m already living the American Dream.”  The American Dream today has been polluted by greed, covetousness, and this world’s lusts.  The American Dream is simply the freedom and opportunity to do and to act in a manner in which I see appropriate (this isn’t a political rant so mind your politics for now as far as how free we really are).  I’m also striving to live after the “Kingdom Dream” (I couldn’t think of a better phrase so let’s run with it).  The Kingdom Dream is a life pursuit of obedience and contentment in God’s providence no matter how he takes you to where you are going and wanting and being satisfied in the manner in which he brings you there.  Here’s the real rant…

I have a loving, beautiful wife.  We both have excellent health. We rent a small duplex home and have two cars.  We have a loving family that supports us and raised us well.  My parents taught me discipline and work.  The gift of work has been one of the greatest things they have ever given me.  I have had a job since I was 15 years old.  I am currently employed and I live paycheck to paycheck, no shame in that, I’m saving and trying to earn what I have.  We have a fully furnished home thanks to thrift stores and friends.  We both own our cars and we’re generally pretty good about keeping the maintenance needed on them (take care of your vehicle and it takes care of you).  My first car was a pink 1993 Geo Storm I found in someone’s yard my Junior year of high school.  A good friend loaned me $1,500 to buy it and I paid back my friend in a couple of months.  That car treated me well but has since passed to cubism last November (moment of silence please). I have an undergraduate degree in Religion and I’m less than a year away from a Master’s degree in Philosophy (all of which I had the ability to take a loan out for and the ability to payback my debt to those who helped me).  I have food, I have health, I have family, I have shelter, I have a computer, I have internet, I have [many] books, and I have all that I really need.  The question is will I be satisfied if I had more? The question is will I be satisfied if I didn’t have this?

Honestly, my worldly self would probably not be satisfied.  I’d like to say that I’d be satisfied selling all my possessions but I probably won’t.  I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel or the poverty gospel.  When Jesus spoke of selling your belongings and giving it was finding the idols in our lives.  Are we willing to give up our idols for the Kingdom’s sake?  God isn’t anti-wealth or anti-materials, God is against idolatry, that’s the real issue.  The American Dream is really living in a privileged land at a privileged time that permits us to do what we want to do and the opportunity to do it.  What is more important is the Kingdom Dream.  It is what we do and where place our hearts and desires.  I think of Matthew 6.  God will provide for us, all he wants is our obedience.  It’s not so much of taking from God and giving back to God, God doesn’t need anything.  What he wants is our obedience.  Now here’s the hard part.  Sometimes God’s providential care isn’t the American Dream.  I have it so much better than others.

I’ve been on missions to Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, the poorest state, twice and I’ve seen the poorest of the poor.  I know the blessings of living where I do and when I do. Sometimes God’s care comes in different forms.  These forms may include living in poverty, pain, suffering, and barely getting by.  We so often get so upset with God when we feel like we aren’t being provided for.  What if the best teacher or means of provision is that God takes us through pain and suffering?  Will you accuse God of breaking his promise?  God’s love and care may be that you have a disease or have cancer.  That pain is so momentary!  As physically and spiritually painful as it is to endure any suffering, perhaps that’s the best, or only, way for you to appreciate the gift of life, friends, family, or whatever.  We know the end purpose of life and that’s the know God and glorify him.  How that comes to be and the means in which it comes about is unknown to us at many times.  We do not live in a spatiotemporally privileged position to see it the way God does.  We don’t have all the facts and contingencies so why charge God with doing wrong when you don’t have all the evidence and when you aren’t being obedient and trusting him?

It’s hard. I know it’s hard to be obedient and trust God.  As John Piper aptly puts it, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.  I thank God for the overflowing gifts he has given us.  I pray that the Holy Spirit provokes my attention to his hidden graces that I have neglected and not been thankful for.  I pray that God gives me a perspective of pain and suffering, blessings and goodness that he has.  I pray for God to suppress my words, thoughts, and desires to take credit for the things that have come to pass that I consider to be good and that I turn to him prior to anything.  I hope that he continues to give me this perspective and to not retract these words and ideas from my head when things “seem worse.”

June 6th, 2011

The Blessings of Having a Disease

by Max Andrews

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in May 2004 at the end of my Junior year of high school. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease and mine happens to be in my terminal ileum at the end of my small intestine.  When I first went to the emergency room seven years ago I felt like someone had reached into my gut and started twisting my organs around while I was digesting glass.  It was, and is, extremely painful and nauseating.  It was about the sixth day in the hospital when the doctor diagnosed me.  I wept once he left the room because I knew that this had ruined my life dreams of serving in the U.S. Army as an intelligence analyst.  Well, seven years later I can look at this disease and honestly say that it has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

I’ve had a flare up (reoccurrence) about once a year since I was first diagnosed.  I refused long-term medication for a while since it started out as a mild case and medication wouldn’t allow me to join the Army.  I graduated high school and took a year off before going to college so I could work with the Army and doctors so I could enlist.  My attempts fell short and I could not overturn or appeal my medical disqualification.  It had been my dream since I was a young child.  I have a very patriotic family and both of my grandfathers served.  My mother’s father was an NCO in the U.S. Air Force around the Korean War and worked with nuclear bombs.  My father’s father was an officer in the U.S. Navy and served on the U.S.S. Dauphin. I felt it was my duty to serve my country.  I excelled in J.R.O.T.C. in high school as the Battalion Commander, the leader of over 250 other cadets and I was one of the most decorated (if not the most decorated) cadets in the school’s history.  I studied government until my second semester sophomore year of college.  I knew then that I was called to something greater; I knew that God had a specific purpose for me and his purpose was greater than anything I could have planned for.  I then became an undergraduate biblical studies student and I’m now a philosophy graduate student.  However, these are peripheral details that resulted from my Crohn’s.  The blessing is so much greater than any classes I’ve ever taken.