Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched my mom, someone I thought was pretty healthy, become transformed into a broken physical shell. It started with her being short of breath and asking the doc to do a stress test. When the test results came back “abnormal,” he scheduled an angioplasty with the intention of installing a stent. The angio day brought some bad news; Mom needed open heart surgery, which turned out to be a quadruple bypass! After the Thursday surgery, she seemed to be doing well and making an excellent recovery. Until Sunday night. During a breathing exercise with the hospital Respiratory Therapist, she suffered what the doc called a massive stroke, with significant damage and extensive swelling on the right side of her brain – leaving her entire left body paralyzed.
A subsequent conversation I had with the doc left me reeling. Essentially he said that he didn’t have a great deal of hope for significant recovery “because of mom’s age and her size.” Now, since then, mom has proved him completely wrong and has made remarkable progress in her physical therapy (as of 9/11/08) – to the extent that she has even walked inside the parallel bars for about 15 feet! I’m so proud of her tenacity and drive to get to the place where she can realistically begin to care for herself again.
Some months ago I wrote about being “waisted.” While I am excited for the progress and direction of Mom’s recovery, what the doc said was a dramatic wake-up call for me. It reminded me I have all the genes that predispose me to diabetes, atherosclorosis, high blood pressure and a host of other complications arising from simply carrying too much weight. I actually hate this. I hate having to write about it because it calls me to accountability.
It is also a reminder that we’re preparing and planning to spend time in Africa, investing in the lives of those who are on the margins. It feels like an affront for a fat man to attempt to engage people who may be starving. So, realizing that size does matter, I’m looking forward to changing mine. Maybe I can appropriate John the Baptist’s statement that “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). What do you think?