Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pressure sores and repentance

I'm still alive!  That's the good news, but the bad news is that I am still battling this little pressure sore.  It is amazing to me how such a little thing can alter one's lifestyle so drastically.  It has been a problem since May, causing me to spend about a month and a half in bed the past three months. I have learned a great deal this summer because of this new challenge however, and feel as Evita did when she sang, "Don't cry for me, Guatemala!"  (Or was it Argentina?)

I have discovered, to my consternation, that I still belong to that large group of people seeking to be cured in the manner described by Elaine Marshall, former Dean of the school of nursing at BYU, who said of the word "cure," that it "... is clean, quick, and done, often under anesthesia."  The human part of me would stand in any line, however long it was, to get that kind of a quick fix cure.

Pressure sores are created over a long period of time however, and I know through personal experience that they are not susceptible to the clean, quick, and done cure that I would desire. 

I have thought of my pressure sore as a metaphor for sin and repentance.  Because of unwise sitting (living) the pressure exerted on one particular part of the anatomy prevents the blood from flowing and nourishing the tissue and it begins to die.  Layers of dead skin begin to build up underneath the surface as living, healthy tissue is destroyed. All of this damage takes place without the victim being aware that part of his body is being destroyed because he -- at least in my case -- is "past feeling." When the top layer of skin finally bursts open you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  The healing must take place from the inside out -- all the dead tissue must be eliminated before the blood flow can begin to nourish and heal the healthy tissue once again.

So how do we eliminate the dead tissue -- sin and its deadening influence on our spirits -- so that healing can take place?  The first and most important thing is to eliminate the pressure from the afflicted area which in my case means lying in bed for days at a time.  If it is a "spiritual pressure sore" the same principle of course applies -- the sin, the cause of the festering sore, must be totally removed.

As the pressure is removed healing can at last begin to take place.  However, how foolish it is to think that it will be cured overnight.  In my case, an enzyme in the form of a topical ointment that comes from the papaya fruit is inserted into the wound and causes a reaction that will eventually eat away the dead tissue.  Until all the dead tissue is eaten away healing will not take place.  How does this apply to repentance?  One must perhaps go to a bishop, begin searching the Scriptures, praying with more frequency and fervency, serving and loving others until the layers of dead spirituality are gradually eaten away.  These are the enzymes that must be applied daily and over a long period of time.  We cannot be "cured" from sin overnight -- a "healing" must take place instead of a "cure."  Dr. Elaine Marshall's definition of healing is very important as we consider pressure sores and repentance: "...Healing... is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of—perhaps because of—enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It often requires time. We may pray for cure when we really need healing." (April, 2004, Ensign, 57)

I have been so frustrated at times wanting this darned pressure sore to be "cured."  Every time Jo Anne unveils it I wait for good news but until just very recently she sadly reports to me, "I'm sorry, but it looks about the same, no worse and no better." It is much smaller now thankfully, and I finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it just didn't take place overnight.

I have learned through my life experience that nothing that is of any really lasting value is planted and harvested overnight.  As I look out my bedroom window I see a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree, and an orange tree I planted in our backyard in 1975.  It seemed like forever before these trees produced any fruit but now year after year we harvest and enjoy this delicious fruit.  I do believe the law of the harvest is a true and eternal law and is at play in all our lives." Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward."  [D&C 6:33]

As badly as we would like to be instantly cured from our health problems, in most cases, it really is "healing" that we need.  This principle of course applies to all aspects of our lives. 

The world is full of get rich quick schemes, or how to learn Polish in 10 easy lessons or the piano in 5.  The truth of the matter is that most good things come only after we have paid the price of hard work, self-discipline, and the passage of time.

I have also learned, as I had been confined to my bed, how important it is to have daily goals to strive to accomplish.  My first inclination when I realize that I can no longer have the freedom even to get up and roll around in my wheelchair is to curl up in a fetal position, watch endless hours of TV, and just vegetate.  Thankfully I am able to get rid of that attitude in a heartbeat and put myself on a strict schedule.  I spend six to seven hours each day working on my laptop in bed, studying, researching, and writing.  I have daily goals and when I finally watch the Dodgers or the Olympics I feel pretty good about myself and the work I have done that day and probably appreciate and enjoy the discretionary time that is left to me. 

I think the Lord did intend for man to work and to work hard.  Yes, we do reap what we sow -- the law of the harvest is real even in the healing of a pressure sore -- not even a quick fix in this arena!


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