Count The Cost – Part 3

I decided Total Knee Replacement (TKR) was going to be a part of my future and that I needed to maximize the chance for success and minimize the risk of failure for the procedure. As such, I needed more information in order to move forward with confidence so I researched and established a list of requirements to be satisfied  prior to scheduling my surgery:

  1. Find an experienced orthopedic surgeon and hospital with a low infectious complication rate – this is critical for your peace of mind and safety!
  2. Make adjustments during open enrollment to change coverage so that you can see the surgeon that best meets your acceptance criteria.
  3. Get in shape! Lose weight, build up your lower and upper extremities because your upper body strenght will be needed for using walking devices post op.
  4. Plan on having support during your recovery – someone should be with you for the first 2 weeks for the majority of the time. You will be very dependent!
  5. Take your pain meds on schedule – stay ahead of the pain curve because it will hit every 4 hours like clockwork!
  6. Get your sleep during the day – take naps because you will not sleep well at night!
  7. Plan on using a bedside urinal at night – its safer and conserves your energy.
  8. Plan on the first 2 weeks as being the very worst in your life insofar as pain and suffering!
  9. Don’t be surprised if all the various meds wreak havoc on your attitude, thoughts and emotions! Opiodes are commonly prescribed and have a psychotropic affect.

The aforementioned are the practical steps I strongly advise you to follow and each is important. Try not to omit any of the above for convenience or sake of finances.

This surgery makes one look inward to find the courage to proceed with it as the operation is an elective procedure. This is where one draws upon their faith:

‘Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you’ – 1st Peter, 5:7

I know that God cares about what we go through in life and that pain and suffering is a part of life. Obviously there are many people in the world suffering fates far worse than TKR and I have the advantage of competent medical attention.

I am learning to view my experience more objectively in just knowing that God cares about me…in the midst of my trials – this brings great comfort and confidence!

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father (knowledge)” – Matthew 10:29

I think about what Christ must have felt as the Roman guards, beat him, whipped him 39 times with a cat of nine tails. His life slowly draining from his weakened fleshly body as he was left to die of pain and dehydration. The point is; I doubt I would be so inclined to think about what His body felt like if I wasn’t able to relate to how I experience such pain in my body. Here are some pictures of my experience:

Sorry if the picture on the right grosses you out… but this is what TKR looks like at 2 weeks post op. It’s no joke… But every day brings more progress! Until next time be blessed and you can learn more about us at: http://www.wagpub.com 

Count The Costs – Part 2

The decision to move ahead with a painful elective medical procedure requires allot of pre-planning and a resolution that the procedure will lead to greater quality of life. No one should make such a decision without fully counting the costs. The bible gives us this account when Jesus was teaching his disciples, he said:

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him”

Luke – 14:28-29 NASB

While this parable is one of an example of construction, the meaning is very clear: Don’t begin something for which you have not figured out how you will complete it. So when I decided to move forward with a decision to have total knee replacement surgery, an elective procedure, I thought about this scripture. I knew I needed to count the cost.

I knew my knee was becoming more of a problem because of the advanced osteoarthritis (OA) which was diagnosed when I had arthroscopic knee debridement. That procedure revealed grade 4 arthritis in my medial compartment.

I now believe this procedure actually accelerated my osteoarthritis because it removed what little cartilage I had from my knee compartment.. At the time I decided to receive my arthroscopic knee debridement procedure, I had not counted the cost, I acted impulsively.

Seven years later, when the chronic pain became near unbearable and it’s frequency and duration increased, I tried several alternative approaches to deal with my condition. I am analytical by nature and I knew the end state of unresolved OA pain would be total knee replacement…but  I swore I would never allow that to happen…I had seen the YouTube videos…

I went to great lengths to mitigate my OA knee pain. I learned that for every pound one loses, it reduces four pounds of pressure (PSI) from the knee joint. This gave me great inspiration! I went on a work out regimen and a diet change (eating more plant based foods and less red meat) that resulted in an almost 50 pound weight loss!

I worked out feverishly and I went from 238 pounds to 188 pounds. I was feeling much better just knowing the PSI reduction benefit to my knee. Some of my friends thought I was sick because of the weigh loss but I was feeling fine!…except that the pain of my knee OA never completely went away, it just became more manageable for a period.

When something is biologic and is in a state of degradation, it slowly gets worse. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that affects the joint (in my case – my knee). Degeneration means it progressively gets worse because the tissues do not have the capacity to regenerate. The end state is chronic inflammation, loss of cartilage, pain and tenderness while trying to move the joint through normal range of motion. It sucks!

Since I knee that total knee replacement was most likely inevitable, I decided to do everything short of receiving this procedure. I was counting the cost by being proactive (or so I thought). I received dextrose prolotherapy, plasma rich platelet injections, acupuncture treatments, hylaronic acid injections, you name it. If it was something that could possibly improve my knee OA I was doing it!

I took just about every health food supplement known to man (glucosamine, fish oil, turmeric, white willow bark, hylaronic acid). I stopped short of autologous stem cell injections because of its costs and it’s lack of proven results.

After all these efforts, the knee OA pain was still there, still ruining the quality of my life. Every where I went, my knee dictated what I did and how long I did it.  I had to limit my time walking because I had only so much time before the knee would become inflamed and the joint felt as if a knife was being stabbed into it. It was no bueno!

At this point, I decided I had exhausted my options, and I now needed to fully count the cost for total knee replacement. I did the research and found lots of people posting terrible experiences for their experience and of course, I made the mistake of watching the Youtube videos…

My Gawd!!! Are you kidding me! Why would anyone go through with this procedure after watching the videos! So now, I had all this fear working against me as the pain continued to remind me that total knee replacement was indeed inevitable…

So after living in chronic pain for the last two years, I decided I had to move forward with the procedure. The decision to move forward was as challenging as anything I had experienced because there was no gong back from total knee replacement. While I did not want the procedure it became inevitable. You see, its one thing to have intermittent pain but it’s quite another to have pain in your body 24/7 – even when you are trying to sleep! Chronic pain has a way of changing your perspective about the things you once considered as off the table…

So now you know what has lead me to this point, but in my next posts I explain my experiences at the hospital and my current state of recovery. Remember that as a believer of Jesus Christ, I know who is in charge of my well being and this will be a continuing source of strength because as the Apostle Paul said:

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

2nd Corinthians 12:10 NASB

This scripture is a foundational pillar for me because recovery from total knee replacement is truly an experience that will test your strength in every facet (mental, physical and spiritual) of your being. In my next post I will share how the experience of intense pain has made me think more about Christ’s suffering on the cross. In the meantime be blessed!

You can learn more about us at: http://www.wagpub.com

Count The Costs – Part 1

There is nothing like physical pain that causes us to rethink our priorities! Most, if not all of us would do just about anything to avoid pain! The word pain is something that can mean different things given how it’s used. Sometimes we think of pain as losing, as the old saying on the Wide World of Sports: ‘The the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.’

In this analogy, we associate defeat in a sports competition as pain (agony).  While there is certainly an emotional connection with the love of sports and the feeling of deflation when your favorite sports team loses, this is not the type of pain I am referring to. Also, while we acknowledge that individuals can experience severe emotional trauma, this too is not the type of pain I am writing about.

I am talking about real – in the body – physical trauma that require medical attention. Situations like broken bones, lacerations, deep piercings and open flesh type wounds are the type I am going to focus upon. Sometimes life brings difficult, unfortunate situations that result in trips to the emergency room or trauma centers. Other times, we make decisions to have elective medical procedures.

As I write this post, I am recovering from major surgery (total knee replacement). About seven years ago, I began to experience pain in my right knee that had it’s roots in an old sports injury that occurred many years ago. Old injuries that you think are long behind you, can come back to bite in your older years!

When I was in my twenties, I loved to play basketball and my favorite player was Ervin ‘Majic’ Johnson. I remember watching Majic run full speed and fake to pass in one direction and throw a no look pass in the opposite direction for an assist to one of his team mates! Magic’s passing abilities were legendary – even to this day! Since we like to idolize and emulate our sports heroes, I too thought I could do what Majic did….and one day in a pickup game of full court basket ball I attempted that same pass.

I remember jumping in the air and twirling around in a 360 degrees turn only to pass the ball to a team mate (I think). I don’t honestly recall whether I completed the pass or not because when I landed my right knee instantly exploded in pain and I limped off the court in mid-play of the game. I was done…

My buddies came over to check on me but I knew at a ripe old age of 20 that something was seriously wrong with my knee. I don’t recall how I got home that day, I think one of my friends drove me home.

This mishap was not just a mistake in judgement for trying to make a fancy pass without the requisite skills…it was a mistake in judgement for playing basketball while under the influence…the mistakes of youth can create life long implications.

I recall going to the doctors a couple weeks later. The doctor injected a huge syringe filled with dye and took an image and he said ‘you have a slight tear of the lateral meniscus’. I remember thinking ‘this sounds bad’…I asked ‘What are my options’?  I was told open knee surgery or rest and ice it (to see if it would get better). Well… given those two options I chose to ice, wait and see…

Decades later…that same knee became arthritic and began to hurt so bad that I went to great lengths to alleviate the pain by undergoing a different combination of therapies, modalities and treatments. I took health supplements, performed exercise, accepted injection based therapies (prolo-theraphy, synvisc-one, PRP, acupuncture) but none of these attempts to mitigate the pain of osteoarthritis helped. I even had an arthroscopic knee debridement procedure….but it still came down to the undeniable reality that a ‘knee replacement’ was the only thing that had the potential to alleviate my chronic knee OA pain.

So here I am 21 days post knee replacement surgery and experiencing the challenges of recovery and experiencing ongoing pain. If you have experienced this procedure you understand my situation. Because I tried lesser invasive approaches, I have come to fully accept and embrace the need for this procedure – otherwise I would never have opted to under go the surgery. There is a point at which one can no longer deny the inevitable.

In my next posts, I will go into greater detail (Including posting some pictures) about the effects of the challenges (recovery, rehabilitation, psychological, and spiritual etc.) of this most daunting procedure. The decision to resolve the problem of chronic pain (advanced osteoarthritis) by undergoing a painful procedure has become a decision quality of life.

As a believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I know my future recovery is in His hands. In closing, one can be assured that no matter the challenges we face, our Heavenly father promised to never leave us or forsake us. In that promise and others, I am placing my confidence for a full and complete recovery but it will certainly be a challenging process…

For more information about us please go to: http://www.wagpub.com

Until next time, be blessed!

Character, Influence & Children – Part 3

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” said the famous philosopher Maimonides. This truth underscores the need to teach people skills so they may become self-sufficient.

But in a world that esteems the strong and despises the weak; I wonder who will teach our children the skills of compassion and empathy? Is teaching a child how to ‘share and play nice’ all there is for them to know to develop good character? Will it develop their moral reasoning or enhance their social skills?

Just because we as a society are so preoccupied with social media, does that mean we should assume the answers to these questions reside in how well we interact with technology? Does technology have all the answers?

Have you noticed now many elementary age kids have access to mobile technology? Many kids have PDAs, tablets and cell phones and they haven’t promoted up from the 6th grade! Do you think the majority of them have developed the good judgment to use technology responsibly?

Do we really want our kids to learn about morality on the Internet?

Or do we just assume they will learn how to use technology responsibly, with balance and care and interact with their friends to learn how to relate in a way that demonstrates they know how to display compassion and empathy for one another – all on their own…

Oh snap! Better wake up from that dream!

As stated previously, we have a limited window of time to influence them, and if we don’t use that time wisely, if we allow unfettered access to the world’s means and values then we shouldn’t be surprised when they become adults who are so different that what we had hoped they would be…flash back to Columbine…

Adults need to model and teach the skills of moral reasoning and how to behave in ways that affirm the rights and dignity of others. Remember this important point: You are either being influenced, or you are influencing someone. There is no exception to this rule…

This means we must have developed within ourselves and settled the issue for how we will live (and be willing to model that before them). Okay- Here is when my post becomes a sermon: For me, I have decided to follow Christ because I have learned that what he said in the bible, in the book of John (John, chapter 14, verse 6) is true.

He said; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I have vetted this statement in my life to know it is true by my personal journey through the seemingly inexplicable experiences of my life…

And since I have accepted an obvious higher source to look to for my direction, this allows me the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to rely upon myself for guidance. It is also the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to just rely on what someone previously taught to me because my life’s experiences bear out this truth.

And since that is true for me, it begs the question is it true for all? The answer to that question is found in the book of Acts, Chapter 10, verse 34: ‘Then Peter began to speak: “I know realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” – NIV.

So yes, everyone can know the truth if they seek Jesus. And he is the example we need to follow for character and morality. These attributes all come from a source higher than us because we are carnal beings. We are truly carnal in our weakness, humanity and in our sin nature.

Our carnal nature is the reason we need a new nature (to be born again). Since we are so flawed, this underscores the need to have a source higher than ourselves if we are going to lead and teach our children the values of compassion, empathy, and character.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character, Influence & Children – Part 2

In our last post we started to look at character and its connection to morality. This post will take us another step closer into the relationship between character and morality:

So what is morality?

Is it a code of ethics?

Is it a set of rules or a set of expectations?

Does it require human intelligence in order to relate to its meaning?

If it’s a uniquely human attribute, is it something that we have collectively defined through an evolutionary process? Does culture play a role in how it’s derived?

If so which culture and how?

What about people who are supposedly devoid of any sense of morality such as the character ‘Dr. Hannibal Lector’, I.E. ‘Silence of The Lambs’? Is it possible that some people have no conscience?

We can make suppositions and conjecture but who really and truly knows the answers to these questions?

God does but I certainly don’t!

So in my simple mind, I believe we all have an internal compass, which tells us how to differentiate between right from wrong. I believe we have a mind that has a conscience so we can understand concepts such as fairness, right, wrong, and as such we can accept more complex concepts such as moral reasoning, empathy, and compassion.

And since we previously established that all behavior is learned behavior and that children learn from older persons (typically adults and that adults are role models regardless of whether they wish to be); we now will look at three questions we previously asked about our adult responsibilities:

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world?
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality?
  3. Am I aware of my influence?

Lets look at each question separately, then collectively. These keys are important to realize if we are going to become effective at influencing our children. The items below are listed in direct correction to the questions asked above. So for example,

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world? – I need to know my actions and my words have meaning. What I say will be remembered for short while but what I do will have a more profound and longer lasting impact.
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality? – I must determine a source for my beliefs and that source must be greater than myself (because I only know what I was told by someone else).
  3. Am I aware of my influence? – I must recognize that there is a connection between my world and me so that my presence and interaction within my world makes a difference.

Since we learn from one another, and our children look to us for direction it is important we examine what we are teaching them about morality and character. All too often we allow the hurried pace of life to distract us from realizing we have a limited window of time to influence our children. But if we don’t teach them, if we abdicate our responsibilities to teach them, we are leaving them to be instructed by other influences that may not share our values.

In my next post I will go into more detail about the above 3 points.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character, Influence & Children – Part 1

Have you ever thought about how you learned what you know? I’ve thought about what I know and it seems that everything I know is a result of what someone either told me or showed me.

My ability to learn is determined by exposure and how that information was conveyed to me. If incorrect information was taught to me and I never learned the truth about a given subject, I remain in a state of ignorance in terms of my knowledge for that subject.

I imagine this is true for all of us.

Being taught information and being able to synthesize and apply information is another key component of how we internalize, comprehend and ultimately process what we learn. But those aspects are within the individual, this occurs after information presentation.

The focus for this post is how we provide influence to children so that they can decide how they will process the circumstances in their world.

I’m not talking about academic information because those subjects are black or white in terms of their correctness. Subjects such as math, English, science are taught (along with their rules) pretty much in black and white in that sense. No, I’m not talking about teaching academia; I’m talking about teaching values and morals and our role as influencers.

And I hope we can all agree that this is important…otherwise we have a completely different problem to address…So lets say for the sake of discussion we have elementary age children and we are trying to instill a sense of critical thinking in so far as their moral compass.

If we go back to the early point I mentioned about all learning being a function of what we were taught by others, it makes sense that in order to help instill critical thinking in children regarding issues of morality, we must think about a number of things that we believe to be true for this subject. Here are a few things to reflect upon as we approach this subject:

  1. All behavior is learned behavior
  2. Children learn from older persons (typically adults)
  3. Adults are role models (regardless of whether they see themselves as such)

So with these three factors established, it begs the question that we must ask of us:

 

  1. What are my actions and words conveying to the children in my world?
  2. What is the basis for where I derive my sense of morality?
  3. Am I aware of my influence?

 

The reason question number 3 (in the last list) is so important is because in life, you are either being influenced, or you are influencing someone. There is no exception to this rule and it applies to all of us! In my next post I will take a deeper dive into these questions!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Character – Our Nation Needs it More Than Ever

Let me start out by saying that ‘character’ is the foundation for which if absent, the world falls into utter chaos! Wow, how’s that for an opener! At the surface you may think this is overly dramatizing the importance of ‘character’, but I assure you I am not.

To better convey this point, let me first make a few important points. Lately, we have seen a barrage of images  in the news about the shooting of Michael Brown, of Ferguson MO.

Unless you live in a complete vacuum, you are familiar with this tragedy. Also, we now know the police office, Darryl Wilson (and his wife) are leaving the police department and most likely the general area for their safety.

We also have seen weeks of rioting occurring all over the United States as a result of the reaction of the grand jury to move to not indict offer Wilson. And so the result of all this has led to an increase in tension and chaos!

At the center of this issue is character!

Why?

Because it was character or the lack of good character that allowed a young man to think he could strong-arm rob a store for cigars, and later disregard the attempt of a police officer to stop and question him for a robbery (that he had just committed). It was also an issue of character that allowed this same young man to resist arrest and make a grab for his gun…

If all these events are true (and the robbery has been confirmed on video); then Michael Brown’s actions stemmed from a lack of good character! Lets not make excuses, it was bad character…

And what about the officer’s judgement and character?

Why did he try to stop and physically detain a young man who the officer described was clearly stronger, defiant and apparently not inclined to be physically detained? If he  had backed off and waited for back up to arrive, Michael Brown might have been arrested without injury.

Did the officer use good judgement? Or should he have waited for his back up to arrive before trying to arrest Brown? Was the officer’s attempt to grab Brown from his car door an example of trying to be ‘Macho Man’.

What was present in the officer’s judgement and character that allowed him to think that he should attempt to wrestle with someone who was un-cooperative, obviously stronger and indifferent to his initial attempt to be questioned?

Was the officer emboldened because he had a badge and a gun?

Was it a matter of duty or ego?

Who really knows?

To be honest, I am not sure what I would have done if I were in officer Wilson’s situation…

Now lets switch gears for a minute.

What about the rioters who decided that they were going to riot as a means to express their anger?

What made them think it was okay to rob and burn down local businesses?

How does hurting one’s own local business community help the matter?

Does the ‘ends justify the means’? Meaning: Is it okay to engage in utter chaos – burn and loot – just to make a point?

So now everyone that disagrees with a judicial outcome can just destroy their community?

Or were other more serious character issues present…that allowed so many to engage in criminal activities?

And what about the news reporter who published officer Wilson’s home address?

She thought she was on the right side of the issue…because from her perspective the officer showed no regard for Brown’s safety…

Do you see how this cycle of un-ending, self feeding  rationalizations  can be used to justify wrongful conduct?

It’s essentially the same state of mind that drives much of the violence in the world. And it is this mindset (to rationalize one’s wrongful behavior) that is such a pervasive character issue today. By now you see the point I made at the beginning of this post was not and is not ‘over dramatizing’ the importance of ‘character’ because the absence of good character is central to all these events.

Any time people act in ways that intentionally cause harm, hurt, and create mayhem; these are all problems that have character deficiency as a root cause. And if we don’t get a handle on ‘replenishing’ our nation’s character deficiency we are sure to see more civil unrest, fear, litigious action and soon more racially charged accusations.

Our nation watches the events of Ferguson, and yes – people do have a right to express their dissatisfaction with our judicial system but they have an obligation to do so within the confines of the law. Otherwise we have no order, we have a disorganized society of mayhem and chaos.

And keep in mind our kids are watching Ferguson and they are receiving messages from the events they see on TV and on the Internet. We have a responsibility to lead them in the paths they should go. Good character is vital to a nation, to a city and to individuals. In my next post I will speak to the issue of character as it relates to kids and what they learn from each other!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing