Tuesday, August 29, 2006

14 inches shorter...

Last Thursday two surgeons took out a foot of my small intestine and 2 inches of my large instestine. According to ask.com our a human's small instestine is approximately 20 feet long and a human's large instestine is approximately 4 feet long, so really I only lost a tiny portion of my digestive system--nothing big enough to give me side effects when I eat. The exciting thing is...the Crohn's Disease is gone! The doctor compared the pieces of my intestines that they took out to a garden hose that had been squished in the middle--essentially blocked. Now that part is gone and my digestive system is learning to function like a normal person's. And praise God I'm out of the dark in terms of complications from the surgery. No one is ever cured of Crohn's Disease but there's a 50% chance I'll never have to have surgery again and deal with the major effects of it again--so pray for that. The surgery went really well and the main surgeon was really, really happy. I am in minimal pain--I've only been taking Tylenol only for the last day and have been eating solid food--how exciting to eat:) The best part is I was released from the hospital Monday morning so my stay time there was on the short side. And I now have an incision about 5 cm long vertically across my belly button--I have a picture but won't post that:)

I'm done with medical talk for those of you who get queasy at that type of stuff. I am now staying at my friend Sophie's apartment. She and my friends Becca and Sarah are trading off days to stay with me over the next couple days to make sure I'm okay. I have been amazed throughout this whole surgery experience by community. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be having major surgery across the country I would have said you were absolutely nuts. I have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to visit before and after surgery and people calling and praying. I think surgery has made LA home to me. It has become a place that I had a crisis and was cared for in the midst of it--in a way that I never imagined. I was driving to a doctor's apointment two days before the surgery on the freeway heading into downtown LA. As I approached the city skyline it hit me--I really like it here. The community makes it home but I love the culture, the city, my school... It's taken a year to get to this point and I'm sure there is more transition to come, but right now I'm really happy.

A big THANK YOU to my friends (on both coasts) for your support and prayers--you have been amazing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Update

This summer has been one that I certainly did not expect. Tomorrow I have surgery to remove part of my small instestine and large instestine. I will be in hospital 4-6 days and then after a few weeks I will have recovered completely. The next couple weeks won't be fun but the long term effects of surgery will be worth it. There's a 50% chance I'll never have to deal with the effects of Crohn's Disease ever again. And whether I do have to deal with it again I will leave surgery feeling better than I have felt in the last 10 years--that is exciting.

Another update...I moved last weekend. I had been looking for a larger, quieter, and closer place to campus for awhile and last Thursday an apartment dropped in my lap. I decided it'd be a better idea to move my stuff before surgery. I was overwhelmed with help from the Presbyterian community--my stuff was moved quickly and easily. Thanks to everyone that helped out--you all are amazing.

Anyways there's a quick update--your prayers would be much appreciated over the next couple weeks for a quick and complication-free recovery.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Solo hablo espanol

This weekend I unexpectedly moved--I'll share more details on that in another post. For now though I wanted to share a story that happened while I was preparing to move.

On Friday I drove around to various grocery stores looking for free boxes to pack my stuff in. I wandered into Smart & Final and asked a store clerk for boxes. He directed me down aisle 9. I walked down the aisle to stumble upon another store employee sorting through discarded boxes and containers. I said hello and launched into my plea for free boxes. The man said looked at me blankly and said "solo hablo espanal."

Oh crap...I had known this moment was coming since I moved to LA. A city as diverse as Los Angeles and as close to Mexico I knew one day my long lost Spanish skills would come into play. Surely after 2 years in middle school, 4 years in high school, and a semester in college I could communicate something in Spanish right? My mind completely blanked. I said "hola..." Then I decided if I couldn't speak I could at least point. I walked over to the pile of boxes and pointed. The words "para mi... and mover" came out of my mouth. The man said something back in Spanish that I didn't catch. I kept trying...what were the words for free and boxes? And how did I conjugate a verb again? I kept mumbling and stuttering unintelligible "Spanglish" phrases.

Finally the man burst out laughing. He spoke clear English--"I'm just kidding...I speak English." The guy had tricked me! I looked at him in shock and then in relief--I could communicate clearly again. He gave me several nice boxes for free. While he was cutting one down for me I asked..."how was my Spanish?" He responded, "it was bad...really bad." I asked how I could have said correctly everything I had tried to say before. He taught me the basic phrases. Boxes = Cajas. Free = Gratis.

It was an odd experience to have happened but I'm glad it did. It was a reminder of what it feels like--even just for a couple minutes--to not be able to communicate. I felt like a fish out of water--total control lost for a few minutes. I hear tons of languages spoken around me everyday. Most commonly I hear Spanish and Korean. However I never have to speak Spanish or Korean because they know enough English to communicate with me...or we don't communicate at all. I want to learn more basic phrases in Spanish and Korean and perhaps Chinese (although I don't know what dialect is spoken around here). Part of the beauty of LA is the diversity but I was reminded Friday of how hard it can be to not to be in the majority culture.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A great listen, read and watch

Over the last couple weeks I have been privileged to come across some powerful words in three different types of media. I figured I'd share a little of what I'd learned and recommend a good listen, read, and watch. Enjoy:)

First, I was introduced to a great band back in December--Casting Crowns. My friend Kristen gave me one of their CDs to listen to over Christmas break but I didn't actually listen to it until about March. Since hearing it for the first time I have been struck powerfully by almost every song on their two CDs. Casting Crowns is a Christian group with an acoustic sound. What really strikes me about them is their lyrics. There is much truth and lessons in them. The lyrics are simple but with powerful messages. Check out the chorus from If We are the Body:

"But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way."

I traveled last weekend to central Cali (first big road trip for the Focus and it did great!) to see Casting Crowns in concert. It was a great concert of worship.

Second, NOOMA. Rob Bell is a Fuller alum (go Fuller) who pastors a huge church in Michigan. He speaks in a DVD series called NOOMA. NOOMA is Greek for Spirit. The DVDs are about 15 minutes each and speak on a whole range of topics. My favorite DVD is called "Bullhorn." I wanted to post a quote from it but couldn't find it. Here's a quote from a DVD called "Kickball:"

"We always think we know what's missing from our lives in order to really make us happy, don't we? If only I had that car, or that job, or if only I could lose those 15 lbs, then I'd be happy. Really? How often do we want something only to find out that it wasn't that great after all? Sometimes we ask God for things and if he doesn't deliver right away, we start questioning whether God really understands or even cares. Do we really trust God? Do we trust that God is good and sees a bigger picture than we ever could? It's easy to want what's right in front of us, but maybe God knows what's better for us, and sometimes we just can't see it."

Rob Bell teaches this lesson by taking the audience through a trip to the mall with his toddler son. His kid really wants a bouncy ball from a stand at the mall. Bell instead buys him a bright red kickball. The gist of the lesson--God gives us what we need and not always what we want. Rob Bell preaches in a way that I've heard few preach. Anyways I can't do them justice--check out the website: www.nooma.com

Third, Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen originally wrote this book to a Jewish friend who asked him to write about spiritual direction to secular people. In the end Nouwen acknowledges that it is a book for Christians as much as non-Christians despite his intended audience. It's a great narrative and thoughts on how to really live as the beloved child of God. What does that mean? How can that truth infiltrate every action of our lives? If you have read You are Special by Max Lucado (another great book) it's like that--except not written for kids. So check that out too:)

I hope y'all enjoyed my plugs and if you ever have any recommendations do share.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cool Website--Check it out!

Hi Friends,
Since I've been sick I've been a little more in touch with what nutritional value is needed by my body each day. I was given this website from a nutritionist friend of mine:
It's great--it tracks your calories, activity level, nutrients, vitamins, etc. needed and received for each day. It's really interesting (and a bit scary) to see how you may or may not meet the daily requirements.
Anyways--check it out:)