Surgery in a Seatainer

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[Wiktionary.org: Seatainer: A large container for shipping freight by sea.]  But, we’ll get to that later.

“How blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!” –Psalm 32:1

Nate was out in the yard the other day and found something in our lime tree. It was a “live” something. A fuzzy something. A cute something. A baby “something”. So, he showed me a picture of the “something”…

We “oooh-ed” and “aaahhhh-ed” over that little baby bird. How adorable! How magnificent and intricate the nest! What a marvelous Creator who taught that momma bird how to find the right place to build, the right materials to build from (and *where* to find those), how to weave it all together into the perfect shape and size for her youngster.

Later that day, as I considered the photo, I saw something a bit disturbing; which I took no notice of at first glance.

The razor sharp thorns surrounding that little baby bird. Seemingly, pointed right at him.

I wondered why in the world a momma bird would build her nest right in the middle of all those thorns. That just did not make any sense.

Sometimes, things are not what they might seem.

I have had a secret. Hahaha…not really a secret. But, something I wanted to be secret. About 10 years ago, at the insistence of my vigilant midwives; I went to see a dermatologist. (During my childbearing years, I was blessed to be in the care of midwives; who would take note of the changing moles on my body and they were concerned about skin cancer)

Rightly so, for as it turned out, I had several cancerous spots to deal with. Several biopsies and skin surgeries later; I was cancer free!

At my initial visit to the dermatologist; I pointed out to her a small bump on the front of my head; which she said was nothing to worry about.

I found out later, upon my own research that the little lump was a “pilar cyst”.

Well, over the years, that “nothing-to-worry-about” has grown. And grown. And, might I say…grown.

Meanwhile, in the lovely “middle-age” years that I now find myself in; my hair has begun its departure from my head. Brushing my hair or running my fingers through my hair often results in at least several strands of my hair detaching from its once-happy home on my scalp.

So, I have had a growing cyst combined with thinning hair; and I must say I over the last few years, I have been trying to cover this thing.

With my thinning hair.

Hahaha..

In 2017, we looked into having it removed. The medic at the clinic we went to said that it was a risky surgery because of the chance of bleeding out on the scalp. (Let me add here …that I am not a doctor….I dunno if that’s right or not…but it was sure scary)

So, we were told there would be a surgery team from the States coming to do surgeries in our District. Surgeries that could not otherwise be done here; like gallbladder surgeries.

Here in Belize, procedures like the one I needed or for example a gallbladder surgery; are not quite as routine as they would be considered to be in the States.

And quite honestly, after speaking with the medic at the internationally-run healthcare clinic; I was very afraid to pursue it.

However; I got on the list several months beforehand. As it turns out, the team would be doing surgeries right about the time of Cheyenne’s wedding. So. That didn’t work out.

This lump on the front of my head was not getting any smaller. In fact, the hair had begun to fall out right on the cyst, leaving a strange naked-of-hair volcanic-looking mound on my head.

Truth be told…I should have had it dealt with while we were still living in the States. But, there were two things that prevented it from happening… (Not necessarily in order of prominence….haha…)

  1. The kids always came first. Their medical needs, their paperwork, their appointments. Especially as our time of departure for Belize arrived.
  2. I AM A BIG FAT CHICKEN, and did not wanna do it.

(So…that is likely the real reason. But, nonetheless; like my momma used to say…”that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”)

With a possible visit to the States on our horizon in August, we decided to investigate avenues of having the procedure done while we were State side. We forgot about the complicated, intricate and sometimes discouraging labyrinth of medical care in the States. Needing referrals, office visits, etc. We would only have about one month to visit, after all; and this was just far too complicated.

After several unanswered inquiries and several other closed doors; I gave it up as impossible. I just resigned myself to having this thing on my person until I entered glory!

Until one day, Nate called me into the bedroom. He said, ‘I’ve been thinking about something.’ (Anyone else do a “mental checklist” when their spouse says this…like ‘did I do something worthy of an “uh-oh”…hahaha~)
Last year, we took a short family vacation in Placencia. (The first vacation our family had had in over 10 years…that did not involve going to Grandma  & Grandpa’s …NOT that we don’t LOVE going to G & G’s..!) Nate had a medical issue which presented itself in a critical way. The Lord showed Nate a trustworthy doctor who is in Placencia, who handled the issue in a quick and professional manner.

Nate said to me that he thought this doctor very capable and qualified to surgically remove my cyst. He told me to pray about it and think it over.

For a brief moment, thoughts of having surgery in a refurbed tractor-trailer flickered through my ever-active imagination. The cold steel walls of the seatainer closed in on my mind in a momentarily paralyzing way.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Oh, fear.

Where is your sting?

Right there.

Fear paralyzes. Fear restrains. Fear lies. And fear steals.

But. Fear is NOT from God.

The apostle Paul admonished Timothy…

“For God has not given the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7

So, for a moment…I wanted to decline this idea of going under the knife in an unconventional and somewhat off-beat medical location.



But, my real reason was not one of practicality. My real reason to decline was not one of scheduling or lack of child care. My real reason was fear.

In almost the next moment, the Lord graciously sent His peace upon me.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

Suddenly, I answered; almost surprising myself with the peace now filling my mind. I told Nate, ‘Yes, let’s schedule it.’

All my years of hiding and hoping nobody would see my obvious secret. All those conversations with people…wondering if they could see the bizarre lump peeking out just over my forehead. All of the haircuts that I declined to get; uneasy and unwilling to explain yet again about this benign barnacle on my cranium.
As all the years came flooding back to me; I recalled with wonder at how I tried for most of my life to run and hide from my Maker.

I was cruel. I was a liar. I was unrelenting in my taunting of anyone who claimed faith in Jesus Christ. Even my dear momma, who prayed for me faithfully, for years and years; endured my mocking and ridicule.

And yet…in spite of all this filth in my life, I claimed myself to be a “Christian”. I wanted nothing to do with God, or His Word. Especially not His Son, who so many had told me; had come to seek and to save the lost.
When I was 10 years old, I repeated a prayer. At that point, I called myself a Christian.

Even though, with the other side of my mouth I would blaspheme and talk crudely of all His works.

I was hiding.

Hiding who I really was. A sinner who was not truly right in God’s sight.

I knew God’s Word said that all have sinned.

And fall short of the glory of God.

And I knew there was a God who I was accountable before.

But, somehow, I thought I could hide. Hide from His justice. Hide from His holiness. I enjoyed walking in the darkness. The darkness of all the evil that I perpetrated during my teenage years. Even though I often could hide it in the light of scrutiny from family and friends.

I hid nothing from God.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” – Hebrews 4:12-13

God, in His great mercy brought me out of my “hiding”. He saved me. Gave me a new heart, with new desires. And with my song I will praise Him! (Psalm 28:7)

I had the procedure done on Monday. I was afraid. When I went into the office and sat down, I said to the doctor; with a weak smile…’there’s still time to change your mind’.

At which the kind doctor laughed heartily and said, ‘come on, let’s get this taken care of!’

Everything was fine. The (very large..!) cyst was removed. No excessive bleeding. No excessive pain. No issues really at all. (Other than Nate having to walk up and down the otherwise almost-deserted sandy road, exploring and “re-exploring” with all the kids…hahaha!)

I am very thankful for my Brothers and Sisters in Christ who prayed for me during this time. THANK YOU!

I will spare any medical details here, but feel free to ask if you have any curiosities about any of that!

Earlier, I said that things aren’t always what they seem.

Remember the bird nest surrounded by thorns? At first, I thought that was quite goofy of that momma bird to put her baby in such a place of seeming danger. ALL THOSE DANGEROUS SPIKES! Pointed right at the vulnerable chick.

I realized later that those thorns, which to my eyes were a danger to that baby bird, were actually a protection for him/her. Predators (dogs, cats, snakes, etc.) would not be easily able to get at that sweet little vulnerable chick. At least, not without getting a snoot full of thorns.

The nest is empty now.

The baby has flown away. Presumably, off somewhere in the field or forest to lift his or her voice to praise the Creator.

That bright yellow seatainer which enclosed a somewhat unorthodox and potentially unnerving medical facility; turned out to be of a great aid to me. Because now, I have a skull without a huge lump sticking up.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I don’t have to hide that anymore.

And I have gratitude afresh to the Lord, who called me out of darkness and into His infinite light. Who saw me (of course…!) as I tried to hide from Him many years ago.

“How blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I could not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD ‘; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a great flood of waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place, You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.” – Psalm 32:1-7

Thank you Jesus!

-Sheila

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