There is a saying among the medical community: “Minor surgery happens to you. Major surgery happens to me.”
This week, I’m recovering from a minor surgery that felt very major.
The surgery corrected a complication from the same surgery – intended to correct my poor peripheral vision – I had back in December.
My ophthalmologist had suggested the surgery, called blepharoplasty, after he noticed I had the eyes of the cartoon character, Jon, Garfield’s owner.
When I questioned how anything with that many syllables could be affordable and still qualify as minor, he assured me that my medical plan would cover the costs as a medical necessity.
“In fact, we can even do an eyebrow lift,” he said.
“You mean I’ll get a movie-star surgery at a Wal-Mart price?”
He glared at me. I think he’d had the surgery, too.
Always a bargain hunter, I assented.
“What are the risks?” I asked.
As a hospital chaplain, I always seem to be the one called when the phrase “minor surgery” becomes “catastrophic event.”
After rattling off the risks, he scheduled me for a two-part surgery in which my eyelids would be lifted while I was awake and my eyebrows would be lifted while I was asleep under general anesthesia.
During the final part of the surgery, an amnesia-inducing drug administered during the eyebrow surgery made the entire experience seem like a piece of cake.
However, after a few weeks, it was obvious a correction was needed.
Scar tissue caused one eyelid to droop enough to make me look like I was winking every time I smiled. That can be misinterpreted in a deployed environment like Iraq where most of us are separated from spouses.
So, when I returned from Iraq, my doctor repeated the eyelid surgery.
As the nurse readied the first barrage of syringes, my doctor cautioned me to expect a pinch.
A pinch? Try poking a straight pin in your eyelid and see if you call it a pinch. I guess he didn’t want to say, “You can expect this to feel like a hot branding poker in your eye.”
“Hold your legs still,” the nurse said. “Every movement will cause your eyes to move.”
Suddenly, my twitching foot inspired images of a syringe impaled in my forehead.
“Can you tie my legs down?” I asked, knowing that hospitals sometimes apply restraints for the safety of the patient.
“No,” she said. “This is a minor procedure. We don’t tie our patients down.”
“Just breathe,” the nurse said, as my brainstem somehow neglected to communicate that small necessity.
But breathing wasn’t the only thing I’d forgotten. The nurse’s prompt reminded me not to forget my spiritual resources.
Why is it that when we are facing minor things we tend to forget God?
It’s as if we are saying to God, “Thanks for the help on the big things, but this is just a minor thing, so you can sit this one out.”
Christian scripture assures us that nothing that happens to one of God’s creatures is minor. Speaking of the common sparrow, Jesus assured his listeners that “not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of God.”
My wife, the birdwatcher, tells me sparrows are the most common bird God made. That’s good news for me. And you too, I suspect.
It means that God cares for the most common of all men – the vain and frightened ones.
Gratefully, nothing is ever minor to God.