My surgery: A test of my non-faith
On Monday, 12 October, a few days after my 44th birthday, I had surgery on my cervical spine to replace two degenerative discs. This could almost be classed as an emergency surgery since I started having severe pain three weeks prior when my left C7 nerve root became impacted. There were two large left paracentral disc protrusions which caused impingement of the spinal cord. From my initial visits to my doctor, there it was an MRI on the 2nd, consultation w/my doctor on the 5th, consultation with a Neurosurgeon on the 6th, pre-op on the 7th, and surgery on the 12th. Bottom line, it all happened pretty quickly for me. I should note that I have not been in a hospital since birth and have enjoyed a relatively healthy life that has never included this type of pain (I don’t even get headaches).
This is my first crisis since de-conversion and I must say it was a good, solid test of my non-faith. In this blog, we have discussed the fact that dealing with crisis is one of the major reasons humanity has created gods and developed religious beliefs. I was faced with my first challenge of dealing with crisis without having my imaginary deity to run to for security, comfort and the general “it’s going to be alright.”
The other issue I faced was my response to my Christian family and friends. Even though it was difficult at times, I was respectful and said “amen” and “thank you” to the many prayers I received. I realized early on that they needed to say those prayers not to necessarily make me feel better but to allow them to feel secure about my surgery and that I’d be ok. Initially, their prayers were for my healing (I come from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background). I wanted to explain to them that God doesn’t perform these types of miracles (where degenerative discs are regenerated) but I did not. I wanted to explain to them that the only miracles God performs are the once that are scientifically possible (like cancer going into remission, etc.) but, of course, I kept those thoughts to myself. I wanted to challenge them to find ONE instance where an arm or a leg was grown back via a miracle knowing that there are no such cases.
After it was obvious, that the pain was not going to disappear via a miraculous healing and I would have to have surgery, the prayers shifted to “God guiding the doctor’s hands.” That prayer made me smile. I was hoping his training, skill, and experience would be his guide instead. Now, of course, it’s for a speedy recovery. If I am recovering quickly, it’s a credit to the pure genius of my doctor and his skills. Thanks doc!!!!
Overall, I passed the test. I never felt the urge to pray for security and comfort. I researched my doctor and hospital and there gained some security. I understood the risks, but also knew that the odds were in favor of a successful surgery. I’m happy to report that so far, everything is going well with my recovery. I will be on house arrest for 2 weeks, in a neck brace for 2 months and some additional recovery time, but I’m thrilled with the advances medical science has made that this surgery can be accomplished with the ease that it has.
I do have a renewed respect and tolerance for faith as I watched my family members struggle with this and realized that they could not go through this without leaning on their God, but I am thankful that I have made significant progress to not fear the unknown.
- The de-Convert