The heart is the substance.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Very awesome poem

Priest's Song

When I have no title I make
one up- irreverend.

When I have no collar I roll
my neck round.

When I have no church I steeple
my fingers.

When I have no pupit I rpeach

When I have no altar I celebrate
my backyard.

When I have no wine I weep
blood tears.

When I have no bread I am
a sacrament.

When I have no God I pray

-Rev. Lyn G. Brakeman

Monday, June 28, 2010

the reverend

It's a new phase of life. The reverend part has begun. And let me just say, I am happy. Certainly there are still disappointments and setbacks- there are still things I wish were different, but I have finally been affirmed in this calling that I have had since twelve or thirteen. On July 4th, I will preside over my first Holy Communion and the following week I will get to serve the same sacrament to my youth. And I already feel holy. I feel honored and special. And it is amazing to feel happy, something I don't always feel.

A lot of people I know hesitate to tell people they are a minister. But lately, I've been finding myself telling people right out. I don't just say, "I work at a church." I say, "I am a pastor." It is one of the most fulfilling things to say I work for God.

I don't know what is next, and let's face it, I never do. I can't say what will happen tomorrow. I don't know where I will be next year. But I know that God is with me and I pray that whatever is next, I can endure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

winter, spring, summer, or fall

For all those who know what this means to me, I'm thinking of you today.

When your down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights.
You just call out my name,
And you know where ever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.
If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
And soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, Spring, summer or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don't you let them.
You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don't you know that,
Winter Spring summer or fall,
Hey now, all you've got to do is call.
Lord, I'll be there, yes I will.
You've got a friend.
You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
You've got a friend.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

new adventure

Well, Tuesday is moving day... unbelievable.

It's harder than I thought it would be to say goodbye to the friends I have made here and even the city itself. I feel like I have made the most of my year here. Durham is a really cool place. I am going to miss i t. I also made some really amazing friends here. It's almost like going to camp. You have an experience for a short amount of time that nothing else will ever be like. There's no year that will be like this one. Not only do I just mean working in the hospital, but also the people, the sites, the independence of living alone. I had someone write me a card today, that said they admired me for my independence. Well... I'm not sure that's ever happened! haha.

In the health update, I went to the doctor on tuesday and I have absolutely no leaking from my valve repair. This is great news. I got an all around good report. So, how do I feel? Well, I'm still tired and I really wish my stamina were better, but it will just take time. I'm hoping to do a little bit of cardiac rehab to get back to where I want to be physically. I am still in pain, which I was informed by the docs is going to last awhile (months). Apparently, the surgery I had (although minimally invasive) actually leaves people in pain for a longer period of time. My cardiologist said that people tend to complain about pain longer than they do with the open heart surgery! What? I know, I find it hard to believe.... that is until I wake up and get a sharp pain through my shoulder and then I think... it's plausible. Most of all, I am grateful that I am healthy and the future looks very bright.

A new adventure begins.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Lord Jesus Christ,
May my confidence in you enable me to move into whatever comes next.
May my love for you be shown by placing faith in people.

When I am not sure where to go, in your mercy, take my hand.
Help me to understand what I can, whether feeling or thought.

Give me the courage to speak and the courage to be silent.

When I do not live up to who I am and who you have created me to be, forgive me.

Nothing will come between us, O Lord. Keep me close.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the surgery and the afterglow

Yes, it's the update you've all been waiting for! Just kidding. I am pretty sure no one is sitting on the edge of their seats to hear how the surgery really went.

First of all, the surgery went very well. My surgeon was able to repair the heart valve through the minimally invasive surgery! Good news, great news... yes. I am currently at home recovering which includes walking a few times a day, keeping up with meds, generally resting, spending time with mom, and watching some movies along the way. It is very hard to be still and be a patient, when there are times you want to do things. The first few days were pretty lazy, because I was still very sore and did not feel well. I see my cardiologist on Tuesday and we will see how she thinks things are progressing.

July 13th revisited:

I arrived at pre-op at 7:30am. They were running a tight ship and I was immediately taken back for vitals and the deadly finger prick! (seriously, I bruised) After the rest of the blood work, I was sent to get a chest X-ray. Unfortunately, this proved to be a little bit of a longer wait, because their computers went down and they skipped me on accident. After the chest X-ray, which they conduct somewhat like an assembly line... or herding cattle, or something strange and impersonal. Then I met with the nurse who gave me a big book from the heart center... you know, just a little light reading. She explained everything about pre-op stuff, including how to properly shower with the little scrubber things that docs use to scrub-in with. Believe it or not, you have to take 2 showers! We met with the anesthesiologist coordinator who answered our questions about being "put under." After that, I requested a notary to complete my Advance Directive paperwork, so that everyone knows what decisions I would like in case I cannot answer for myself. The paperwork also includes a healthcare power of attorney, which officially appoints one individual to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself. After all of this was completed, we went to the cardio-thoracic surgery clinic to speak with my doctor. I actually spoke with one of the fellows, but he was nice and it only took about 10 minutes. After five hours of clinic time (mostly waiting in chairs), I was free for the afternoon. Mom, Dad, and I went to lunch which was really fun. I took an afternoon nap and then met the pastor at my new church for dinner. He drove all the way from Newport News, VA for my surgery. Talk about an awesome person.

A little bit about July 14th and the following days:

We arrived at the hospital at 5am. By 5:30 I was in pre-op answering questions. Just as they were putting on my ID bracelet, a nurse came by to let me know that my surgery would be postponed for an emergency double lung transplant. I trotted out of to the waiting area to let the fam know. We were all a little dissappointed, but we were happy for the recipient of 2 matching lungs! This began the long wait. I was finally paged to surgery somewhere between 1:30 and 2:30. Special thanks to S, P, D, R, and D who made visits that broke up those 8 hours for me! The worst part about it was that I couldn't have any water... but I made it!

The questions went fast and pretty soon, I was meeting my anesthesia fellows who would take care of me. They whisked me off to another area and began placing my IV. I got a little scared at this point, because everything was moving so fast and the room was really small. But as soon as they sent that first med through my blood... I was asleep.

I woke up in the ICU, with a tube in my throat. At first, I just remember snapshots. People were trying to tell me to stay awake, because you have to be awake enough for them to take the tube out. All I can really say, was that this is not a pleasant experience in the least. It is pretty much like being choked and not being able to do anything about it. Luckily they figured out that I was not going to pull on the tube, so I did not have to be restrained for too long. The second worst thing, other than waking up intubated, was a lovely thing called chest tubes. I had two large chest tubes and one drain (Which stayed in until discharge). One tube goes in front of the right rib-cage and the other goes behind the rib-cage. Both of these help to drain fluid from you body after surgery. Eventually they removed the two large tubes, which again, is very painful. While my primary experience in the ICU is one of pain and discomfort, I also sat in a chair and walked about 30 feet. And when you think about it... that is pretty impressive. By noon on the 15th, I was ready to go to step-down.

The afternoon went well. The first night awake was a pretty awful experience. My goal is not to belabor the experience of pain, but is more for those who are facing this surgery and are reading this blog. My greatest advice is to work hard on communicating with your nurse about pain. Know how they interpret the pain scale, what they are hearing from you. Make them repeat information... some of them don't listen. Also, when you are on pain medicine, it is harder to articulate complex types of pain, so keep trying. Be assured that they can call the doctor and order you more pain meds- I promise. If a nurse tells you, "that's all we can give you," have them call the doctor. While my pain was not well managed on my first day, I am thankful to those nurses who helped me and for my mom for putting up with my moaning (literally, not figuratively). All of this to say... pain management is a HUGE issue, and everyone uses different language to talk about pain, so try to communicate well and often.

The next couple of days went much better. Thanks to all who visited me in the hospital, sent flowers, cards, and wrote notes on facebook. While I did not have the energy to respond, I was very grateful for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. You'll never know how special it made me feel.

My days in the hospital usually included (starting at 4am)- bloodwork, chest x-ray, meds, breakfast, walk, sit up in chair, lunch, walk, nap, dinner, walk. Sounds fun, huh? I did eventually get a couple of spit baths too, which always makes you feel better. God knew what God was doing with that whole water thing.

Heart surgery accessories:
Incentive Spirometer: a plastic tube-like device that looks somewhat like a nebulizer. The idea is to suck air into your lungs to help expand them and encourage deep breathing. This helps with- not getting pneumonia and increasing stamina.
Heart pillow: a firm pillow that you can hold to do deep breathing and coughing that acts a splint so that it does not hurt as much. I have also found this pillow useful for laughing, since that can hurt a little too.

Now, my incisions are looking good and by tomorrow, I should be able to take off all of the tape, gauze, etc. There are 5-8, depending on how you count them. It looks like there will not be bad scars, but I will update you on that once all of the tape is gone.

I am pretty certain you are tired of reading this post by now. I just needed to get my update in, before my blog became a pre-op only account.

Friday, July 10, 2009

quick update

Hi friends-
Well... the countdown is really real this time. Only a few days left before surgery. Parents begin arriving tomorrow and we are on the road to getting all of this over with. As I have said in the last couple of posts, I have had a hard time writing lately. I have a feeling I will write some more after the surgery, but I can't quite get it all out on paper right now.

I have been traveling a lot, and that's been great. I feel like I've used the last couple of months well to rest and have some fun. So after New Jersey, New York, Lake Junaluska, Norfolk, Newport News, Richmond, Jacksonville and soon to be Wilmington... I will be in Durham for awhile and then prepare to move to VA.

For those who want to know. I will be at pre-op/pre-admit Monday morning and meet with Dr. Glower again. The surgery will be Tuesday, but I will not know the approximate time of the surgery until Monday. Being around Duke for a year, I know that they are usually late taking you to surgery. The surgery will be 5 hours long. Please pray for my family during this time as they will be sitting in a waiting room for quite awhile.

Those of you looking for more information about the surgery... here is a link.

This man had the basic surgery that I will be having and he also had Dr. Glower as his surgeon. It was helpful to read his personal account.

Thanks for all of your prayers, I know they are helping me.