Sinus surgery

At 2pm last Monday I was knocked out. It was done gently with an anaesthetic but once that wore off it certainly felt like someone very large has smacked me hard on the nose.

For a long time I’ve suffered from almost continuous head colds, one would resolve only to be promptly replaced by another. Eventually a referral to the otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) department at Dunedin hospital resulted in a CT scan and decision to give me a nose job and clear out my sinus cavities to get the air circulating around inside my head more freely.

According to the surgeon the procedure went well and overall I think the recovery has been OK. For the first four days afterwards I really did feel like I’d been hit very hard on the nose. That has now subsided and mostly I’d describe what remains as blood and bogies. The sinus cavities were packed with dissolvable packing which obviously has to come back out eventually. I’m still quite blocked up, just like a really bad cold or sinus infection!

Time will tell how effective all this is at easing my head cold problem, hopefully it turns out to be worth the discomfort.

Bell’s Palsy

My lack of blog posts over this last week has not been entirely due to laziness (though I must admit to an element of that as a contributing factor). The main issue has been trying to cope with an odd situation resulting in a very stingy right eye due to it not producing tears properly since Tuesday evening. My doctor has diagnosed it as being Bell’s palsy, a situation in which the cranial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face becomes partially paralysed. In addition to my right eye not being able to blink properly and drying out as a result, I also have a slight droop to the right side of my mouth, a bit like when you’ve had a local anaesthetic from a dentist. This makes it a bit awkward to eat and drink, and some words are slurred when I talk.

In theory this should clear up on it’s own, but I have been prescribed prednisone (a corticosteroid) and an antiviral, based on the assumption that this condition can be caused by a viral infection of the nerve. Currently the symptoms are annoying and inconvenient but not a major problem, though I do hope that it clears up as I’d not want to have this long term.

Rock bottom

The inside of an old industrial chimney shaft photographed from the bottom - circular stone wall with tree growing from it and blue sky with white clouds in the opening in the centre, vertical

In 2014 I hit rock bottom.

In just one year I dug myself into a huge credit card debt, gained 10 Kg of excess weight, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in a suicidal state, and almost ruined my marriage. Not my best effort.

Fortunately my depression has improved and my wife is graciously giving me a chance to make things better. I urgently need to change how I “do life”. This year my blog will trace my journey to ‘a better me’.

This is not about ‘radical’ or extreme changes, there is no room for such things when I am in debt, have health problems and have to work full time to support my family. It is also not a quest for perfection, all of us let ourselves and others down every day. What I am aiming for is to be a better person. Not perfect, not even ‘the best’, just better than I am now.

Because I have made such a mess of things and failed in a multitude of ways, this self-improvement project will range over many areas. Of particular interest to me is how to make changes stick and finding what will have the biggest payoff for even small improvements.

Being like God to them

Few countries in the world that spend less of their GDP on health or more on their military than Burma. If ethnic peoples within Burma die of poor health it means the army have less resistance. This is how they like it.

Shan-Tai prayer month 2011, day 3

According to the Myanmar Ministry of Health, the two main objectives of the Ministry of Health are to : (1) to enable every citizen to attain full life expectancy and (2) to ensure that every citizen is free from diseases.

Fantastic goals for a health service to have, if only they were true. In reality there are few, if any, countries in the world that spend less of their GDP on health or more on their military. If ethnic peoples within Burma die of poor health it means the army have less resistance.

The true healthcare situation in Shan State is that while there are some medical clinics and hospitals, patients must pay for their own medicine. If a patient cannot pay they will not be treated. This means most villagers cannot afford medicines and turn to traditional remedies instead.

Healthcare is a way in which Christians can reach out to help and shine the healing of the Gospel into the lives of Shan people:

Stuart Corlett, Partners’ Shan Projects Manager, comments on what he sees happening in Shan State:
The Shan people are primarily Buddhist. Does
Jesus come into the equation? Of course! I was recently
talking with a Buddhist, Shan friend. He said this to me in broken English, “Three years ago when you first started working with us, I thought you only wanted us to be Christians. Now I realize that you wanted to be like God to us…” What he meant was that his initial thinking about Partners’ involvement was about religion; what he has found out is that we desire to represent God to him and the Shan people.

God uses the efforts of Christians to heal both through medical assistance and through prayer. In a culture with high awareness of the spirit world God’s healing through the prayers of Shan Christians can be a very powerful witness.

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
(Matthew 4:23 ESV)

Pray for

  • God’s healing mercy to work among the Shan who are sick (see Matthew 4:23).
  • Local churches to be eager and confident in reaching out in love to the needy community (see Titus 2:13b-14).
  • That the child morbidity and mortality rates in Shan State will be reduced.
  • Pray for the mothers and fathers of the children who die before turning 5. That is (221 of every 1000 children in eastern Burma). Pray for strength to live through the pain.
  • Pray for Iternally Displaced Persons who are living in hiding in Burma’s jungles. Security is low and their basic needs are seldom met.
  • Pray that relief teams will be able to reach as many people as possible with the gifts of medicine and healthcare workers.
  • Pray for relief team workers. The tasks of the teams are many, and they are often traveling in hostile territories. Pray for protection, health and wisdom in all the different situations they encounter. Pray that their efforts will be blessed, saving the lives of people who would otherwise not be helped.
  • Pray for healthcare workers in clinics and other healthcare facilities. Pray for wisdom to give right diagnoses, that their medicine supplies will hold out and that they will receive strength when they feel overwhelmed by fatigue.
  • (Additional prayer hints from Partners Relief & Development publication Vermin (2008))

Other posts related to this topic:

External Resources:

Download the Shan Prayer Guide:

30 Days of Prayer for the Shan
Image of medics at work: Free Burma Rangers