Ten Years Free

Today marks ten years since my last seizure. I found this in the archives, an article I wrote a few years ago in response to something….I’m not exactly sure what. I felt like this was an appropriate way to commemorate my tenth anniversary of physical freedom:

Matthew 4:24

News about Him spread all over Syria, and people brought to Him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and He healed them.

I was diagnosed with a simple-partial seizure disorder in the summer of ’93, being told by the doctors then the mysterious nauseous sensation I had been experiencing from the time my brain developed enough to hold a memory was actually a seizure.  I began a regimen of neurological meds after my diagnosis and rotated on and off every new drug for seizures from that point on (all of you Pirate BSUers became all too familiar with my disorder and the side effects of the drugs!).  Due to this disorder, I was not able to keep a driver’s license for very long (thanks for trusting me with your car for that volleyball class, Brent!), I missed out on many of the late night memorable moments with the BSU crowd (fatigue would result in a barrage of seizures), and even had to limit what classes I took and concentration for my degree (seizures and TIG/MIG welding in a sculpture class don’t mix well!)  On a positive note, God kept me out of trouble through this disorder, alcohol and drugs would interfere with my medicine levels, causing more seizures).

Through my teenage years, I learned to live with my seizures and disciplined myself to taking palms full of medication 2-3 times a day (depending on the drug of the month).  I regularly bummed rides to work, school, and home from friends.  My wife and I basically dated over AIM, seeing each other for the occasional BSU Convention or holiday party.  During our first year and a half of marriage, she would drive me to work in the morning before heading to work herself (making her commute twice as long).  In 2003, my Neurologist suggested a brain scan that had not been tried previously.  At my next appointment I heard these words; “We saw something on the scan and are going to let a Neurosurgeon look at it”.  In our first two years of marriage, God brought Julie and I through the death of her grandmother, a job loss(for our first Christmas!), the struggles of my seizure disorder, not to mention the normal stresses of the first year, and now we’re facing major brain surgery.

We met with the surgeon who showed us the scar tissue on the front of my right temporal lobe which was interfering with the neurons in that area, causing misfires resulting in seizures.  He assured us this procedure would be risky, but not as much as others being that the affected area was on the right side of my brain (the creative side) and not the left side which contains functional controls and memory.  He prepared us both for some memory loss, but did not go into detail as to how much.

On Dec. 16, 2003 at 5am, I was rolled into the operating room; giving my wife one last kiss and promising her I wouldn’t be long.  The last seizure I remembered was two days before (they came in clumps, a few days between).  I remember the room looking very sterile, everything seemed some shade of white but for the hands and numbers of the clock on the wall, the clear mask pumping nitrous was placed over my face and then blackness.  After 6 hours of surgery, I awoke in the ICU to see my wife looking down at me.  My first words?  “Hey sexy!”

After 23 years of seizures, 10 years of medicine and my father’s prayers, God answered my dad’s plea of Matthew 4:24.  I went into surgery averaging 40 seizures per month, I awoke never to have another.  In December of 2003, I was taking 20 pills per day to control my disorder, on Thanksgiving Day 2004 I swallowed my last anti-convulsant capsule.  I have been seizure free without medication since.

Now holding down a solid job, a driver’s license, and hanging up my medic-alert tag, I thank God every day for the mercy bestowed to me that day and will pass this testimony on to my three boys.

The medicine bottle, half full of leftover Dilantin pills, rests in my container of found objects while I patiently brainstorm the perfect composition. I anxiously and expectantly wait to use those pills as medium, translating the release I feel, being free from them.

The Healer

The Healer

 

Moving on after the Sermon on the Mount, we’re diving into Matthew 8 with a new series entitled “The Authority of Jesus”. Over the next two chapters, Matthew writes using a cyclical format of miracles and discipleship as he shows us Jesus’s ministry. Matthew is teaching more than a spiritual curriculum, he is showing us Jesus was (and still is) more than a great teacher, he is also our healer. If we accept Jesus as teacher, but do not acknowledge him as healer, we  reduce him to just another great mind and are not following him.

At the start of chapter 8, Jesus heals a leper. The obvious scandal with their interaction is the risk Jesus takes by approaching the diseased man (then furthermore,  touching him!). The language used by the leper is easily missed. The diseased man, his body literally falling apart, does not ask to be healed; he asked Jesus if he could be cleansed. Leprosy was not only indicative of a physical disease in this time period, it was also believed to reflect a spiritual deformity. Lepers who braved the local market were required to announce their presence by yelling the word “UNCLEAN” wherever they went as a warning to the public. Jesus intentionally identifies with the unclean man in order to make him clean. He offers the same opportunity to each of us.

Today’s drawing is very personal to me. It is also quite simple, two words and an icon. Across the page, in the foreground, is the word ‘authority’ written in Greek. Jesus holds supreme authority over the earth and all its inhabitants. The middle ground hold a second word, ‘healed’, also written in Greek. The icon in the background is the medic-alert tag I no longer have to wear, and the broken chain that once suspended it on my neck. This December I will celebrate ten years without seizures or anti-convulsion medication because Jesus identified with me.