A Green Woodpecker nodded and nibbled on our front lawn yesterday. For twenty minutes, not twenty feet from our front window, it strutted like a soldier on parade, its vermillion headpiece contrasting with its two-tone green uniform as it stiffly picked off insects that had been drawn above ground by the slightly warmer weather.
It was enough to attract us into the garden for the first clear up of the year. Two days ago we had woken up to blizzards with snow settling on the cars and drive, but Saturday was just about Spring. Now was the time to deadhead the hydrangeas, to cut back last year’s growth from the Sedum and to pull down the dead ivy from our cherry tree.
We gave the lawn a first cut, but first we had to buy a new lawnmower. We needed to be able to start it with an easy pull, and our old Mountfield was a terrible starter that needed strong stomach muscles as you yanked on the draw string. And I won’t be able to do that for a while.
On Tuesday, I go into hospital for abdominal surgery. This has been hanging over me since last September. At that time a CT scan found an enlarged lymph node in my right iliac fossa. Despite many investigations no explanation for it was found. I had hoped that it would just go away, but a recent CT scan shows it to be still there, and the only way of finding out what it means is to cut it out.
The radiologist suspects carcinoid, a rare slow growing tumor that typically secretes serotonin, but all the tests that I had for that were negative. Colonoscopy showed no cancer of the cecum and the biopsies were negative. So we really don’t know what we are going to find. I guess the explanation with the best outcome
is that there has been an old appendix abscess, but there are also more worrying possibilities. It could be a non-secretory carcinoid, or one that secreted another neuroendocrine hormone, like parathormone (I have a slightly raised blood calcium, but so do thousands of other normal people). Or it could be something more distressing.
In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare says, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” Hemingway had a variation on this in ‘A Farewell to Arms’ “the brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them.” Whichever is true, waiting for an operation is a challenge. The more you know, the more you imagine the worse.
Nevertheless, I face the future with equanimity. The sermon this morning was on 1 Peter 1:8: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” The worst that could happen is that I will see my Savior sooner. Were that to be the case, it would be very sad for those who love me, but for me, better by far.