Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Listen Up Pastors...Diagnosis: Bullet Dodged Secondary Diagnosis: Wake Up Call

I realize that this is really long overdue.  What can I say?  I've been busy.  But isn't/wasn't that part of the problem?  Sort of, not really.  More on that in a bit.

A few weeks ago, I received another one of those dreaded phone calls, "Mr. Nelson would you please return to the doctor's office, we need to talk to you about your results."  This caused me to wonder, "Why on earth do they do this?  Especially when they already know that I'm having some sort of heart issues?  Calls like that do not help."  So, I of course raced to the doctor's office, making plans on the way in my head for the heart cath, which is no doubt coming, and then I'm figuring out how to delegate out the responsibilities at Grace in my absence.  I can remember so clearly telling myself, "Yeah, but you're only going to be down two days tops."

I arrive at the doctor's office, they get me in to see the young lady that normally sees me.  She enters the room, carrying the file which is no doubt full of all sorts of bad news and she smiles.

"That bad huh?" I ask.

"Nope, as a matter of fact, your heart is in excellent shape."

"Wait!  What!?"

"Yup, not at all what any of us expected with that blood pressure and how bad you looked."

I was stunned and truth be told, I believe that she was as well.  When I finally broke down and went to the doctor, I was a mess, which obviously you can read about a few posts ago.  So what happened?  Beats me.  Her theory is that between my diet and my insistence on going a 100 miles an hour for long periods of time was essentially driving me into the ground and my body was throwing out all of the red flags.

So, what has been going on in the meantime?

-Well first, the blood pressure is under control through medication.  My heart has been racing so fast and so hard for so long that this in and of itself has been a revelation.  Everything seems to go slower now, almost like I'm perpetually stuck in the "zone".  I tend to be really good in chaos anyhow, even when life and evidently my heart were going at light speed.  But now?  It's pretty awesome to sort of feel like things are in slow motion.  I told my wife at one point I sort of feel like Neo in the Matrix.  I mean, let's not put that to the test by firing bullets at me, but it's kind of cool nonetheless.

-Now I realize that this point is truly relative.  I mean, I was essentially eating one meal a day and that was gorging on garbage right before bed.  With that said, I feel like I'm not only eating more than I ever have, but I'm eating healthy.  (I promise to have more to say on this in a future post; this is really important).  I expend a lot of energy and I'm not going to stop.  However, with as bad as my blood work was, it made me realize that I cannot keep up the tempo I want unless I am properly fueling my body.  I eat lots of veggies, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.  And you know what?  I'm never hungry and I don't get cravings.  I've also cut down on the coffee.  Do I still drink it?  Yup.  But what I've noticed is that I get far more energy from the food that I'm eating than I ever did from coffee.  In the weeks since the stress test?  I've dropped over 20 pounds.  Oh!  And you know what else?  My financial expenditures on food is drastically less.  Don't buy the silliness that eating healthy is more expensive; but once again, more on that in the future.

One more point; it is still a constant struggle to stop and eat.  However, I do force myself to slow down and enjoy three meals a day.  I work hard not to "slam" my food, especially if I'm in the midst of something else I'd rather been doing and this has proven to be a big help in taking breaks.

-Speaking of breaks.  I purchased an Anglican Rosary.  Praying this Rosary forces me to sit still and in the presence of God.  I try with varying success to do this 4 times a day; each times takes me approximately 20 minutes, which means I'm attempting to give up 1 hour and 20 minutes a day.  A month ago I would've fought you if you tried to take 80 minutes from my day.  I could not fathom giving up such a chunk of time, "I'll pray on the run; God knows what I'm trying to do!!!"  Seriously, do you have any idea what giving up 80 minutes a day to sit still does to a person like me?

Which of course is really another way to say that my prayer life was no where near what this life demands.  Here's the odd thing...Losing upwards of that 80 minutes has not decreased my productivity or my effectiveness, I'm getting more done.  The prayer beads help me to be still, to focus, to rest, to be disciplined, and to listen to God in a way that is far more conducive to listening than is running my beloved hundred miles an hour.

-Where I've not done so well is finding my rhythm at the gym; I'm still working on that.  This has been hard for me because I do indeed love the gym and working out.  It's just a matter of first finding the place in my day where it makes the most sense.  Secondly, accepting that the 2+ hour sojourns to the gym are probably over and really not needed.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for me, determining what body type best suits me and my ministry now.  I do have the uncanny ability to transform quickly, which might have contributed to my having ignored the warning bells for so long.  I always told myself that it wasn't anything to worry about, because I could quickly fix it.

I had a certain body type when I was boxing, another when I was playing football, so why should ministry be any different?  One thing I have decided is that there is no real reason or benefit to carrying the 240lbs I was carrying when I got to Louisville, even though I was in excellent shape and all muscle.  It just can't be good on the joints or heart going forward, and isn't really needed to share the Gospel.

-All of that has conspired together to result in me feeling worlds better than I have in quite a while.  I'm sleeping better, my digestion is vastly better, life has slowed down (even though I haven't), my pants are falling off (lol) and I'm enjoying what I do even more...and frankly I didn't think that was possible  (You have seen the video of Grace right!?!?!?).  Even for as rotten as I was feeling before, I still loved to come to the church and the neighborhood.  I am so happy in this place.  Which of course, was also a part of the problem lol  However, the biggest benefit to all of this?  No more living in fear of what my body was trying to communicate.  I have been freed of that very sizable weight.

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