A Missionary Afraid of an Anesthetic–an edited repost


“Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.” Anon

It was unbelievable. My blood was squirting from my mouth and staining the white apron before me. How could this happen to me? In Brazil? Oh I knew right well why and how it was occurring but in such frightening circumstances unbelief seems to take over. There in the surgeon’s chair I wondered if it was for real or was it some nightmare? My only consolation was the warm presence of my wife Doris with me in that small room. The whole scenario had an aura of comfort about it for she was there.

This is what was happening– I was having my tonsils out in a doctor’s office under a local anesthetic. I did not know if the lady assisting the surgeon was a nurse or if there was a backup surgeon if anything went wrong. Doris is a nurse but she had no part in the surgery except to comfort me. No anestheologist for the surgeon took care of that by puncturing my throat with shots of a deadening pain killer.

I was counting on my own private nurse to be there but she had to argue her way in. The surgeon did not think Doris had the stomach for a Brazilian tonsillectomy. She explained, however, there would be no problem for she was a Registered Nurse. Now I think back on that situation and many others in life where Doris was a key saving factor. I believe that there was more to our marriage than two young people falling in love. I am sure that God with all of his foresight was part of the long range plan so that we could be together in that surgeon’s office.

One part I recall of that surgery is that I was scared of drowning in my own blood for it was hard to suction it away fast enough. The helper was doing her job the way a dentist’s assistant in Canada might. But that was no comfort to me.

In any case, the surgery ended and Doris led the way to the streetcar stop where we could get transportation across the city. But it did not stop near our door but at the top of hill some distance from our front door. But I could handle most anything at that point for the freezing had not disappeared. Soon in our bedroom of our small home, the pain came with a vengeance and I recall feeling as if my throat was cut. Of course that was true to some extent.

With the intense pain I wanted nothing more than to have Doris sit on the bed beside me and hold my hand. The only relief I could get was from a cold drink of water though that created another problem—swallowing. It took a number of days before I graduated from cold liquids to food made into mush.

But I never did explain the why of the surgery. For some time I had recurrent throat infections and my doctor in Brazil thought the problem was my tonsils. But nothing improved after that ordeal and it was yeas later that a doctor in Ontario hit on the solution. Another question? Why surgery in such Spartan conditions? Well, the custom then in Brazil was to have all such surgery to be done in the doctor’s office.

And that reminds me other another tonsillectomy. When we lived in the interior of São Paulo state, a lady from the church asked me to go with her young son who was having a tonsillectomy using as usual a local freezing. Well, I was in pretty good shape accompanying the young lad till the blood began to flow. My stomach would not stand it and I left to sit with the mom and dad in the waiting room. Oh yes, the young lad recovered and on a trip to Brazil years later I met him once again as well as his mother.

We can say, “All’s well that ends well.” But as I look back over my experience in that doctor’s office I am sure the good Lord with his angels were doing their part. While that surgery was back in 1956, I am still thankful to God for his grace and mercy in my surviving that tonsillectomy.

im000477Not only did I live through that experience but with survival I was able to see years later our own great-grandchildren. There now are five. The picture shows Doris and I with Olivia who is now ten years old. A smart child but what else can one expect? God is good or what?



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