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Hiking the Appalachian Trail (July 7, 2009)

posted Sep 3, 2009, 12:37 PM by Neal Jones

            It’s tempting to pull a Mark Sanford right now.  Just drop off the face of the earth for a few days, turn off my cell phone, throw some camping gear into my car, and say that I’m going hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  However, I’m afraid that the reason for my upcoming absence is not nearly as exotic as winding my way through the Smokey Mountains or doing the tango in Argentina.  No, instead, I’ll be out for two weeks for a uvulopalatopharneoplasty, which is easier to write than to say.  The abbreviation is UP3, which I can say.  It’s a surgical procedure for treating obstructive sleep apnea, which I have had for three years.  Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway closes many, many times during sleep, which causes the would-be sleeper to awaken many, many times during the night, depriving said sleeper of sleep.  Having sleep apnea has necessitated my sleeping with a C-PAP machine, which is a shoebox-sized machine that blows air through a tube into a mask worn at night so that the airstream will keep my airway open.  If that sounds uncomfortable, it is, but at least wearing the C-PAP mask allows me to get some sleep.  The UP3 surgery will remove my uvula (and I thought only women had a uvula) and some of the surrounding soft palate, thereby removing the area of obstruction.  There’s a 50% chance that the surgery will alleviate my needing to use the C-PAP again, and I’m willing to take that chance because I’m sick and tired of sleeping with a mask over my nose.  The downside is that the procedure is extremely painful and takes about two weeks to recover.  (Ok, at this point, I’m feeling self-conscious and wondering if I’m telling you more than you want or need to know). 

            The bottom-line is that my surgery is scheduled for July 21, and I will be out of commission for two weeks.  The Worship Committee and I have rearranged my preaching schedule around my surgery schedule so that I will be in the pulpit July 5, 12, and 19 and August 9, 16, and 23.  If you are planning to get sick, have an accident, or go to the hospital, please arrange it to happen either before July 21 or two weeks after July 21.   

            Remember, on July 21, I’m going hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.