Being Humbled and Enduring Pain: Appropriate for Holy Week

We weren’t able to make it to a Good Friday Service this year (more on that below) so we prayed a rosary together as a family just after dinner but just before the Canucks game. It was a beautiful time, both spiritual and (respectfully) humourous in spots. Jake fell asleep by the 2nd decade, while Sean kept losing count, and he would try and signal me to find out where we were without having Gail notice. Priceless. Kayla meanwhile was babbling constantly throughout…you can guess who she takes after there. It reminded me just how powerful praying with the family can be, and it encouraged us and challenged us to make more time for deliberate prayer as a family.

The reason I wasn’t able to leave the house today was because I am nursing an inch-wide and half-inch deep cut on the back of my leg. I had an abscess removed on Tuesday (remnants of a staph infection I got in late February). My family doctor packed it after cutting it out on Tuesday…it was so painful that I bit a hole through the paper on his examination table! He removed the packing on Thursday and repacked it in a slightly-less painful procedure. We went for dinner an hour later to the Vetters, and I started bleeding out from the wound, soaking the dressings and my pants. Thankfully, Zinha is a Registered Nurse, so she was able to redress it for me (I had to ask permission from her husband Richard that she see me with my pants down…haha) and she recommended that I go to Emergency at Richmond General Hospital. They generously offered to watch Sean and Jake while Gail and Kayla took me to the hospital.

I am so grateful that the Lord had us at that place at that time. I almost didn’t go to the Vetters’ that night, opting instead to just rest at home. I probably wouldn’t have known what to do had I started bleeding profusely with no one to help me! So not only did I get a yummy meal…I got professional care and some peace-of-mind.

It was a madhouse in the waiting room but I was luckily treated within an hour. Needless to say, it was very humbling lying on the hospital bed with my pants off with both the female nurse and female doctor tending to me. Thankfully I was wearing decent underwear. As unpleasant as it was for me, it must have been worse for them as they had to clean, re-pack, and re-dress the wound. The most painful part was actually when they removed the tape (think Steve Carell in the 40 Year-Old Virgin).

While waiting to be worked on, I had a lot of time to think, text, reflect, and pray. I thought it was appropriate that this was happening to me during the Easter Triduum, as I thought of the humility shown by Christ washing His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, and the pain and anguish He felt on Good Friday. This isn’t to say that my humbling experiences and pain were comparable at all to what Jesus went through…but they certainly were analogous to me.

Here’s one last funny story: in making small talk with the Filipina nursing student, I mentioned that my wife was born in the Philippines. She then asked me if I was Filipino, and I responded “no” but that I could say one Filipino phrase…but that it was very inappropriate for the situation (remember…I was lying there on my stomach in my underwear). She told me to save it for when we were done.

After I finished dressing myself, she asked what the phrase was. I said in perfectly fluent Tagalog: “Gusto mo akong umutot?” She burst out into laughter and indeed thanked me for saving it…as it means “Do you want me to fart?” Quite the ending to my hospital visit!

The injury has affected me more than I thought: I can’t really sit so I’m regulated to lying down or standing. Thus, I can’t drive and I was in an out of the office all week for short spurts. Being a person somewhat of routine and habit, I find that I haven’t been really effective at anything, either at home or at work. So I’m praying that I can recover quickly and get back to business as usual.

Thus, I’m looking forward to the joy and new life that comes from Christ’s glorious resurrection at Easter! And to keep with my analogy…it will likely mean taking the boys bowling or playing hockey outside.

Happy Easter!

My Wedding Proposal to Gail

My wedding proposal to Gail on Sunday, February 28, 1999 at St. Paul’s LIFE TEEN Youth Ministry’s annual “KNACK” Talent Show.

This proposal caught Gail completely off-guard because of the location and the timing. It fell exactly half-way between Valentine’s Day and Gail’s birthday of March 13. Thus, she didn’t suspect a thing (given that the other 2 dates would have been more opportune times).

Check out the look on Gail’s face when I first call her up…priceless!

Thanks to Gary, Mark and Brian for helping me out. It turned out as well as could be expected despite the bad acting (them) and bad singing (me)…haha!

Being a Canucks Fan in Calgary

I arrived in Calgary today for meetings with other diocesan Directors and Coordinators of Catholic Youth Ministry before heading to Banff for a national youth ministry conference. So, as I like to do when I travel to other cities, I bought a ticket to see the local professional sports team, in this case the Calgary Flames. And I had the awesome company of youth ministry colleagues Peter, Laurie, Denise, Lecia, and Sarah. Peter in particular was very excited to see a team other than the Maple Leafs in person. I can’t say I blame him.

I proudly donned my brand new Vancouver Canucks jersey, the one that says LUONGO in big letters on the back. Upon entering the Pengrowth Saddledome, I knew that I was walking into enemy territory, as the Canucks and Flames are battling for first-place in the Northwest Division (in fact, the Flames entered the night one point ahead of the Canucks in the standings).

I had no reservations about wearing the blue and green among the sea of red. After all, I am an Ultimate Canucks Fan . And most of the Calgarians probably thought I was clueless. After all, the game was between the Flames and the Phoenix Coyotes.

The first comment directed at me was actually a positive one. “Nice jersey” someone said as I made my way to my seat. Couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not. But it didn’t matter. I was too busy focussing on not tripping and falling down the seemingly 257 stairs I had to climb to get to my seat in the highest row in the arena! Peter had me in stitches all night with his one-liners about our mile-high seats, the best being “So this is what it looks like for God when He watches a hockey game.” Classic.

Every time that Phoenix scored, I cheered. And every time that Calgary did something good (not a lot) I stayed silent. Phoenix played a strong game and won 3-1, much to the dismay of 18,000 and to the delight of one (me).

I knew the true litmus test would be leaving the arena. After all, the home team had just been drubbed in their own arena. And the arena sold beer.

Sure enough, I saw 2 guys pointing and snickering as I made my down the 257 stairs. Then, in the concourse, I rather tall cowboy-type brushed shoulders with me and said “Vancouver? What the f**k is that?” I knew better than to respond. Actually, I didn’t even know what a proper response would be. I guess it would be: “A city on the west coast.” Or “host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.” Or “the most beautiful city in the world.”

Then, a chant of “Vancouver sucks” from behind me. Another guy muttered “Luongo sucks” under his breath while walking by me. Then for fun I went into the Flames Store and looking at the wall of Calgary jerseys, I asked the employee (with my tongue firmly in my cheek) if he had any Luongo jerseys in large. His response: “Never in here.” Or maybe it was “Get out of here.”

I made my way back to hotel to greet more of the youth ministers. And my night came to a perfect end when Krissy texted me with: “6 rounds of shootout and Edler wins it!”

The Canucks had just defeated the Islanders 3 – 2 in Vancouver, taking over first place in the division. I then had my answer to the tall, foul-mouthed cowboy dude.

“What is Vancouver?”


The Best Christmas Blessing Ever

Our family received the greatest Christmas blessing this year: the gift of Kayla Marie, born on Friday, December 21st.

That morning, after dropping Sean off at school, we went to the doctor for a check-in. He confirmed that the baby was in position, Gail was ready, so it could be anytime, likely sometime on the weekend. I asked him if I could go to my staff Christmas luncheon that day. He said sure, as long as I could get back home if Gail needed me. It was weird, it was like I was asking my doctor for permission to go to my own work function! But these were indeed special circumstances.

Text to friends at 10:36am: “Gonna be today or tomorrow. Gail at 2cm with very light contractions. Doc said all is good. Will keep u posted. Keep praying. Thanks.”

We went home for a few minutes, and then picked up Sean from school so we could attend Jake’s first-ever Christmas concert. He did really well, and was easily one of the most animated performers on stage. Jake proved that you can make hand actions to almost any song out there. He’ll be perfect for youth rallies when he grows up.

I left just after noon and drove downtown in the light snow. I had already missed the Mass, but arrived just in time to beat the line up for seconds at the Beatty Street Bar and Grill. I loaded up my plate and sat down to a coke (surprise surprise) and had a nice catch-up with Faye. We then headed back to the building for our annual Secret Santa. It was a memorable one for me once again, as you can read in my blog here .

After a bit of cleanup in the office, I drove Gerard home. Just as I dropped him off, my phone rang. Judging from the voice and tone emitting from the other end, I knew I needed to get home. And fast.

I made it home by 4:30pm and interrupted the boys’ soccer game outside, whisking them inside to find Gail on her hands and knees in our living room, trying to find a comfortable position. Gail’s brother John picked up the boys 15 minutes later and Gail and I bolted to Richmond General Hospital.

Once we were admitted just after 5pm, Gail was already at 6cm. She jumped into the shower to ease her discomfort, while I massaged her back with water. After 15 minutes, she was back in the hospital bed at was close to 10cm! We knew it was only a matter of time.

Text to friends at 5;07pm: “Just brought Gail to hospital…contractions for last hour. Will keep u posted. Keep praying…thank you.”

Gail’s contractions occurred off an on over the next 3 hours, teasing us as we eagerly awaited our baby girl. I was relegated to my usual role as cheerleader, story-teller, and comedian as I shared stories and conversation with the doctor and nurses. Seems like we were connected to almost all of the nurses there somehow, either through St. Paul’s or through friends of friends. It was nice to be in the company and care of friends.

Kayla Marie was born at 8:54pm, the first Imoo girl in 75 years and breaking the streak of 12 straight Imoo boys (starting with my Dad’s older brothers). As Gail and I took turns holding our new princess, we thanked God for blessing us yet once again.

Text to friends at 9:25pm: “Kayla Marie born at 8:54pm. Not weighed yet. Gail so strong. Me too…haha. Baby girl generally healthy…just checking out a small rash. Thx for prayers.”

Unfortunately, Gail’s placenta (the organ that holds the baby inside) didn’t come out after Kayla, as it should have. Gail tried pushing it out for close to 2 hours, but it wouldn’t budge. After losing over 2 litres of blood, the doctor and specialist decided that they needed to operate to get it out. They went over a few worst-case scenarios with us (as they should), including removing the uterus and/or a blood transfusion. We weren’t exactly thrilled at either prospect, the former meaning no more babies for us! I was able to work in my favourite saying as I looked at the doctors and said: “Do whatcha gotta do.”

It was a surreal moment. There I was, holding our 2-hour old baby daughter, while my wife was being rushed down for emergency surgery. The nurses told me to leave for a bit and get some fresh air: go home, eat, take a walk, do whatever. They would take care of Kayla until I returned, and Gail would be over an hour. I agreed, but not before I said a prayer over Kayla and for Gail. Admittedly, I played out a few worst-case scenarios in my head, and I didn’t like any of them.

Text to friends at 11:16pm: “Not out of the woods yet. Gail in operating room to have placenta removed…didn’t come out after Kayla. Please continue to pray. Kayla weighed in at 7lbs 2oz.”

I rushed home to grab some stuff to sleep over only to find that the power was out in our complex. Thus, under the intermittent light of my Treo, I grabbed whatever I could and then headed out. Wanting to post the news on my website and on facebook, I called up Krissy and asked to borrow her wireless internet connection. Thankfully, she invited me in at midnite, as opposed to me “borrowing” the signal from outside in my van. So there I was, wolfing down McDonalds, posting pics to the net, and sharing stories with Krissy and her mom.

(As an aside, I hereby vote Krissy “Most Apt to Save my Bacon.” She has done so time-and-time again over the years…thanks bud!!!)

I arrived back at the hospital just after 1am, and was embarrassed to find both women of my life back in the room already. Kayla was sleeping, while Gail was alert albeit sore. Surgery was successful, but it will be a long road to recovery as Gail needs to replace all of the iron in her body that was lost with her blood.

We got a decent night of rest given the circumstances, and I was able to help give Kayla her first bath, albeit at 5am in the morning. Not sure why nurse Stephanie picked that time.

Text to friends at 9:59am: “Last text for a while haha…thx for reading them. Gail has successful surgery last nite…both her and Kayla doing well. Looking at home Sunday or Monday.”

By late morning, the hospital had discharged Kayla but not Gail. That was rather ironic: the newborn being discharged before the mommy! I didn’t really consider leaving the hospital with Kayla…though that would be been kinda funny. But not really.

Our immediately family came to visit in the late morning, followed by friends in the afternoon. The specialist came to check on Gail and discharged her by dinner time. We waited for Kayla to have her 24 hour blood work done just after 9pm, and then we packed up and headed home, a day earlier than my prediction. To ensure a better night’s rest, Gail’s family took care of Sean and Jake for one more night.

I went to pick them up first thing Sunday morning. Upon arriving home, they bolted up the stairs to enjoy their best Christmas gift ever…even if she was unwrapped 4 days early.

Husband, Father, Youth Minister, Speaker: Lover of God, Family and the Canucks

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