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It’s 2:36am. Why am I awake? Because I had surgery less than twelve hours ago to repair the severed Achilles on my right leg, and the local anesthesia that was used is beginning to wear off. In other words, I can feel that the real pain is about to begin.

Interestingly, I heard a roll of thunder outside my window just as I began wiggling my toes and sensing flashes of the pain’s arrival throughout my leg. Appropriate, don’t you think? A storm is coming.

I’ve been prescribed plenty of pain medications; hydrocodone, to be precise. The problem, however, is that I don’t tolerate these types of medications very well. The heavier meds nauseate me enough to make me vomit. The Zofran they sent along to combat this side effect seems to help only a little. Familiar with these things, it’s likely I’ll only take the medications when the pain reaches the absolute stratosphere of my tolerance. And by stratosphere, I mean it’s become so intolerable that piles of woodchips are beginning to form in and around my bed as I’ve begun whittling a peg leg from the desk beside me. This will be the sign that I’m wrestling between taking the medications or sawing the leg off below the knee and going “Long John Silver.”

You should know I almost went a little “Captain Silver” in the waiting room at the surgical center. Mind you, I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight. I’m guessing this is a mandate doctors learned to impose after having dissected a Mogwai in medical school. Just know that my surgery was scheduled for 2:30pm, and by the time I arrived, I could’ve eaten the chair in which I was instructed to wait. But that’s not the hardest, most tortuous, part to this.

Apparently, Nurse Ratched works somewhere on the premises, and I’m guessing she’s been given charge of the waiting room television. I say this because the TV was so villainously trained on the Food Network, and some guy—Jeff Mauro—was giddily offering all sorts of rage-prompting delights on the screen. Turning my face away from the TV to focus more intently on the seemingly lesser pain from my injury did very little for me in that moment. The volume was turned up and the chef’s poetry-like descriptions of sweet barbecue-dipped morsels flanked by an assortment of creamy garnishments left me desiring death.

Thankfully, the surgeon was running ahead of schedule, and with that, Jeff was only allowed to waterboard me psychologically for about fifteen minutes. Admittedly, when I was called back, I looked very closely at my attending nurse’s nametag. You know, just to be sure it didn’t read “M. Ratched.”

It didn’t.

As it turned out, the nurse’s name was Amy, and like me, she was a Lutheran. Doing what nurses do to distract a patient while turning on devices and ramming harpoon-sized needles into various appendages, she asked more about me—how I injured myself, what I do for a living, what hobbies I enjoy. When she learned my vocation, she confessed to being in the market for a new church, saying her pastor seemed more inclined toward being accepted by the culture around him than being faithful to his calling to preach and teach from the Bible. When she learned that I’m exactly the opposite of this, she asked what time services were on Sundays. When the anesthesiologist (who’s entered the room only a moment before) overheard the discussion, along with the title of one of the monthly Bible studies I teach—Whisky and the Word—he asked about worship times, too.

Maybe I’ll see them both again. Maybe I won’t.

Either way, here I am on the flip side of surgery, still a little foggy as I watch the shoreline waters of mild soreness get pulled out to sea by the approaching tsunami of discomfort. As it retreats, I’ll tell you a little secret. Another reason I want to avoid the pain medications is because of their cautionary labels against consuming alcohol. I mean, giving up the calm I receive from an occasional dram seems like an awfully big trade off, especially when I know there’s a bottle of The Glenlivet 18-year-old Batch Reserve (a Father’s Day gift from my eldest son, Joshua) that can be easily fetched and poured by any one of my four children.

Bearing scents of spiced malts and ripened citrus, the nose promises a dutiful nurse in the forthcoming sips. The palate fulfills the pledge, tending to one’s discomfort with tranquilizing nips of ginger, butter, and sweetened grapefruit.

Medium in length, the finish brings a warming quiet of allspiced-vanilla and citrus that cannot be matched, even by a pharmacist’s labors.

Of course, some may be reading this and thinking that exchanging the pain medication for the enjoyment of my customary evening dram is nothing short of foolishness. In their estimation, I appear to be subjecting myself to unnecessary suffering. Alas, this may be true. But as I shared previously, I already know that with or without pills, the first week of the forthcoming ordeal promises struggle, whether it be from physical pain or the continued wrestling with nausea and vomiting brought on by the pills meant for dulling, but completely relieving, the pain. I guess I’d rather choose the foolishness that grants me time with something that makes me smile, knowing there’s at least a sliver of wisdom to the saying that the foolish things we sometimes regret the most in this life are ones we avoided when they presented themselves.