Wednesday, the doctor removed the staples from my surgical wound. 

From the minute my bandage was removed and I saw those metal fasteners crossing from one side of the incision to the other, 25 of them, or so, lined up meticulously down the center of my belly, I dreaded having them removed. 
“It won’t really hurt,” the nurse had told me when I asked about it there in the hospital.

“Really?” I asked, not believing her.

“Well, you might feel a pinch, but it’s not that painful,” she said, backtracking a bit.

Having been a patient more times than I care to remember, I’ve learned the ways of the medical community to bend the truth a little about how much things like that hurt.

But on Wednesday, when the rubber met the road and the doctor was standing there with glorified tweezers actually pulling the staples from my reddened skin, it did pinch a little, and I could feel a little tugging. Also, a couple times I had to look at away as the folded skin released when freed from the metal giving me a little sickish feeling. 
But this time, they were mostly telling the truth. It didn’t really hurt.

Being free from the staples which were itching and irritating my skin seemed like a relief directly after they were removed. But by Wednesday night, I was actually more worried than relieved. Though the doctor had assured me otherwise, it felt like my incision was going to burst open.

I texted my friend Verray who is a nurse. “Is it normal that my incision feels more tender just after staples out? Also, is it normal that I feel like my guts are going to fall out? I know, I’m a drama queen!”

She texted back, “I am laughing so hard right now!!!! yes dear one – both things are very normal-and your guts will NOT fall out :)”

So far, she’s been right.

But as I considered how I could relieve some of the discomfort I was feeling, I remembered the large elastic “binder” I woke up from surgery wearing. It fit around my midsection kind of like a corset, firmly holding everything in place. I couldn’t find the one I brought home from the hospital, but a quick trip to WalGreens and $30 later, I was bound up snugly, the constant pressure of the elastic doing what my wounded abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to do on their own yet.
Plus, I thought to myself, if my guts start to fall out, the binder will catch them.

I’ve been thinking about that word, “binder,” and it’s other forms like “bound” and “bind.” Usually, these words have a negative connotation. Prisoners are bound to incarcerate them; the Chinese practice of foot-binding seems cruel and painful, leaving the women unable to walk normally. A binding contract is usually restrictive to the party wishing for freedom.

But there are better uses of the word “bind,” redemptive meanings in which people willingly bind themselves to each other, in which disciples bind the teaching of their master to their hearts, and in which God himself tenderly cares for us by binding our wounds, bringing healing to the broken-hearted..

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

The giant binder wrapped around my abdomen feels uncomfortable at times. After wearing it all day, it sometimes rubs and irritates the very wound it was meant to protect. But when I take it off now, I feel vulnerable again; I feel unprotected and unsupported.

Sometimes being bound up, even though its restrictive, is exactly what we need to heal.
Photo by ddrekus_gr, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.