I am reposting this post I put on our blog at work recently! Enjoy!
I am reposting this post I put on our blog at work recently! Enjoy!
It was the Saturday before Father’s Day. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I had seen my doctor the day before and he changed my medications around yet another time and I needed to go pick up my new prescription. I had dropped Katie off at Bible school and Dave was fishing with a friend. I had some time to myself for a change, but instead, had to run errands and part of those errands was getting a prescription I didn’t want.
I was upset that I had to have another medication change. I’ve been dealing with uncontrolled hypertension for a while now, and have gone through countless medications in hopes that one will bring those numbers down. But time and time again, I hear those words from my doctor, “This medication isn’t doing the job, let’s try this.” I dread seeing him any more. I have a medicine cabinet filled with meds that I can’t use….money down the drain in my eyes.
As I drove to Walmart, I was thinking about all I had to do that day and about the fact that part of my day was disrupted again by my need for a new medication. “Wonder how much this one will cost, ” I thought. I pray a lot when I’m alone in my van and driving. (I do keep my eyes open, obviously!) I began to cry out to God and implore Him to help me and my doctor find something that would work to change my chronic issue. I found myself actually whining. I’m sure God wasn’t impressed with my prayer that day…it was mainly a lot of complaining.
Finally, Walmart was in view and I pulled into a parking space. When I went inside, they were out of the motorized carts I’ve come to depend upon to get through the store with my arthritis issues. I was feeling defeated. I was dreading hearing what the cashier would say my total was today. And, on top of that, I’d have to walk all through Walmart on a day I was having some significant pain.
The pharmacy wasn’t busy so I got to be waited on quickly. “Did you know this medication costs $294?” the clerk said. The look on my face told her I didn’t. I didn’t have a choice though. I paid my bill and started shopping for the remainder of the things I needed.
I needed to get a Father’s Day gift for David. Katie had given me specific instructions to get him a Duck Dynasty t-shirt with Uncle Si on it. I went to the display where we had seen them before, only to discover the only size left was small. There would be no Uncle Si shirt for Dave. I had to find something else. This only added to my disappointment in the day.
Cards were picked over….I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that one! I was at a loss to know what to get for Dave. I had my mind set on the t-shirt and now it wasn’t an option. I looked at my list of things I needed to purchase, and decided to look for the other things instead. As I shopped, I tried thinking of what I could get for Dave. The idea finally came that he had been wanting a small chainsaw. Certainly, Walmart would have an inexpensive one. No. No such luck. The only thing left in that department were weed eaters and he didn’t need one of those.
Feeling even more defeated, I went to the check out line. “Really, there’s only 3 lanes open and about 100 people to check out?” I thought. How could my day get any better? I was just about ready to cry at this point.
Then I heard it. Someone was humming. It wasn’t extremely loud, but it was loud enough that I could hear it. The tune sounded familiar. I moved toward the sound. It was coming from the cashier in lane 13. Despite the fact that I usually avoid lane 13 (call me superstitious) and it seemed to be the longest line, I got in line there anyway.
The cashier continued to hum. I was thinking really hard to figure out the tune. I knew the song, I was sure of it.
About a minute went by, and someone decided to open the lane beside us, about 4 people in front of me flocked to the new lane. I stayed where I was. I needed to figure out the song she was humming. “Change My Heart O God“! That’s what she was humming. I was intrigued!
Finally, it was my turn. She began to scan my items, still humming away at the tune. She looked at me and smiled, still humming. I smiled back, “Change My Heart O God.” I said.
“You know the song?” she said.
“Sure do! It’s a good one,” I replied.
“One of my favorites too!” she exclaimed. “Some people don’t like it when I hum, but I was made to praise the Lord and I want to do it all the time. He is good isn’t He?” she said.
“Yes, He is,” I answered. I felt a little guilty as I said it though. I had really not been very joyful that day up to that point. I whined and complained to God instead of thanking Him for all He was doing for me. I left one thing just ruin everything. “Thanks for your song,” I said.
“My pleasure! Some days, it’s really hard to be joyful and courteous to some of the people that come in my line. But, I just pray that God will change my heart so I will treat those people the way God would want me to,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone I meet. I believe that’s what God put me on this earth to do…encourage others.”
“Well, you sure encouraged me today,” I said.
“Me too!” said the lady behind me. Up to this point, I was oblivious to who was in line with me. I turned and saw an haggard looking woman, probably in her 50’s with a tank top on, heavily tatooed and missing several teeth. (One of those people you see show up in the pictures entitled “People of Walmart.”) “God is great and takes care of all of us, even when we don’t deserve it,” the tatooed lady said.
“I’m so glad I got in this line today!” I exclaimed. “You both have made my day a little better! Thanks!”
“Any time!” said the cashier.
“Yup! It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other!” said the tatooed lady.
I left Walmart, feeling a bit better and a bit lighter because my burden had been lifted. I went to my van, crawled inside and quickly thanked God for all He had done for me and asked forgiveness for doubting that He was caring for me. My heart had been changed by my check out encounter, and because of two ladies who weren’t afraid to share their faith with others.
The rest of the day went much better and I found an inexpensive chainsaw at Home Depot for Dave. He deemed it one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe these two women were put there just for me that day. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent two angels, one dressed as a Walmart cashier and one as one of the “strange” people of Walmart. Where ever they are, I hope they continue to share this love and encouragement with others. It meant so much to me!
We were finally at peace with our decision not to have more children, either by our own efforts or through adoption. We were tired, hurt, depressed, and frustrated. It was time to let it go. We did take measures to insure that there would not be another pregnancy…Dave took care of that. Though it was a tough decision to make, we were glad that there were no more worries about ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. It was time to sit back and just enjoy our lives and our daughter, Katie.
I learned that our “son”, Evan was still in his mother’s care and doing well. A former coworker discovered this as she used the same day care that Jenny did. She told me, “She kept his name. He’s still Evan Matthew.” I felt as though I had been given a gift. Though Jenny changed her mind, she didn’t change the name we had given him. She cared enough about us to keep his name. It took some time, but the bitterness I felt toward her began to fade. After all, any parent’s desire for their child is that they are happy, loved, and well-cared for. He had this, though not with us, and so how could I be angry?
Three years after Evan came into our lives, I had my yearly check up. My midwife recommended an ultrasound because I was (to make this as generic as possible) having “women’s issues.” To my surprise, the ultrasound came back showing a rather large ovarian cyst. I had no symptoms whatsoever. Surgery was warranted and it was decided that I would have a total abdominal hysterectomy. The cyst was too large to remove other than through an abdominal incision, and a hysterectomy would take care of those “women’s issues” once and for all.
Now it would be impossible for us to have children. That was okay. I was 40 years old by this time. However, those familiar pangs of want would surface each time I held a little one in my arms.
During this time period, my best friend, Becca became pregnant with her first child. In a way, I was jealous. But, that feeling faded quickly when I felt the excitement she was feeling as the due date came closer and closer. Finally, Annamarie was here. We were one of the first ones, other than her family, that she called. Annamarie was a such a precious bundle of joy! I was so happy that my best friend could experience the joy of motherhood!
Becca had shared with me long ago that she had a desire to adopt. Even with the arrival of Annamarie, this desire didn’t leave. So, not long after Annamarie arrived, she and Nathan began the process to adopt from overseas.
They hit many hurdles in their journey. One door would open only to have another one close in their face. In July of 2011, Becca and I met for breakfast. We were planning a couponing class at our church and wanted to finalize some of the preparations. We talked a bit about the adoption process. She was frustrated. I told her I’d pray.
By the end of July, things began to progress faster than we could keep up with things! It was almost time for our couponing class to take place and Becca and I were in contact on an almost daily basis. “We passed our home study!!!” she emailed me. This was a much-needed step to start the final adoption process. By the following Sunday, she had more news for me. She met me at the door at church with a paper in hand. “I could hardly wait till you got here this morning!” Wow, she was a little too excited about the coupon class flyer, I thought. I quickly realized that I was wrong as she turned the paper around. “Meet my son!!! We have a boy!!!”
We started jumping up and down, laughing and crying all at the same time. People thought we had lost it. But soon, everyone realized what the commotion was about and began rejoicing with us.
Just a few days later, I was sitting at my desk at work when an email came from Becca. “Please pray now!” She had an urgent request about the adoption and needed reassurance. I did what I knew I had to do. I went to the quietest place in the office (the bathroom) and prayed. I felt God was speaking to me in those moments. I felt He was telling me that everything was going to work out in a miraculous way. And somehow, I felt I was being healed. I could help Becca through her adoption, and in turn it was going to help me let go of mine.
The days went by so quickly. Email after email, phone call after phone call came, each one with a new prayer request. What was to take months to accomplish took mere days and soon Nathan and Becca were flying to Ethiopia to meet their son! Becca went knowing that they were most likely not going to come home with him on this trip unless a miracle occurred. I was still praying hard. I wanted so badly for Becca to be able to bring “Z” home this trip.
God listened! He answered!! And soon, they were on their way home! I was overjoyed and overwhelmed at how God had answered my prayers. I had never felt closer to Him and had never felt He had heard my prayers quite the way He did during this time. It was truly a humbling experience! So many things occurred during Nathan and Bec’s time in Ethiopia! It would take another blog to tell all that happened! (Actually, Becca does blog….so her story can be read!!)
I felt strongly that I had to do something special for my bestie, my sister, Becca. So, quickly, I wrote her a book that contained all those emails we had exchanged. I had even written down phone messages word for word and included them in the book. Seventy pages later, the book was finished and I had my gift for her.
They arrived home from Ethiopia and a couple of days later she called and asked us to come and meet “Z”! I quickly assembled the book I had written and placed it in a box for her. While David showered, I pulled down a box from my closet. There was something else that needed to go in with that book.
The van couldn’t go quick enough to get there! I nearly ran to Becca’s door! I wanted to see her so badly and hold this dear little child that was now her son. She met me at the door and we embraced and cried. Then she handed me her new son. I was overcome with emotion. He smiled and laughed as she said, “This is Aunt Miriam, Bid (his nickname)!” I wanted to hold him forever! He was truly an answer to prayer!
I wanted her to open my gift. I knew she was going to love it! Dave took “Z” and she and I sat down. She opened the gift and removed the book. Tears filled her eyes as she removed the other contents of the box. I had placed Evan’s little blue monkey and teddy bear in with the book. She knew instantly who’s they had been. “Oh, Mim, this means so much! You’ve given me something so precious! I was so worried about you as we went through this adoption, but I realize now that it has helped you heal, hasn’t it.”
“Yes, Bec, it has.”
She clutched the book and stuffed toys as we held each other and cried. I WAS healed. The pain was gone. It took the adoption of a little needy baby from Ethiopia to bring me out of my hurt and back into the loving arms of God.
Soon, I would be asked to share at work about pregnancy loss and how to approach these patients…sort of a do and don’t sort of approach. As I shared my struggles with my coworkers, some of which had never heard the story, there were many who cried. This was the beginning of the rest of my healing…being able to share with others so that they can learn and be encouraged.
And now, my story has been shared with all of you! Are there times when I wish we had more children? Oh, yes! But then I recall how God wants us to be content in whatever circumstances we’re in (Philippians 4:11). All I have to do is look at Katie and realize how blessed I really am.
So, I’ve been “cured” in a sense from my terminal case of baby envy. It’s only through God’s grace that He helped me through it and now helps me as I minister to others in similar circumstances. I believe He gave me this story for a reason, and I hope it has touched your heart.
We were at a stand still. All attempts at pregnancy had failed, either in miscarriage or just not achieving a positive result. We were frustrated beyond frustrated! Everything we did revolved around the possibility of achieving or not achieving pregnancy. I couldn’t stand it any more. I began to finally listen to those who were suggesting adoption.
One day, our phone rang. My friend Lois Ann was on the other end. “Are you considering adoption?”
“If you are, I know of a girl here in the states that wants to give her baby up for adoption. If you’re interested, I’ll get you connected.” This was my friend who had adopted two boys from another country. She was always open for more children to be added and so people were constantly making her aware of those she knew were going to give a child up for adoption.
We agreed to let her connect us with this girl.
*Maggie (not her real name) called us and we had a lovely conversation. She was a junior in college and had made a “mistake” that resulted in pregnancy. She wasn’t ready to be a mother yet as she hoped to do some mission work in Africa. She asked a few questions of us and we discussed meeting at some point. She wasn’t excited about meeting immediately, she wanted to meet closer to the time of the birth. I was so excited! She was 20 weeks along and knew she was having a girl. I began making plans for the future. We wouldn’t need clothes, we had Katie’s old things. A name…what would the name be? I had spent a great deal of time picking out Katie’s name. I wanted a name that meant something. I poured over the meanings of names and came up with Katie Elaine. Katie means “pure” and Elaine means “light”. I didn’t know at the time how much her name would become significant to us.
As I began to pour over possible names, I decided (but never shared with Dave) that this little girl’s name would be Hannah Grace, which ultimately means “grace grace”. “What a fitting name,” I thought. Surely it was God’s grace that would bring this little girl to us.
I looked forward to the weekly phone call I would receive from Maggie as she kept us up-to-date on her progress. She was a music student and loved writing. We had something in common! She even had red hair like me! Certainly, this little girl would perhaps even look like she was mine! Time was going quickly and we wanted to start preparing for Hannah’s arrival.
Then, the phone calls stopped. I tried in vain to call Maggie, but could never get through. Nearly a month passed. Finally, the phone rang one evening. It was Maggie at the other end. “I lost my phone and just got another. Sorry, I haven’t called sooner.” I was upset that she hadn’t tried to call by any other means. I asked her how things were since she was just about 8 weeks away from potential delivery. “Fine,” was the only answer I got. This was not the usual bubbly responses that I recieved from Maggie. Something was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I told her we were starting to get things together and the next thing we were going to do was graduate Katie from her crib to a toddler bed. “That’s nice,” she said. “Don’t rush it though, you still have eight weeks!”
I felt somewhat reassured by speaking with her, but yet was beginning to feel uneasy. Maggie had yet to speak with Dave directly and each time I asked was flatly turned down. “I don’t need to speak to him,” she’d say.
Another month went by without a phone call. I had left messages each week on the day we’d always converse with no response from Maggie. Finally, the phone rang one evening with Maggie at the other end.
“It’s me,” she said. I tried to remain calm. I was angry. How could she just leave me out of the loop?
“Hi, Maggie! How are things?”
“Just a month left now, right?”
“Can we soon meet face to face? After all, the baby will soon be here.”
I was not prepared for her reply. “Yeah, about that. There’s no need for us to meet.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, there’s no easy way to tell you this except to tell you. I’ve decided to give the baby to one of my college professers instead of you. Sorry,” and she hung up.
I stared in disbelief at the phone in my hand. Four weeks away from the arrival of Hannah and there would be no baby….again. I screamed! I threw the phone. Dave came running. “What’s going on?”
“She changed her mind! That’s what’s going on!! That little brat changed her mind!! How could she do this to us!” I screamed.
Dave came to me and put his arms around me as the sobs took over. I couldn’t take it any longer. Why was this happening? We couldn’t have a child of our own, and now even an adoption wasn’t going to work.
“We’re done with this,” said Dave. “Enough is enough. I can’t stand to see you go through this anymore. We’re done.” (That’s what he thought.)
At the time, we couldn’t fathom why God would allow yet another baby to slip from our grasp. A few years later, we realized why He didn’t allow this to happen.
Maggie had wanted an open adoption, one that would allow her to see the child once a year. We’d send frequent photos and letters. Hannah would always know that she was adopted and who her birth mother was. It was the least we could do for Maggie considering the sacrifice she was going to make. Looking back, I am so thankful that God did not allow this adoption to take place.
A couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I Googled Maggie’s name. I wanted to see if she had indeed graduated from college and went on her missions trips as she had hoped. What I discovered floored me. Certainly, this was not the Maggie I had come to know from phone calls and conversations we had had.
There it was in bold print. Maggie had gotten pregnant again, and while on a missions trip to minister to homeless people in the inner-city of a large city here in the US, gave birth in the bathroom of the church where they were staying, drowned her baby in the sink and placed it in the dumpster outside for disposal! It was a boy. She had gotten caught and sent to prison for manslaughter. I couldn’t believe it! I shared this discovery with my friend Lois Ann, who confirmed it with the ones who had connected her with Maggie initially.
God’s hand of protection was on us! In an open adoption such as she had wanted, how in the world would we tell a then 3-year-old Hannah that her mom was in prison for killing her baby brother? I was relieved, though it was three years later, to know that we wouldn’t ever have to deal with that. I felt sorry for Maggie’s college professor and his wife. How were they dealing with this? I prayed for them and for Maggie that she would get back on track with God.
We thought we were finished wanting a baby, but this was a terminal case of baby envy that I had. It wasn’t over yet.
(To be continued….)
In my last entry, I made mention of our struggle to have more children and that the story would be a post in itself. This is the post. I only hope that it will encourage others who have gone through the struggles of infertility as we have, and can give some sort of hope that God is in control of every situation, even when it seems He is far away.
As I shared before, Katie is our pride and joy. She’s our only daughter, our only child, and we love her so very much! God gave us such a special gift in her!
When we decided it was time to have children, it all happened pretty easily. Though my pregnancy with Katie was difficult, the end result was a sweet little girl! It was when she was about a year and half old that our struggles began.
We decided it was time for Katie to have a brother or sister and began “trying” again for pregnancy. It didn’t happen so quickly this time. Month after month I’d pee on a stick just to see a negative result. When one of the doctors I worked for, Dr. Brown, realized that we were attempting pregnancy and not achieving it, she asked if she could intervene. I was, after all, considered “advanced maternal age” at this point since I was around 34 years old. She told me that the sooner we worked on achieving pregnancy at this age, the better chance we would have. We went through some testing and decided that it was an ovulation problem (sorry if this is getting too personal for some of you….you can always stop reading if you’re uncomfortable!). This began a regimen of daily temperature charting and careful documentation of symptoms and cycles. Now instead of peeing on a stick to see if pregnancy had been achieved, it was peeing on a stick to see if ovulation was occurring. Clomid therapy was added to help “boost” ovulation. Each month that pregnancy did not occur, the dose of Clomid was increased. We thought that pregnancy would never come.
Finally, those familiar symptoms of nausea and fatigue began, and sure enough, this time the test was positive! Woohoo! Pregnancy #2 had been achieved! I was happy to report a positive test to Dr. Brown. She suggested we monitor the pregnancy closely by drawing blood levels to make sure things were progressing as they should. The levels were not rising as fast as they should (they should double every 48 hours) and when we finally reached the magical number where we should be able to see a heartbeat via ultrasound, no heartbeat could be seen. Not even a baby could be seen. We continued with blood work and finally, the number doubled like it should for a few days. But then it dropped. A few more ultrasounds later, Dr. Brown told me news I didn’t want to hear. “This isn’t a good pregnancy. We can’t find a fetus anywhere, and I’m afraid you have an ectopic pregnancy.”
Now, an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t always occur in the fallopian tubes, as was my case. When an ectopic pregnancy occurs, immediate action needs to take place to ensure the health of the mother. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy can mean death to the mother. Being that a pregnancy couldn’t be seen, Dr. Brown suggested we treat the pregnancy with Methotrexate. This is a chemotherapy medication, and in pregnancy, will find the pregnancy (where ever it was) and “dissolve” it. I was not happy at all with this option, but it was really our only option. I spoke with my pastor. I was reassured that this was the “right” thing to do. His sister had almost died from an ectopic pregnancy and he convinced us that for Katie’s sake, I should proceed. Dave and I agreed, even though deep down, I felt it was wrong. I felt I wasn’t giving this child a chance. What if the tests were wrong? Dave was worried and wanted us to take care of things as soon as possible and so we proceeded.
I was sent to the emergency room, as this was not a medication that was kept at the office. The emergency room staff was clueless as to how to give this medication. I knew how it was given and proceeded to talk the nurse through the steps of giving the injection and the disposal of the “radioactive” syringe. The ER didn’t handle things well. I was given a bed in the hallway, because I was after all, just there for a shot. I refused to get the shot until I was moved to a room as this injection goes into your hip. (Not something I wanted to have done in plain sight for all to see.) I also wanted some place where I could collect myself and cry as I received the treatment that would take care of a failed pregnancy. The nurses I had were clueless as to what to say, yet alone what to do. I was sent home without any instructions (though I knew what was going to happen) and no kind words were given.
I was devastated. Since Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug and I was given a rather high dose of it, I experienced the nausea and fatigue that came with receiving chemo. This lasted for a couple of days. Those days were spent alone with Katie at home. I spent all that time crying. Katie wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on. She just knew I was sad. This all occurred over our wedding anniversary that year. It was one anniversary that we didn’t really want to celebrate.
To make sure the Methotrexate was doing what it was supposed to do, I had to have weekly blood work to make sure my hormonal levels were going back down to zero. Once at zero, we knew that everything would be resolved. So, from June until September, I went every week to 2 weeks for these labs. Each one was ordered “STAT” so that we would get the results back the same day. I remember one trip to the lab. I was escorted to a small waiting area right outside the “drawing” area. I overheard one lab tech say to the other, “Here’s a stat lab. How “stat” can this be? It was given to her last week and she just now shows up for the lab. Great! Now we have to call a courier to come get this just because she was too lazy to come last week.”
I lost it. I went off on the lab tech. I know she was talking about my lab slip. Dr. Brown would give me a new lab slip each week for the following week. “Before you call me lazy, and before you jump to conclusions about why I came to have my blood drawn today instead of last week, perhaps you should look at the diagnosis on the slip and the fact that I have been here every week at this time for this same lab. It’s hard enough to have to go through getting these labs drawn every week for a pregnancy that you know is over, yet alone having to hear how I’m inconviencing you.”
The lab tech was speechless. She apologized. She drew my blood as tears poured down my face and dripped into my lap. She had no clue. She had no idea the pain I was feeling or how depressed I was. Later, when I was back at work, the phone rang and it was the lab tech. “You taught me a lesson today. I am so sorry for saying what I did. From now on, I’ll not jump to conclusions about why a patient is there. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Apology accepted.
From June until September 10 (my birthday) I had these labs drawn. Finally, on my birthday, the level was zero. Over all those months, I continued to have pregnancy symptoms for a pregnancy that “didn’t exist”. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be pregnant again.
This was the beginning of my terminal case of baby envy.
This post is to be continued………
I’m having one of those days again. The sad part is, I haven’t had one of these days for a while and I had been hoping I wouldn’t have a day like today particularly this week when I have a lot to accomplish.
You see, I have one of those invisible diseases. One of those diseases people think you’ve made up just because you want attention or because you want to get out of doing something. Believe me, that’s not the case. I did not choose to have this disease and I’d do anything to get rid of it, but there is no cure….once you have it, it’s always there with you.
Arthritis. There, now you know what I’m referring to. Arthritis loosely translated is “an inflammation of joints”. What this little word doesn’t tell you is everything that goes with that “inflammation of joints.” It doesn’t tell you about the stigma of having an “invisible disease”, nor does it tell you about the excruciating pain that comes with this disease no one can see.
Everyone tries to be helpful…..”You just need to rest more.” (I could sleep and lay around all day and all that would do for me is make me stiffer.)…..”You just need to lose a little weight, that’ll help.” (Some days it’s all I can do to walk across the room….the stamina to excercise is just not there.)….”Maybe if you took Tylenol.” (I could pop an M&M and get just as much relief.) So many “helpful” hints given, all with good intentions, but most of them have been tried or just not an option.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everyone’s concern, but there are times when I just wish someone would just say something like, “I’ll pray for you,” or “Can I give you a hug?” Those things would do so much more than advice no matter how sincere it is.
Yes, today was one of those days. One of those days where I wasn’t sure my legs would hold me up until I got across the room. A day when my knees snapped, crackled and popped louder than my breakfast cereal. A day when my arthritis med worked as well as tic tac would for pain. A day where I just wanted to lay in bed and cry because I hurt so bad. But, I didn’t do that….I kept going despite the pain and hurt.
Some people say, “You look fine to me.” It’s those times I would love to be able to let them feel what I feel and experience what I experience. They wouldn’t be so quick to say, “You look fine.” I wish people would understand that when I ask for a chair because I need to sit down it isn’t because I’m lazy…..it’s because I’m hurting and my knees feel like they’re about to give out. I wish they would understand why I can’t walk as fast as they can and perhaps slow their pace to keep up with me so I don’t feel like the slow poke of the bunch. I wish that even my doctor would be more understanding. He tries to help relieve my pain. But when he asks me if he could decrease the dose of medication or try something else like an over-the-counter medication (all of which do nothing for the pain), I wish he wouldn’t look at me like I’m a drug-addict when I say, “no, I can’t.” I’ve tried going without my medication….I can’t make it more than a day without it. I wish when I use my handicap placard at the grocery store and get out of my van that people wouldn’t look at me as though they were disgusted because I’m “obviously not handicapped.” I wish those same people would ignore me when I chose to use an electric grocery cart because I can’t walk through the entire store.
Oh, there are many that understand. In fact, the other day at the grocery store, a lady saw me looking at the shelves of food. She stopped beside my “scooter” and said, “Can I reach something for you?” I thanked her, but declined (what I needed was right in front of me). I saw her often through the store, she was much older than me, old enough to be my mother. She was so polite and offered to let me go ahead of her many times. Even at the check out, she offered me the spot in front of her. I thanked her for being so nice, since so many people aren’t. She said, “It’s nothing. I would want people to do the same for me. I have many friends with arthritis and mobility issues. It’s hard.” Wow! Here was a person who got it! Even though she couldn’t see my disease, she knew. I wish there were more people like her.
I have many friends who suffer from these invisible diseases….Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, or worse yet, cancer….just to name a few. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s real…very real.
But I have hope. I have hope that once I reach age 50, I might be able to get a knee replacement(s) because health insurance will then deem me “old enough” to have the surgery. I have hope that God can heal even chronic and debilitating diseases such as this (and honestly, in past months, He has given me more good days than bad!). I have hope that when I do get to heaven, there will be no more canes, no more electric grocery carts, no more pain meds, no more handicaped placards, and no more ignorance.
The apostle Paul knew about suffering. After all, he had a “thorn in the flesh.” But Paul also wrote in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” I think he wanted us to know that we don’t have dwell on our suffering and pain. We should dwell on what God can and will do for us. That’s difficult to do when you’re having a bad “invisible disease” day, but I think it’s exactly the medicine that might be the best for us.
I’m sitting beside a new person in choir this year. I don’t know her well, but I can tell that she is really enjoying the fellowship that choir offers. I’ve also sensed that she’s lonely. We have very little in common, other than we both like to sing and we both suffer with arthritis. She has freely shared about her life with me. She’s suffered through 8 surgeries mainly replacing major joints like her knees and hips. She lost her husband about 3 years ago, and then nearly died herself just 4 months later during a surgery. She’s had a bad time of it the past few years.
Tonight, when I went to choir and walked in, I was in an awesome mood! I was at my favorite place to be on a Thursday night! I stopped and chatted with some friends before I went to my seat. When I arrived at my seat, there she sat, crying. I quietly took my seat, not sure what to say or do.
“I’m not having a very good day today,” she sobbed.
Thinking of the things I’ve been learning as I develop my gift of encouragement, I answered, “What’s happening?”
“They moved my mom to a different nursing home today, and it’s terrible. I don’t understand why they felt they needed to move her. The place she’s at is dreadful. I don’t really want her there, and she’s blaming me for letting it happen. It wasn’t up to me, but she’s not understanding that,” she said, as a tear trickled down her cheek.
“Oh my, that’s sad,” I replied. The nurse in me started asking questions about her general health, where they had taken her, trying to assess what type of care the woman might get. It didn’t sound promising the way she described it.
“I want to take her somewhere else, somewhere she can feel more at home and less like she’s in a hospital.”
I offered some suggestions of good places I knew of for her to investigate.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have come here tonight,” she said. “I called Fred (our director) and told him I didn’t feel like I could come this evening, and he said I should, that it would help. I hope he’s right.”
“He is,” I replied. In my mind, I journeyed back 6 years to this same month, pretty close to this same week. I was just getting over the shock of losing our adopted son after having him home with us for 2 days. I was devastated. I wasn’t sure I could return to choir. But, I was encouraged to return. I believe choir saved me that year. “He is right,” I said again, because I knew it was true.
We started to sing our songs, and soon I was seeing a bit of a smile on her face. It was time for me to do my solo and after I did it, I sat back down. The director said that he wanted someone to be a prayer warrior for each soloist this year. She leaned over to me and said, “I’ll pray for you!” I was touched.
As we were leaving, she was in the lobby picking up invitation cards for our concerts. I felt a subtle tap on the shoulder. I knew who it was. “Yes, God?”
“Pray for her,” I heard Him speak.
I sat down my music and purse and went back in to her. “Can I pray for you before I leave?” I asked.
“Oh, would you?” she replied.
So there, in the middle of the lobby, we joined hands and I prayed for my sister in the faith. “I’m so glad I came this evening! Thank you,” she said. I reached out and hugged her. I didn’t know if she was a “huggy” type of person, but it didn’t matter to me…she needed a hug.
“I’m going to call some of those places you told me about first thing tomorrow. Thank you so much,” she said.
Thank you, Lord for prompting me to reach out to her and touch her heart.
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