So I haven’t written in a while. For several reasons, firstly there really hasn’t been time… holidays and appointments galore and by the end of the day there just isn’t any anything left. Secondly there hasn’t been much in the way of Thaniel-ism’s to write about. The big news on Thaniel is there isn’t any! He’s healthy. Really healthy. There were a few false starts to that health, and a bit of figuring to do to get the whole picture looking good… but he’s finally on an upswing. Once I began to thicken everything he ate and drank and his lungs had a chance to heal, the difference in his overall health was profound. He’s eating, everything! and beginning to talk real baby talk, and developing. More than that, I’m able to concentrate on his development instead of what his temperature is and where his weight is and if his tummy is distended. It’s glorious. Somewhere in the middle of that glorious relief my body said “I’m done” and the beginnings of a perfect neutropenic storm began.
I’m neutropenic, which just means I don’t have enough white cells to fight infection. I make them, but my own body kills them off before they can mature and be of any use. It’s called ‘chronic autoimmune neutropenia’, and for the most part it doesn’t impact my life too much as long as I follow some pretty simple things and keep an eye on potential hazards. Somewhere in August I got a stomach bug (Thaniel had gastroenteritis secondary to a strep bug… and he shared with mommy) We were at Sick Kids hospital when it hit… I ended up in my own little stall with a bucket calling encouragement to him from behind a face cloth. That stomach bug invaded my liver, the liver put some pressure on my kidneys and I ended up in the hospital. With drugs and a careful eye I was released and did ok until December, when another infection cost me a week in hospital and a more worried expression on my doctors face where my liver was concerned and finally that same bug sent me back to the hospital and surgery just last week.
That’s a lot of useless information for you. Here’s the good part. God showed up to teach me something really great while I cooled my heels on the geriatric ward (yup.. no rooms on the internal medicine floor available, so they put me with the seniors and closed the curtain around me)
At first I couldn’t even speak my throat was so swollen and sore. Razors met me every time I tried to swallow and a fever kept me pretty out of it, coupled with the painkillers dripping into my veins, the first two days were more or less a quiet foggy hum of ambient noises and sleep. Then I began to wake and become more aware and I’m telling you, the place was a bit of a circus. It reminded me of a day care. Kids crying, shouting, playing, sneaking out, throwing food, hiding, and making general mayhem… except they weren’t kids, they were an army of 90 somethings bent on keeping their nurses busy and on their toes. Lets call my roommate “Ann”. Ann was 94 and in hospital for a fall she took that bruised her hip and knee pretty bad. It was thought at first she had a small fracture, but after ONE xray they determined it was just badly bruised. I emphasis ONE only because according to Ann she’d had two days of x rays and had a broken back and was planning on suing the hospital. Ann did a lot of hollering, a lot of calling for help, for a rescue, for a phone, for her daughter, for anyone to come and help her get back to her own bed. Because tho she was absolutely unaware of her actual surroundings, she was acutely aware that they were not HER surroundings.
I resented Ann for the first couple of days. I was tired and in pain and I wanted her to be quiet. I wanted the nurses to do something to fix her so I could get some peace. I wanted them to move her, to move me… (If i’d been senile I probably would have started to shout about it just like her! ) If by rare occasion she was quiet a nurse would inevitably come in to check my vitals or give me more meds and Ann would call in her tiny granny voice “I see feet!” and that would begin a rant about the bugs on the wall, the raccoon under her bed, the terrible menu and an eventual call for her lawyer. The nurse would leave and I’d be left with her ramblings and dementia.
I sound cold hearted don’t I? I know… give me a second… I didn’t stay resentful just so you know. The pain became more bearable and I grew some compassion and remembered I’m supposed to love like Jesus loves… so I began to pity Ann. I had this awesomely spiritual moment of clarity wherein I stopped wondering “why me” and felt God had put me in Ann’s room to pray for her. Of course that’s what I was doing here! I was meant to pray for poor wee frail demented Ann. And pray I did. I noticed that a lot of Ann’s rants were spiked with a heavy dose of victim mentality. Blathering on about how she didn’t want to bother anyone, wouldn’t take much of their time and would pay them for their trouble if they would just get her a phone so she could call a cab to come take her home… or how she was sure her daughter had died on her way home and no one wanted to tell her about it and that was ok, she’d forgive them, she knew how busy everyone was… if they would just get her a phone so she could call her daughter and check, she wouldn’t even say hello, she’d just hear her daughters voice and hang up… sad huh? made me almost cry. So I called on my pentecostal upbringing and I rebuked stuff and renounced stuff and bound stuff. I prayed against all kinds of stuff and named and claimed some other stuff and stretched my hands out toward the curtain that separated us and I prayed up a good ol’ storm. It was all very holy and super spiritual.
And then I sat back and gave God a minute to be impressed by my super holy super spiritualness and rested in my unshakable faith that God would answer (hopefully by shutting Ann up for a bit ..er… giving her peace) However God did not in fact answer. Ann continued to rant and ramble and I had my dad bring earphones from home so I could drown her out with daytime tv.
When my rental tv ran out and Ann was out for therapy, God had an opportunity in the quiet to deal with me. And here’s what I learned. It was pretty cool… you might wanna take notes (or just print this off, probably easier) It turns out I was NOT put in Ann’s room to pray for her. We do a whole lot of that don’t we. Praying. And we talk a lot about how we don’t do enough of it. We all need to pray more. And pray for one another more, be faithful in prayer, pray without ceasing, “I’ll be praying for you” and all that. And it’s all good! it’s right and true and good.
But Ann needed more than just my prayers. She needed me. Thats what He showed me. I was the answer! I was right there. I was a curtain away from her need and her pain and her loneliness and I could be an answer and not just a request maker.
I swung my legs over the side of my bed and as soon as they hit the floor a little voice called out “I see feet!”. I moved the curtain from between us and toddled over to her side. Her blanket was all smushed down, so while I introduced myself (several times until she heard me over her ranting) I straightened out her blankets. Then because she was still cold, I gave her my extra one, she called me “that nice girl who gave me her blanket” from then on, even during her rants. After that I started to answer her when she’d be calling for help or calling for her daughter or such. Even tho the nurses advised I not encourage her, it seemed to quiet her faster if someone at least responded. Since Ann couldn’t reach her call button, I started to use mine and think up little reasons for calling the nurses in and would often add…”oh, and Ann needs her pillow picked up, she threw it again” or ” also, Ann was pulling on her catheter again, you might wanna check it” or ” By the way, Ann hid her cookies in her pillow and now she can’t find them, she’s going to sue someone if they stole her cookies”. Her rants revealed that she was a war veteran and somewhat of a hero. I also learned she was used to the Red Cross coming into her seniors home and tucking her in, she slept better after I started tucking her in. She wouldn’t take her medicine,would forcefully spit it out, convinced the hospital was trying to feed her opium and make her a “dope addict” (a throw back to her war days when she witnessed soldiers strung out on drugs) So I asked the nurses to keep the curtain back when I took my meds and would show Ann there was nothing to be afraid of. I started to love Ann. Ann’s little voice and her “I see feet” made me smile and giggle now instead of wince.
I miss Ann.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)
That’s a lot of verbs in one verse. Thats a lot of doing. It’s active and moving. If it read ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the prayers of those who wish for good stuff” I would have gotten an A+, but in the ‘bringing it’ department I was a failure. Please don’t think for a second I’m saying I shouldn’t have prayed for Ann, or anyone for that matter… of course I’m not. But God really dealt with me about trying to be more of a doer and less of a delegator. To be His arms and voice and feet. Somewhere someone is praying that YOU will be those feet for their loved one. They are praying desperately that feet will bring their co-worker, sick child, lost family member, estranged spouse, some good news, some peace and the story of salvation. Somewhere Someone’s broken heart needs to see you coming and respond “I see feet!”
I learned all that AND got to eat a lot of Jell-o. Not too shabby my friends. Not.Too.Shabby.