This post could also be titled, What God Showed Me in the Hospital.
On my third emergency room visit, I was swiftly admitted to the hospital. I had never been admitted to a hospital before and I was scared, but comforted by the strong pain medicine that the doctors fed me through an IV. My roommate was a woman my age, who when she was only 26, suffered a stroke that left one side of her body paralyzed. I would watch as she got out of bed and used her strength to drag half of her body to the bathroom. She was tough, a little scrappy, and I loved that about her. She was discharged the next morning, and there would be no more roomates once it was verified that my infection carried community acquired MRSA. There is hospital acquired MRSA, which comes from within a hospital, and community acquired MRSA which you can get anywhere. At a restaurant, at church, at your job, any place in the whole world.
I was scared and cried sometimes. While visitors and phone calls energized me, there were times late at night and in the early morning that were harder to deal with. It was the feeling of going through something alone. About a month ago I had finished reading Phillip Yancey's Where is God When It Hurts? mainly because someone gave me the book for free, and it's a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another. I didn't know how soon it would apply in my own life on a physical level. Was I being prepared when someone gave me that book?
One night, I was laying in the bed and had prayed, cried, and ran out of things to say to God. I was scared because they would be operating on my hand the next day, and I just could not find comfort or peace. Quietly, I quietly began to sing Lord I Lift Your Name on High. Because at the end of everything, all you can do is praise Him.
X-rays showed what may have been a shard of glass in my hand, but I could not figure how there would be glass in my hand without me knowing it. All you can do is place your faith in God and the doctors, and know that the Lord will see you through. Our minister showed up to read Psalms 116 and pray with me before the operation. That Psalm washed over me like a cool fountain of clear water on a hot day. It was exactly the right words at the right time, as solemn, real and true as my wedding vows. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Did I mention that it was my right hand that was affected?
After they operated on my hand to clean the wound, the pain was so great that in addition to the IV pain killers, I was given a sedative. No glass had been found in the wound. They had bandaged my hand like a mummy. Back at my room, I was greeted with a meal tray that included a hunk of lasagna with a baked potato. My family who had come to visit got as big a laugh out of it as I did! Let's just say that if I was in the mood for the unlikely combination of a lasagna and baked potato that it would not be after a surgical procedure as the anesthesia is wearing off. Just then, my sister in law called and asked what I needed. "Some sliced fresh fruit and a chocolate milkshake!" Wish granted. My sister in law Rachel was such a source of comfort. She didn't have to do anything- she has two toddlers at home. But there she was in my room fulfilling requests.
"If you need anything, even in the middle of the night, call me. You could go over to your window, let down your hair like Rapunzel, and I will climb up it to get you what you need!" She had never seen my hair let down before.
For a couple days, someone from wound care would come to my room, immerse my hand in a portable whirlpool, and repack and bandage my wound. I did not have the guts to look at my own hand, and always looked away. The part where they pack the wound with a small strip of gauze was painful, uncomfortable, frightening. There was also physical therapy, showing me exercises to regain motion and mobility in my hand. When I could touch the tip of my thumb to the tip of my ring finger, it was worthy of a celebration. The same God who was with me at that moment had also been by my side as they wheeled me into the operating room, and those lonely nights alone in my room. People always say that. You know, they say the same God was there in the good times as the bad. But when the good and the bad are smack up against each other, you really feel it.
You know you are getting better when you are less concerned about getting your pain meds and increasingly concerned that somehow you only received one sugar for your coffee.
The day I came home from the hospital had a fear all of its own. How would I manage? What if the pain came back? Would I burden the Mister? All these fears were for naught as the Mister dutifully followed my instructions for laundry, washed dishes using his own special technique, reminded me to take my antibiotics, and made sure the refrigerator was stocked with healthy foods. Other family stepped in to help as needed, but mainly my in-laws as my own family lives a distance away. The hospital staff instructed us to purchase a specific anti-bacterial Lysol product and wipe down all the surfaces in our home with it, which we did.
On my second day home, I got up the nerve to look at my garden. The tiny stray weeds and bolted lettuce didn't even bother me, because healing my hand was the only thing that mattered. If I couldn't clean up the garden this week, or next week, or the week after that, it would happen some day, and that was fine. The infection had changed everything, but especially my perspective. The oral antibiotics left me so nauseous that I was of little use, and had to discontinue them after five days. There were also other side effects that made me feel less than healthy.
Now, my hand has healed all but for my bandaged thumb, but that too continues healing. You would be amazed how useful your thumb is, something you only notice once you can't use it. I can't even clip coupons with a pair of scissors. Before all this happened, I had been feeling very worn out and spiritually depleted. My life was so full, and yet I often felt empty. I had ordered a Christian book that addressed some of these feelings which seem to be so common to women. The book arrived before I went into the hospital, so I took it with me but had not begun to read it. Can you imagine that I was sitting in the hospital reading this book which, on page 25, compared feeling worn and weary to an infected thumb? I couldn't believe it. The message was so clear. Now if only I can recover in such a way that addresses my depleted spirit as well as my physical self. But where to begin?