For those of you who either follow this blog or know me personally, it may have struck you that my life events over the past few years are filled with upheaval. Surgeries, accidents, one family crisis after another – it seems unending. The latest is that my mother-in-law was hospitalized, yet again.
She was experiencing severe neck pain and when it finally got to be too much, she no longer could fight us about going to seek medical help. Of course, by this time it was late and we couldn’t make an appointment with her primary care physician so to the ER we went, and since we couldn’t plan ahead we had to get an ambulance. Ka-ching.
Once in ER, blood tests revealed a severe drop in hemoglobin and her levels of blood thinner was off the charts. She was admitted to the heart center, for which I am thankful, but the pain she was experiencing was not addressed. It took a few days and four units of blood to get her levels corrected, but whenever she mentioned her neck pain and torn pectoral muscle she was shushed and basically ignored. Her heart doctor actually told us to just give her a Tylenol. If a Tylenol could cut it, she wouldn’t have gone to ER. Just sayin’.
As I was sitting with her the day before she was to be released, she said she was going home in worse pain than when she came in. Mike, Mom and I had all talked with the medical personnel and were getting nowhere. I told her that once she was home, we were making an appointment with her primary care physician and getting this dealt with. I also decided to write on her white board in the room under family notes. “Neck pain is still intense.” Don’t know if that’s what did the trick, but finally we had another physician who was there specifically for pain management. It delayed her discharge, but that was a small price to pay for finally getting relief.
All this uproar – keeping Mom healthy, keeping a lid on Dad’s outbursts, surgeries, funerals of friends and family, trying to take care of work, and waiting for the next crisis to develop – is wearing us out. There are those who react with compassion and come around us in support. There are those who say we have it coming because God wouldn’t let this happen if we were “good Christians.” Tell that to the believers being beheaded in the Mideast.
As you might surmise, I do not subscribe to the peculiarly American middle class theology that infers that a good Christian’s path will be smooth and easy. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV, emphasis mine) My understanding of God is that He’s in the work of transforming His children into the image of Christ and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that. It’s my desire to cooperate with Him so my prayer is not to make it go away, but that I will stretch and grow to become the woman He designed me to be.
When going through many trials, we may ask God how long this fire is going to last. Consider this…the reply may be, as long as there is wood left to burn. The wood of self-reliance. The wood of self-protection. The wood of self-aggrandizement. The wood of self-anything. My favorite name of God is Esh Oklah – Refining Fire. I love the picture of Him refining my life and bringing forth pure gold and I bless the work He is doing in me.
Just as Job said before me, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” Many have asked me how I can have this attitude. I am old enough that I have a history with God. It took years, but I know His ways are always good even if they are not always easy.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.