Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Looked in a Mirror

While I said I would avoid mirrors, I needed to see how my little dermatological problem was responding to treatment.   The telltale signs indicated the infection was not going anywhere. But I did not look at my face.  Panic is not a pretty picture.

All plans for the morning changed as we went back to the ER for the third time. I entered the ER as if on a crest of a wave – shortly after,  a dozen or so folks swept in behind me, each looking for help – for health – for that sensation of well-being, strength, calm, and vigor. At least this is what I was looking for. All I could “see” was an abdominal inflammation and discoloration – my imagination ruled.

Mercifully, a triage doctor saw me, and pulled up the lab report, quickly learning I did not have MRSA, which the previous ER doctors assumed. (My lab work had not been finished at the time.) I learned that without lab reports, doctors treat what they suspect, while, if they have a conclusive lab report, doctors can treat based on what they see and objectively know. This doctor saw the remains of a sebaceous cyst that somehow had become infected.  The cyst may have  formed around an insect bite in I received in 2005. He proceeded to remove the offending substances, and remind me to follow up in a few days.

So,  five years ago, an insect bit or stung me on my abdomen; I don’t know what. But I developed a tiny bump on which I could see what looked like bite marks. I showed it to a few doctors during routine physicals – and they were not concerned. No other signs of trouble until last week when the first symptoms presented and I took myself to a walk-in clinic. Was there really a connection?  I don’t know – but I see in this experience a lesson.

Small problems, left unattended for whatever reason, may generate  unanticipated or unintended consequences. Small duties, ignored for whatever reason, may also generate  unanticipated or unintended consequences. And bypassing even the smallest opportunity to show kindness may generate unforeseen or unintended sorrow. Often overwhelmed – paralyzed – by news of world events, I need to remember that attending to the small stuff is where I can make the biggest difference.

God willing, an ER doctor was able to help me by excising the scars of an old wound. God willing, tomorrow, I’ll be able to do the next thing to hold my place in the human race. And God willing I’ll return a portion of the kindness, compassion and help shown me these past few days.

“Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin, . . . "
    (Zechariah  4:10 TLB)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Avoiding Mirrors

When I asked for a teachable heart last week, I didn’t expect quite the answer God gave:  six hours last Sunday in the ER because I exhausted all other treatment options. The dermatological problem I developed suddenly,  persisted and worsened; I’d been to a walk-in clinic, a private physician, and back to the emergency clinic. I had no where else to go.  One doctor warned about sepsis; his warning nagged at me. Could I cease to be because of an overwhelming blood infection?

I walked into the ER, fearful and hopeful – grateful for my husband’s help. Knowing the wait might be long, I brought a book, That Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiea, a collection of short stories of Nigerians, living through national strife and personal grief; the stories showed me still more ways to number my days. (Psalm  90:12-17) I just about finished it waiting my turn. A few dozen other folk had also exhausted their options, too.  Most of us, interestingly, were from the same generation – “Boomers.” A few little babies and youngsters were also waiting for help, and a handful of  Millennials or Generation Y’s also waited.

The ER staff couldn’t say precisely what I have, or how I got it. But thank God for their care. That I had no fever or elevated white cells are hopeful signs.  

So, how is my heart any wiser for this experience, while  seeing and reading about others who are similarly but more profoundly provoked than I?

I don’t know – but I think I will avoid mirrors for a while.

The ER nurse who kindly dressed the recent excision of whatever it was – either a boil, or abscess – warned me how to rotate the application of tape when changing the dressing: she said her grandmother had developed a grave sensitivity to dressing tape.

Her grandmother? Why was she telling me that?

Perhaps because she could see I am not her contemporary – but her elder. Although I don’t feel much older than 35,  I am old enough to have a granddaughter who is an ER nurse.  As that truth dawned on me, I remember my mother saying she felt the same as she had in her twenties or thirties – and was always surprised that her  mirror never substantiated her feelings. 

So, I think I will not look so closely in the mirror, then. But I am glad for writers who can tell stories of people’s lives –stories  reflecting more clearly than mirrors how so many live their lives – simple stories that root out my ignorance of other folks’ pain the way the doctor lanced and drained my little affliction.