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.