I have been a healthy person all of my almost 50 years. Yes, I've had the annual cold or flu, but otherwise I've been healthy. Which is why my recent bout with a serious infection from a tooth has given me a whole new perspective on life, health, pain, and grace. Entering into the hospitial nearly two weeks ago via the emergency room I found myself completely at the mercy of the doctors, nurses, and staff. My pain was so great that I was unable to do anything but plead for relief. They cared for me with such compassion, I will be forever grateful. And my husband really stepped up to the plate, both in his care for me and in his multi-tasking to work at his job and are for our house of kids and animals. I was scheduled to be in the hosptial until today, Sunday, while some of the procedures put in place to help me heal did their job. But thankfully this happened faster than anticipated and I was sent home on Friday.
Being home again is such a blessing. Although I have to take it a little easy, I can nonetheless be with my family and do some simple household chores, laundry and cooking. And what a blessing to sleep in my own bed, without the constant beeping, buzzing, and lights of the hospital. I am sleeping so well, comforted in my husbands arms.
The infection was quite serious and I remain on home IV antibiotic therapy, which I need to administer myself. This process of cleaning, prepping, and administerng the antibiotic into the PICC line tends to make me quite anxious. I am, I suspect, overly fearful of doing something wrong and getting an air bubble in the line and then into my vein, or causing the line to become contaminated and bringing on a new infection. This is perhaps a reasonable fear given the infection I am healing from, I know the potential for these things to bloom. (I think of what happened to me as something like an "algea bloom" in an aquarium, all the conditions were ripe and it just happened....).
Anyway, the longer I administer the IV antibiotic, the more confident and comfortable I become. Still fearful, but I'll take that as a good thing, something that will keep me careful and focused on cleanliness.
I think I will be able to see this time as one of grace, and it will help me in my ministry to others. The grace will unfold over time in ways I least expect. But for the time being I see the grace in the presence of those who have cared for me. I am so grateful for their expertise and kindness. I also feel the grace in the care and comfort given my by my clergy colleagues, who have been so wonderful. One of them blessed me with a prayer shawl, which not only kept me warm in the hospital (and at home) but is a source of deep comfort in the midst of fear and uncertainty. Another friend gave me a "palm" cross. Made of wood this cross fits in the palm of ones hand, with the fingers clasping over the the sides of the cross. It too is a source of comfort and holds many of my prayers. I see the grace in the depth of love between my husband and me. While there are many things that could be "better" in our marriage it is grounded in deep love and a commitment to care for the other. He has, I suspect, found a new depth in himself, and knows more of what he is capable of and able to do. But mostly this time scared us, and we are mostly grateful for life and for each other.
I don't believe that God caused this illness nor that God is giving me what I can handle. I think these things happen, they are just a part of the fragility of life, a life that has in all it's forms "free will." We humans have free will to make choices, but creation also has free will, a randomness that causes good and bad to happen to each of us just by virtue of, who knows, place and time? But I do believe that God comes into these situations and works (through grace) to bring forth new life, new hope, new order (the resurrection). As we head into Advent, and as I heal and re-enter my life, I suspect I will find God's presence in new ways enabling this traumatic time in my life to become a source of hope and compassion.