I had made a mental commitment to write more here, but this summer has been such a challenge. I do not like to talk about my health problems much, but they are the largest issue in my life right now.
I have many heart problems. Right now, my main issue is my pulmonary veins, the veins between my lungs and heart. They were damaged by procedures I had to try to fix an irregular heartbeat. Due to the damage, two of the four veins keep closing up. So, I’m due for yet another angioplasty. This will be the sixth time in less than four years. I found out from my doctor that there won’t be a seventh. This is my last shot. If it doesn’t work this time, the next step will probably be to remove one of my lungs. And if that doesn’t work or isn’t possible because of all my other problems…well, there’s just a big question mark right now about the future.
The roller coaster of my health, the uncertainty, has been an amazing journey of possibility. Through this struggle, I have been shown God and been drawn to Him in profound ways. I cannot express how grateful I am for this blessed opportunity. What a gift!
Since this is the sixth time these veins have closed up, I’m very used to the progression of the disease. Back in December, the cough started. Then, the shortness of breath returned. Over the next few months, the pain in my lungs caused by chronic inflammation (pleurisy) drastically increased. Meanwhile, the sick feeling that is best described as “flu-ish” became a constant companion. Lately, I have lost most of my ability to do basic tasks. I can put on a happy face and fake it for church or a trip to the grocery store, but that is it. Sometimes I take three naps a day. Sometimes there just seems to be no breath. Sometimes the tears from the pain cannot be held back.
And then now…now they’ve called and pushed my angioplasty date back into the middle of August. If I even allow my brain to comprehend just how far away that is I will collapse. So, I don’t think about it.
My prayer rope and my Psalter have been my near constant companions lately. I am learning that prayer of the heart is a prize beyond value, for even in the darkness of pain, even when there is not enough mental stamina to read prayers…the name of Jesus is a Light.
What is so frustrating about this condition is that roller coaster. After I have the angioplasty, I feel great. Like a new woman. I can walk. I can take the kids where they need to go. I can be there for them. I can actually do my household responsibilities. There is a clarity and freshness in my mind.
Then, the maddeningly slow progression begins. I watch each day and week and month as it slowly, ever so slowly, gets worse. Like a veil being pulled across my mind. The doctor and I have long conversations about whether it’s bad enough yet. And then everything goes downhill and it is obviously time. Those memories of what I was capable of six months ago are so distant. It seems like another person. And I’ve done this six times in four years. Seeing health return only to watch it evaporate…and then do it all over again.
In all of this, I am reminded of the lovely example of Job, who said:
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
I thought I was capable, and then I remembered that I do nothing myself, apart from God…blessed be the name of the Lord!
I thought my plans were so logical and doable and just the right scenario for my life, and then I remembered that God’s time is not my time…blessed be the name of the Lord!
Even though I didn’t want to admit it, I really did live like I thought the things of this world were the most important, and then I remembered Heaven and eternity…blessed be the name of the Lord!
I thought I “deserved” a chance to be a wife and mother in the way I saw fit, and then I remembered the Cross…blessed be the name of the Lord!
Even though my body changes in drastic swings, God is the same. There is no change. If I allow this to swing me away from Him, then I will be the only one to blame. I read so often in the Gospels of Christ healing, but I watch myself go unhealed. I could choose to have that be a discouragement…an anger.
But I don’t. I believe 100% that God is capable of healing my body, but I also accept that at this time, He has chosen not to do so. That reality is independent of the fact that He does in fact stand here every day offering me healing…healing of my soul. That is the prize of value. That is the healing I seek.
Heal my soul, Lord! Thank you for showing me the futility of my own reasoning. Thank you for showing me my desperate need for you. Thank you for always being the same. You have given, O Lord, and you have taken away. Blessed be your name, O Lord! Blessed be your Name!