“Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.”
1 Peter 4:12 NIV
I’m sure that you’ve had a time in your life when you wanted to dig a whole, climb in and bury yourself. Maybe you have found yourself overwhelmed with complete bewilderment and despair and you couldn’t see any way out. Maybe it was a lot of seemingly small circumstances that never worked out in your favor and in time, you reached your bowling point and you erupted. Maybe it was a single catastrophic event that sent you spiraling over the edge. Everyone has a breaking point and when it’s reached, maybe like me, you feel like running away and hiding in the mountains.
I know I have.
“The American Heritage Dictionary: defines bewilderment as follows: ‘To confuse or befuddle, especially with numerous conflicting situations, objects, or statements.’ Befuddle. Say that word out loud. Isn’t that a funny word? I’m going to try to use that one today.
The same dictionary defines despair as: “To lose all hope; complete loss of hope.”
That’s exactly how I felt the day after Josiah was discharged from the hospital. When the worst possible thing that could have happened to my family did, my mind was befuddled and despair consumed me. What I didn’t realize then is how everything always works together for my good, even if I don’t understand it. What I thought was a living nightmare turned out to be one of the biggest blessings my family could ever receive.
Exhausted after an extensive hospital stay with my son, not even 24 hours later I found myself sitting in a treatment room at his pediatrician’s office. I had a stack of papers with pending authorizations and lab requests; there were procedures and biopsies that still needed to be scheduled. Consultations with genetics, dermatology, and nephrology fogged my brain while I waited for the most recent lab results from endocrinology and gastroenterology. Keeping the doctor’s names straight proved to be challenging but not as challenging as trying to test your 22 month old’s blood sugar every few hours.
I heard my phone vibrate in my purse and I fumbled beneath my chair in attempt to grab it. Josiah, just skin and bones, was curled up sleeping on my lab. He was so weak that he barely moved, his tiny arms and legs covered in bruises from IV lines and restraints. His skin was blistered and raw from all the tape they used to keep the lines protected. His little voice was small and raspy from the NG tube being down his throat for so long. I desperately wanted my vivacious boy back.
I finally retrieved my cell. It was a text message from my emotionally and physically exhausted hubby. This last hospital trip definitely took a huge toll on him. The text was not good.
“Well, it looks like I no longer have a job. The cake topper? We have five days left of health insurance.”
Are you shitting me? At that very moment, the wind was sucked right out of my lungs. I felt like I was in a falling elevator, rushing 100 mph straight down only to slam into the steel frame below. My heart rate probably tripled and the only noise I could hear was my blood flowing furiously through my head. I felt like I was in a tunnel. I was dizzy and my cheeks were hot and I instantly wanted to throw up. I literally felt like some force of evil just pulled my son’s lifeline out of the wall. What in the world are we gonna do?
My thoughts, or lack of thoughts, were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Hi Dr. T…”I managed to get three little words out without tears.
Dr. T, as usual, pulled up a chair to sit and listen to what I had to say. This is why I love this doctor. She’s never in a hurry to rush out of our appointment. There were times when I was frantic and so afraid and she always listened and served my family with so much grace and compassion. I know that she would research my children’s symptoms during her free time while she was at home, she gave me a number so that I could reach anytime, anywhere if I needed. She would often call and check in on my kids if she hadn’t heard from us in a week or so. She’s fought for us to see the best of the best specialists, pushed authorizations and wrote letters to insurance companies to get procedures authorized. Dr. T is our angel on earth, supporting us through the mysterious tribulations of poor health.
Today she was focused on Josiah. We went over the events of the hospital. She was trying to sort out all of the many test results and upcoming procedures for him. She had been fighting with the insurance company to get a fasting five-hour glucose test. The authorization was pending, so it seemed it could come through any time. She started to give me the names of the specialty labs that could perform this, according to our insurance. I interrupted her and said, “Ummm, about 30 seconds before you walked into this room, I found out that my husband lost his job. We have five days of insurance left and have no clue what we are going to do about these tests…”The knot in my throat was blocking the air into my lungs and I started to spin again.
Dr T. was stunned. She just sat there, staring at me, with no idea what to say.
“Wow. Okay, umm…” Is all that she said.
Silence filled the room. After two years and well over 100 doctor’s appointments and hospital stays, we were within reach of a diagnosis. My patience was long gone and I was wishing a strong vortex would just suck me right off of the face of the earth. To wrap my head around the concept of no health insurance was nearly impossible. It was like being on a sinking ship with your life-preserver just inches out of your reach. Torture.
Dr. T said she’d be right back and she left me alone with my scary thoughts. Little Josiah was still sleeping on my lap, his hand still holding mine. When she returned, she had a bunch of papers and told me to get started on them as soon as possible. It was information about receiving state and public assistance for medical care.
At that moment, my pride got the best of me and I was mortified that I’d be applying for Medi-Cal. I couldn’t believe that we were in a situation where I had to plea my case to the state of California as to why we needed emergency Medi-Cal. She said it could take some time to get an answer, but he needed tests and prescriptions filled now!
It’s amazing now, hindsight, feeling the way that I did. While I thought I had a great foundation of faith and belief system, I was wrong. I was only fooling myself. Very angry at God, confused at the endless days in the hospitals, the pokes, the prodding, the lack of diagnosis and now this?! Dr. T said she’d stay on top of this, checking daily to see if we had been approved. She ended our appointment with a great big, reassuring hug.
With a trembling body, I carried Josiah out of the office and headed towards my car. The minute I snapped my seatbelt in, I let it go. Tears streamed down face and I was sobbing. Move on GOD! Go on to your next victim. What do you want from me? A stroke? A heart attack? Me suffering through Hell after the death of my daughter wasn’t enough for you? Do you want to see more? What is it? TELL ME! Do you want me to suffer through two more? Three more? WHAT!? Because I won’t survive, No, I can’t survive that again. No way! You might as well take me first. Shoot me now! What is it going to take until you leave me alone!?!? TELL ME!
After I got home, I didn’t want to talk about it with my husband. I locked myself in my room and grabbed my bible. Despite my anger at God, I knew Him well enough to know there was a purpose. As much as I didn’t agree with His methods or ways, I understood it even less. I flipped the bible open in a desperate search for something. I had no idea what, but I knew it was in there. I flipped through several pages and stopped when I read this, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV
I was certainly hard pressed from every angle on life: my marriage was most certainly stressed. Face it. Lack of sleep (when I say lack of sleep, I mean 2-3 hours of interrupted zzz’s per night for months), being confined in small hospital rooms certainly is not romantic. Finances, holy moly. Even though we both had excellent jobs, the cost of deductibles, prescription fills and diabetic testing supplies (not covered by insurance) was making us go broke. My career was suffering because I was missing so much work, my family was suffering because of the crazy dynamics we were still learning to live with and adjust to, I could go on and on. Perplexed? I most certainly was. The kids symptoms left me perplexed, but even more so, it was the fact that they even had to go through this in the first place. That just plain and simply pissed me off. As far as this verse saying that I wouldn’t be in despair? I’d have to disagree. There were times at 3:00 am I’d wake up and cry. I’d cry until my nose was raw and tears just wouldn’t come anymore. I know now that this was where I was in my faith, raw and dry, very immature. I had been hurt so many times that I was afraid to give it all up to God. Afraid to trust, live freely, believing He could indeed handle this situation. Feeling persecuted? Yes, that’s how I felt about my husband’s employment and our current insurance issue. Struck down? Yes, please. Bring that bolt of lightning.
This is the day I asked the Lord to redirect my steps. I began praying again. I specifically asked for wisdom to help me understand my circumstances and for Him to change my heart. I knew I had to get back into church or else I’d lose everything that I cared for so much. I began praying that He’d send us to the “right” church, if that makes any sense. I wanted to be comfortable there, but mostly, I wanted my kids to be comfortable. I had to stop making excuse as to why we couldn’t go or all the reason why I didn’t need to go.
When I came to the realization that I had no choice about the circumstances in my life, but I had the choice of how I was going to handle them, I received a second wind to fight; a second wind to not give up, not give in. Most importantly, I was learning not to keep all this turmoil inside and to give it all to God. It wasn’t an easy process; in fact, it was harder than living the way I was.
Just a week after Jim’s job loss, we would be facing yet another setback. Would we survive? Stay tuned.