Wednesday, January 16, 2013 – I’m still not exactly sure how I ended up tethered to the catapult. But there I was with the ground looming large before me as impact was made; an enormous, excruciatingly painful “T-H-U-D!” confirmed contact had been made. The only way to safety, and the only approximate speed at which I could get there, was to resign myself to inching along what appeared to be an arduously narrow path. A sloth would have made better time.
I have issues with “slow”. Especially with “slower”, “slowly”, and “slowest”. Yet, here I was not even able to keep up with a sloth. Not that I really cared. Slowly, it began to register: It’s Thursday. It’s January. My car is in for repairs after dying on me on the way to the doctor, I was in the ER last night and now I was in the hospital but my bed had been moved in the last hour, I had a blood transfusion less than 24-hours ago, I had managed to doze off for an hour around 4:30 A.M. and I was still on Planet Earth. Not that I should have been; only hours before sheer terror began to set in as I realized I wasn’t sure if I closed my eyes (which I desperately wanted to do) and fell asleep, where would I wake up: Heaven or the hospital? The probability of entering the pearly gates was closer to inevitable than being awakened by a blood pressure cuff squeezing your arm to a pulp, a thermometer being stuffed in and out of your ear, and a monitor and pulse sock beeping and chirping every thirty minutes over the course of 8 hours. (It takes 4 hours for one unit of blood to be transfused).
Slowly, the events of the night before began to register. By my lunch period on Wednesday, I felt so awful that I called the doctor’s office hoping there was a possibility I could get an appointment for Wednesday afternoon. Then I took time to call the repair shop and describe the protesting my car had made that morning. They didn’t think it was anything major, but said to drop it off before the appointment to check it. Then I called my father and asked if he could meet me at the garage, then take me to my appointment, and if I could borrow their car Thursday and Friday (just in case). Then, because I was feeling so poorly and not sure I would be at work Thursday I took extra time to painstakingly leave sub plans on my desk. Somehow I made it to my car.
I drove to the garage with the hazard lights on at speeds not to exceed 20 MPH (ah, there’s the word ‘slow’ again). Not exactly the epitome of “fun” in January when the sky and weather reports are threatening yet another snow storm, on the Roosevelt Blvd. in 12 lanes of traffic at rush hour, all while attempting to drive a protesting car. Nearly an hour-and-a-half later, I made it to the traffic light 25 feet from the garage; a trip that should have only taken 30 minutes now exceeded 60 minutes. The light turned red as I approached; I remember thinking all I had to do was get the car through the light and put the turn signal on to coast into the garage lot.
Except the car grew tired of me ignoring its protests and decided to go on strike. Voila, that’s all folks.
The light turned green but drivers behind me thought I was rudely ignoring the light. I had my flashers on and tried (for as long as I could stand the cold) waving them past me. Then I pulled out the cell phone to call the garage I could see from the windshield. About 10 minutes later, a mechanic and one of the owners walked over and asked me to put the car in neutral and steer while they pushed it into their driveway. The mechanic took a second closer look at me and said, “Never mind, you go ahead and get in the passenger seat. We’ve got this.”
They pushed me and my car into the driveway and told me they would call me in the morning. With that, I was on my way to the doctor. . . .
The nurse took my blood pressure, tried to conceal a look of shock and told me she was going to do a quick blood test. She brought in a small machine and asked me where on my fingers she could stick me. I told her anywhere it didn’t hurt. It’s a theory. It hurt. She placed the blood sample in the machine and then made a comment about how that particular machine didn’t always work. I guess she was trying once again to hide her shock at what she was seeing – me and the reading. Her face made me think it wasn’t the machine. She pulled the sample out and reinserted it. Then told me she would be back with a different machine. Hindsight is always 20/20 – the nurse needed several pairs of eyes to confirm what she was reading.
The next time I saw the nurse was when I was wheeled out of the room. No doubt she was certain she’d never see me again. The doctor came in and told me my hemoglobin was at 5.1, almost 5.0 actually, I was severely anemic, the only way to fix it was a blood transfusion, and I needed to get to the ER NOW. I simply looked at the doctor as if to say “I just want to feel better” and managed to articulate an audible “Okay.” Then the doctor wanted to know which ER I wanted to go to. I said I guess [local hospital]. The doctor firmly told me I wasn’t going anywhere except in a wheelchair and then wanted to know how to get me to the hospital; I was to stay put in the chair until the hospital had been contacted and alerted to my arrival. I wasn’t feeling well enough for an ambulance ride and instead asked for a ride in my father’s “taxi”.
Normal hemoglobin levels for women are 12.0 – 16.0; for men it’s 14.0 – 17.0. I should have gone into heart failure by the time my hemoglobin had reached 5.5 – .04 – .05 points ago. Anything lower than 5.0 is fatal. I was suffocating, vital organs were beginning to shut down, should have been unconscious with absolutely no memory of how I ended up in the ER or hospital, and I was conscious and coherent. Not that you want to be consciously aware that you’re suffocating. It’s beyond terrifying. The doctor asked me how I had walked in, how was I still standing? The only response I can offer is “Because of the One who Holds Me.”
Now it’s almost 6:00 AM Thursday morning. Slowly (yet again), I realize that I’m still here but can’t sleep because I have to call the school and report my absence, which I couldn’t do until 7:00 because no one was in the office before then and they don’t have an answering machine. (Go figure.)
So what does one do when one is catapulted and the tethers that were holding you are swinging madly in mid-air while you’re bonding face-plant style with the earth below? It’s not like “when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on” is exactly a viable option from that vantage point. There’s nothing to grab ahold of, nothing to hang onto, no “Beam me up, Scotty,” as the transmitter was demolished with the gut-wrenching thud.
Perhaps the answer lies in your vantage point, or more precisely, perspective. When one is bonding face-plant style, there are relatively few vantage points to survey the damage. I can choose to remain face-down hoping Scotty will get the message and be able to repair the transmitter. Or I can adopt a “fire safety” perspective: stop, drop, and roll. I can choose my vantage point to survey the damage. If I stop, drop and roll, at least I’m doing “something” (albeit, it might be very little, but it’s “something”). And doing “something” is better than hoping a demolished transmitter will actually “transmit”.
Vantage point…perspective…how I see…how I choose to see. If I chose “fire safety”, I pause, let go, and change the vantage point from which I survey the damage. Perspective is a choice determined by my “heart-ittude”. If my heart is confident, even .001%, that I can change my vantage point, the odds are roughly 1,000% higher I’ll gain altitude. “Though war breakout against me, even then I will be confident” (Psalm 27:3b). Confident?? In what?? A broken catapult? A broken tether? The huge crater just created by the face-plant style landing?? Really?? Seriously??
Perhaps the better rhetorical question to remaining confident is: In Whom? In Whom do I put my trust? On Whom do I focus my perspective? If I want to change my vantage point, if I want to soar like an eagle when I’m surrounded by a bunch of turkeys, when the bottom has fallen out and you’re left with a life spiraling out of control, or perhaps you’ve been abandoned and you really need Jesus to “have skin on”, “to be human”, when you’re left wondering where God is in the midst of your (my) pain, if God really cares, I need to focus on Who, not “what”, I’m confident in. I can choose to behold the beauty of the Lord and be held by His grace. “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13).
I have issues with “SLOW”, especially “slower,” “slowest,” “slowly,” with “warp speed” being an evasive reality, so it was going to take a while…Thus began the inching…eighteen inches….
¹The Lord is my light and my salvation –
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
of whom shall I be afraid?
²When evil men advance against me to
devour my flesh,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
³Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war breakout against me,
even then I will be confident.
4One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to
seek Him in His temple.
5For in the day of trouble
He will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at His tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, “Seek His face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
You have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10Though my mother and father forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11Teach me Your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppossors.
12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.