About six or seven weeks ago, when I thought that I had a kinked cerebral artery, it was a bit hard to deal with. I had a sort of hard day and made it home, really exhausted. I crawled into bed and watched the day's TiVoed episode of Oprah.
I looked at the title with some dread -- Guests who are facing death ...
I felt a horrible fascination, because although I had not been handed a death sentence, the whole "your cerebral artery is kinked and just keep your heartrate down and we will look at it again in six months" felt like a death sentence. A teeny one, perhaps.
Not to sound all melodramatic, but I felt like there were things that I was supposed to do -- that God had called me to do, and I just could not see how I was going to do them with my brain acting up. How was I going to serve in my current shape? I felt like something was dying ... maybe my thought of who and what I was. Not feeling well and being exhausted was a huge time-waster. Literally.
At that point, I was barely able to think -- at least that is how it felt. I was making mistakes in my work and I was having to proof and double proof. Just the day or two before, I had left the wrong name in a report and the attorneys were arguing over the fact that the whole damn report was therefore suspect. Thankfully the judge called it a simple mistake and had the hearing go on. I read another report that I had been working on the night before, and there was this passage that was pretty much gibberish, one that I had written while really tired.
I make mistakes, sure. But I was making a lot of them. A lot. I was a little scared. And I could not figure out how, for the life of me, I was going to live any kind of productive life with a wonky brain. And no energy.
So, I watched the Oprah episode with horrified fascination. The first person was a woman who had terrible cancer and she was taking control of it with diet and exercise and steely resolve to live her life.
The second was Randy Pausch -- you might have heard of him. (The video is a little long, but worth it.)
And I watched this episode of Oprah and felt sad. Of course, I was sad for these people and I admired their strength. But I also felt tired. Because I was not feeling like someone who was overcoming a challenge. There was no enemy to fight. And if there was an enemy, I could not see it. I was just walking through my day, a little dazed and confused.
I just didn't know what to do. How do you fix an artery? Detoxify? Exercise? Walk on tippy-toe? What the hell I was supposed to do. I thought that if I just knew what I was supposed to do, I could get started on it. But there was nothing to do to start getting better. Wait for six months? Hope for the best? Hope that my artery did not blow and leave me a vegetable or something?
If I had to describe myself, I would say that I am generally a person who gets things done. I have a hard time taking no for an answer -- which has its upside and downside. I generally take a "no" as a "hmmmm, let's think about this -- there has to be a way". I am a back-door finder, lateral-thinker and generally-obnoxious-pest when it comes to getting things done. I have learned to be more flexible, but persistence is not a problem for me. What I am not good at is waiting. Or doing nothing.
I felt crabby and annoyed -- thwarted, I think more than anything else. My life, the one that I thought I was supposed to have was slipping away and I could not see the path that I was going to be on. That path made no sense to me. I did not know how I had been so mistaken in my beliefs about what I was to accomplish in this life. Because a torqued cerebral artery was going to blow a lot of things all to hell.
I literally could not wrap my brain around the fact that I was now impaired.
Listening to the guests on Oprah, I just felt tired. Heck! It was eight o'clock at night and I was in bed! The only thing that had allowed me to get home that night was the thought of being prone. I did not talk to anyone when I hit the door and staggered into my jammies. I think I actually was groaning in relief to lay down.
I felt like I was not living up to my beliefs. I think that most of us would hope to be the Resistance Fighters rather than the frightened townspeople -- the workers on the Underground Railroad, not the people in their houses, listening to the bloodhounds. That when the chips are down, we would scrape up something and face the inevitable with some courage.
For me, I hoped that I would step up for what I believe in when the pressure wass on. You see, I really believe that God's grace is all-sufficient and all of His promises were there for me, and none of that had changed. But I didn't know how to be sick and I didn't know how to be so tired.
So, looking back I can understand it all a little better. Part of the problem was that diagnosis was wrong, and it felt wrong. But I am trying to understand what I am supposed to learn from that little episode, because it was disconcerting to say the least.
The problem was that I still felt certain about what it is that I am to do in this life, and I could not see how God would throw such a roadblock in the way. There was a way around it, or under it, or something, because I am sure of the call that God has on my life.
So what did I learn? That God's call is sure. I am as sure of that as anything I have ever known. If it had turned out that I had a kinky artery or lupus or MS, God would have given me a way to serve, despite the obstacles. And I would have known that it was not because of my strength, but because of His. But I knew that already.
Because I am just not Oprah material.