Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my physical journey. Feel free to share yours in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them!
I didn’t particularly think about my health growing up. Healthy, to me, meant losing weight or not being sick. When my grandfather had a heart attack and open heart surgery, we made a few diet adjustments…..less salt and real butter. But I still didn’t concern myself much with health.
The first time I faced medical questions was when I was about 16. I had been having an unexplained itchy rash on my face from time to time. In the course of trying to figure out what it was, my doctor said he was going to test for lupus. In that matter-of-fact way of speaking doctors have, he told me that if it were systemic lupus, eventually my organs would begin shutting down one by one. That’s not particularly a welcoming thought at any age, but especially when you have yet to apply for your driver’s license.
After a period of agonizing waiting and multiple tests, the doctor came to two conclusions: 1) I did not have lupus and 2) He couldn’t tell me what I had. I was relieved and frustrated all at the same time. But more about my mysterious rash in a later blog post.
The next time I was challenged with my own health, I was happily expecting my second child. In the routine examination the doctor performed at the first visit, she mentioned that I had an enlarged thyroid, but all the blood tests came back perfectly normal. Remembering that the same thing had happened when I was pregnant with my daughter, I asked the question. “Is this something I should get checked out further?”
My personality is one that sees a problem and gets it fixed as soon as possible. I do not particularly enjoy sacrificing my blood for a lab technician’s salary unless it is benefiting me somehow, and performing the same blood test more than once to get the same results seemed unnecessary.
The obstetrician nodded slowly, “Yes, I would mention it to your family doctor when you see him.” “When I see him?” I thought. I am the type that avoids doctors. It’s not anything personal, but I would rather spend my time in other ways. Nevertheless, I went home and called the office to make an appointment.
Biopsies and blood tests (again!) gave inconclusive results, so I finished my pregnancy, labor and delivery wondering if I had cancer. During that pregnancy I saw 6 different doctors. Once they start taking blood, they find a lot of things they “need” to check. A month after my baby was born, I was scheduled for surgery.
I have never heard God speak in an audible voice nor do I expect to in the future, however He spoke to me through a tiny, elderly foreign doctor in the pre-surgery testing wing at the hospital. I had to have some last minute blood tests (yes, those wonderful things again). The doctor came in to ask me some questions and give me last minute instructions. Right before she left the room, she came over and stood right in front of me. I looked up to see what else had to be done, but she took both of my hands in hers. “The Lord will work through the hands of the surgeon.” Without another word, she turned and quietly stepped out of the room, but I felt as if an angel had made a heavenly announcement.
After my surgery, I again received news that was both a relief and a frustration. 1) I did not have cancer and 2) half of my thyroid was gone and 3) they did not know why I got the nodule in the first place.
With all their training and knowledge, it seems that there is a lot that doctors don’t know. I believe that God is our Creator, and He knows us best. I don’t know what medical issues I’ll have in the future. It pains me to see the suffering of many, both far from me and close to me. Their test results weren’t a relief. They’ve been through pain that I could never imagine.
I don’t know why God has spared me so far. I do know that I don’t take it lightly. When faced with the possibility of suffering, pain, disease and death, perspectives shift a bit. Somehow the daily annoyances look more like blessings, and the big things in life look rather small.
Whatever purpose God had for my little medical involvements, I began to think that maybe there was more to health than just losing weight and avoiding germs. That started me on a new path. What did God want for my physical health?