Blind as a Bat

August 22, 2008

Today my Dear One took my for my thrice yearly eye doctor appointment.  Three times a year isn’t exactly normal for most people, but it is what my eyes now require after over twenty-five years of diabetes.  Every four months I go to the retina specialist to have my eyes checked for bleeds from diabetically weakened blook vessels (retinopathy) or a build up of fluid that could cause my retinas to detach.   

My report was a good one.  No new bleeding and pressures of fluid just slightly over normal.  So far, I’ve only had one bleed that was easily repaired through laser surgery.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a lack of complications in this area. Blindness does not appeal to me.

That being said, I have just one complaint.  I leave the eye doctor half-blind.  Of course, why wouldn’t I be.  First they super-dialate me, then they shine a really bright light to illuminate the back of my eyeballs, and finally, they either take pictures of the backs of my eyeballs (more bright light) or have me watch bright patterns to test pressures.  I usually need not only my sunglasses, but their fashionable shades over them as well. 

It is many hours before I can see anything other than what is very close to me.  Ironic, isn’t it?  To save my eyesight, they temporarily blind me. 

A lot of things in life don’t make apparent sense to us that way.  It’s like vaccines or flu shots for example.  Inject a modified form of a disease to protect us from the real thing.  Basically, things don’t always work in ways that we would think they should. 

God is like that too.  Personally, I think he has a strong sense of irony.  Oh, and a sense of humor too!  Why else would he have made someone like Peter into not only his disciple, but a great evangelist.  Or the greatest persecutor of Christians in his time into the man who wrote the majority of the New Testament. 

I try to remember that when things don’t go the way I think they should.  God’s plan doesn’t always make sense in the ways that we expect.  But, it does always do the job. 

Any thing in your life not going the way you expect?  Then you should be wondering just what it is that God is up to for your good.

ACTS 9:11-16

And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,  And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight.  Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

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Spiritual Aerobics

August 18, 2008

For the last week, my Dear One and I have been working out together at a local health club.  Although I had been walking with friends, I knew that I needed more if I was ever going to really be back in shape.  My Dear One was also feeling motivated to build up his core strength since his life activity levels have changed.  So, off to the club we go for three workouts a week. 

The first part of day one wasn’t so bad.  We were learning how to use the machines and didn’t take on anything too challenging.  For the aerobic portion, the club had all the usual machines: ellipticals, bikes, stair climbers, etc.  They also offered a Zumba class, a Latin dance/aerobic class.   I suggested that we try it, and my Dear One, good sport that he is, agreed to join me.  I should mention that while standing outside the door waiting for class to start, he was making comments. Actually, it was the same comment repeatedly.  “This is going to be a disaster.”  You see, he has no background in dance.  None.  Nada.  And physical coordination, like for sports, has never been his strong suit.  Never. 

Surprisingly to him, he did well.  We both had a blast and plan to continue.  However, neither of us made it through the entire first workout.  We bailed a little over half way through with sheets of sweat pouring off of us.  Of course, what we are finding is that there are a lot of muscles that we haven’t used for a while.  After a week of working out, there are still some minor sore spots, but we see a slow change in our ability to get through a workout.  Muscles are like that.  They let you know that they haven’t been used.  And, amazingly, they repond to use and begin to do their job again. 

Spiritual muscles are the same way.  I’ve been asked to lead a Bible Study on the book of John by a group of about 6 young women.  After we found the study we wanted, I pulled out an older study Bible that I hadn’t used for a while.  I looked back over the extensive note-taking I had done in several places in this book and realized that my current, paltry reading schedule doesn’t compare to what I used to do.  Frankly, as far as actual study of the Word goes, I’m out of shape.  I don’t doubt that preparing for this study will be the equivalent of my first day back in something aerobic.  A lot of work, spiritual sweating, but easier after I get back into it.  Oh, and addictive too!

It’s easy to let all of our muscles slide into disuse, spiritual or physical.  What we need to remember is that it is possible to get back into shape.  Already, I see the benefits from the physical effort.  I have more energy, I don’t need that afternoon nap, and I get more done overall.  With that as an example, I can’t wait to see what the spiritual aerobics do for me!  Are you in your best spiritual  shape?  If not, start where you are, build up those muscles, and get that heart rate up!  And, report in.  Where are you reading/studying right now?

Acts 20:32

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Saving the TA-TA’s

August 12, 2008

A few months ago, a friend and coworker lost her battle after her third recurrence of breast cancer.  She was a wife, mother, foster parent, and committed Christian.  I don’t know the history of her disease since she rarely talked about it in any detail at all.  I do know that some types of cancer are more aggressive than others.  And, like most of you, I know that the earlier you catch any kind of cancer, the better chance you have.  What I didn’t know was that 1 out of every 8 of us ladies will get some form of breast cancer in our lifetime.  Really, I didn’t know that the numbers were so high until I read a brochure in the mammogram office today.   

I scheduled an overdue mammogram at a new center after seeing the ramifications of the disease in my friend’s life.  I have been way too casual about going well past the yearly requirement.  This is my story of taking more responsibility for myself.  it should be read with a sense of humor!

First of all, the staff didn’t seem to know that this was any big deal.  I arrived at 8:23 for an 8:30 appointment.  After all, don’t you normally go a little early for paperwork?  Apparently not.  The lights were on, but the door was locked.  I knocked several times.  At 8:31, a young woman came to the door (I could see her through the sidelights) in answer, I thought, to my knock.  She inserted a key, unlocked the door and scrurried back quickly to get behind the reception glass!  I guess I thought that she would actually open the door after leaving me knocking for seven minutes.  Silly me.  Okay, so I got over it.  At least, I thought, she’s just the receptionist.  It could be worse, she could be doing my mammogram. 

Guess what? No, I’m not kidding.   

Okay, so I hear the spiel about undressing from the waist up, putting on the gown so it opens in the front, and wiping off any deodorant.  I’m not excited.  After all, who wants to go have their boobs squashed flat?  Of course it was really fun when she helped me position myself by handling the girls like they were an uncooked meatloaf that she could shape to her desire. (Note to my dear one, the techniques are not to be emulated….) Then, before each of the four films to be made, she would say “Hold your breath.”   I’m pretty sure I set some sort of breath-holding record since I started as soon as she lowered the top plate using the “squash it like a pancake” setting.  The pain caused me to do it automatically.  What can I say.  Unfortunately, I’m not an “A” cup!  But, apparently can hold my breath for quite awhile.  I wonder if that’s an Olympic event???

I had to wait a couple of minutes while she made sure the films were adequate.  That was when I got the entertainment part of the visit.  Someone in the office was thoughtful enough to make fun of a patient’s phone conversation with them at the top of their lungs.  That allowed me, down the hall and behind a closed door, to hear it without straining.  The woman imitated a very country dialect and mocked the woman’s ignorance.  I now know how long it was since HER last mammogram.  So much for HIPPA.  And yes, I did say something to my receptionist/mammographer when she returned.  “OH, my….” was her reply.   I’m thinking about going to a different office next year….

In the long run, I was in and out in about 15 minutes.  Wow!  Fifteen minutes once a year, and only five of those minutes are actually uncomfortable.  Fifteen minutes and a procedure that could save my life.  Ladies, if you are over forty OR have a family history of breast cancer, have you had your annual mammogram? 

 Proverbs 18:9 Amplified Version  ….he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide.

I had really hoped that we’d all get through the first week of school without any major incidents.  We weren’t so lucky. 

My beautiful granddaughter, age five, is a bright child who reads Harry Potter, plays the violin, knows number places that include the ones, tens, and hundreds, and can tell you about the Mars Rover in detail.  She was born with a physical disability known as a cloacal anomaly, a problem that occurs in 1 in every 20,000 or more live births.  Of all the variations of this, hers is one of the worst.  It is considered one of the most difficult pediatric surgical challenges to correct.  Her surgical history is too much to explain here in a short post.  But, as a result of these procedures, she does not yet have urinary or bowel continence.  As a temporary measure, her parents use large Pull-Ups to deal with this situation.  As you can imagine, they worried about how well she would be accepted in public schools. 

On the one hand, they didn’t have to worry.  Her teacher, principal, school nurse, and the staff are wonderful.  They love her already and she is thrilled to be there.  I can’t say enough about how supportive her teacher has been so far. 

On the other hand, the after-school program, a separately run program that is on-site at her school didn’t do so well.  I picked her up after her first day.  I am amazed that her clothes weren’t soaked since that was one of the wettest Pull-Ups I have ever held.  They didn’t change her.  They admitted that they didn’t check.  They admitted that they were told how to do it by her teacher when she brought her to after-school.  I changed her in front of them to reassure them that, while her anatomy may not look normal, there is hardly any difference in the process of changing her.  They assured me that there would be no problem and responded in detail as to how they would and could handle this need.  They seemed positive and enthusiastic. 

Day two.  Her mother received a call while on her way to pick her up.  She was told that her child could no longer attend after-school since she had a medical problem.  They were okay with Pull-Ups, just not with the “medical problem.”  When she arrived, she discovered that her child was waddling from the pain of being kept in a feces-laden diaper for the two hours she had been there.   She had told her caretakers that she needed to be changed.  When her mother arrived, the two caretakers were sitting at a table talking with only her daughter and one other child present.  She was immediately informed that her child would need to be changed….

She was livid.  My granddaughter had dried feces on her bottom and a severely swollen and bleeding rectum from being unchanged.  It will take a few days for her to return to normal.  We can expect her to cry with every bowel movement until it does. 

So far, we only get lame excuses.  They weren’t comfortable!  THEY had my personal number and the assurance that if there was any problem I would come.  THEY chose to let her sit in feces instead.  Their superiors aren’t any more helpful. 

So, what do you think.  Is this neglect or abuse?  We could turn the other cheek, but, in my granddaughter’s case, both “cheeks” are already involved.