Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weak For A Week...

Two weeks today, I was packing for our long awaited Prairies Road Trip. Everything was in order - gear ready, gas tank filled, and last minute supplies purchased. I suddenly felt tired. Within minutes, I was in the bathroom as all hell broke loose. My body wracked itself violently in an attempt to rid my digestive tract of whatever dragon had taken up residence within it.

This continued for two full days. By the third day, my body was still trying to reject the dragon, but there was nothing left inside. My skin was dry with dehydration. I could barely speak. I couldn't sit up.

My family took me to the hospital, where I was treated with medication and 3 bags of saline through an IV. The damage of the dragon and my body's inability to receive food and water had left me completely depleted. Within a few days, I wasn't 'sick' anymore but in, what is still proving to be, a relatively long recovery.

Eventually, I started to have enough energy to observe myself and I marvelled at the fascinating, frustrating weakness of my usually healthy body.

Everything made me tired. 

I felt like an air mattress that had been completed deflated - flat, unable to support myself, useless.

As I lifted a glass or stood up, I could feel the energy slipping from my limbs like sand through a sieve.

Walking to the bathroom put me out of breath.

I needed pillows to prop me up because sitting was exhausting.

Every task was so tiring that I didn't have enough energy left over to read, watch tv, or even listen to music.

I could do nothing but lie and heal.

After my hospital visit, I decided to set a goal or two each day to aid in my recovery. One day my goal was "eat a cracker." Another it was "sit outside." Small, specific, tangible goals to get me stronger. I could do this because I knew I would get better. Once the illness itself had passed, I knew it was only a matter of time and gentle care before I would be back to health.

"But what would it be like," I imagined, "if I didn't know I'd get better?"

As I lay there, I thought about the countless folks in hospitals every day who suffer from a similar experience of physical weakness, but with no guarantee of a return to full health.

I thought about people struggling with daily hunger, and how it leaves them too weak to spend mental energy on dreams and plans and new ideas.

I thought about my dear friend who just lost her final battle with ALS, and the years she spent under the weight of a body that slowly lost each function, with no hope of gaining them back.

My heart went out to these souls. I prayed for them. I prayed for their caregivers and families.

And I was reminded of the power of Hope.

As I started to get better, I watched a moving TED talk by retired Sergeant Kevin Briggs who would patrol the Golden Gate Bridge for potential suicide victims. He spoke about the absence of Hope in so many of these broken hearts.

I was blessed to be surrounded by love and to have Hope of a healthy outcome. But what about those who are not so blessed? What about those who can't see a happy ending?

Maybe, sometimes, we need to be the ones to offer Hope to others.

How do we do that? 

I know for us, the answer is tied into God and music and community and love. 

I don't know the answer for you. I think it's different for each of us. 
But I pray that on this long weekend, as you enjoy some downtime yourself, you'll take a moment to consider the question. Imagine what could happen if you did ... 

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