Three weeks ago, after seeing my PFT's (a breathing test I do to indicate level of lung function) drop twice consecutively, my doctors & I decided it was time for a bronch (to get lung biopsies). It did not go well, but they did find infection. We started treating the infection with oral & inhaled antibiotics. After two weeks I saw my doctors again; & my PFT's had not improved, moreover some kidney levels were off. They were so abnormal for me that we repeated labs to confirm they were actually my own labs. They were. Throughout that week (last week) labs were repeated making sure those numbers were correcting themselves. They were not. I drank and drank water to hydrate myself, to flush my system, to get these numbers down ... to no avail.
Then I received the type of call thay last Friday nobody really cares to receive.
Friday, July 27th, 1:30 pmMost people would assume I was just dehydrated, having been working in heat indices greater than 105 degrees. But if you had known I had downed 6 liters of water two days straight, you might change your mind. So for Mere, the doctors, & I; we all assumed I was not dehydrated, how could I have been?
Laura (lung transplant coordinator): Hi Adam, we need you to come to the hospital.
Me: Okay, whats up?
Laura: You're creatinine levels are still climbing. We need you to come in.
Me: When, like now?
Laura: Yeah, right now.
Me: ...uh ...okay. I'll be headed that way shortly. Thanks, bye.
Laura: Okay just come back to clinic. See you soon.
End phone call.
At clinic, Laura proceeds to use the words "systemic infection," at what time Mere & I heard "septic." Cue FREAKOUT!!! We both did a little. But Laura stated, "We THINK it MAY BE a sign of a systemic infection since we THINK you are hydrated." Still, hard not to hear some certainties amongst the uncertainties. So, I was promptly admitted, had an IV called a PICC line inserted in my arm (it can stay in for up to 6 weeks if needed). Once my room was ready they administered IV fluids and antibiotics. By now, we had spoken to my parents who had then decided to drive through the night to be with us. They are awesome.
You must understand. I am healthy. If you met me today, you would not only not suspect, but never even know I am a transplant patient. I like it that way. Also, in 8 and 1/2 years since being transplanted, I have NEVER been sick ... at least not with it starting or even progressing to my lungs. So this is entirely abnormal! That is why I said this is new for me and my folks. This is definitely new for Mere as she has never known me to be sick at all ... not like this anyway. So, as my wife, she found all of this to be overwhelming. As I did too. But she is an amazing woman. She accepted it, and took it all in stride as each new bit of information became available. Friday afternoon and evening, we prayed and prayed and prayed and others who knew did too.
Fast forward 5 days, I am now at home on IV antibiotics for the next three weeks. In a matter of a few hours, our house transformed into a make shift hospital, which is FAR better than a real hospital. So, in this since its old territory, like the days before transplant.
So, now that I have said all that ... let me get to the meat of what I am thinking ...
Tuesday was a hard day for Mere and I. In different and in similar ways I think. Adjusting to this is not easy. For me, its hard to shift back, recalling the bad times before transplant when I was actually sick, recalling the times when bad news was a frequent and normal occurrence. It is hard to break a health-oriented mentality and lifestyle. For Mere, it was a lot more than that. She was watching all this stuff happen like it was no big deal. To her it is a great big deal, understandably so! For her, all of this IV supplies around the house triggered a series of "What if's?" Those are hard to manage and mostly they paralyze one in fear. Then it got harder for me as I watched an innocent bystander - Mere, as she were - have to take all this crap upon herself and then be affected by it. This is not easy. It is not easy to watch my wife suffer on my behalf. So we both had some cries, and rightfully so.
But we both in our own ways started internally working through it all. By day's end we were totally different people, so it seemed. We had our thoughts corrected and re-oriented. We see the blessing and grace of it all, straight from Jesus' gracious hand. We have & will continue to consider that God's wisdom is higher & different than our own. We know that trials work to change us us - when we persevere in them - a perfect completeness results (James 1:2-4). We also know that in Jesus all our request and all God's promises are yes (2 Cor 1:20), including the ones that tell us not to worry because He cares and provides for us all that we need.
Even so, I am mindful of Solomon's wise words...
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:With this is mind, I am encouraged and confronted by truth. Its is okay to struggle with accepting something. There is a time and a place to struggle with difficult circumstances. There is a time to weep, to be sad, to be downcast ... but there is no time or place or reason to allow sadness to turn into sulking, self pity, and outright grumpiness due to one's circumstances. Likewise, on the flip side of sadness and mourning, there is a glorious and wondrous time of laughing & dancing ... ie: REJOICING.
a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Q: But what is there for rejoicing in during trials of life?
Paul nails this one on the head, leaving us with no excuses, when he says in Phil 3:1, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord..." (my emphasis). Finally ... after all that he had written, after all the instruction in the preceding two chapters, he says we are to rejoice. I guess it could be perplaxing, a little ... coming from Paul; Mr. I have suffered "far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Cor 11:23-28)
WHAT!? Why is this guy telling us to rejoice? How is he in the middle of all his trials so jubilant?
I think it is more simple than I'd like it to be.
Its because Paul was content in the Lord beyond his circumstances. He found more joy in Christ, in communion and fellowship with Jesus than he did in life. He reveled more greatly in the truth of the gospel of Jesus than he counted his life valuable. He even says this earlier in Philippians. Paul not only was content, he rejoiced in Jesus, in the truth that in Him all things are made new; that a day is coming when Jesus will make all things right. In this we rejoice, that in Jesus we have found our "Yes" ... "Far as many are the promises of God, in Him they are yes" (2 Cor 1:20) .
So how did I get here? Because on Tuesday I went from being sad to sulking in self pity because I have an IV in my arm for three weeks, thus interfering with my perfect little world of self interest; to not only accepting my circumstances, but to rejoicing in them. There are many benefits to being told I cannot go back to work for a few days, to going through these passing trials ...
... I get to be with my wife all day long, help get her classroom set up
... I have more time to rest = get well sooner
... I have more time to spend in the Word & in prayer
... I can sleep in some
... go to the beach
Plus more. But the point is that in the midst of trouble there is a lot of blessing. In the midst of trouble there is a calm that surpasses logic and rational thinking. Indeed the Lord does say, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ... Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:25 & 31). Not too mention that we are over flowing with gratitude that the infection is minor in terms of what it could be, that I was only dehydrated, that my kidneys are happy again, that I have an amazing team of doctors who are smart and awesome. Not to mention that I have my best friend to be by my side at all times. Mere is my favorite. Not to mention that Jesus is perfecting us to more fully reflect His goodness and worth to a world around us who is in dire need of Him
So, I'll end now. There was a timing for weeping and mourning. Its over. Now is the time for laughing and dancing.
I hope you'll find in the trying times of your life that there is not only a time for weeping, but also a lot of time for laughter. The Lord is good, and in Him we find our yes and our rejoicing.