Hi – I’m an accidental couch potato. If you are just joining me, you’ll want to be sure to read part 1 and part 2 of this series in order to get the whole story that leads up to this post. For those who have been following along, this is the third and last installment of a story that I’m simply amazed by.
The final events that carried me from onset of injury to present day include a pretty wacky trip to the hospital. Oddly, it had nothing to do with my back problems at all. I’m a firm believer in “divine appointments”, in which God orchestrates people and places in order to achieve some part of His grand design in the universe. I can’t imagine any other explanation for what would happen as a result of this trip to the ER and overnight stay. It is important to note that I am relatively healthy with no chronic health issues (other than my back).
In late April of this year, I was experiencing some chest pressure at work and, growing increasingly uncomfortable, went to the school nurse to get a once-over. She advised that I needed to be seen by a doctor, although my vitals seemed in order. I attempted to sign myself out of work for the day and go to my doctor. However, district protocol demands that EMT services must be called for anyone experiencing chest pain or discomfort. I was surrounded by my supervisor, 3 EMT workers, and 2 school nurses, feeling I had little say in the matter. This happened to me once before about 3 years ago and it turned out to be nothing more than heartburn/stress as far as they could tell. Back then, I was whisked away to the hospital, prodded, tested and observed for 24 hours, then sent home.
Knowing this would likely happen again, I was annoyed that I had mentioned it at all, wishing I had just “left sick” instead of formally reporting to the nurse. As I was examined from head to foot, complete with EKG tests and blood work, I resolved that I was definitely signing myself out if they wanted me to stay overnight. I’d been through this song and dance before and had been deemed perfectly healthy, with no cardiac issues whatsoever.
After a round of nitroglycerin and a splitting headache to accompany it, I was told I would be placed on a heart monitor in a patient room for observation overnight. No. Stinking. Way. I was NOT staying and that was that. Well, about 30 seconds later, I was convinced by an authoritative but kindly doctor that it was in my best interest to stay. His prompting caused me to daydream up scenarios of foolishly leaving the hospital and then suffering cardiac arrest due to my willful disobedience of doctor’s orders. What songs would they play at my funeral? Was I sure my husband knew my burial wishes? Would they have it on a Saturday so my teacher friends didn’t have to waste a sick day? Fine, fine, I decided to stay overnight to avoid all these complicated plans that were unlikely to be needed.
I was moved up to a room that was empty when I arrived. At least it was quiet and they had cable. I ordered a lunch tray (because of course I hadn’t eaten) and waited for my husband to come check in on me. My mom and eldest daughter arrived in the interim and we chatted, agreeing that it was likely a panic attack, as they both have experienced them. It had never crossed my mind for a moment that I was having a panic attack, despite the fact that anxiety runs in my family. I was sure I’d dodged the anxiety bullet and that some other logical explanation was to blame. However, as I really began to think about it, I remembered little snippets of time over the years when I felt similar symptoms, to a lesser degree, but had simply brushed it off as “stress”.
In the early evening, the doctor ordered a precautionary ultrasound of my legs to ensure that there were no blood clots present. I was wheeled up to Radiology, where I met a lovely lady named Carolyn, who was to perform my scan. She said she didn’t normally work evenings, but had been called in to replace a coworker who was unable to report to work. As she set up the equipment, I noticed a tiny pendant on her necklace, which I immediately recognized as a mustard seed. This is a Christian symbol of faith based on Matthew 17:20 when Jesus explains that even the smallest amount of faith amounts to much in God’s hands.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV
I asked Carolyn if she was a Christian and she said she was. It was from there we got chatting about our beliefs and experiences and I told her I was going to be starting a blog. Laughing, she told me that she had purchased a website about a year earlier but hadn’t set it up and started using it due to her lack of technical experience and struggling with knowing what she had to offer others on her blog. What are the chances that this woman, who rarely worked evenings, would be there working on the day I landed in the hospital? And that we would both be Christians who endeavored to start blogs? We ended up becoming Facebook friends and encouraging each other through the process of launching our respective blogs. We have been in touch as we are continuing to learn about the process. Her mustard seed and the background verse behind it further cemented my resolve and confirmed to me that I was to launch this website and use it to glorify God and bless others.
But there was another divine appointment during that hospital stay. Later on after my ultrasound, a sweet lady in her late 80’s was brought into the room after emergency hip surgery due to a fall. She was sedated overnight and was sleeping peacefully until the early hours of the morning. As she continued to come out of her sedation, she told me that she wasn’t afraid to die but that she was lonely because most of her family and friends had passed away. She asked me to sit with her and talk with her because she was lonesome. I sat at her bedside and we talked all about her life, and how she had fallen, requiring unexpected surgery. Feeling the stirring of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I felt prompted to ask her if I could pray for her. I was really hesitant to do so. There I was in the hospital, on a heart monitor with a strange woman I hadn’t ever met. But a major part of this journey has been about obedience, so I asked her if she’d like me to pray for her. She accepted and I prayed with her and told her how much God loved her. She thanked me and I sensed her relief at having someone there to talk to. I am sure I was placed in that hospital to minister to this dear lady, who was feeling very much alone. Thinking of my own 88-year-old grandmother, who had died recently surrounded by loved ones, I had a tender place in my heart for my elderly roommate who was enduring surgery and recovery by herself.
The way I see it is that the unwelcome hospital stay that I almost weaseled out of was all part of God’s plan for me and for the people I met there. He had strategically placed Carolyn and my roommate there that night, each of us gaining from and giving something to the other. It is simply incredible how personal and loving our Heavenly Father is to orchestrate such a chain of events.
I plan to have coffee with Carolyn this week and talk shop with her about Jesus, blogging and life in general. You can check out her new blog at http://www.lifeisnteasy.com. In other awesome news, my chiropractor said that if I continue to improve as I have been, he would approve of me doing some running this fall. This is something that was originally never supposed to be possible due to the extent of my herniation/spinal condition. He told me that generally, only about 35% of people with my particular set of back issues are responsive to chiropractic care. God is so good and so faithful.
In addition to slowly healing from my back injury, I’ve learned a lot about myself, who God is, and how He has way more for me than I could ever realize. I also gained a new friend and blogging colleague through my crazy hospital experience. As I continue to see how God works, I have the unshakable certainty that whatever I bring to the Lord’s feet in faith, He will help me and turn it into something amazing. I plan on getting my own mustard seed necklace to help me remember and use it as a conversation piece in the future. I suppose the final word on my back injury and Couch Potato Status is that something that can appear from all angles to be impossible may actually be the precipice of a mountain that God wants to move for you.