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About Eric’s Wife

Some may say I am a "Stay at home Mom," but that is not even close. I am Eric's Wife. I have exhilarating strokes of genius, followed almost immediately by paralyzing pangs of self doubt and, for whatever reason, here is where I blog about it - warts and all. I serve a merciful God with a clumsy hand and at the end of each day I go to sleep thankful to be His servant and Eric's wife.

My 12th Nearly 3 Hour MRI

January 29, 2020

I’ve always thought it would be fun to write out an MRI experience and I finally did it.
Maybe some of you have never been in an MRI for your brain or spine, so let me set the scene:
The MRI machine is housed in a room that looks like something from Star Trek. MRIs use powerful magnets, and I am made to wear a hospital gown because, according to the tech, the nylon in my Wal-Mart pj pants would disrupt images. The machine looks like a big boat with a long skinny flat board jutting out like a tongue. I lay down on the board and they place a cage over my face, that rests on my nose, holds my ears, and keeps me locked in place for the duration. I am given an earpiece through which they can play my choice of music from Pandora and a little bulb that looks that the end of turkey baster. I am to squeeze this bulb if I feel like I need to be released from my cozy little hole that is just like a coffin but it does you no good to think of it like that.
I request Hillsong worship music, had a brief chat with the radiologist about her recent vacation (Girl had FUN), and then I slowly roll deeper into the machine. Some MRIs have mirrors set up inside on an angle so you can see the room outside. This machine does not have mirrors, so I settled in for a nice couple hours staring at the cage and ceiling, just inches from my face. There was a couple splashes of dirt on that ceiling. I told myself it was dirt. I mean, I cannot imagine how those brown splashes of dirt got there, but I stared at it long enough to develop an opinion.
MRIs use sound waves and magnetic waves. The sound waves have many exciting settings, all very loud and slightly chest rattling.

Here’s my MRI experience:

Hillsong: You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fa…
MRI: Duuuuuuuuun Duuuuuuuuuun Du Du Du Duuuuuuuuuuuuuun (repeat 12 times)
Hillsong: Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stro…
MRI: Goooooooooooooonk Goooooooooooooooonk Gonk Gunk Gonk Gunk Gonk Gunk
After about thirty minutes of this, the board I was laying on was slid deeper into the machine and the movement pulled the earpiece out. If I ask to have it fixed, that might add twenty minutes to this ride, so I settled on my own thoughts with the MRI as my soundtrack.
“Welp, I guess I could go through the book of James.”
“Count it all joy, brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness…”
“Boy, James, that will preach.”
MRI: Knocka knock, knocka knock, knocka knocka knocka knock, knockknockknockknockknock
“Do not be deceived, brothers, every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, coming from the Father of heavenly lights, in whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
MRI: Bonk, Booooooooonk, Bonk Bonk Bonk, Boooooooooonk
(I finished James. It takes about 18 minutes to recite, so I was glad to have that little bit of time awareness.)
“Hmm. Did I just hear a door? I wonder if someone is coming to get me out? Oh look! The table is moving! I am sliding back do…”
MRI: Pew, pew, pew, peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew
“Oh, I guess we were just getting a better view and only moved a few inches. Hmm. Oh look, that dirt spot is gone. I’m glad not to see that anymore. It kinda looks like blood, but I’m just going to think it’s mud somehow. How one earth would blood get up there like that anyway? I should spend the next five minutes trying to imagine all the scenarios.”
MRI: Knocka knock, knocka knock, knocka knocka knocka knock, knockknockknockknockknock
“Oh boy. I’m about to be sick. I have got to stop thinking about that spot on the ceiling. How about Jonah? That’s 12 minutes. Let’s see, The Word of the LORD came to Jonah, son of….woah. I just realized that if the electricty suddenly turns off and zombies are out there destroying everybody, I am going to be locked in this machine and unable to scooch out. I should spend at least ten minutes imagining all the way this could happen and what would become of me.” (Never finished Jonah.)
MRI: Bonk, Booooooooonk, Bonk Bonk Bonk, Boooooooooonk
“Oh boy!!! We are moving again!! We ar… oh. Just two inches up for a different view. Hello brown spot that is definitely not blood from a zombie attack inside this machine that happened while the person’s feet helplessly…”
Radiologist: I’m going to pull you out now to put contrast dye in your IV so we can get new images. You are doing a great job.
She pulls me out, leaving my head in the cage and in the machine, exposing only enough of me out of the machine so she can get to the IV in my arm. I ask about the earpiece, she tries to fix it. It doesn’t work, but I am ready to finish, so back in I go.
“She is really nice. I hope the zombies don’t get her. Sigh. Zombies. Where do I get this stuff?”
MRI, having found a new voice: Drill bit at the dentist sound right in your ear! Drill bit at the dentist sound right in your ear! Drill bit at the dentist sound right in your ear!
“I think I might flip out. I can’t even tell where my feet are. Dear God, please wrap this up quickly before I squeeze this little emergency ball in my hand and make her pull me all the way out.”
Radiologist: This series will only take about 15 minutes and then we will be done. You are doing great.
“Oh good. 15 minutes. I should try Ruth. That’s 19 minutes long.”
“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. And a man from Bethl…what is that!? I am hearing voices in the room. There’s a man in there and he’s talking real loud to the radiologist. What is he do…”
MRI: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz BzzzzzzBzzzzzzz Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
“I think that man was in there to fight the zombies. I bet that’s exactly what happened. I knew it. Great. I wonder if I can somehow loosen this cage on my…”
MRI: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Squee Squee Squee Squee
“I really am about to lose it. It’s been two and a half hours and I am just done. Please, zombies, come and get me. Just make it fast.”
Radiologist: All done. I’m just going to leave you in there for a minute so I can check the images.
Me: Oh, that’s fine. I’m good.
“If she takes more than two minutes to look at those images, I’m just going to climb on out of here.”

And that’s it. My 2 hour, 45 minute MRI experience for your enjoyment.

Born Blind

March 27, 2018

I was once very sick and now I am not.  I am writing because the story must be told.

Before I tell my whole story, I want you to join me for someone else’s.  It is one very dear to me, very old, and sure to tell better than I can why telling such a story can be just as important as it is daunting.

….

Born blind.  His whole life was a shrug whose only response was, “Born blind.”  Can he read?  Born blind.  Can he work?  Have a family?  Build a house?  Nope.  Born blind.  He never saw the faces, of course, but he keenly felt their helpless shrugs.  I don’t know his name, not that it matters.  Let’s just call him “Born Blind” to keep things tidy.

What made Born Blind born blind?  Nobody knows.  Maybe his mother did something while she was pregnant.  Or maybe his father brought some genetic curse on his head.  Sin?  Possibly.  Everyone sins, but blindness is such a burden that a person can’t help but wonder if it is an earned one.

In his youth he memorized by feel the way to the city gates, the temple gates, the market, and back home again.  Being Born Blind means you die blind and the sooner you get over that fact the sooner you can get to the right street corners to bring in whatever income being Born Blind provides.

Begging for scraps; he was like a shrub or a random bit of pottery in the way, nothing remarkable worth noticing and certainly not a man you’d think to hand the microphone to if you needed to hear some big truth.

And then one day a passerby handed Born Blind a microphone.

As all massively life changing events have a way of starting unannounced, his was an unremarkable morning.  228 steps from his door to the temple gates, pausing three steps for a goat and two more for a small child in the way.  He unrolled his mat, slid his hand along the wall to the ground and then laid out the mat and sat down.  He had a clink in his cup before he was even fully settled.  “Ah,” he thought, “a Sabbath crowd.  It will be a good day to sit in front of the temple.”

Sitting beside a wall, as he had done his whole life, offers few options for any kind of stimulation.  Lots of sitting and thinking.  Thinking and sitting.  Sometimes he got to hear rabbis walk by, talking deep truths of his old religion and he leaned in to hear what they might say.  Other times, he got to hear lovers fighting, making up, children crying, laughing; he had pretty much overheard every kind of imaginable conversation and scenario.  He was not a scholar in the classical sense, but an observer and a thinker.

On this Sabbath day he heard a crowd of many voices which seemed to be in an argument with a voice of one.  It was too far away to make out entire sentences, but, from what he gathered, the man was some sort of street preacher.

After a moment of the man talking, in a far off, muffled voice, a chorus of the crowd could be heard yelling back to him, “No!!  We are Abraham’s children!  We have never been slaves!!”

Oh, this is rich.  “Never been slaves?”  Israel?  Like, ever, or just today?  Whoever this man was, he had poked the hornet’s nest so severely that they lost their ever loving minds and tossed all knowledge of Jewish history aside.   Are they blind!?  Ha ha.  Blind.

Born Blind tapped the nearest gawker with his walking stick and asked, “What did that man say?”

“Something about freedom and being set free.  Also, he thinks he is God.”

God.  Right here and walking among us?  And here I am in my regular pants.  He chuckled.  Born Blind had heard it all, but this was a first.

The crowd’s yelling got even more vicious.  It’s rock throwing time.  It was a kind of electrical hum you could hear and you just knew without having to see that rocks are being picked up and aim is being taken.

Born Blind waits for the sound of the first toss.  He had heard it more than a few times in his life and it always sounded the same way.  The sound of a rock being thrown with force and finding its target in flesh is hard to forget.  Born Blind leans away from the crowds at first, but then leans in when the sound is not what he expects.  One by one, he hears rocks thud to the ground.  Can that be right?

How did the man get away?  There was no guard intervention or authority demand to cease.  The fight just ended with what sounded to Born Blind like the street preacher might have just shrugged at the crowd’s blindness and passed on by.  How odd.  How incredibly odd.  What kind of street preacher…?

The street sounds settled back into the normal and expected, as though nobody had been murderous just moments before.  Born Blind sat rigid for a second longer and observed the normalcy before relaxing back in his spot.

And then, a voice spoke up, not so much to him as at him.  “Rabbi?  Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Rigid again.  Did Born Blind just find himself the subject of cultural studies course?  Was this that trouble maker’s crowd now coming over here to poke at the poor blind man?  Born Blind’s thinking that he better get a drachma for his trou…

“Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.  I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day.  The night is coming, when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Born Blind did not hear anything the man said beyond, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents…”  The rest of it was a slowed down and dizzying moment where memories flooded him of every time he asked his mother, “Why am I Born Blind?” and his father, “What use is the life of Born Blind?” and every time he shouldered the weight of people’s shrugs and every time he decided to live anyway and every time he asked God to just let him die.  They all spun around in his head and the answer was finally known.

Born Blind was born blind to reveal the works of God.

As this reality and the sudden awareness that he was, in spite of himself, believing every word this Rabbi said was washing over him, he heard the man spit on the ground and scoop up some dirt and saliva.

He was already thinking about how he was going to have to explain to his parents how he fell for a huckster when things took a turn for the very crazy and the street preacher smeared the spit/mud on Born Blind’s eyes.  Great.  How to explain…

“Go, and wash yourself in the pool of Siloam.”

He was in this far, and there was no harm in a visit to the pool, so he went.  Lowering himself to the water’s edge and dipping his hand in the water, he washed his eyes clean of the mud and blinked.

Born Blind could see.

Born Blind. Could.  See.

The whole neighborhood was amazed.  They all stared at him.  Same coat, same pants, same goofy face, but this guy can see.  Surely it’s not the guy we have known since he was a baby?  That guy was a blind beggar and this guy looks just like him.

“I am he!” he told them.

They asked him how he had his eyes opened and he told them, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and then said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

Oh, sure.  “Where is this Jesus?”

Shrug.  “I don’t know.”

So they brought Born Blind (who could now see) to the smartest people they knew, the Pharisees.  Being peddlers themselves, they were very well schooled on the nuances and odors of religious BS.   They asked Born Blind to tell them what happened.  A second time, he explains, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and now I see.”

Oh boy.  This crowd cannot handle this story.  Unable to wrap their very well educated brains around this man’s tale that defied logic, they asked for Born Blind (who could now see)’s best guess as to who this man called Jesus was.

Best guess?  “He is a prophet.”

Slow blink.

The Jews did not believe him and decided to bring his parents in to ask them.  Was he really Born Blind or was this a scam for begging?  How do we even know the truth?

Dragged out of their home and in front of their town’s religious leaders, Born Blind (who can now see)’s parents have to think fast.  On one hand, their darling boy can see, on the other hand, they are standing not far from a field of rocks that are aching to be thrown at someone’s head.

“Is this your son who was Born Blind?  How is it that he can now see?”

Stutter, gulp, uhhhhh, “Yes.  That is our son and our son was born blind, but how he now sees and who opened his eyes, we don’t know.  He’s of age.  Ask him.”

Back to Born Blind (who can now see.)  The exasperated religious leaders give the newly healed man a good religious what for to try and help him  snap out of it.  “Give glory to God! We know that this Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know if he is a sinner.  One thing I do know: that I was blind and now I see.”

 

 

 

 

 

Amy is Going To Be Okay (part 2)

March 26, 2018

A steaming mug of coffee in the thickest possible ceramic was set in front of her.  A no brainer for most.  Just slip your fingers through the handle and around the warm cup, raise it to your lips, take a sip.  Easy.

Before the waiter can escape, “Could I have a straw please?”

Eyebrow raised in a question mark, “For your coffee?”

She raises her gnarled, limp, and useless hands from her lap to demonstrate and repeats a line she has said a million, “I have rheumatoid arthritis.”

I was four.  I wanted a straw for my chocolate milk.  I had no idea leading up to that moment that a straw was a tool for the disabled and required medical need.

“I also would like a straw.  I have… (pause for effect)…  tricycle disease.”

It was the biggest word I knew.  The waiter callously laughed at my very serious and possibly terminal condition, my grandparents laughed, they all laughed.  And I got my straw.

I don’t think that was the first time I fantasized about having some sort of dramatic illness.  It is just the first time I remember when the connection was made between being ill and getting special accommodations.

My grandmother was spoken of in my family as one speaks of war heroes.  Disabled since age 12,  she never stopped living and her glow and faith seemed to advance at twice the pace of disease.  She was a giant among men.

I wanted to be spoken of in the same way.  I wanted to be a giant.

I wanted to be ill.

It is not something I admit with ease and I am certain this can dissected in a thousand different ways for your own armchair psychological diagnosing.  I’ll just have to trust you with this confession because this story can’t be told honestly without it.

When I had my sensational daydreams about being ill, I had a few go to musts for my fantasy illness.  It had to be very serious, but not disfiguring.  It had to appear intensely painful, though I only imagined my heroically grimaced face, not actual pain.  It had to be an illness that would summon people to my bedside, where I would sit in a smart bed jacket and declare the wisdom of the ages.

Being ill was a role I was very well rehearsed for.

Until I was ill.

During the first days in the hospital, when nobody knew what was wrong, but only that something was very wrong, I was terrified that I may have gotten my wish for an illness and suddenly I didn’t want to play any more.

When it was diagnosed as transverse myelitis, and the prognosis was that it was a passing thing, I was desperately relieved and a little bit thrilled.  I would get my bedside visits, my wheelchair photo ops, all the glamour and praise of a real trouper, and still finish my senior year without much of a hiccup.

It was that numb forehead that undid me.

For months I had been stoically bearing the weight of illness and dispensing wisdom to all passersby like some sort of  undiscovered Oprah Winfrey.  I was brave, so brave.  If you couldn’t tell just by looking at me, I would do you the favor of telling you as much.  I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, so I was wringing the role out like I was Ted Danson and transverse myelitis was my Cheers.

While I was still in the rehab hospital I saw a PSA that haunted me.  A woman was sitting in a wooden chair, looking well, and then suddenly barbed wire came and wrapped around her hands, and then her feet.  I identified with the image immediately because that is what my condition felt like.  And then the barbed wire wrapped around her eyes and her mouth.  It was a PSA for MS.  I had no idea what MS stood for, but I knew that I was glad I did not have it.

When the neurologist called at 7pm and asked for an early morning visit, I felt barbed wire wrap around my forehead.  Whatever MS was, I was pretty sure I had it.  I lay in bed that night, coming to terms with it.

The next morning seemed like one long formality.  I sat in the exam room while the doctor talked with my parents, showed my parents MRI slides, told my parents about treatments available, explained to my parents my prognosis and then comforted my parents with the understanding that this must be very difficult for them.  I still am not sure why I had to be there.

While they talked, I floated outside of myself and took a good long look at me sitting there.  My fingers were a tangled mess in my lap; I had gotten good at lacing them together like a normal person, but I missed a few when going too fast.  I wore a dress that I hated and my make-up had been applied by my Mom.  Everything about me looked and felt like an invalid.  Invalid.

The scenes I had performed in my daydreams were always hazy visions of 1)me being terribly sick in a hospital bed or 2)me bravely doing whatever I have to do, exercise in a music montage, whatever, to get better and overcome.  There was absolutely no time in my fantasies where I had to do real life with hands that couldn’t even fold properly, wearing dresses others chose, and makeup others applied.

I was prepared for this role like a hipster in a hoodie is ready for a Siberian winter, but there was no way I was going to let on that I had no clue whjat the next step was.  I had studied under the greatest and I knew the words to say.  I leapfrogged all the stages of grief and jumped right to guru of acceptance.  A very keen eye might have spotted my clever performance for what it was, but I am really a very good actress.  Or, people are too polite.

I spent the remainder of my junior year at home.  My legs returned to a rubber like state and I was reduced to using a walker after two months of walking progress.  The school district sent a teacher to my house twice a week and I went to rehab weekly.  Occasionally, nurses come to the house to administer IV steroids.  I was prescribed a t-cell modifier which had to be injected every other day.

My life was not my own and I felt like an infant that had to be carted around, dressed, hair brushed, and then placed in a comfortable spot until I needed to be placed somewhere else.  From my perch I would wait for new faces to appear and notice my sad state.  The smile was always awkward.  Everyone wondered if I was going to be in this condition forever.  They all marveled at how brave and stoic I was about the whole thing.

What I said to them was always some practiced talk about how I absolutely knew God was going to take care of me and that I was prepared to go through whatever fire MS sent my way.

Oh, Amy.  You are just amazing, aren’t you?

Yes.  I know.

The real truth behind my amazing attitude?  Really?  The truth is that I was 17.  My perceived reality was that everything was going to be just fine and my parents were going to figure something out because they always did.  Also, God, as I understood Him to be, was well aware of my condition and He was going to get to me after I had twisted a bit and He felt I had learned my lesson.   In the meantime, I just had to keep it together and play the role I had been destined to play.

In the summer months before my senior year. my grandmother became very sick when an infection developed in her artificial hips.  The hips had to be removed, but her bones were so degenerated from disease that she could not get a replacement.  She chose to keep the hips in and stop having invasive procedures.  She did not get a quick death.

Days before she passed, she was in and out of morphine/pain induced comatose like state.  She looked to my mother and said her very last words and she said them with blazing wide open eyes, “Amy is going to be okay.”

“I know, Mom.”

And then, as though she feared she wasn’t believed to be speaking truth and had to be reiterated, “No.  Amy is going to be okay.”