Friday, May 31, 2013

In the Waiting

The last few weeks I spent a lot of time sleeping, throwing up, sitting outside, trying to keep toddlers entertained while laying on the floor, and coming up with new minimalist procedures for things like washing dishes and vacuuming. I'll give you the list of symptoms, and you can guess the ailment: 

- nausea, especially strong in the mornings and evenings, induced by strong smells
- discomfort and pain in my abdomen 
- general fatigue, no matter how much sleep I get 

Pregnancy, right???

Even the EMS crew guessed pregnancy (while I was curled up in a ball on the living room floor insisting that I must be about to die because the pain was worse than natural childbirth twice): 

"Ma'am, have you taken a pregnancy test lately?"

I've taken 4 pregnancy tests in the last 4 weeks, one at the ER, and one at the doctor's office, and there's no baby here. Just a 6-mm kidney stone that is ever so slowly making its way through my system.

At this point I pause for some experiential conclusions in the pain-level feud between childbirth and passing kidney stones:

1. Childbirth: pain level of 10, but it comes in 30-second stints, with a break, an impending end, and a cute baby on the other side.

2. Kidney Stones: pain level of 9, but it JUST DOESN'T LET UP. So let's just call it a 10. But, morphine. Oh sweet morphine. 

In other news, Wally and I just might harvest poppy seeds by the tomatoes in that backyard garden that has yet to be planted... 

In the crazy world of healthcare co-ops, the place we're happily relegated by not having employer-sponsored health insurance and living in a state where private health insurance plans don't offer maternity coverage (I wish I were making that up), the urologist can't schedule me for the simple and recommended lithotripsy procedure, because it's done at an out-patient facility that won't work with patients not carrying traditional health insurance. The side effects of the alternative procedure scared me more than just carrying a giant kidney stone, so it was vetoed before the hospital even called with their $3400 procedure fee estimate (not including anesthesiologist, x-ray, labs, or surgeon), marketed as an 87% discount from their normal rate of $26,154. 

I've always feared this place, being unable to help myself, unable to go-go-go through the day, down the to-do list, so dependent on others, and waiting indefinitely for something that's mostly out of my control.

Yet I've realized, I can play catch sitting down. My boys can eat the same thing for every meal. They love to be read book after silly book. When we creep along on shorter walks than usual, they can stop to play in the dirt, roll up every poor roly poly scurrying our sidewalk, and pick up every rock that's different than the last.

I called in sick to work a couple of times, but we finally realized that truthfully, if I'm supposed to be resting, going to work and sitting at a quiet desk is the best place to be!

As Wally helps me through this, I'm experiencing love in a whole new way. He was great during childbirth, but in that, he had both a vested interest and personal responsibility (translation: he better be supportive). Passing kidney stones? He hasn't hesitated to wait with me for the pain to subside, even if he can't do anything. Even after I send him to bed, he stays awake and waits with me. Not being alone is second only to morphine in pain management.

It's always been a struggle for me to start each morning with solitude and prayer, so easily distracted by breakfasts to prepare, laundry to fold, dishes to put away. But lately, the most I can handle in the mornings is sitting in my rocking chair on the back porch, listening to birds chirp, resting in the warm breezes coming across cool morning air, and it's wonderful. 

I stopped by an intimate chapel this afternoon, and asked Jesus for whatever nugget of wisdom he wants me to learn from this season of weakness. Surely, if I can just memorize the lesson, I can leave this chapel reinvigorated, ready to return to life at full-speed-ahead!

But instead of sudden healing, I felt his words on my heart: "Charlene, I will help you be weak." 

I don't like being weak, or slow, or having a short to-do list. It's easier to hide as a woman on the go, with her life in her hand, everything under control.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot my littleness. And in this waiting, feeling too tired, too weak, and too little to keep up with the life I thought I should live, I begin to hear Saint Therese' simple reminder, that the arms of Jesus are an elevator to heaven for those too tired, too weak, and too little.

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