My last blog I wrote about my self-imposed “House Arrest” and I encouraged you to simply Stay In to help smother out the fanning flames of the Coronavirus. I thought that I was doing the right thing to protect myself but God soon revealed that He had different ideas for me. Was I going to accept His Will and trust Him or would I give in to fear and resort to that fighting attitude of mumbling and grumbling? It was a real test of faith, and of realizing that in spite of my own precautions and plans, God will always have His way and do His Will. And when He changes my plans I always need to accept that His plans are not to harm me.
I had shared how I was considered a high risk because I will turn 70 the end of May and have multiple afflictions of MS and congestive heart failure. This is why I self quarantined to protect myself during this time.
Little did I realize that He had plans to take me from the safe confinements of my home straight into the battle field of the hospital where the people with the Coronavirus were fighting for their lives!
I had been dealing with increasing shortness of breath and being unable to sleep. I had stayed inside my house for several weeks already and refused to go outside so we called my doctor’s office to get his advice. I have an amazing family doctor…he personally called me right back with an order to increase my water pill over the weekend to see if my breathing would improve. So out went Deb to pick up the Rx through the drive thru window at Rite Aid. On Monday I was to call him back with an update. We made it through the weekend but no improvement so Monday I called the office back. Then came the test of my faith when he told me to come in for a physical exam and bloodwork to determine my problem. Now I was faced with needing to break my “House Arrest”! I had not left the house for 3 weeks and in that way was feeling secure about not contracting the virus, but now I was being directed to leave my comfort zone! Off we went to the office where he immediately sent me to the nearby hospital for chest x-rays. I was now being thrown from the frying pan into the heat of the fire! Deb and I were both fully aware that our County has the highest death rate and Coronavirus cases for the whole great state of Ohio! After several hours in an isolation room in the Emergency Department the ER doctor announced he would be admitting me as my lungs were filling up with fluid, most likely related to my CHF and they needed to do some IV meds to draw the fluid off. It was a relapse of my CHF.
My first reaction was, “No, I cannot stay, this is totally the opposite of what we have worked so hard to prevent, being exposed!” But I soon remembered that this was the immediate Will of God for me, He was directing my steps, sustaining my every breath, and brought me here for a reason and therefore I was in His loving care and in a state of greater protection than anything I could impose on myself.
At first they refused to let Deb go upstairs with me as the current policy under the Coronavirus problems is no visitors in the hospital. But with my fighting FBI spirit, I insisted that if she couldn’t stay with me as my interpreter they would need to send me home. Because I am totally deaf and read lips, there was no way for me to understand what was being said behind the masks. This is where God intervened and worked in their hearts to allow Deb to stay at my side in the hospital room. With every precaution in place, Deb was now in quarantine with me and could not even leave the room to go out into the halls or down to our car. Thankfully, when meals came up they sent us two trays at no extra cost, because even the cafeteria was closed!
That left us without our beloved boy, Rodney, who has not left my side for 7 years. Even with my last two hospital stays, Rodney was right there with his nose on the foot of the bed begging to come up (hospital beds are too narrow and uncomfortable to share with a 62 pound Lab) or curled up on a bath blanket next to my IV pole. But this time because we were only planning a quick trip to my doctor’s office, we had left him behind, not expecting that it would turn into several days separation. Had I taken him along and been admitted, Deb would likely have had to take him home and then stayed with him, as they would not have wanted him there under the circumstances, and she would not have the freedom to walk him several times a day to relieve himself. God showed us His wisdom as He knew all this before we even left home. It is one of the very few times I have left him behind for a short period, and this was the first time ever that we would be separated for overnight. God always provides for even his furry creatures and a friend that Rodney loves stayed with him after work and throughout the nights we were separated. In this way the Lord our Provider met my needs and at the same took good care of Rodney! We were concerned he would enjoy his new companion so much he wouldn’t even miss us!!
And now I will turn it over to Deb so you can get her perspective…
What was God’s plan for us in all of this? He gave us a new mission where we would not be able to safely hide in the bunker but would be out in the battlefield. And there He wanted to prove His Word to us, that He is present and He is faithful, and there is no need for us to worry when things occur differently than our carefully laid plans.
Jesus says in Luke 12.25-31…
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
As Sue always reminds us, His plans are never to harm us but that we might prosper in Him. At first it felt very surreal, with masked and gowned people coming and going at all hour of the day and night. We were in a large private room, (thank you, Lord) with a sofa for me to sleep on, and a full bathroom. Since I was not permitted to leave the room, these were indeed a blessing. That first evening after a long day in the ER as I sat on the couch watching Sue breathe, my eyes were drawn to a framed picture on the wall next to the sofa. It was a quiet scene of calm water and a small rowboat with a tiny caption at the bottom. I had to lean closely to read it. “The Lord takes pleasure in His people.” The words spoke to my heart and gave me both an excitement and a peace. True, we were in a Catholic Mercy Hospital, and it is very possible that picture was on the wall of every room, but at that moment I knew the Lord was speaking to me through His Word.
We had done what we could to stay safe and away from being exposed to the virus. I took great precaution whenever I needed to leave the house to not bring it back to Sue. And now we were “surrounded by the enemy” with Covid 19 patients above us and below us on other floors. Staff coming in the room had also been in the rooms of these patients. Whenever I felt that sense of fear rising in my chest threatening to suffocate my peace, I would look at that simple serene picture on an obscure wall next to the sofa. The Lord takes pleasure in His people. And I would be assured that we were exactly where we were supposed to be for His glory. In spite of our best laid plans, God overruled and sent us directly to this battlefield to be an encouragement to the doctors and nurses and other essential workers during these dark and uncertain hours! Didn’t He say we were to seek His kingdom first and everything else would be taken care of?!
With that, my concern for Sue was overshadowed by my nursey curiosity. As a nurse,I was familiar with the halls of the hospital. Each masked and gowned figure had a name, even though their faces were hidden. I was the only one not wearing a mask, so Sue could read my lips as I would interpret the conversations. As I chatted with various ones, they opened up about their own fears and concerns. One young single mom had 3 young children at home. They were alone all day while she worked 12 hour shifts, as she was too afraid to hire a babysitter or have grandparents watch them. A nurses’ assistant told us she was from Brooklyn, NY and her best friend was hospitalized with the virus. She was worried for her Dad, especially, who worked at JFK airport as a baggage handler. Another nurse felt completely lost as she was “new” to this floor. Her specialized radiology department had been shut down as non-essential and most of the staff was furloughed. She was grateful she kept a job. Others shared how they changed clothes at the hospital then went home to take two showers. Or slept in their garages, away from family. The talkative physical therapist (I had actually worked with him many years ago) spent his mornings on the regular floor and then went to be with Covid-19 patients in the afternoons. With a somber shake of his head he confided that some of them were not likely to make it. Even behind the masks the eyes and body language told me everyone was on edge.
One day stretched into another. The hallways were earily empty except for workers. The room we occupied felt smaller and smaller. The large window above the sofa looked down upon an empty parking lot. No visitors. Just six miles beyond lightly greening treetops lay the security and safety of home.
The doctors were all in a hurry to release the non-Covid 19 patients to make room for what might come. We learned that this hospital was already overwhelmed because people knew it had mostly private rooms, and were showing up here since no one wanted to go to the main city campus where they might have to share a room with the unknown.
When the room phone started ringing I knew we were being prepared to be released. Even billing department, and social services were social distancing! One call was from the Hospital Chaplain, who would normally be making rounds on the floor to personally pray with patients. When I told Sue he was on the phone asking if he could pray for her, she lit up. “Let me talk to him,” she said. I shared with him that she was profoundly deaf and would not be able to hear if he talked, but she wanted to speak to him. With that she took the phone and began to pour her heart out to her Father in heaven, that God would use this man and speak to him and through him to bring comfort to people’s hearts during times of great fear and uncertainty. She wept as she prayed for those who were fighting the Coronavirus 8 feet above our heads and that God would reveal Himself to people and His name be lifted up and glorified during these dark times.
In that moment I knew why the Lord had brought us to the hospital. First he wanted to teach us to fear no evil, for He is with us. Wherever HE leads us He will be there before us, behind us, beside us and within us. Secondly He wanted shine His glorious light through fragile and broken people so that those facing dark and uncertain times could see that Light shining out against the darkness.
“For we have this treasure, (Christ) in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4.6
He speaks “Peace, be still,” in the midst of a raging storm. He knows peace. He is totally at peace…in fact, He is able to sleep peacefully in the boat during the worst of the storm. Our internal peace comes in knowing He is with us in the boat.
For He is our peace.
And He takes pleasure in His people.