I don’t feel brave. Not one bit. Let me explain.
Last week I went to the Mayo Clinic for some tests. The day did not start well. Personally, I’m of the opinion that starting a day at 6:00 a.m. with an alarm ringing in my ears is just bad from the get-go. But there was more. My appointment had been made for this particular day because my husband also had tests scheduled, and why make two trips when you can make just one, right? However, shortly after arriving at 8:00 a.m. and handing my paperwork to the receptionist, she looked at me and said, “Your appointment isn’t until tomorrow.” I simply looked back and said, “No. It was scheduled for today to coincide with my husband’s appointments.” Seriously people, don’t mess with me in the early morning hours. It can get ugly! (She’s just lucky I wasn’t fasting!)
This wise woman immediately went to work to see if she could get me scheduled that day. She sent a message to one person, called someone else, and I suspect there might have been a note passed that said, “This girl is going to blow if I don’t get her in today!” Within ten minutes I was rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. Praise God!
Next up, I met with the technician who was going to run the tests. The purpose of said tests was to determine if my parathyroid glands (behind the thyroid) are functioning properly, which apparently requires contrasting dye. So, at 8:30 a.m. I had a little iodine cocktail. Yum! Actually, it was tasteless, so no big deal there. It was at this point, however, I had to discuss with the technician the possibility of having a sedative for the tests.
Generally, any tests that are referred to as “scans” freak me out a bit. It seems easy enough: lie on a table and wait for some machine to take pictures of you. But during scans a person is required to lie completely still. Whereas some people struggle with the camera’s close proximity to their face, l am done in by the prospect of not being allowed to move. You see, I struggle with restless leg syndrome, and basically when I stay in one position for more than about a minute it is physically painful. Thus the whole talk about a sedative. After a great deal of discussion and tears, I chose to proceed without a sedative, which was a mistake. Big, BIG mistake!
Two hours later, after waiting for the iodine to do its thing, I was shown to the room for the first set of scans. The “bed” for my test measured about three-fourths the width of my actual body. Clearly it was designed for an undernourished teenage girl. It curves up a bit on the side, I suppose to keep you from falling off, but in reality those curves only make it more uncomfortable. To her credit, the technician offered me a warm blanket (which I consider to be the ONLY benefit of being in a hospital – other than that whole saving your life thing.) She then gave me a pillow to put under my knees, which helped ever so slightly.
I lay on that table for almost an hour as four pictures were taken, each one requiring ten minutes of complete stillness. My plan was to focus on scripture and prayer, but as my body started screaming at me that plan became increasingly difficult. Mostly I just repeated, “Lord you are my strength and shield” over and over like it was the only verse I knew. (And at that moment, I had no idea where or even IF it was in the Bible. It is – Psalm 28:7) Eventually my mind wandered and started focusing on how much I hated this whole situation. And then I started to beat myself up. “You’re being stupid. Other people go through far worse things than this. Stop being a baby.” There were moments when I contemplated the general inhumanity of the medical community too. (I told you, I can get ugly early in the morning.)
In the move from the first torture chamber (I mean procedure room) to the room with the second million-dollar camera, I went into the bathroom and sobbed silently, wanting more than anything to run away. And once again, I reminded myself that I was being less than brave. To her credit, the technician took extra measures to make my second set of scans more comfortable, and I guess it worked because mercifully I feel asleep.
As I sat and ate lunch after the whole ordeal was over, I continued the self-berating internal dialogue. God must have grown weary listening to the words I was speaking to myself because right there, in the Mayo Clinic cafeteria, he reminded me of something Susie Larson wrote in her newest book, Your Sacred Yes, “Nancy, I will not love you less if you get this wrong.” (Granted, she didn’t use my name in her book, nor was that line about a similar situation. Nonetheless, it’s what I heard.)
Never once had God said, “If you take a sedative for your tests, I’m going to think you don’t trust me.” He never said, “You are such a wimp.”
Instead he whispered:
“I love you.”
“I am here for you.”
“Stop beating yourself up.”
“You are my precious daughter.”
Oh, what a great and merciful God I serve!
As for the test results, more have been ordered. We do know, at this point, there is nothing life-threateningly wrong. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even when I’m not brave, my God will still be with me. On that I can depend.
“But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God WHO GIVES ME LIFE.” Psalm 42:8