Rejoice! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
My last year’s Christmas letter to friends and family ended with “I think 2020 will be an interesting year.” What an understatement! Interesting yes; also weird and scary. My own 2020 has indeed been interesting, an adventure of sorts. Looking back on it, it doesn’t seem real. Sometimes a bit funny, sometimes a bit sad, sometimes a bit creepy — but always interesting! Requiring lots and lots of prayer!
The creepy part: Bacterial pneumonia (not Covid related) put me in the hospital in April. It started with sinusitis last October, treated with antibiotics but not completely cleared. Over the winter things progressed to bronchitis, and coughing. A lot of coughing! Stocked up with Mucinex and cough syrup, I spent wakeful night hours praying for my family, friends, other people and situations, and myself.
By April 5 I was coughing so much that neither I nor anyone else in the house could sleep! Shelby insisted on taking me to the Emergency Room at McLeod Hospital. I hesitated because the Covid-19 pandemic had hit my town very hard. I wasn’t that sick, really, was I?
Going through the doors into the ER, I suddenly discerned FEAR. A prevailing atmosphere of fear.
Horribly negative feelings of fear seemed to engulf the facility. My spiritual ears perked up and I began really interceding. I asked the Lord for insight; for revelation knowledge into how to pray and what to pray. I became really watchful, really prayerful, as a wheelchair was brought and I was rolled into an exam room.
Still, with so many worse-off people there I was sure they’d just give me more antibiotic pills and send me home. Wrong… chest x-rays showed severe pneumonia. I was close to drowning, they said. Talk about shock!
And so Shelby was sent home while I was admitted for IV antibiotics, oxygen and breathing treatments, to an almost empty hospital except for the ICU’s; those were filled to capacity with Covid-19 patients. A masked, gloved transporter rolled me down the long hallway to an elevator at the far end of the hospital complex, without our ever seeing any other person at all. Creepy.
Since they didn’t yet know for sure what was causing the pneumonia, I was taken to Floor 10. The Isolation Floor. The elevator door opened to some people at last, each one wearing a “space suit” from head to toe. Super creepy.
I soon realized that the nauseating fear in the ER had extended all the way to Floor 10, where everyone seemed really busy and really tired. The hospital was short-staffed due to the pandemic. Some staff members had come down with Covid-19 themselves. My prayers quickly became far more specific, far more targeted.
My hospital “adventures” included the following:
It often took 20 to 30 minutes for anyone to answer my call light. At first I was afraid to maneuver me and my IV pole from bed to bathroom; all those IV fluids… but I managed, slowly, carefully.
One day my breakfast was left out in the hall for several hours. I had asked for a soft diet due to my throat being so sore from coughing; breakfast was to be soft scrambled eggs and grits. After several hours in the hall? Hard as rocks. An apologetic aide scrounged up some apple sauce, just before lunch. While most meals weren’t soft enough to totally prevent coughing, mashed potatoes were quite helpful! At least twice a day.
However… Some helpful person had put me on a NO-SALT cardiac diet, which I’d never been on before. The kitchen lady wouldn’t believe I didn’t need that diet. A merciful floor nurse finally brought me a few salt packets. I stretched them out.
On day 3, after testing negative twice for Covid I was moved to a regular floor. Here the people looked more normal, but nobody would come near me without gowns, masks, and gloves, just to take my temperature or change the IV. Apparently they didn’t fully believe I wasn’t contagious no matter what the tests had said. More prayers and intercessions. Fear was still evident.
Also creepy, the hospital was on lock-down. Shelby made some calls and posted a prayer request on Facebook; I could feel the much appreciated prayers from family and friends. And thankfully I could talk on the phone, so soon I had enrolled family and friends in praying, not just for me, but for all the other patients, their families, and for the exhausted medical staff. I asked Shelby to notify the hospital Chaplain Service that I’d like a visit.
But not creepy at all, I had several in-person visits from the Chaplains. They were very welcome! They prayed for me, I prayed for them, and together we prayed for many other people as well as the pandemic situation as a whole, specifically and generally. Those visits were such a blessing to me, and I know their visits were (and still are) a blessing to a lot of other people.
Discharged on the fifth day with more antibiotics, home O2 and breathing treatments, I was grateful to get back to my family, my four kitties, and my computer. Subsequent outpatient x-rays showed slow but steady improvement and after a month or so I was able to stop the antibiotics.
Not creepy either, pulmonary rehab (exercises like cardiac rehab) was finally started a few weeks ago after being on hold for months due to the pandemic. The exercise is helping bring back stamina and energy levels; the twice-weekly company of friendly therapists and other patients in the exercise room (just a few at a time) helps too.
Changing the tone a little…
Pandemic adjustments have been more annoying than disturbing for us; many people we know have been affected, some extremely ill and some who have died. Our kids have grown accustomed to wearing masks to school and having their temperature taken before getting out of the car. They seem more adaptable than grownups, actually.
Occasionally I shop at smaller grocery and drug stores, sometimes go to lunch with a friend. Shelby and I shop mostly online like so many others. A nice grocery delivery lady knocks on the carport door and waves as she returns to her car. Being considered high-risk, I avoid crowds, even church services. I watch Sunday services online. But I sure do miss them!
Adjusting to this very different year has been a challenge for everyone, obviously. There are so very many people and situations to intercede for, in our town, our state, our nation, the whole world, every single day!
Praying, believing, and trusting in the precious One, the Name above all names, the Savior whose birth we are celebrating, we can Rejoice, no matter what 2020 has been like!
I truly hope your Christmas is a Merry and Blessed one, and that the New Year will be a Happy one for all of us!