Be At Peace

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; 

rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,

God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

~Saint Francis de Sales

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know by now trust is not something that comes easily to me.  I’m learning but ever so slowly.   Reminders are always good for me and God decided to give me one yesterday. 

This week I started the new treatments for my RA.  I don’t do needles.  No seriously, I really don’t do needles.  I have finally reached the point that I don’t faint when I have to have blood drawn.  But if it takes more than fifteen seconds to find a vein, which it usually does since they’re deep and hard to find, my heart starts pounding, my throat starts tightening up and the panic level rises rapidly.  But then it’s over and I can go home.

Not so yesterday.  I had to go to a hospital I’ve never set foot in and sit for an IV infusion.  Now by infusion standards, my treatment is a quick one – only thirty minutes.   I was there a total of two and a half hours to go through the paperwork, do the infusion and hang around to make sure I was okay to drive home.  By the “I-hate-hospitals and I-really-freak-at-needles” standard, it was a long morning.  I knew it would be what with the need to find a really good vein and then not only stick me but leave a needle in me…((((SHUDDER))))

So knowing it was going to be a panicky kind of morning, I went looking for the prayer card I was given in December 2007 when I received the Anointing of the Sick:  the Be At Peace prayer by Saint Francis de Sales.  I had considered going to St. James yesterday as they do the Anointing every Monday after 8:00 Mass and my appointment wasn’t until 11:00, but then it seemed sort of silly.  If I haven’t forgotten that morning from over three years ago, God certainly hasn’t either.  Instead I took that time to reassure my boys that I would be fine and took my breakfast at the seawall as always, choosing to spend some alone time with God.

As I re-read the prayer before I drove to the hospital, there was a line that seemed to float off the page and hug me.

God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.

At the hospital, it took the nurse a more than a few minutes to find a good vein and her second choice would’ve been the back of my hand.  (((BIGGER SHUDDER)))  But when the panic started to rise, that line kept repeating inside me and I never fully panicked.  Once the  IV line was in, I was perfectly calm.  Me? Calm?  With a needle in me?  Only through the grace of God.

I’ve had people tell me that they pray that I have a big miracle, specifically that my eyes would be fully healed.  I am perfectly content to have all my little miracles like my perfect snowflake, my tree bench and the calm I felt yesterday.  I see a little miracle everyday.  They’re there.  You just have to look.

Pentecost – Everyday!

I am so blessed to belong to a Roman Catholic parish where Pentecost Sunday Mass went from a bird kite swooping over the altar during the processional to a choir singing an old-time  gospel favorite after Communion, complete with a brass section and a drummer. Dancing in the main aisle was not only permitted but strongly encouraged as our cantor skipped and do-si-doed her way up the main aisle and back again.  Yes – I did say Catholic and yes I was one of those dancing in aisle.

See, at St. James we know how to celebrate and we had so much to celebrate.  As though Pentecost wasn’t wonderful enough, one of our own had just been ordained a deacon and our beloved pastor was celebrating forty years of priesthood.  The Holy Spirit is always moving here but wow was it was moving yesterday, even by St. James standards.  It wasn’t too hard to spot the visitors to the parish.  They were a bit slack-jawed.

There was a Call to the Altar for those who felt so moved.  To see the priests and deacons lined all the way across the front of the church laying hands on so many of my brothers and sisters was incredible. I could feel the deep burning in my heart that I’ve only felt a handful of times before and there is no denying that Presence.   In a moment of sheer abandon, I too answered the Call.  But the moment that truly blew me away was to see a visiting retired bishop who had just finish laying hands on those coming forward turn to the young priest next to him and bow his head to receive the same blessing as the rest of us.

After Communion, our choir broke into This Little Light Of Mine – yes you know you know it.  They really kicked it into high gear and when our cantor went skipping up the aisle, there were a fair number of us who jumped right out in the aisle with her singing, clapping and dancing with sheer joy.  Even my thirteen-year son, who is usually too busy being cool, came out of the pew behind me and the smile on his face was indescribable.

Where the Spirit will lead me next, only he knows.  But I’ve done things in the past few years that I never thought I would or could do. Giving a witness talk to 250 people being the most recent. I’ve done none of those things on my own power.  So I’ll leave you with one thought – may it get stuck in your head and more importantly, in your soul. 

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!  EVERYDAY!!!

Blessings in Many Forms

So much has happened  in the last two weeks.  For one thing, no one I know of was snatched up to heaven, although I have a theory that IF such an event were to occur, most of us wouldn’t notice anyway.  Jesus came for the lost, the broken and the sinners so it seems to me that it would be residents of the  prisons, the halfway houses, the rehab facilities and the poorest slums on the planet that would be the first to go.  The last shall be first right?

A little closer to home, after a long talk with the doctors, it has been decided that it’s time to up the ante on my RA medications.  I already know I don’t have a lot of options.  Four to be precise.  One drug has such awful side effects that my rheumatologist won’t prescribe it.  One drug is so new that my eye specialist won’t recommend it yet.  And that fast, I was down to two choices:  Rituxan and Orencia.  Rituxan kills people and it stays in the system for six months at a time.  This is good since it’s only two doses a year but a bad reaction can have lingering side effects for six months too.  Did I mention it also kills people?  I have two boys to raise and I’m not willing to gamble with their future.  So, that narrowed things down mighty quick didn’t it? 

This is where the fun part starts.  I’ve been warned that my insurance plan won’t like this treatment plan.  It’s expensive running approximately $2000 – $4000 per treatment or up to $64,000 per year. That doesn’t include the cost of the infusion center, nursing staff and assumes there are no infusion reactions or complications.  Oh yeah, and all of that will be on top of the $7200 annually for my other medications.  All totalled, it’s about six times what I make in a year. My rheumatologist told me the Orencia will probably be denied at least once.  Then he put his hand on my shoulder and told me he’d fight for me.  He’ll get it through on an appeal.

His words really knocked me for a loop.  I had quitely literally said those same words to a client at work.   “Mr. Doe” is an insulin dependent diabetic who has carried individual insurance for a long time.  He could no longer afford the premium and had to drop it.  The state plan denied him coverage.  I told him we could appeal to the state.  I told him I’d fight for him and I wrote an appeal for him.  On a second review of the appeal, he was accepted into the state healthcare plan for a fraction of what he’d been paying.  More importantly, he had coverage.  He called to tell me the good news, saying he owed me his life.  I didn’t see things quite so dramatically.  The way I saw it, I just did what I could to help.  Two days later, the shoe was on the other foot.  Someone was now going to fight for me.  As the doctor went to get the forms I needed to sign, I remember thinking, How did I end up on the flipside?

On top of everything else, I’m feeling quite old this week and it’s not just the RA or insurance stress.  My son Andrew, my first born, is going to be 13 on Friday.  We went to Step Up Night at the junior high last night.  The baby boy who I once rocked to sleep is now looking me straight in the eyes at least when he isn’t checking out 8th grade girls.  In another inch or so, he’ll be taller than me.  It doesn’t help that my younger son Eugene likes to point out that my hair is going white.  I keep telling him those aren’t white hairs, those are wisdom stripes.  I suspect there are lessons yet to learned.