Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Facing It All

My health is not good and, unless God chooses to work a miracle, it will continue to decline though I may experience periods of remission. I am, according to several doctors, an interesting case. Which means this illness doesn’t progress (or remain stable) as expected. The actual autoimmune diseases have actually been mild but each comes with an array of possible secondary diseases and problems and my body seems to delight in developing the more serious ones. Much of last summer was devoted to a medical tests to measure my esophageal motility. Of course the results told my doctors what I had been telling them all along – I was having greater difficulty swallowing. But now there is substantial documentation and I know the joys of tubes pushed down my noise into my stomach and the sublime experiences of swallowing one vile substance after another (and vile comes in many flavours which is rather silly – the world is not crying out for more varieties of vile).

So, the problems with my heart, though unusual, are not unexpected given my medical history. (As one doctor put it, those who develop one generally go on to develop many rare problems.) In fact, it’s probably the progression of two existing secondary problems. My intention had been just to ignore the chest pains and breathing difficulties but then my internist vetoed that plan and sent me to the cardiologist. (Lent is my preferred time to be sick. And if not Lent, then at least let it wait until autumn or winter when it’s cold and I want to be inside anyway.) Essentially, I find all this a nuisance, I’m just a big kid and I’d rather be playing.

Recently a friend told me that I’d helped her get through the discomfort of a sonogram. Knowing what I undergo, she imagined me uniting myself to Christ’s sufferings and the image helped her do the same. It was a lovely, lovely complement yet I had to disabuse her because I do not often remember to unite my sufferings with Christ’s and that is particularly true when I am being asked to swallow something vile or remain still while a snake is being pushed through my nose and down into my stomach or when someone is about to make a tiny incision so as to thread a catheter from my groin to my heart. Even with drugs (and I insist on being unconscious or at least adequately numbed whenever possible), such experiences are bloody awful and I at those times I am really a big kid. In fact, I regress to about the age of four or five. All I can remember to do is snuggle into my Father’s arms and wait for the horribleness to go away.

After my Grandp√©re and Ti were killed, my Papa took us to Europe for a time where I was introduced to strange adults. Looking back, I realize they were probably very kind people but when I was a young child, I did not like them. They were big and new and frightening and strange. Upon meeting one of them, my immediate response was to press myself against my Papa’s or Marmar’s legs. If I encountered a particularly alarming adult, I’d hide behind one of my parents (preferably Papa) and peep out from a place of safety. With Marmar or Papa behind me or better yet, acting as my shield, I could encounter strange beings, I could encounter face anything. That is what I still do today except now I hide in my Father’s arms which are even safer than my parents’ were.

I know that God uses this illness along with everything else I’ve suffered as well as my joys and my entire life to fulfill his purpose. I know he loves me. He has cared for me my entire life; were he to stop now, heaven and earth would no longer be – loving us is simply what he does (and he doesn’t find it a nuisance either – go figure). My life is his to do with as he pleases and I needn’t get it right all the time; I can focus on snuggling in his arms; I needn’t be a grown up when I’m really just a child.

[He has] calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast... (Psalm 131)


Gregaria said...

Oh, Drusilla, I'm so sorry! Life doesn't sound like fun and games right now. At least you seem to have a sense of humor and are trying to let go and let God, as they say. That's hard, at least for me, but sometimes, its kind of nice to know that I'm just a big baby (;)) on the inside.

I'll pray for you! God bless and may Christ's peace surround you.

reynor said...

May God bless you always. I am keeping you in my prayers.

forget me not said...

Drusilla, the psalm you quoted is my favorite. I used it as a prayer every night for about a year, when I was struggling to break away from an unhealthy attachment, and I recite it even now when I feel myself straying from the path I know is mine to take(Gabrielle at Contemplative Haven has been posting about attachment might want to stop by there. Her link is:

The image is just so powerful and the psalm is very easy to learn.

Drusilla said...

Thanks so much for the link. That Psalm spoke to me when I first encountered it as a young child and it has always been a powerful reminder that God loves me and cares for me. (It also helps peel away those tough layers I can form when I'm trying to be brave and do it all on my own.)

And thanks for all of your prayers. I truly appreciate them and keep you in my prayers also. It will take some time and more tests for my doctors to come to some conclusions about the progress of the illness but yesterday I was given a new medication to help when the pain is really bad. It knocks me out but it helps a great deal. And I know I'm alright. I'll write more about it later but this makes sense to me - there is purpose.

God bless.

forget me not said...

God bless you Drusilla.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I am going to ask for better for you. You will do the same Work with health as you do with illnesses; I cannot see the harm in asking for some healings.

But I cannot ask something so large alone. Everyone, let's not leave Drusilla to her fate, please, tho' she be in Good Hands. Ask Him for a softening of her trials. Personally, and at Mass, we'll ask.

Drusilla said...

Anonymous - thank you and thank you for your prayers. Do remember that our "fate" is to love and be loved - everything else is just sugar (as Bernadette, my confirmation saint, would say).

And too, I'm like a cocker spaniel. God takes me somewhere and I'm just so thrilled to go along, I don't stop to ask where we're going. But, as my spiritual director reminds me from time to time, I'm also one of those whose willing to wait on God, to just hang out with him and that he needs people like that too. And who knows, maybe there's miraculous healing just around the bend - it might be my personal healing, it might be the healing of someone else, it might be many healings (maybe even my officemate who worries about hell but is convinced that God is a big lie).

I'm okay. In fact, I'm honoured to be taken through this time. At the same time, miracles are most welcome.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I hear ya :-)

Gabrielle said...

You give me strength. You live what I talk. (((Drusilla)))