Comfort and Security
After weeks of having most of my buttons pushed I decided to take the day off. The entire weekend actually. Rather than hole myself up in my house I planned to get out and just breathe. There comes a point when I just have to take a step back from my life and most of the things in it so that I can be still enough to actually hear God. I believe that God speaks to us every day… we’re just t0o busy to listen.
There was really only one thing on my agenda for Saturday. Ok…only one thing that I absolutely had to do. Being me, I did have a tentative “To Do” list for the entire weekend, but most everything on it fell into the “Suggestions” category. Life as I know it would not end if I didn’t get things on the list done. I like to make lists and I like to check things off because it helps control my stress. At the top of my Saturday list? Get my lithium levels checked.
With all the mounting stress of the past few months I had come to an unwanted conclusion: It might be time to up my medication. My goal for 2012 was to actually have my doctor ween me off of the lithium since my dosage is not even at a therapeutic level anyway. I’ve been on it for a long time and it’s been a LONG bumpy road. I’ve had mixed feelings about taking the lithium, but it was the first thing that ever gave me some semblance of normalcy so I hesitated to kick it to the curb. My doctor has advised me to just keep taking it. I stopped taking anti-depressants in 2006 and haven’t missed them. For a season I really needed them, but when that season ended God made it clear that they could not accomplish what only he could do. Now God seems to be reminding me that medication exists for a reason and it’s ok to take advantage of it.
Before I could up my dosage my doctor wanted me to have my levels checked. Oh, joy. Some women are blessed with a tiny waists. Others have tiny ankles. Me? I got tiny veins! I’ve been getting my levels checked roughly every 3 months since 1998 and I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been told how tiny my veins are and how hard it is to find them. If you think I’ve got a million cane spider stories… I’ve got double that when I tell the stories of my misadventures with blood draws. As a result of said misadventures, I have issues with needles. Or should I say issues with medical personnel with needles??
I wasn’t exactly happy to go to the medical center first thing Saturday morning, but it needed to be done. Finding out that my doctor also ordered urine tests wasn’t fun either. Nothing like trying to pee into a cup to get your morning off to a weird start. When I sat down in the vampire chair I told the phlebotomist what I always tell the phlebotomist:
I am a difficult draw. They can never find the veins in my arms, so they take the blood out of my hand.
Yep. They take the blood out of my hand, but not until after they’ve all tried to get it out of my arms. And it’s never enough to try it in one arm and give up. They generally have to try it in both arms numerous times. It’s like I’ve presented them with a challenge and they don’t want to give up easily. I generally walk out with bandages on both arms and both hands. It is the rare phlebotomist who can get it on the first try.
True to form, she took up my challenge. She asked if I’d mind if she tried my arms first. She tried the left arm. No vein. She tried the right arm. No vein. She tried my hands. No vein. If I wasn’t absolutely positive that I was alive I’d start to wonder. She never got as far as poking me with any needles, though. I just sat there holding my breath wishing it was all over.
“God? Why does it always have to be like this?”
“When is it going to be over??”
“Can I be done now??
All of those things went through my mind and I wondered if God was listening.
Then she tried a spot halfway between my elbow and my wrist. I turned my head away and clenched my eyes shut. I was certain that was going to hurt. Nobody had tried that spot that I could remember. I was just hoping she’d do it and get it over with without telling me that I’d just feel a “little pinch.” I wanted to give her a little pinch. Those “little pinches” are usually followed by my vein closing up and the person having to start all over again. This is generally when I start feeling lightheaded because I’ve been holding my breathe. On cue she asked me how I was doing. They always ask how I’m doing. I asked her if she was actually getting any blood. When she replied that she was, I told her that I was doing ok.
She finished the draw and put a gauze over the spot. I could not look at her as she used another needle to transfer my blood into the small vials. I looked at a poster on the wall. I’ve seen it before, but I needed to see it again. It always reminds me of God. It reminds me that into our lives painful things must come, but some are necessary to our health and growth. It is a poster for parents on how to hold their child when they are getting various shots. The title on the poster is in big letters:
Positions of Comfort and Security:
and it has pictures of parents holding their kids close while they get their shots. No kid likes to have blood drawn or to get immunizations. Most get scared or angry. They scream, cry, kick, and try to get away. It’s scary and painful… but necessary. The parents aren’t hurting their children, they are helping them. They are making sure they are as comfortable and secure as possible as they experience the pain. Sure, it might actually hurt, but only for a short while and the benefits of it far outweigh the momentary pain.
When I see that poster I think about how my Father, God, allows painful things into my life. Life has been rather painful of late, but I must never lose sight of the fact that my Father loves me. The pain he allows into my life has a purpose even if I do not understand it or like it.
My Father is not only aware of where I am… he’s with me.
My Father knows that I am afraid and he cares.
My Father is holding me close and is never going to let me go. And even if I get scared or angry… If I kick, scream, cry, or try to get away… he wants only the best for me and knows what he’s doing. He is my Father and he loves me.
It was over and I hadn’t really felt any pain. That had to be a record. She got it on the first try, the vein didn’t close up, and I didn’t have a bunch of gauze taped to my limbs. If you knew my history with needles you’d understand how monumental this was. I needed to thank her. She wasn’t wearing a visible name tag, so I asked her name. Her reply made my heart jump.
Her name was Charity.
Immediately a verse popped up in my mind:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 New International Version).
In the King James Version, the word “love” is rendered as “Charity.” You can doubt this all you want, but I believe without doubt that God sent a phlebotomist named “Love” to remind me that despite the struggles I’ve been having he loves me. He is holding me in a position of comfort and security whether I realize it or not. I fairly floated out of the clinic certain that God was going to eventually lead me through all of this and I would make it to the other side with my mental health intact. These momentary trials that I am dealing with are for my overall health and growth. God wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true.
Oddly enough, later when I removed the gauze and threw it away I looked down to where Charity had drawn my blood. I bruise. When they draw blood I generally have green and purple bruises for days. There wasn’t a mark on me. I couldn’t even tell where the needle had gone in. It was amazing. My Father had held me in a position of comfort and security while Love had done what needed to be done.