Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RASH (04/12/18)
- TITLE: You Have Placed Your Hand Upon Me
By Wilma Schlegel
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Sarah looked at him squarely, holding his gaze and not betraying the ironic, argumentative thought that wanted to burst out of her mouth. ‘Of course I will. I’ll either not have the surgery and die or I’ll not have the surgery and live. Either way, that will be my lifetime.’ No, he was a caring surgeon. She would not argue with his statement. She nodded her head.
And she was no longer against the surgery; she’d had time to think about it.
At first they’d called it an aneurismal change. The first time she’d seen the diagnosis written simply as ‘aneurysm’ it had been sobering, to say the least. The first time someone said she needed to consider open heart surgery, she was floored. The idea was crazy. To jump into it felt like suicide.
Her condition was completely asymptomatic and would remain that way unless or until there was a major change for the worse. A blessing, of sorts. Also a reason to reject the idea of having anyone do anything to her heart – except break it – that had been done a few times and she’d lived.
Oddly, another family member – related to her by law only – had died of the ramification of the very ailment she’d been diagnosed with. Better tell the kids. They stood to inherit from both sides.
Anyway, there would be no rash decisions about surgery here and that’s a little play on words, but I’ll get to that later.
Each year she presented to the thoracic surgeon (and now the cardiologist too – something her insurance company demanded – but actually that was a good thing).
The thoracic surgeon tracked the size of the aneurysm. A rapid increase in size or reaching a certain size would dictate the need for surgery. The cardiologist looked for ‘leaks’ and other symptoms. Together, she felt confident and not like she was a walking ‘time bomb’. Again – blessed.
“So being asymptomatic, how was this discovered?” The cardiologist had asked that question.
It started with pain. Pain can be a good thing. It’s an indicator that something is wrong. The pain started at her sternum and wrapped around to her center back. Left side. There was a burning sensation along with throbbing, ever present, no-other-word-for-it – pain. Some down deep, some on the surface but constant and either it had worn her down or it got worse over the course of the week.
After a few days, the rash showed itself. It was classic, as if the little viruses had read the text book. Luckily for Sarah, hers was a mild case. Still, the morning came when she asked husband Mike to take her to the emergency room. That’s where they confirmed what she already suspected. Shingles.
She was happy with the treatment plan, but concerned and not convinced that those shingles viruses were capable of causing all her pain. A scan was ordered and that’s when they found it.
No, it wasn’t a reason for pain and yes the shingles were the culprit. (Don’t doubt it, those things hurt.)
“Ma’am, do you know that your ascending thoracic aorta is enlarged?”
It got everyone’s attention.
Bottom line, those shingles had been a blessing in the guise of an ugly, raised, red, crusty rash. Many have experienced much worse and this little story is not meant to take away from or make light of anyone else’s experience.
For Sarah, something bad was meant for good – the good of discovering her more life-threatening condition. She is thankful to know and she believes that God watches over her.
“You hem me in behind and before and you have placed your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 139:5-6, NIV
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