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“Very good care…” this was the hospital motto, and it was written on a whiteboard on the wall in each patient’s room.  They’d marker in the name of the nurse and aide on shift,  changing the date so you’d know what the heck day of the week it was.

When you’re inert in a hospital bed, your mind wanders.  Wonder why they couldn’t have aimed a little bit higher with that motto, I said to myself.  Why not excellent care?  Exceptional care?  But just very good?  Feh.

On the few channels available on the tiny t.v., I saw an ad for another hospital, and they had the even lower-aiming motto:  “Where life continues.”  Sheesh!  Hope so.

I’d come in five days earlier for an exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, and I was ready to go home. Steroid infusions, pain shots, testing, being poked and prodded had somehow lost its luster, and it was clear from the set of my face as the doctor came in.  “So I get the idea you want to head on out?” I nodded.  “Do you feel better enough to leave?”

I thought this was a subjective question. Almost an existential question.  Hospitals are where you’re sick.  Home is where you heal.  Sure, I didn’t feel like gangbusters, but I felt that they’d given me everything they could here to shore me up, and now, if I had my druthers, I’d take my meds home to hibernate and recuperate.

So I went home on crutches with my medications and various physical therapy aids to strengthen my hands and feet, and I relaxed right away.

Looking back, I had pushed too hard when I wasn’t feeling well, and then one day, I was struggling with a small copywriting project. I went to the kitchen where my son was getting a snack, and he looked at me and said, “Ma, what’s wrong?” I said I had to get three more records done and then I could rest.  He looked me dead in the eye and said, “No, Ma.  Now.  You need to lie down.”  He took me by the shoulders and guided me down the hall to my room and I realized I was in bad shape.  I called the doctor that day and she sent me to the ER.

Prior to this episode, my prayers had a feverish tone at times.  I’d say, “Please take care of this pile of bills!” or “We need a miracle for this situation!”  But now, I’ve seen the sliding scale of blessings that come in under the radar, and I know healing comes from hope and holding on, not from angst and desperation. Those prayers are really clenched fists – You must!  Help now!  No time left! –  not hands clasped toward Heaven in serene anticipation.  It sounds more like a high-pressure Ginsu knife salesman than a faithful child of God.

This is how I pray now:  “If You say I can, I will.”  While of course, I don’t speak for the Maker of all Things, I believe He replied, “Deal.”  Sometimes I feel He’s from Jersey, just like me.

I didn’t think I’d have sensation back in my feet as before, and then I walked into the wall, muttered in French and realized, “Hey!  That hurt!” And if it hurts, I can feel my feet. I’ll take it!

The first night I slept in my own bed, I started to feel warmth on the bottom of one foot.  The next day, the other one.  They’d been numb during my stay in the hospital. I’ll take it! The next day, I felt pins and needles in my lips, and my smile started to come back.   I’ll take it!

Every day is another grace, a new small healing the world doesn’t know about and the hospital didn’t document in their records.  Each time they would give me a shot in the hospital, they’d scan my wristband. At first I thought it was to ensure patient safety, but the nurse aide chuckled and said, “No, it’s to charge you.”

I’ve seen increments of joy like family and friends checking in to see if I need a ride to the doctor or a Slurpee from the 7-11. I’ve seen my son show me how much he’s grown up and how solid his character really is, as he takes care of things I normally do so that I have time to heal.  I’ll take it all.

So while I’m still hinky around the edges, I’m working my way back to wholeness.  The good thing about being home in the care of the greatest healer of all is that the benefits include peace of mind, comfort through the pain, and the promise of better days. All at no charge. Now that’s what I call a divine deal.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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