The Scope of Health

For those who are healthy it is easy to take our circumstances for granted. It is not apparent to realize the fragile state of our bodies until we, or someone we know, becomes ill – sometimes to the point of death. We are in a constant state of regeneration: our cells divide and multiply to replace the old and worn out cells. Our bodies require an adequate amount of sleep every 24 hours to help provide renewal to our bones, muscles, and minds!

But, what if you were to become stricken with an acute illness, or perhaps a newly diagnosed chronic disease? How would you react? What would you try to change about your current lifestyle? Would you start to see life differently? Would you slow down to listen to the birds sing outside, or admire a beautiful rose? Would you realize that you are here on Earth for a brief time, and you have a purpose to fulfill?

It has been a little over a year’s time, and I can clearly remember when I became very ill. My first thought was, “oh no, I am getting the flu.” I started to feel achy and fatigued all over my body. I noticed that my temperature began to rise up to 99 degrees. I crawled into bed that night, and hoped for a quick recovery. Little did I know, and what I was about to experience, would last for an excruciating two weeks.

The next day I drove my son to a doctor’s appointment, and I decided to bring my mom along in case I couldn’t make the drive. I was feeling so awful, and I had no idea that my illness was about to turn for the worse. Within the next day I had broken out in a rash on my back, and I thought it was shingles. I went to the ER, and they dismissed me with a diagnosis of “something viral.” They said to return if the symptoms became worse. Well, I became worse. The rash decided to spread all over my body, from my scalp to my top of my feet. The spots were increasing in size to the diameter of a quarter. I couldn’t lie down on a pillow without pain, and I couldn’t sit down on a chair. I also began to notice white sores in my mouth, lining my gums. Then my lower lip started to swell, and I couldn’t eat.

The second visit to the ER was excruciating, but at least the staff performed more tests on me, and sent me home with some strong antibiotics. They also gave me a shot of Demerol, which sent my mind and stomach into a roller coaster feeling. It was not a pleasant drug withdrawal.

For the next 11 days I endured the pain of the sores on my body, the sores in my mouth, the continual low grade fever, and the accompanying joint pain. The illness had spread into my blood, and the germs were invading every cell. If it wasn’t for the availability of that sulfa drug, I would probably be dead. Two days later, the result of the blood culture said I had MRSA, and it was systemic (meaning, throughout my whole body).

I still don’t know how I acquired MRSA, and for a long time I had wondered why I had acquired MRSA. But, through those two painful weeks of lying in bed, isolated from my family, I learned to listen to the still, small voice of God. I know that He was teaching me a bunch of lessons about life, and it took a serious illness to get my attention.

As I share my thoughts and feelings, I want you to know that I do not mean to offend anyone. I don’t want to wish any harm, and my hope is that I will encourage you through your “storm” you are going through right now. I pray that you will have the faith to understand my words.

The first lesson that I learned was that I needed to give up my life. I am not saying that I needed to die physically, but I need to die to my desires so I can be used purposefully for God’s will.

The second lesson that I learned was that I needed to slow down my pace in order to be healthy. I had all four burners going at high speed, and that’s a great setup for a mental breakdown, an emotional breakdown, a spiritual breakdown, and yes, a physical breakdown.

The third lesson I learned is that the span of my life is very short, and my days are numbered. I only get so many days to live purposefully, live to help others, and live to love the God who created me.

Another lesson I learned is that my health will never be the same. My diagnosis with MRSA was a pivotal moment in my life. I will always be susceptible to the slightest illness lurking on the handle of the grocery cart, and I have to become stronger physically to overcome these potential threats. My immune system was compromised; I cannot let my guard down again. I may not survive another systemic attack.

So, my pursuit of reading literature and health-related information consumes my free time. I have to become self-educated in the knowledge that abounds the post-modern society. I cannot rely on a doctor’s suggestion, or the latest fad. I need to find out the cues that my body gives me in order to help regain and retain my health.

I encourage those who read this to listen to your body. Create an initial assessment of your current circumstances. If you are unhappy with your findings, find the energy to start making small changes. You can be successful in your quest for health. You will have to ask questions; you will probably have to surf the internet; you will definitely need to have your blood checked and be evaluated by a doctor. But, take charge of your future by taking care of your body now.

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