“I woke up to a world I never saw coming, and to medical and social communities that aren’t designed to meet my complicated set of needs. But I also woke up to a world where I experience God’s redemptive work in unique ways that would be unavailable to me if I were anyone but who I am.”
I wrote these words in the introduction to If I Should Die my capstone for the English degree I completed last August. It’s true. I’ve been the “special one” for the past three years, the girl who walks (or rolls, if it’s an emergency), into a healthcare facility and is immediately the top priority. With two strokes, seizures, and a semi-permanent migraine, how much more important could I be? Honestly, I wasn’t even too scared by COVID-19 since I was the special one. Any intelligent doctor would bump me to the top of their list if I happened to get sick.
Until they didn’t.
The week after San Jose’s sheltering order came out, I developed a dry cough. I called Kaiser, fully expecting a test since I was “high risk.” No test. Tests were for higher risk patients like seniors and asthmatics. When my seizure meds stopped working and my cough morphed into coughing fits, I called back. Obviously I was special enough to get tested now. No test. Now they were saving the tests for patients who were candidates for hospital admission. This time the doctor admitted that I’d be a special case under normal circumstances – just not at this point in COVID-19. I’d failed the “special” test for the first time three years. But not to worry, she said, most people like me got better in seven days. Seven days later my seizure meds still weren’t working, I couldn’t get out of bed, and I stopped breathing during my five-minute-plus coughing fits. But the pandemic had intensified to such an extent that even this wasn’t serious enough for a test, much less hospital admission. My doctor prescribed medicine strong enough to keep me breathing during fits and told me to hope for the best. Mercifully “the best” eventually arrived, albeit painstakingly slowly. Even more mercifully, Ivan never developed more than a mild cough. Praise God for His protective hand!
Getting sick was one of the best things that could have happened to me. God used it to remind me that I’m not always THE special one, in spite of three years of conditioning to the contrary. The truth? I didn’t need a test. Would it have gratified my need to feel important? Sure. Would it have helped me get better? No. I also didn’t need a hospital admission. There were moments when we thought I did, but my doctor was right after all. I didn’t need a ventilator or an IV to break a raging fever, and I would have just taken away a bed from someone who did. Thankfully prescription cough medicine sufficed, even if it didn’t always work perfectly. What I did need was to look around me. To remember that my doctor was treating patients even though she had a baby at home. To listen to the ambulance sirens wailing by our apartment every day. To read news articles about the outbreak already infiltrating New York. So many people were more special than me, in one way or another.
And that’s what I’d like to share as those of us in San Jose face another month of sheltering. It’s tempting to read about other states reopening and grumble, “What about us? Aren’t our financial and educational and social needs just as important as theirs?” Yes, our needs are certainly urgent. But there is so much at stake that we can’t see. Our leaders are looking at the big picture, while all we can see are our living rooms and the sky outside our windows. Local healthcare workers are still risking themselves daily to save lives, and if fewer people are dying or getting sick, it’s thanks to their efforts and the strict guidelines we’ve been following since March. So take heart and join me in supporting them and thanking God for our leaders, leaders who are trying to safeguard us even if we don’t always agree with their timeline.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. “
6 thoughts on “Special – Or Not?”
Wow, Grace, you really experience a lot of symptoms, bringing about a lot of wonder if you had Covid-19. Happy the Lord has spared you. Stay well. The Lord bless you and Ivan. I always remember you and your family to the Lord.
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Grace — As I was preparing for our Small Group via Zoom this evening, I noticed that you had sent out a new post. After our meeting was over around 9:15 PM, we were still in the living room and I was in front of my laptop. I asked my wife if I could read her the latest “Walking With Grace.” We always enjoy reading your uber-positive and uplifting posts, and this one was no exception. We were thankful to hear that you have recovered from the COVID-19 symptoms that you had been experiencing. But as I was reading this post to my wife, I quickly realized that the reference to your “If I Should Die” quotation was actually a link. So after my finishing reading the relatively short post, I asked my wife if she wanted to also hear the much longer paper you had written last year for your English Degree. She replied, “Sure, what better thing could we possibly do while we are sheltered-in-place?”
We were mesmerized by your writing. Its descriptions were better than any movie at holding our focus on a story with which we were already familiar, but now had been vividly colored-in with the dramatic detail and event timing previously unknown to us. I admit that I had difficulty reading parts of the material through eyes blurred with tears, and I struggled with controlling my voice, which was quivering from my own emotion. But after I finished page 17, the story ended with “Calm echoed in the room.” Page 18 was blank…
I assume that you intended to link to the whole paper, and we are really hoping that you will provide it in full to your anxious readers. A story like this may have been written for the adjudicating eyes of an English professor, but it is too good not to be shared with the world. God has given you both a story to share and the ability to share it in an exceptional manner, and I hope we will receive, at least, the next installment for our reading pleasure.
Blessings to you, Ivan, and your whole family. We are praying for you all! And thank you for sharing your gift with us!
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Hi Steve! Thanks so much for your kind words! I really appreciate that you took the time to read the whole piece. 🙂 That’s actually the whole piece, since the capstone was limited to 15 pages. 😉 But stay tuned…my MFA thesis requirement is to write a publishable, book-length manuscript, so I’m hoping to use that time to draft an actual book about our story. We’ll see what God has!
Thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers, and hope you and your wife are staying safe!
Thank you for your posts and your perspective. Blessings and Health.
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After reading your post I just read your story in If I Die and it is heart wretching. Even though I have known your story to read it again is so hard to read without tears. I cannot imagine going through what you have lived for three years without the Lord and the prayers of your friends. However, your testimony is such a way to reach people who go through similiar difficult circumstances. I know our Lord is guiding you every moment of the day. I continue to pray for you and Ivan and all of your family who are helping you.
Grace: so glad you have recovered! Thank you for these wise insights! Prayers for you & Ivsn & your extended family!