I was kind of hoping my next blog post would be some sort of sun-spotted mountainside reflection full of #nofilter Instagrams. The hospital was maybe a bit further down on my ‘ideal places to blog from’ list, but hey, I’m doing my best to offer my readers some variety.
My stomach has decided, after many years of contemplation, it does not want to be a stomach anymore. Bad went to worse went to crawling around camp, throwing myself from railing to railing, pulling myself to my cabin, vomiting, crying airless sobs…since let’s be serious, there’s no extra air in the mountains for extraneous activities like crying. (That was slightly dramatic, but hey, I gotta make this blog interesting somehow!) To the hospital I would go and, unfortunately, stay.
I started in the emergency room. I was taken for a CT scan with a lively middle-aged man whose name I forget but whose long, gray shoulder-lengthed hair and wink I clearly remember.
“What are you in school for?” he asked me enthusiastically as he began doing whatever such people do to prepare for such things.
“I graduated, but I studied theatre and writing,” I said meekly. “Money makers.” I tried to joke. (I admit, this may not have been my first time using this joke. Nor my last. But it was quite possibly the most pathetic.)
He was unfazed by my sad attempt at humor. “I majored in partying!!!” he told me, beaming and wiggling my IV.
I tried to smile.
An automatic buzzing alert siren was blaring in my brain. Red lights were flashing. Wait, I thought. Wait, wait, wait.
He kept going. “You’re a veteran at this, you know what’s going to happen,” he chattered. “We’ll add some contrast in your IV after awhile. It’ll make you warm and tingly. But we’ll do a test run first, though. All that. Yeah, so I majored in partying and all my friends chose real majors and now they’re all depressed and divorced and I’m great!”
“Hm.” I said.
WHAT DID YOU MAJOR IN.
What did this dude putting me in a scanner and adding odd substances to my body ACTUALLY MAJOR IN.
I know next to nothing about the healthcare industry. In that moment how I wished I at least knew what degree a person running a CT Scan had to have!
A partying major while his friends had ‘real’ majors? What does that even mean? Communications? Business? General studies?
On the bright side, it gave me something to mull over as the machine whirled and a sickly warmness flooded my body from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. A platonic voice instructed me, “Breathe in. Hold your breathe. Breathe out,” and my concern for his degree was slowly and mysteriously lost in my lack of oxygen.
Well, he was at least right about the veteran part.
Mostly right anyway. It’s actually been close to ten years since I’d last gotten a CT Scan. This is a fact I won’t admit again because it makes me feel old. But it’s true; I do have history of stomach problems. This has actually become my favorite phrase in the past 24+ hours. “What brings you in?” kind-hearted nurses will ask. “Well,” I say, “My stomach got extremely sick…and I have a history of stomach problems.”
It seems wrong not to mention it. It’s the juice of my story. My hook. My punchline. That, and the fact that I’m from South Dakota.
“South Dakota?! Why are you here?” I’m asked repeatedly.
“But you live in Chicago…but you went to school in Indiana…but you are from…”
“Oh! You have to meet Amanda and Lexi. They’re both from the Dakotas!”
“Oh! I am from North Dakota! Ever heard the expression ‘oofta’? Straight-up Norwegian right there.”
I honestly didn’t know that! I thought everyone said ‘oofta!’
Ya wanna know the hardest part about this all?
The hardest part about being here in the hospital is not the scans or the small talking about South Dakota repeatedly or even the sickness itself or the unknowns about what’s causing it. The hardest part about being here, now, is the frustration that I came to Colorado to serve. I came to Colorado because so many people have given so much to me, and I wanted to give back. To work with youth. Hopefully to inspire youth. To do something that wasn’t me-centered but other-centered.
And now me, myself, I, am overshadowing that effort with a health problem that I have prayed for ten years will just. go. away.
That is the hardest part.
This is a scale I simply cannot tip.
But. But oofta. Maybe that’s okay.
While lying here staring at white walls and eating ice chips, I’ve begun to think that maybe I need to give up on this quest to even the playing field. Not that I should stop looking for service opportunities, but rather that my attempt to somehow ‘equal out’ what’s been given to me in service is impossible. Maybe that’s not the way life works. Maybe life isn’t designed to be viewed or lived as if it was some weight scale of you-give-some, I’ll-give-some. And maybe this is just me realizing I’ve tipped the scale too far one way and now I’m trying to justify it all. But I think–I hope–it’s more than that. That giving abundantly and not measuring what you give but just giving goes back to my faith, to our faith. To the life and the God I believe in.
So was I successful this summer in giving back everything that has been given to me in my times of trial? No.
But I did serve? Yes.
And now, today, I find myself in a time of healing and being served. Yes, again. A time to be thankful for the journey, not the end goal. For the giving hearts that keep giving. For these are the hearts that keep inspiring me to serve, too. Not because there is a scale to tip. But for the sake of love.
[Rumor has it I should be discharged tonight!]