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Hear the Sound of Hope
She jumps up from her chair, running to grab her baby brother in her loving arms, swinging him in a circle and ending with a giant bear hug. He giggles happily, patting her on the back and whispering “Rae-Rae….Rae-Rae”. His dimples make her sigh in contentment. She was loved. A few hours later, she is in the car with her mum, driving along, when it happens again…her heart starts to beat oddly. A little too fast. She gently rubs her chest. It’s nothing. She smiles at her mum and continues their conversation
It keeps happening. She gets out of bed and has to rest her hand on her bed post. Dizziness overcomes her. She feels her pulse and it’s too fast. She stands up. She sits down. She does nothing. It keeps happening. This isn’t right.
She spends a few days away from home at a girl’s Awakening, hearing God’s word and being inspired, actually listening to what He wants for once. Her mum comes to pick her up. She places her hand on her mum’s arm in the bathroom just as they are about to leave. “Mum. I think I’m sick. I think something’s wrong with me.” Her mother looks worried, but they dismiss it after realizing it wasn’t predictable and there were no other symptoms. She was fine. It was nothing.
Pain. All over. It screams at her as she doubles over, clutching her chest. Something was seriously wrong. A tear forms in her eye as wave after wave of searing, aching pain sweeps through her chest muscles. Her heart pounds. Her ears ring. “Am I dying?” she thinks. No. So she waits. She waits until her mum finishes her workout. She sits trying to be composed, smiling though in agony at passing strangers. Strangers whose only problems were finding lockers and getting in their exercises before their next appointment.
Her hands clench, knuckles white. She’s not sure if she can stay upright. She sways. “Mom” she whispers, her breath coming quicker. “I need my mother”. She goes in. Her mum stops and asks what’s wrong. “It won’t stop mom. I need help. I need to go home. We need to leave.” She groans as her mother packs as quickly as possible. “Hurry” She shouts inwardly. She’s not sure how long she can keep standing, keep walking. Breathe. Just breathe. TOO MUCH PAIN. Just breathe.
They are in the car, her mum driving fast, just trying to get home. “Do we need the hospital?” she asks, desperately looking at her daughter. No. No hospital. Home.
She lies on the couch as her mother explains the situation to her dad. “I don’t know what we should do.” She hears her mother say. She stifles a sob. The pain wasn’t leaving. It was getting worse. God help me! “Mom…” Her parents walk over, concern in every line of their faces. “I think I need to go to the hospital.”
“What’s your heart rate?” her mother asks. She feels her pulse and does the math. She groans and it catches in her throat as her head pounds.
“160. It hasn’t gotten any lower. And I hurt. I-I don’t think it’s stopping on its own.”
Car. Hospital entrance. Nurses. Waiting. Finally she sees a doctor. He is nice, but seems torn between condescension and worry. There is nothing wrong with her. She is physically fine . The doctor brings medical students in to listen to her heart. It has a murmur. She is a medical example. Something to be written up in a report. She laughs slightly inside, then looks over at her mother. Her pose makes it seem like everything is okay, but her daughter is not fooled. Her mother is scared and is just trying to hold it together for her.
For her. Right. There is nothing to hold it together for. It was just an anomaly. She takes off her gown and redresses. She feels sorry for all the trouble she caused, just because she was in some pain and her heart beat fast. She was fine.
Weeks pass. Doctor visits pass. Another hospital visit passes. Sterile white rooms constantly greet her, doctors poking and prodding, hemming and hawing. She was fine. She was healthy. There was nothing wrong. Maybe she should see a psychologist.
“Right. It’s all in my head” she thought….”No. I don’t believe it. Something is wrong with me. We just don’t know what.”
More doctors. More medicines. More pain. It’s getting worse now. It’s getting more frequent. She has to mask her agony as she chases her brother around outside. Just breathe. Just breathe.
She walks into church. People bustle around. People smile. People sing. She tries standing, but it’s too much. She sits. She feels self conscious. Her friends ask “How are you?” How does she respond to that? “I’m ok.” She says, and smiles. Later. I’ll tell them everything later. They just know it’s hard. That’s all they need to know….that’s all. I’ll be fine.
“I’m not fine!” she moans as she curls up in her bed. She had only left it once that day. It hurts to move. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to lie still. She can’t escape it. “Right. Well, I’ll just have to think of something else” she says to herself. Dimensional theory? Nah. She thought about that a few hours ago. If angels have possible redemption? Nah. Maybe later. “I’ll write a letter” she says. So she sits up, grimacing as her back seizes. Breathe. She feels better when she’s doing something for someone else. She drips hot wax onto the envelope. She seals it with the sign of the trinity. She says a quick prayer. God's been good to her. He gave her friends. He gave her family. He gave her quill pens and colored inks. “Life was…no. Life is good” she whispers. It feels good to say. Maybe she can survive this thing after all.
Summer. People having fun. People leaving her behind. She used to mind. She doesn’t mind anymore. Well, much. She watches her friends have fun and then smiles. That she was even able to get out of bed that day and come to the picnic was enough of a blessing. She is happy. Clouds pass through the sky. She smiles again. Rain was coming.
Home. Thunder clashes, lightening slashes, and she dances. Life is good. She stops to glance down at the pill bottles scattered across her bed. She sighs. She fingers her sleeve, all the aches and pains and spasms rushing back all too soon. She gasps at the sudden ferocity of it all. She shrugs. It was good while it lasted. She sits down on her bed and stares out the window. A shadow of a smile passes over her face. At least today was a good day. She was walking around. She had eaten a meal with her family. She had held her brother as he repeated her name over and over, glad to see her after so many hours apart. She had said a prayer in thanks to God. She was in good hands. She was still happy.
More doctor’s appointments. More shaking heads. More tears. More pain. It was chronic now. She sits in the waiting room, biting her lip as she tries to stop her hands from shaking. The pain medications weren’t working. She chokes back tears. Not tears of sadness, for she was content. They were tears of pain. Pain. The most used word in her vocabulary. Pain. It was becoming almost mundane. She takes a shaky breath and reaches over to hold her mother’s hand. “Mom doesn’t know how much I love her.” She says to herself. “But how else can I show it or say it?”. So she just squeezes her mum’s hand, smiles, and is rewarded with a smile in return.
“Rachel?” calls the nurse. She raises her eyebrow and says “Here we go…again”. Her mother nods and follows her back to hear another rendition of the doctor’s speech of “You’re not dying. You’re not sick. You’re just a bit out of balance. What we want to do is turn down your nervous system so you can sleep and not have as much pain.” She grins outwardly while rolling her eyes inwardly. They had been trying to “turn the dial” on her nervous system for two years now. She was starting to believe that she’d live with this her whole life. “Oh well.” She thought. “God will do something with me anyway. I at least have my fingers, my mind, and a pen. Oh…and a mouth” at that thought she chuckles, causing the doctor to pause halfway through the shpeal. Whoops. Her mum looks at her and smiles. They go home. Her mum asks her if she wants anything special. She says no. Of course she would enjoy something, but her mum had done enough. She just smiles and stares out the window. Sunny. Eh. It would get cloudy later in the week. Then she could watch the rain drops. Then she would really smile, even cooped up in her room. Then she could hear the world around her speaking to her, instead of having to go outside and greet it herself...which she was unable to do. When it rained, nature was telling her “Hello”. When it rained, she was happy.
The highway. A six hour car trip. Cleveland. Finally. Doctors. Tests. Hours of medical history. Hours of waiting. Hours of pain. Hours of smiling, putting on a good face, and enjoying the artisticness and beauty of the world built around the study of bodily malfunctions. Ironic, but interesting.
Dr. Fouad. Egyptian. Older. Speaks with an accent. She tries not to laugh as her dad struggles to understand what the doctor is saying. More tests. Almost passing out. Blackness. Mum’s worried expression. She grips the side of the tilt table as the nurses unbind her. She takes the Gatorade thankfully and slowly shuffles out the door, her mum and a nurse holding either arm. Doctor. Nurse. Another test. This time she gets to lie down. The technician has black hair on his ears. “Gross. At least he’s nice. So only half creepy. Lucky me.”
She sits with her family as they are told she has a chronic condition affecting her circulatory system and her brain. Joy. Diet changes. Not Joy. Funny looking restrictive socks? She says “fine” but inwardly says “Heck no!”, then changes it to “Well, hopefully heck no….hopefully”. Papers trade hands. Calls are made. They are sent out the door.
“But what about my pain?!” She pleads, not sure whether to be happy they got some kind of diagnosis, angry that it wasn’t a diagnosis that addressed everything, or apathetic and uncaring to spare herself the emotional roller-coaster.
Dad growls angrily. Mother paces. Old family friend furrows her brow. Impatient secretary. Phone calls. Waiting. Another appointment with another doctor. “Lucky me.”
More poking and prodding. More questions. Less shaking of heads. “You have Fibromyalgia” he says, leaning close and patting her leg. She winces at the touch. It hurts. He taps and pinches and looks further, then hands them papers. “New meds, new routines, and you’ll eventually have your life back.”
She stares out the window of the car, watching the telephone poles flash by, the cattle graze, the cars getting their flats changed. She WAS sick. She WAS diseased. She WAS incurable. But she WAS content, as her questions had been answered.
Doctors again. Episodes of spasms and pain again. Friends worried faces. Families hurried apologies. Countless hours spent staring at the bedroom ceiling, thinking about the time when she will be able to get out of bed and walk without her knees buckling.
She smiles. It didn’t matter. She was happy. She could live her life even with her diseases. She could minister to the people of the world even if she could never leave her room. She could write. She could speak. She could BE. Her existence was a testament to God’s creative genius. She wasn’t about to take that for granted. She picks up her books on the occult. On demonology. On group therapy. On black dome security cameras. On tv shows. Her journals. Her encyclopedias. her Bible. She wasn’t bored. She had so many things that interested her, that she could learn, that could fill her time and help her grow. She laughs quietly to herself. She was going to make it, just as she had made it this far. And her family had been by her side. Her friends had shown their care. Her God had shown his unending love and mercies.
She was home.
She was free.
She was safe.
No pain, no hurt, no obstacles could stand in her way. She was meant for great things, and right now, that meant getting through every day with a smile and, if she was up and about, a skip in her step.
She prays that her friends can find peace in everything they do, for she now knows the value of God’s peace in her life. It’s hard to find and even harder to grasp when engulfed in pain. But it can be done, and she did it.
She prays that in spite of it all, she can be useful
And she prays that others will prays that other will follow their dreams in spite of obstacles, as she is learning to do.
She will be.