Summer colds are the worst, especially when you discover via a doctor’s diagnosis that what you have is not really a summer cold at all. Let me explain…
Two weeks ago, my current odyssey into the world of modern medicine began with what appeared to be a simple sore throat issue. It was more of a nuisance than anything else, and I merely waited for it to ‘go away’ on its own accord. Besides, what can you really do for a sore throat anyway? The weekend came and I had previously obligated myself to help a group from my church paint an elderly man’s house, and although I knew the hot-and-humid-South-Mississippi-mid-summer-day would not be in the best interests of my (let alone anyone else’s) health, I graciously arrived early that morning as promised. The morning sun beat down upon us as only it can do in the South, and by the time we completed the job around lunch-thirty, it had turned out to be a sweltering June day. My sore throat acquired new symptoms in a team effort; now I had a wicked cough and a nose pouring as profusely as a wedding cake fountain. By the time I arrived back home, I was dizzy and light-headed, and to my horror I began to see blood in the phlegmy things my lungs were hacking up. That will scare anyone, and in my case it made me contemplate my own earth-bound mortality.
My wife drove me to the Urgi-Care facility in town, (I’m getting to know that place really well these days) and I was diagnosed with bronchitis; fairly common and seldom life-threatening. A pack of steroids was issued along with prescription antibiotics, cough syrup, and a stern warning to stay out of the heat. Funny thing about those steroids - by Tuesday I was feeling exceptionally better and apparently well on my way to curedom.
Then I did something stupid.
Once a year we have a rail-scale calibration at work and it requires perfect timing as it entails getting the USDA, the MS State Department of Weights and Measures, a certified scale technician, and the railroad all together at one time and on the same page to perform the task. It just so happened that Wednesday was the slated day, despite a downpour of Biblical proportions. Despite my recent illness, I had no real choice other than to be there as my company’s representative and a shepherd for the various muckity-mucks assembled during the festivities. In a matter of moments I was drenched, soaked to the bone, and once the scale certification was complete, I returned to my office – to the air conditioning that awaited me there. I had no jacket, and no spare clothes to change into, so I toughed it out as I am prone to do, shivering and shaking down in my bones like you do when you ride a motorcycle to work on a frigid December morning. I shoulda worn a raincoat. I coulda went home and changed clothes. I woulda turned down the A/C had I thought about it. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda; the mantra of hindsighters everywhere, I tell you.
My condition deteriorated as the week continued, of course. Throw in mowing and weed-eating the yard in the aforementioned summer heat on Friday, and by Saturday I had allowed a fever to join in the healthcare follies I now found myself experiencing. By the July the Fourth bar-b-cue I was in terrible shape, and I know I was because I merely picked at the food on my plate. It only became worse and by Wednesday I was sitting in my regular doctor’s office, describing to him my symptoms and begging him for a cure. (There’s no cure for stupid, son.) Advice on vitamins, a suggestion for cough syrup remedies, yet another antibacterial prescription, and I was on my way home for the rest of the week. The trouble was, I did not seem to improve any, and by Sunday morning my wife drove me, (again) this time to the ER in Slidell, Louisiana.
Needles were poked, IVs were started, x-rays were taken, and CAT-scans were ordered. Yes, I had a cough. Sure, at one time I had bronchitis. My sinus cavity displayed a pattern of chronic problems over the years. But none of these were at the crux of my physical ailments. I was not getting better because my health issues were not related to a bacterial infection; there was a virus behind the scenes providing the impetus for my sickness. The doctor told me it was related to an Epstein-Barr ‘type’ virus. I responded by asking him weakly, and with emotion, “Tell me how bad is it, Doc? How long do I have?” Shrugging off my pitiful (though heart-felt, I assure you) plea, he explained to me that it was closely related to mono, but since it was a virus, the only solution was to treat the symptoms – the antibiotics I had been taking were useless in this fight.
Ah healthcare, you gotta love it. And it’s going to get worse I’m assured. Because of Obamacare? No, silly, because I am getting older. I have many more sicknesses and diseases to look forward to as I fast-forward myself through middle age and into the awaiting senior years on my radar.
With a virus, I have learned you have to have patience. You have to be willing to treat the symptoms and trust in your body to heal on its own. Not only that, but you have to put your faith in G_d to provide a cure, especially when all of the wonders of modern medicine can no longer help you. Maybe I should have been in this mindset all along, you know, trusting in Him and waiting for His healing from the get go. The Psalmist writes: “Be still, and know that I am G_d: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Both my praise and my honor go out to the Great Physician this morning. I am going to do my best to merely be still and always remember His power in my many moments of weakness, both physical and spiritual.
Especially as I get older…