The past six months have had their share of tumultuous moments for our family. We've been visited by the swine flu, dealt with broken bones, bee stings, puncture wounds, and various facial abrasions. I personally have had surgery, dealt with over-use setbacks, a random toe injury, and most recently been plagued by an old neck injury that reduces me to a fraction of who I normally am. Which brings me to last week, a comedy of errors on a massive scale.
On Thursday, Paigey was inadvertently exposed to the crud that every other child in Newberg has right now. Normally I wouldn't care, but we were scheduled to leave on Saturday for a much anticipated vacation. Friday morning she woke up coughing and by bedtime she was sporting a low-grade fever to match her hacking cough. We decided to wait to pack for our trip to see how the night went.
Saturday morning dawned a bit groggy and cranky by all parties involved in the midnight hack fest. We called Brian and Nancy, the friends we were going to visit in Seattle, and they gave us their blessing to invade their home, sick child and all. We gathered our kids and gave them a verbal list of what to pack and then we all rushed off to throw clothes in a bag so we could get on the road. Alli, who is normally a great packer, clearly wasn't listening when we gave the run down. For a weekend trip she packed a vest and sweatshirt, one pair of extra undies, one "church" outfit, her blankie, two pairs of shoes, and four toothbrushes. No socks, no jammies, no clothes to speak of aside from the clothes on her body and a serious deficit in the undies department. Needless to say, her special Valentine shirt looked like it had been through the war by the time we got home from being worn three days in a row.
We pulled out of the driveway, two hours later than our original goal time, completely discombobulated and heavy on crabbiness. While Paige was hacking up a lung in her car seat, I was waxing poetic about how God must be protecting us from unforeseen danger by delaying our departure, but the Crab Master General (who had been ready for 45 minutes while he waited for Miss Poetic) was not buying what I was selling! Ten miles into our trip and before we even reached the freeway, I broke out some Valentine chocolates we'd been saving for the road trip. I offered one to Curt and he glanced down for MAYBE two seconds to make a choice. When he looked up, the truck in front of us had stopped suddenly and there was nothing he could do but slam on the brakes and wait for the crunch. Everyone was perfectly fine, but the impact was just great enough to crack our radiator cap, rendering the van useless except to drive home. Are you kidding me?!?!
We whipped a u-turn and headed back to Newberg serenaded by the wailing of four kids who had been anticipating playing with Grace and Griffin for weeks. While Curt kept one eye on the road and the other on the temperature gauge, I called the insurance adjustor and started navigating the labyrinth of paperwork that comes with an accident. I told the adjustor that we were on our way out of town and she cheerfully informed me that we had rental car coverage on our policy and it would cover a vehicle for the weekend. Before we had time to celebrate she sighed and said, "We work with Enterprise and they close at noon on the weekends, so you missed them by five minutes." Now what?
We bought the van because we needed six seat belts and Curt's Jeep only has five. It was beginning to look like we might not make it to Seattle when my friend Britta called to check and see how my neck was feeling (remember neck injury from week before?). We told her about our newest fiasco and since they only need five seat belts, she offered to switch vehicles with us. Blessed by her generosity, I trekked twenty-five minutes back the direction we'd just traversed to swap vehicles, then turned around and drove home to pick up the family and reload all our gear. When we pulled out of the driveway for the second time, it was FIVE hours later than when we left the first time! By the time we arrived, it was dinner time, Paige had a full-on fever and the other kids who are normally great travelers, had been alternately arguing with each other and whining about how LONG it was taking for at least an hour. SIGH. At least we made it safely.
Our time with Brian and Nancy and their kids was well worth the obstacles we hurdled to get there. We've been friends for seven years and first met when we were all living in Illinois. There's something so comfortable about a friendship with layers, the kind where you can be yourself and sit around in your jammies with bed-head and not be embarrassed, even though you probably should be. Nancy, who is a pre-school teacher, organized a Valentine scavenger hunt for the kids and the adults sat around in our jammies and giggled while our herd of six kids raced around the house, the yard, and down the street tracking down clues and solving worksheets. Brian is an eye doctor, so we visited him at work and he gave me a new prescription. Nancy and I went for a five-mile run around their beautiful neighborhood. It was a mild day and we enjoyed great conversation and gorgeous views. We took the kids downtown Seattle to the Pacific Science Center which was super cool. It was in a cluster of museums surrounding the base of the space needle. The entire afternoon was really satisfying.
Monday was our last day together and on the slate of activities was another gourmet breakfast by Brian and Nancy and a quick nature walk before we headed home. I woke up feeling really "off" with what I perceived to be muscle tension in my low back. When Curt tapped on it and I gasped in pain, he diagnosed a kidney problem and told me to make an appointment with my doctor. I was shocked at how quickly things progressed from mild discomfort to sharp pain that had me doubled over on the couch. I have to say the intensity of the pain rivaled, if not topped, being in labor. We went in search of an urgent care, but as luck would have it, it was President's Day and most of the doctors in Snohomish took the day off. Both urgent care centers we visited had two-hour waits and the closest emergency room was a fifteen minute drive the opposite direction. We opted to make an appointment with my doc in Newberg for later in the afternoon and hit the road. I figured being miserable in the privacy of my car was a better option than being miserable in a packed waiting room of sick people.
My doc diagnosed a kidney stone, prescribed heavy narcotics for the pain, and sent me home to flush it out with lots of water. The next day, I spiked a high fever and Curt drug me to the hospital for imaging tests and more evaluation by the doctor. I was so miserable that I didn't have the emotional energy to be embarrassed about my disheveled appearance or the fact that I was slumped over in a wheelchair the entire time we were there. Turns out I had both a kidney stone and a kidney infection. Lucky me.
It took two days for the antibiotics to kick in and put me out of my misery. In my coherent moments when I was laying in bed annoyed at the absurdity of being flat on my back and completely useless for the third time in six months, I kept thinking, "Don't complain. This is character building." Clearly there are some rough edges that God is shaving away in my life and the tool He's choosing is pain. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, talks about an ailment he struggled with for years. He asked God to heal him and instead God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul so beautifully goes on to say, "That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses.... For when I am weak, then I am strong."
I was certainly weak these past days. I found strength through my amazing husband who once again so capably and beautifully juggled guitar and dance class, bus stops, homework, tow trucks, rental cars and babysitting for me and the kids. I found strength through my family and friends who prayed and called and emailed their support. I found strength in my crazy wonderful friends who once again fed and cared for my family when I was unable to do so. I found strength through the peace God gave me while I was sick. I am finding strength from the invaluable lessons of empathy and compassion I am gaining from my weakness.
This past week may have been a comedy of errors, but like Paul, I am choosing to delight in it.