Two days after I got home from Ireland, my breakfast was interupted by a gastrointestinal erruption. Not really a big deal with my touchy stomach, so I figured that travel and jetlag were to blame. But my stomach continued to be upset for days after, always for at least part of the day, and after eight days of that (unusual even for me) I visited my doctor. He gave me a prescription for an anti-parasite pill even though I wasn’t showing strong symptoms because it seemed to be a possibility. However, two days later, I barely finished my breakfast before my stomach began turning itself inside out, which continued through to the next morning. I was dehydrated, so we headed to the ER. My mom’s concern was written plainly on her face, but I was kind of amused and kept cracking jokes to make her feel better, though I’m not sure it did; I also remembered Brian Regan’s ER bit, which probably wouldn’t have helped her either. I got into a room pretty quickly and was started on fluids and hooked up to a heart rate monitor/blood pressure machine within about an hour. After my second liter of fluid, the doctor was perplexed that my heart rate had not dropped below 120 bpm, so he decided to run a test for thyroid problems, and bingo! I have hyperthyroidism, the root of all my recent problems. So, 3mL of saline and 8 hours later, I went home, prescription for beta blockers (to keep my heart rate down) and thyrostatics (to inhibit my thyroid levels).
My mom, who was leaving four days later, was worried. Really worried. She started trying to figure out who would take care of me while she was gone. I was less concerned because, first, I intended to feel better before I needed anyone and, second, I knew that Abilene is the best place in the world for me to be sick. I must know a hundred people here who would be willing to give me a hand if I needed it. I could just pull out the Highland church directory and start in the A’s, going down the list of names. I was confident that I would be well taken care of.
And I wasn’t wrong. I must have had at least two phone calls every day from family and friends calling just to see how I was doing and ask if I needed anything. Our friend Cheryl took me to a follow up appointment later that week, and my friends Kristi and Jon came by, brought me dinner, helped me feed the horses, and Jon helped me take Tigger to the vet one evening when he (Tigger) colicked. I was also not wrong about being better, so I didn’t end up needing much. But all the calls, all the offers, it all made me feel wrapped up in love. I just soaked it up and let the blessing of caring people just pour over me. I enjoyed every minute of it.
And so I was led to spend some time pondering the beauty of the community that Christ engenders among believers. I grew up in the church, surrounded by caring people, and so did my parents. When my grandfathers died, the families were met with sympathy and lovingkindness, often in the form of caseroles and pies. Our friends from Abilene came to the funerals to be with us. And we’ve done the same for others as well. Our church even has a ministry that provides food for families after a loved one’s funeral. People give of their time and resourses for that ministry. Our Sunday school class has created a network for organizing meals for people in the class who are in need for various reasons–surgery, illness, a new baby, etc. I have often wondered how people without a church family make it through hard times without that outpouring of love. And, of course, they do. But I am always overwhelmed by the blessing of people who are willing to lay their lives aside for a time to care for another.