An Unwanted Conversation

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. …
After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.  Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”
So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land?  Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.  When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.”  The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong.  These are but sheep.  What have they done?  Let your hand fall on me and my family.”

  • 2 Samuel 24:1-4, 8-17

First, I am not a perfect person, but I do not know of a census that I have called for when God had not directed me to do so.  So, when I get around to the “unwanted conversation,” that was not the focus.

Second, I have not read any posts using this Scripture as the focus of their concern, but in using this Scripture, I am not drawing any connection between the USA having a census in the midst of a pandemic.  The census is a regularly scheduled thing, and the pandemic just happened.  Although I do not believe in coincidences, bowing to God’s sovereignty in each case, this may come close to a coincidence.  I am using the Scripture here, because I don’t think that David really wanted the conversation that he had with Gad, the prophet.

Now, for my unwanted conversation…

I recently started posting 10 scheduled posts per week: a daily post of whatever came to mind in the afternoon, and morning themed posts on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  My engineer mind, along with my tendency for obsessiveness, kicked into gear and said, “If this is what God wants you to do, you better get ‘ahead of the curve.’”  So, I started writing the extra posts while continuing to write the daily posts.  Without noticing, not much noticing, I was nearly a full two weeks ahead of schedule, with a few unscheduled posts written beyond that.

I asked no one in particular, but in my casual way, talking to God, “What got into me to be so far ahead?”

The reply was, “You just might need to be that far ahead.”

Knowing that I have often been ahead, due to scheduled travel, or my wife’s surgery was scheduled, I said, “No, I don’t want whatever is about to happen.  I can just goof off a couple of days, and things will be closer to normal.”

The reply was, “No, keep going.  Stay ahead of schedule.  You will need it.”

I replied, “This is not going to be pleasant, Lord, but Your will be done.”

A few days later, my wife and I had bloodwork done.  My wife had a doctor’s appointment in ten days, and the bloodwork was to prepare for that appointment.  A week after that, she was in the hospital, but I am getting ahead of the story.

The next day after the bloodwork, my wife had problems getting onto the hospital’s portal to check her results.  I tried a few things, making matters worse.  The hospital computer locked us out.  Somehow, her password had changed, without us knowing, and the portal was screwed up by e-mailing password resets after the password reset window had expired.  More frustrations that probably were tests of faith.

Then, the phone rang.  It was the doctor’s office.  I was elated, because my wife could find out the result of the tests, but my mood quickly changed when my wife talked for just a minute or so and hung up with a somber look on her face.  We had to rush to the clinic and have the bloodwork redone.  Something was wrong.

Three days later, the nephrologist, that no one wants to see, called for a video conference, a week ahead of the scheduled appointment with another of the doctors in that group.  This nephrologist only deals with people who need dialysis, thus no one wants to have an office visit with him.  My wife’s kidney function was down to 12%.  Kidney dialysis is recommended between the kidney function levels of 10-15%.  Lower than that and you need a transplant.  Dialysis is not a cure all, not that it cures anything, just removes some of the toxins in your system.  My wife was in the lower half of the range for dialysis.

But why?  Why such a sudden change?  She had bloodwork done in Tennessee a few months before and her kidney function was about 20%.  She has been struggling with failing kidneys for more than 15 years.  Then the facts flooded into my brain.  She had seen a different doctor 10 days before.  He had prescribed an acid reducer, thinking that her difficulty in swallowing was related to a swollen esophagus due to GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder).  I have GERD, had it since 1979, but my wife?  She eats the spiciest foods in the world and comments, “Needs a little more heat.” I never knew her to complain of heartburn, unless one of my jokes did not go over too well.

Three days after starting the acid reducer, my wife tested her INR (international normalized ratio, but it basically is a ratio based on how fast your blood clots).  My wife is on Coumadin (one brand or another) and she needs her INR in the range of 2-3 to be therapeutic (normal is much less than that), in case she goes into A-Fib (Atrial fibrillation).  In A-Fib, your heart valves get out of rhythm.  If the intake valve opens twice before the outflow valve opens once, she could have blood clot in the heart and get a stroke.  Thus, keep the blood thin to prevent that.  This makes us constantly vigilant to both maintain her INR and to prevent falls that might lead to bleeding, even internal bleeding.  And yes, she jokes about being the “leopard lady” due to the spots.  I think she could bump into a marshmallow and get a bruise.

Anyway, we have a home testing kit for INR, and her INR was 8.  She read online that an INR above eight was highly dangerous.  Eight was really thin, but at least it was not above eight.  She asked me if we should call the nurse at the cardiologist’s office.  Since the online data recording system automatically calls the cardiologist, the phone rang as she asked the question.  Usually, the nurse calls 2-3 hours later for a medicine adjustment, but this was immediate.  “Stop taking the medicine for the next four days, over the weekend, and check the INR on Monday.”  That’s when the nurse told us that the home test kits do not provide a number above eight.  We had no idea how high her INR was.  The nurse gave strict instructions about all the things that should lead to a quick trip to the emergency room.  In discussing with the nurse, she got me to remember that the acid reducer had been started four days before.  The nurse said that my wife’s blood was being thinned by the acid reducer or an allergic reaction of some kind, so we would have to adjust the blood thinning medicine accordingly.  The adjustments would occur once she was back into the proper range, hopefully by the next Monday.

It was that Monday when we did our bloodwork at the clinic.  Her INR was in the therapeutic range, and she had only been taking the acid reducer for about 10 days.  That was the background leading up to the low kidney function.  A new medication that her body was fighting against and her blood chemistry making rapid adjustments on the fly.

And knowing this background, one of the nephrologists, one that my wife trusts and likes, is willing to work with her to avoid dialysis, maybe for a short while, but maybe for the long term.

Then, I remembered what led us to this point. In looking back further, I had a burning desire to go to Tennessee to bring my wife back to Pennsylvania.  She had cancelled appointments with every doctor that she sees in order to babysit the grandchildren for five months.  A different kind of “conversation” was going through my head back then.  “She needs to see her doctors.  Now!!”  If she had remained in Tennessee a few more months, would she have gotten sick there?  Was it all the reaction to a new medication or was her fatigue in Tennessee partially due to failing health?

I think that God was behind all of this.  I went to Tennessee before everything was reopened due to the COVID lockdown.  Her third doctor appointment led to three days in the hospital, prepared for dialysis and then taken from the surgical queue at the last minute – a kidney function improvement was observed.

Would we have gotten a different result if I had waited until everything was reopened to go pick her up in Tennessee?  Being ahead of schedule with blog posts was nice.  I was less stressed over that, but my wife’s health would possibly be a lot different if the “schedule” was delayed.

And since this was written, my wife left the hospital. She has bloodwork twice each week, but her kidney function is still in the “end stage” range. We saw doctors or phlebotomists every day this past week. She had a kidney biopsy, but the doctor missed the kidney, no kidney tissue in the three samples taken. So, that procedure is being repeated in a few days. Other than being tired all the time and very little appetite – thus I do at least half the cooking – she is still the same joyful, loving person with a warm smile that she has always been. As an old church friend might say, “You look like you could do cartwheels.” But, no, appearances can be deceiving.

Glory and Honor and Praise to the Lord, God Almighty. His Voice guided me to make a trip ahead of schedule, and my wife is in good hands – both in the hands of doctors that she trusts and the Lord’s hands.

God loves us, and He notices and takes care of the little things, according to His will.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

13 Comments

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  1. Mark…in all of this…I also wonder if her being in Tennessee for as long as she was…creating a deeper bonding relationship with the family there—that that too was also important.
    In the grand scope of things, that time spent, the mind of the grandkids, will have been precious time well spent—especially if she gets to a point where she cannot go see them and perhaps due to all this pandemic mess, can’t come see her.
    So there is a flip side.
    Revving up the prayers …a my godmother use to say, “keeping the beads hot” (prayer beads)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aen, I prayed for your wife

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will keep both of you in my prayers. You are in good hands. Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am praying for you and your wife right now. Our God is so amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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