Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
- John 21:18
Yesterday, I wrote about our difficult time finding the location of my wife’s stress test – more stress than the stress of the test.
She made a statement that she had no desire to return to that hospital unless she was going there for a kidney transplant.
But as we found our way through the Liberty Tubes, she said something else. But before we get to that, there is a big mountain, Mount Washington, separating what most call the South Side with the downtown portion of the city of Pittsburgh, PA. You can go over the mountain, or you can take one of two tunnels, the Fort Pitt tunnel or the Liberty Tubes. The Fort Pitt tunnel is made of two rectangular shafts through the mountain, and travelling into the city, you arrive near the confluence of the Allegheny river and the Monongahela river, where the Ohio river is formed (the Three Rivers), and at that point is where the old Fort Pitt was located. Yet, a little bit up the Monongahela river is the Liberty bridge that goes into the Liberty Tubes, called that because they are cylindrical shafts through the mountain. I know, this is trivial, but if you ever go to Pittsburgh, you may now know that the two tunnels are different shapes, and you can see for yourself. Otherwise, you might never notice.
Back to what my wife said. She was quoting a friend who lost her life recently after getting a kidney transplant and needing the next one. She had asked her friend how she was doing, and her friend had said, “I’m working very hard at getting old.”
As we drove into the Tubes, my wife said, “I know what she meant.”
It is hard getting old, for the best of us. When you have a deadly disease, other than human life itself, it makes it even worse, and some days are harder than others. For us that day, I think getting lost in a huge hospital was more stress than all the walking, the tests, and the waking up hours before the sun came up.
My wife’s favorite joke these days is what we say to each other each time I pick her up at the dialysis center. Often, she gets an idea while she is trapped for four hours. Often, she gets so hungry that she cannot wait until we get home to eat something or drink something.
Because these things might occur, I always ask, “Are we going anywhere special?”
Her most often-repeated answer is, “No. Let’s go home. I feel a little drained. … Literally.”
I sometimes have to forcefully demand that we are going to the center, and we can let the nurses decide if she needs a treatment. I would hate feel drained three days each week, unless they could selectively drain the exhaustion.
The Scripture above is Jesus telling Peter that he will follow Jesus by being hung on a cross, but in a way, most of it applies to all old people. We get to the point where someone helps us get dressed. My wife and I are not there yet, although I often help her after she has had a procedure and she cannot move one arm or the other. But as for the being led where you do not want to go?
I have had only one MRI, one too many. I did not know that you could develop claustrophobia late in life. Who knew?!
I have had one CT Scan of the brain. The doctor said that they did not find anything. I had no idea he was a comedian.
I have had many CT scans of the abdomen and the reason for the scan was far from pleasant. It seems that my body has become a kidney stone factory. I have seen a few of them and I doubt anyone would want to put them into a ring setting. So, why does my body make them?
I have had one endoscopy and a few colonoscopies. None were pleasant.
I have had a heart catheterization. There is a doctor in Washington County, Pennsylvania that can confirm that I have a big heart – just in case you were wondering.
Yep, there are a lot of places that I would rather not have someone lead me there, and my wife has had all those and more and much, much more.
For all those who are working hard at getting old, I feel your pain – or I will when I get that far along the journey.
But as for a little advice, when I get to the next step in that journey, I want to get there like my wife does.
Someone asks her how she is doing. I know how much pain she had to endure just to get out of bed, get ready to leave the house, and then get where we were so that someone could ask her that. She could moan and ask them what they thought getting old was like!!!!!
No, she smiles with a genuine smile, not betraying any of the pain, and she says, “I’m just fine. What a beautiful day. I hope you are feeling good also.”
What the other person does not know is that what my wife is feeling inside is that she is working very hard at getting old.
Rely on God. He gives us the strength to persevere and the wisdom to show love toward others.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.