Friday, February 6, 2015

I Met An Angel...

- January 23rd, 2015 -
The girl who woke that morning was not the same girl who laid her head on the pillow that evening.  The events of the past few months were about to lead her to a moment so beautiful and so life-changing!
. . . . . .

The alarm sounded bright and early - we had a busy day ahead of us.
Never one that is quick to rise, I laid in bed and was immediately aware of the nerves already forming in my stomach. 
Today was a big day. 
I was anxious to get it started.  Anxious for it to end. 
And anxious for all the answers we'd hopefully get in between.

We were headed to another follow-up appointment with my Hematologist.  It had been six months since my most recent blood clot diagnosis.  I was scheduled to have all new blood work done and if all went well, I would then have a repeat ultrasound on my leg to determine if the clot had completely dissolved and to check for any possible scar tissue left behind.

One big needle stick and countless lab results later, we were headed to the Radiology Department.  Now, with one hurdle behind us, and only one left ahead, my spirits were lifted!

The walk from Point A to Point B was a long and windy one. 
The hospital could almost be described as a mini city within itself.
For the most part, the main hallways and corridors are bright and cheery.
Beautifully potted plants and several one-of-a-kind sculptures were situated along the way. 
 Smartly dressed men and women were hurrying this direction or that direction.
Physicians, interns, medical students, and hospital staff - each there for an individual purpose.
We passed other patients, who just like us, were trying to find their way through all the hustle and bustle.
 You could practically feel the worry and sadness coming off of some of their faces.
You could feel happiness and joy radiating off of others.

The waiting room was crowded.
So much so that the only seats available were located no where near each other.
Girard and I glanced at each other and then went our separate ways.
Surprisingly, I didn't sit long before my name was called. 
I looked back at Girard one last time before following the nurse down another busy and congested hall.

"Well, here we are," he said as he smiled and opened the door to the exam room.
"You can put your things here.  Just remove your jeans and boots and you'll find a gown right over there on the bed," he explained.  "The technician will be in shortly.  Do you have any questions?"
I responded that I understood and thanked him for his help.

I undressed, wrapped the obnoxiously large robe around me and crawled under the blanket on top of the bed, which was really just a fancy stretcher that had wheels at the bottom.  With butterflies in my stomach and all kinds of thoughts running through my head, I sat there examining my surroundings.
The room was spacious, the lighting was dim, and the walls were a beigey cream color.
 I noticed that the paint had been bumped and scratched in places leaving the drywall to show through like white scars.
A privacy curtain hung to my left and the ultrasound machine was to my right.
I could hear faint voices out in the hallway and I wondered how bored Girard was since he had been left behind in the waiting room.
I wondered about what would happen if the clot was still there.
What if there was leftover scar tissue? 
Would they need to go in and remove it to prevent future clotting in the same area?
My mind was going around and around in circles.

Finally, the door opened and in walked a middle-aged woman who was about my height.
She had chocolate colored skin and was wearing a pair of blue scrubs.
Her eyes were skimming the paperwork that she held in her hands.
She glanced up and I couldn't help but notice her pearly white teeth as she grinned my way.

"Hi Judith, my name is Elizabeth, and I'm going to be performing the ultrasound today," looking back down at her paperwork, she then continued, "on your lower left extremity.  Is this correct?"

She had a quiet, humble demeanor, and at the same time she displayed a confidence and compassion that immediately put me at ease.
I responded, "Hi, Elizabeth!  It's nice to meet you and yes, you are correct."

She grabbed some gloves from a box on the countertop and snapped them on before taking a seat on the stool beside me.

"So, what exactly brings you here today?" she asked.

"Well, I had two blood clots, one in each lung, back in 2010...and then most recently, this past July, had one to form in my left calf."  I paused for a moment.  "Sooo, here I am today, hoping you're going to tell me that the hateful little thing is gone for good."

She shot another grin my way and said, "Well, let's take a look and see."

I laid back and moved into the position Elizabeth had instructed as she typed in a password that made the ultrasound machine's monitor come to life.  I felt a sense of deja vu as I had a mini flashback from doing all of this once before.

She took the machine's probe, which oddly looked a lot like an electric razor in my opinion, and began working her way down my upper thigh.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the screen.  Although, I really had no idea what I was looking at.  All I saw were different shades of gray.  Then, red and blue.  I had seen this before.  I just couldn't remember what it all meant...  Elizabeth noticed my interest and promptly gave me a quick and simple explanation on what the screen was showing.

"Oxygenated blood is pumped out of the heart and travels through your arteries.  That's what you see here highlighted in red.  The blue, those are your veins.  They are carrying the blood back to your heart to get reoxygenated."

"Thank you!" I said graciously.  "Now it makes sense!"

"I'm not allowed to tell you what I see," she said with slightly raised eyebrows.  "But, if you watch close enough you'll catch on a little bit!"

"I understand completely." I replied.  "I appreciate you taking your time to refresh my memory.  The technician that performed my ultrasound back in my home town gave me the same lesson you just did.  I wish I could remember her name...  She was great...and I could tell that she took a lot of pride in her job.  Her father had passed away from a blood clot...  She told me that his death is what pushed her to choose a career in the medical field."

Elizabeth glanced over at me for a second and said, "My father died from a blood clot, too."

I felt a lump in my throat.  "I'm very sorry..."

"It's okay now," she said in an almost whisper.  "There was a time in my life when it wasn't okay though.  His death was really difficult for me to deal with.  I loved that man so much...and I was so angry that he'd been taken so soon..."  She paused for a moment and then said, "Life's hard, huh?!"

I nodded in agreement.  "Life is hard...but it is beautiful, too!"
A broad smile crossed her face.  "Yes.  Yes, it is!" she replied.
"Was losing your father what persuaded you to choose this career path, too?" I asked.

She shook her head.  "No.  I had already been working in the medical field for several years before he passed.  I had originally wanted to go to Medical School, but I didn't get in.  Then I decided to try and get a Nursing Degree, but the program was full.  The Radiology program had one spot left, so I applied, and the rest is history!"

"I just knew that I wanted to help people," she continued.  "It's an honor to do my job."
"Take you for example," she said.  "You just met me, but you're trusting me to do my job...and to do my job correctly.  You're depending on me.  I take great pride in that and I don't take it lightly.  I think that's a big problem with a lot of people working in the medical field these days...  They take themselves to seriously and let their egos get in the way...and they forget that it's a privilege to do what they do."

Her words were moving me to my core and I could feel the tears building in my eyes.
"You're a good person and you've got a good heart." I said.
"No honey, that's just the Jesus in me!" she softly exclaimed.

She gently pressed the probe down on my outer calf and I could see my veins and arteries compressing on the screen.  I watched with fascination.  My eyes darted back and forth between her face and the monitor searching for any sign of worry.

She began to speak again...and little did I know just how much her next few sentences were about to impact me.

"I know you've been through a lot, Judith.  We don't have to go into specifics...but I know you've overcome your fair share of grief and heartache."

My mind was racing...and I thought to myself, how did she know this about me?
My eyes were beginning to tingle and burn.  I was trying so hard to blink back the tears.

She continued, "Sometimes when we suffer a great loss we lose ourselves in our emotions.  We get angry, bitter, and full of resentment, and sometimes make bad choices because of that.  We push people away.  We push God away."

I couldn't take my eyes off of her.  Was this really happening?
A tear streamed down my face.

"I know you have been let down and deeply hurt by some of the people closest to you.  I know it's hard...but you have to forgive them.  I'm sure that if everyone could go back in time, you'd all do things differently.  That's the beauty in it though.  You live and learn.  They live and learn."

"Judith, the only real sign of life is growth.  And growth sometimes requires pain.  It took me a long time to learn that.  God works in mysterious ways.  If we never fell down, we'd never learn how to get back up!  And in spite of what happens to us, ultimately we each decide whether our lives are good or bad, ugly or beautiful."

She looked me straight in the eyes and ended by saying, "You should be proud of yourself.  Life is hard sometimes, remember?!  We just have to live day by day and trust God every step of the way!  He loves you!"

And just as her speech was was the ultrasound.
The tears wouldn't stop.  I was speechless.
I wished that Girard could have been in the room with me to hear all of this.
I would have asked him to pinch me and to tell me this was real!
She handed me a tissue and smiled.

"Thank much," I said.  "I don't really know what to say other than.....thank you!"

Still smiling, she bent over and gave me a big momma bear kind of hug.
"You get yourself together and I'll be right back!  I just need to take these results to the Radiologist."  She spun around and left the room.

I redressed and threw away my snotty tissue.
My head was still swimming with her words. 
This had been more than just doing her job. 
It was a demonstration of her spirit.
A spirit that I was so grateful for!

A few minutes later the door opened, and she returned.
"You're good to go!"
"I'm good?!" I asked surprisingly.
"God has healed you, sweetie!"
"And there was no scar tissue?!"
"Not a trace!" she replied.

I grabbed my purse, she opened the door, and we both walked out into the hall.
It was if we had stepped into another universe!
The once busy atmosphere was now so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.
There wasn't another soul in sight.

"Good luck, Judith!" she said.  "Now get on out of here and enjoy the rest of your day!  And always remember what I told you."

I smiled big and thanked her again!  Once more, I looked down at her hospital badge and read her full name out loud.  "I just don't ever want to forget your name...  You have been so wonderful!"

And then, her final remark chilled me to the bone.

"Honey, you don't need to remember my name."
Pointing upwards, she continued, "You just have to remember His name!  I'm just the messenger!"

And with that, she smiled one last big happy grin, gave me a little wink, and disappeared back into the exam room.

I didn't move a muscle. 
I just continued to stand there for a few seconds.
 My mind was in overload!  Everything felt so surreal! 
And then the sound of approaching footsteps drew my attention.
My heart leapt!  I couldn't wait to tell Girard!
. . . . . .

They say that angels appear in our lives at pivotal moments.
They may come to us during a stressful or fearful situation.
They may come when we're feeling lost and need help finding our way.
Or perhaps, they may come when we just need a little bit of encouragement.
And, maybe...angels don't always show up with magnificent wings, wearing a long white robe and a halo above their head...
Maybe they sometimes appear in a more subtle manner, leaving signs of hope - as in finding a lone feather on the ground or seeing a brilliant rainbow in the sky...
Maybe they come disguised as a furry four legged friend or as a mysterious stranger...
And maybe, just maybe...they appear as an everyday person wearing a pair of light blue scrubs!

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