Here’s more backstory to help make sense of life after September 23, 2017.
Back in June I stepped on a small pointed rock, while barefoot. The full weight of my step pressed onto the rock, which jabbed sharply into some soft tissue at the base of my little toe. There was a small painful lump that grew up in the tissue, at was apparently the exact point of injury. I found that if I iced my foot before getting in bed at night, that would minimize pain in the morning. For the next few months, the first few steps I’d take on any given day were marked by varying degrees of discomfort and stiffness on the injured spot. For the most part, the discomfort would clear quickly after I’d walked far enough into the day. It was a nagging annoyance, but nothing that caused any alarm.
In the three weeks immediately prior to September 23, the morning pain inexplicably intensified with each day. The lump gradually grew during this time period. Just before September 23, the lump was as large as it had ever been, and those first morning steps went from bearable to excruciating.This magnified pain also began lasting longer into each day. My foot hurt even when I was in bed at night. By this stage of the game (of life) I was years into a constant experience of unusual and nagging physical problems; so the foot thing was just one more grinding burden to bear. But the escalation of symptoms was bizarre. I wasn’t doing anything beyond the usual walking that had not (so far) exacerbated the problem. It appeared I was faced with at least having to self-medicate with a plantar boot for the thing to finally heal. Is where I was with all that on the night of September 23.
One of my kids has Type 1 diabetes. A T1 diagnosis is the end of spontaneity with food; and it is the beginning of a regimen that turns every minute of every day into a non-stop exercise in health care and mathematics. Any pleasure remotely related to the dinner table can become strictly incidental.
We’ve been doing a great job of maintaining acceptable blood glucose levels, for years now. Our pediatrician told us that many parents use the emergency room as their kid’s treatment; that is, that don’t take care of the diabetes demands until the child is so sick that they have to go to the ER. We never had to do that. Until August of 2016 (Not 2017. We’re not there yet.). That was during a long summer visit where the kids were with me non-stop. Something went haywire in the diabetes maintenance process; and we ended up having to go to the ER. During the interview the doctor told my child that her parents obviously loved her very much, if she had never before been to the ER after so many years since onset. That was nice to hear; but I didn’t understand what had gone wrong. I wasn’t doing anything different than I’d done in the preceding years of care. Anyhoo, life goes on.
Fast forward through this year’s long spring break visit, which passed without incident. The next long visit was June of 2017. Two weeks straight. I was fresh off resigning from my job and was looking forward to a visit with my kids that wouldn’t be built around a work schedule. Everything was great until the end of the first week. We couldn’t keep blood sugar under control; ketones reared their ugly head; and we were back in the ER. This time we had to actually be admitted for a few days. Again, I was flummoxed as to why this was happening. The admission provided some really pleasant (ha) quality time for my family and my ex and her family to be in the hospital room together. People were looking at me sideways, wondering what I had done wrong. And through it all, my face hotspot was blazing away. “Why?” I wondered. Dunno. But it sure was.
July 4 – I awoke at 0233 due to a flash of light in my eyes. As I was waking I saw a subtle text vision; it was the letters “A I (something else).” After the image vanished, I noticed that my apartment seemed unusually warm. I got up and messed around with the AC. The unit was blowing uncooled air. I escalated deftly into “call maintenance” mode, wondering at the same time if the text vision hadn’t said “A I R.” I also noticed that there was a thunderstorm beginning, and I assumed it had been a lightning flash that had awakened me.
Later that day, around 3pm, I lay down briefly on my bed. My AC was not yet repaired, and the temperature in the apartment was in the mid-80’s. Once prone, I was immediately sleepy in the thick afternoon heat. I sank into quick slumber and straight away saw a vision of someone’s hand lifting a cup to my lips. They poured a clear, room-temperature liquid into my mouth. I actually felt it in my mouth. The sensation jolted me awake. As I lay there trying to figure out what had happened, I heard, “I look forward to raising your kids with you.” I was taken off guard by this sequence. I was also both encouraged and skeptical. I believed that I’d just heard a hopeful word from Jesus about my family. It made sense to me in that summer drowsiness that He would only bother telling me the thing about raising my kids with me if my ex and I were to be reunited and living with our children under one roof. But our own kids are practically grown, relative to their ages when their mother and I separated. Was He talking about those kids? Would she and I have more kids together? It would be a medical impossibility; but medical impossibilities figure to be a possible (ba dum tss) player in my future. One way or the other, if my ex and I were to end up together again, it would indicate some undeniably miraculous thing had happened. Jesus would surely have to figure into that scenario.
Some days after the July 4 visitation, I realized the dream/vision was reminiscent of a scene in the movie Ben Hur. (Going from memory here) In this particular scene we see Joseph the carpenter discussing his son Jesus with another man. Jesus is absent from the carpenter shop, to the disapproval of Joseph’s acquaintance. We then see Judah Ben Hur chained with other prisoners on a forced march through brutal summer heat. Roman guards stop the procession for a water break in (apparently) Nazareth. Judah falls to the ground in parched distress. All the prisoners are given some small amount of water – all the prisoners, that is, but Judah. The Roman in command specifically forbids anyone to give Judah water. As Judah languishes miserably in the dust, we see someone’s hands come into view, carrying a cup of water. The unseen person offers the water to Judah, who gulps it down. The Roman challenges this interloper who has brought water, starting angrily towards the stranger and the grateful Judah. We then see the back of the stranger, dark hair down to his shoulders. He is standing upright, facing the approaching Roman. He is silent and unflinching. The Roman stops in his tracks; has an evident epiphany; and meekly walks away from the confrontation that he’d created. He hesitates and briefly looks back at the unmoving stranger, uncertain in his fading bluster why he’s been faced down and utterly humbled by this unarmed Nazarene.
Ben Hur is loose historical fiction, so there’s no reason to believe anything like the water scene occurred in real life. As a carpenter in Nazareth, Christ was as yet unbaptized and without the infilling power of the Holy Spirit; and He was not yet tested by Satan in the Wilderness. So He was not likely challenging the authority of Roman soldiers on the streets of Nazareth. Still, it’s a powerful scene in a powerful movie. The scene will no doubt resonate with anyone who has been truly made new by the resurrecting power of the resurrected Christ.
This is getting off track. I first watched the movie Ben Hur with my kids in January of this year. I was at the time coming to terms with what I believed to be my failure to step into a long-anticipated destiny. Related blog posts abound. I was as miserable as possible. Here’s blog content from one of the January 2017 posts:
I gave one of my kids the Charlton Heston Ben Hur for Christmas. We watched the first part just after the New Year. We saved the second half of the movie for later in January. On the evening of January 21, we fired up part two. I’d never seen the movie before and wasn’t expecting anything out of part deux other than a chariot race. SPOILER for anyone who hasn’t yet but might watch a sixty-year old movie in the future: Jesus factors heavily into the second half of the Charlton Heston Ben Hur. Jesus and miracles and man, oh man, did I not see it coming. By the end of the movie, as the life-giving blood of Christ healed the lepers, I was demolished. “These are the things you will not do,” I told myself. “These are the people you will not help,” I told myself…
After December 18 or whenever I’d had the King Kong vision, every successive day had felt more unstable than the day before. I wasn’t aware of how much I’d been anchored into a relationship (real or imagined) with God until it appeared that He’d picked up camp and moved on to a more cooperative child. The span of days from December 18 to January 21 was like one endless taunt from hell, in which I felt spiritually rudderless and beaten. The chaotic sense of loss and hopelessness culminated in, of all things, the surprise appearance of Jesus Christ in Ben Hur. You know things are going south and quickly when the loving portrayal of His Only Begotten, in a shonuf Hollywood epic, is a trap door to more despair than there was before.
I find the Jesus scenes in Ben Hur to be moving and powerful, both of which a tired cliches. Which is itself a tired cliche. The important thing is I had personally identified with Jesus a little better while watching Ben Hur. The personal identification was facilitated by a belief at the time that I had possibly been on track to be Christ’s armor bearer. Whatever that might mean or look like, I don’t know; but it’s what I’d come up with after some armor bearer-centric things had happened and about which I’ve blogged. When I watched the movie in January, I saw only lost potential to be that thing. Then two days after viewing the movie, I’d had a dream about “starting over.” I came to believe I was indeed starting over on a path to something like the previously assigned destination. The notice of starting over didn’t mention anything being different or lesser in the second destined outcome, compared to the original approach, now that I think of it.
By July 4 I was over five months into the starting over process. I had quit my job based on a massive amount of preliminary communication from God to that end. I was already adapting to the idea that I was perhaps headed to the same destination as before. The personalized Jesus of Ben Hur had stuck with me, however far in the back of my mind He might have been hanging around. All of this July 4 section of material to explain why the dream vision of the hands giving me water was reminiscent of the movie scene. I think it’s also interesting that the vision occurred on Independence Day.
There were two more hospitalizations during the summer, both of which occurred while my daughter was with me. Her blood sugar wasn’t any less crazy at her mom’s house; but it was only on my watch that we had to admit her to the hospital for ketoacidosis. Through it all the medical personnel and probably everyone else but me were growing increasingly convinced that I could, inexplicably, no longer manage diabetes. I was defiant, refusing to believe I’d somehow suddenly lost the ability to count carbs and do the math necessary to get adequate insulin into my daughter. My ex suggested I was relying too much on estimating carbs, rather than counting meticulously. There had never been any problem with my method before. But we were now giving our daughter much more insulin per injection than we had in previous years. Perhaps that was the problem.
I tried counting carbs more exactly, and I tried using both unopened fast-acting and slow-acting insulin, multiple times. I specifically used insulin that had come from the hospital pharmacy during admissions. No matter all that effort; we had to do a second and third admission. In the build-up to the third admission my daughter was, by all appearances, insulin resistant. I was giving her much more fast-acting insulin than her diet required. We might as well have been injecting water. I was under a most unsympathetic microscope from The Ex and the medical humans involved in all that mess.
And through hospital admissions number two and three, just as had been the case in the first, my face hotspot was blazing. Just roasting hot, the whole left side of my face, for as many days as the hospitalization lasted. That presence kept me from going nuts. I didn’t understand what I was supposed to glean from it all. I wanted to believe it was a sign that something was about to change. We kept going to the hospital, and my face kept getting hot; but nothing changed noticeably. By the end of July, I figured it was just God saying, “Hang in there.” Something like that. It is also worth noting that the second and third admissions saw my ex and me spend the night in the hospital room with our daughter a few times. I slept on the fold out chair; Honey Bun was on the couch. Weird, weird times.
On July 29, I woke just before 0530. As I was laying there in the dark, not sleeping but almost, I heard: “Wouldn’t it be cool if she was able to joke about all this with you one day?” I believed the “she” in question was my ex. The “this” was presumably the stupefying gauntlet of hospital admissions, one of which had just ended. In the voice note that I made for that event, I mentioned that I’d also awakened at something like an absurdly early time, just after 11pm the night before. Upon waking at that time I’d heard what I took to be a word of knowledge for my ex. While recording the voice note I remembered and noted that, before I’d gone to bed the night before, I’d asked God to give me words of knowledge for people. I think there’s little that can be so immediately healing to someone than to have another person speak a secret word from God into their lives. So I asked for that before I went to sleep. Then I awoke ridiculously early into a spoken word of knowledge for my ex (which I emailed to her). Then I awoke again later in the morning into this thing about joking about “all this” some day. I could see how it might all fit together. But the idea of us getting to a point where we could joke about anything in our mutual lives – whether it was the current hospital madness or just the general unnecessary death of a family that had been dragging out for years – seemed impossible on that morning. I was beyond exhausted and confused.
I’m blogging more than originally planned about July (and possibly August) now. So this backstory thing has grown into more substantial content. Words have a knack for growing out of control.