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By the providence of vanity

November 9, 2007

Oh hi, it’s 3:30 a.m. Maybe my Eastern Hemisphere and Down Under readers are up. I’m having ginger peach tea; I wonder what you’re having.

The one coherent thought lodged in my distracted mind right now is, as a Christian, reality is my only assignment. Just now, I’m on Assignment Addison’s, dealing with a few physical realities of this disease.

Addison’s is a rare autoimmune disease that attacks the adrenal cortex and eliminates production of cortisol, a hormone necessary to life. I like to see the humor in it: Just when you could be mistaken for a success in life, you’re labeled a chronic adrenal failure. Oh yes, Addison’s packs a death threat, but there is a lifeline, hydrocortisone.

My sinful heart would confound reality at every turn. But God uses even my sin to enliven me to His will, which can never depart from reality.

Yesterday I was in a sinfully vain pout over my fluid-swollen ankles, an apparent consequence of the hydrocortisone. I called my pharmacist and asked him when to expect reversal of this vanity-plaguing symptom. He told me that it would not reverse; once the fluid enters the tissue, that’s just that, as long as you stay on the hydrocortisone. He offered no assurance, either, that I would not develop a face resembling a planet.

This news was contrary to everything I have read for the low hydrocortisone dose I’m taking. It jolted me into marshalling my rebel forces, always ready to march for their sinfully vain queen.

I called my husband and told him that the death threat of this disease–which was probably all a misdiagnosis anyway–was sometime in some hypothetical then, and my swollen ankles were now.  Weighing one against the other, I was ready to chuck the hydrocortisone and take my chances. Then I retreated and admitted I should think of others besides myself, as long as they could endure me with big ankles. I couldn’t yet trust anyone to endure me with the face of a planet.

I recalled that swollen ankles were a symptom I’m supposed to report to my doctor, and mournfully asked my husband to call him and see whether I could take a lower dose that would keep me alive without swollen ankles. Last week the call was for a higher dose that would make me feel well. That one was resoundingly nixed in consideration of side effects–like fluid-retaining ankles.

But my vanity was not entirely displaced. My husband called my doctor, who said I could come in immediately. This was not possible, since my husband and doctor were in Seattle and I was in Tacoma, and it was already late in the afternoon. We were given an appointment for this morning.

I was relieved and alarmed: relieved that something would be done without waiting a month till my next scheduled visit, and alarmed that my doctor thought it should be done, or at least investigated, so immediately. I felt exonerated for my vanity, while acknowledging it is still sinful and founded in pallid lust, because it prompted me to seek help that is apparently necessary.

My ankles feel as if they are fettered in vice grips; I’ve been getting quick jabbing pains in other places and a roiling heart thrum. At least I am awake. I am grateful that we will see the doctor within a matter of hours. I admit to an over-reliance on Answers. Really, getting up to write and drink tea works nearly as well. I’ll write again when I return.

As a Christian, reality is my only assignment. Lord Jesus, I deserve so much worse than this, please help me only with the grace to bear such a minor interlude between life and eternity. Please, above all things, let me not disgrace you or your Church or set a poor example. I have been ungrateful for your gift of life and have spurned in my heart your Creation and blessings of love when I have considered for any moment in time that they are not worth living for. Please forgive me and restore the joy of your salvation….

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One Comment
  1. November 9, 2007 11:07 am

    I am praying for you! looking forward to your update…hopefully we won’t have to go new shoe hunting just yet…:-)

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