Uncertain of her health, a woman not quite 40 considers the direction her life is taking.
4:40 p.m. the phone call came. The house was quiet.
“Karen, this is Dr. Smith.”
“Hi, it seems as if we’ve been playing the phone tag game this week.”
“Yes, thank you for stopping by and giving me your cell number. I do have your test results back. There is some good news and also something I’m concerned about.”
“Your blood sugar test and kidney test returned in the normal range.”
“And, what about the other one?”
“Well, if you recall, the other one is called the Rheumatoid Factor. The tests are translated into a number on a scale. A normal number for you would be between 0 and 13. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but yours came back at 98.”
“This means that there is a high level of inflammation in your joints. I’ve sent you a referral form to a rheumatologist.”
“Okay, so now what?”
“Well, it may take awhile to get into the specialist and I don’t want to take too many steps without further assessment. However, as I told you, I gave you a low dosage of the anti-flammatory and we may decide to change that dosage. So, give me a call when you have an appointment date, okay? Do you have any questions?”
“I’m not sure, right now.”
“Well, Karen, contact me when you need to and I’ll talk to you again soon.”
The phone rested in Karen’s hands. What was she to think? Numbness. She knew the result would not come back normal. Life just isn’t that easy on her path. Bang! What was that upstairs?
Karen walked up the stairs, painfully aware of the confirmation of the rheumatoid test result. Jay had jumped off his bed enacting the Power Rangers movie he was watching on the portable DVD player. Amy was at the neighbors playing Barbies and Andrew was playing his new Nintendo Wii with his buddies in his bedroom. A typical Friday after school. Everything was normal. But it wasn’t a normal day.
This fall was to be the time for accomplishing things. The achiness of the joints came earlier this year. Wallpapering the t.v. room strained her right shoulder and November the shoulder was still sore. A referral to the physical therapist was given by her previous medical practitioner but then the physical therapist had moved. The holiday season influenced the decision making process and now, January, the shoulder still ached, along with everything else in her body.
“Hi, Beth, do you have a minute?”
“What’s up, Karen?”
“I got my blood test results back today.”
“So, what did Smith say?”
“Well, at least I know now that my aches and pains aren’t normal for a 39 year old woman.”
“Karen, what else did you learn?”
“Well, on the test to check the inflammation of the joints, a normal score is between 0 and 13. I scored a 98.”
“So, what does that mean?”
“The inflammation is extremely elevated and I need to see a rheumatologist for further assessment.”
“Do you want me to pray with you?”
After the words were spoken by her prayer partner, Karen hung up the phone and started dinner. I don’t have time to focus on this right now. There are things to do. I wish I could talk to Kay or Jackie.
Karen reflects on how she shifted the direction of her life 20 months ago. She resigned from her public education job to be at home. She worked hard to prioritize and rebalance her life after 15 years in a stressful job. The last five years had taken everything out of her. Karen chose to drive through life differently. She was starting to feel the momentum of the vision she had received. Once again, God slows her down, taking control of the wheel. Nothing seems to stop her except the limitations of her body.
Saturday morning all was quiet. Mark needed to complete inventory at work and kissed his wife.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can. Since we’ve been relocating the products in storage, it may take a bit longer this time. I hope to be home around noon.” The truck pulled out of the neighborhood court.
Once again, the Saturday routine in the household was underway. Chores were completed after sleeping in. The healthy kids entertained themselves. Karen sat in her office and called Jackie, her mentor.
“Wow! I am so sorry. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis. How are you feeling about the test result?”
“I don’t know. At least now I know I wasn’t just fighting laziness and making up excuses for not being able to focus. He can’t say, ‘You’re getting old, get used to it.’”
“Clearly not. At least now you can take further steps and learn what you need to do. I know not all your questions are answered, but it is a start.”
“Yeah, I just regret not changing doctors sooner. Dr. Smith did change my meds and I have already noticed a difference.”
“Okay, Karen, try to keep writing every day. It may help you keep moving forward.”
“Thanks for your encouragement, Jackie.”
“Thanks for calling me, and take care.”
Again sitting in her office, Karen puts the phone down. The phone and internet help keep her connected to the world while she lives in this isolated rural desert town. Clang! What was Jay up to? He had helped himself to a snack in the kitchen. Karen felt so connected to her children now. She didn’t just know about them, she knew them. They came to her specifically for their needs to be met, not just to their wonderful dad. The possible implications of the medical tests scared her, she had so much in life to enjoy.
“Yes, I need to make an appointment with the Rheumatologist. My doctor has sent in a referral.”
“Tell me your name again?”
“And your birth date?”
“The soonest we can place you is March 21st. Do you prefer 8 a.m. or 1 p.m.?”
“1 p.m. Thank you.”
“Have a nice day.”
March 21st! That date seemed so far away. What was she to do until then? More uncertainty.
To be continued…
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