There is a catchy little saying, “Don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.” There are times when this concept seems plausible. And yet others, when those five minutes feel like they won’t come for five years, if at all. Last week was one of those “other times!” But, I forgot while in the throes of anxiety, stress, worry, fear, and pain that miracles come in all shapes in sizes; that their messengers come wearing a variety of colors and cloaks.
Since August, life has been lobbing one curve ball after another our way. Starting two and a half weeks ago, it was like the pitching machine got stuck; the balls were coming at such a high speed pace, from all different directions, there was no chance of catching one before the next one flew at my face. And when all your time is spent juggling the balls of life, the mind is too exhausted to even comprehend the possibility of a miracle.
I knew this would make me blind to any miracle that happened, and I didn’t want to miss a one. So I started my daily gratitude list, marking ways that “grace” had shown itself in my life. Many days it was like pulling teeth trying to write down just three things I was grateful for that day! This started to depress me even more. I’m not saying the exercise didn’t help to “right size” me on many days; that is, put things into perspective. But it’s also been awhile since I’ve struggled for so long, each and every day.
I really felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. My weeks were filled with a constant onslaught of medical stressors: five days(!!) of bowel prep for a virtual colonoscopy that discovered a suspicious polyp; a fitting for “absolutely necessary” orthotics that were costing me a mere $500 (no insurance coverage); my autoimmune disease (Polychondritis) that flared in every joint, tendon, and muscle in my body; asthma attacks for the first time in a long time, waking me at night “suffocating”; a subsequent visit to my rheumatologist where he was so concerned he almost increased my Prednisone (IE: steroids- oh, no!) but instead decided to put me on Remicade infusions (half day long treatments that are the strongest this class of medicines gets); the start-up of another “hemicrania continuum” (IE: daily, mind-splitting migraines, unresponsive to treatment); 20+ Botox injections in my head and neck for same (that felt like a barrage of wasp stings and triggered an increase in pain – ouch); a “suspicious” mole removal on my back after early years of over-sun exposure (and a subsequent wound that is not healing); and lower back and hip steroid injections (never fun!)…
Phew! I am exhausted just writing that all down!
And, the stressors didn’t stop there. Not only was my disease flared by the change in seasons, but so was my husband’s depression; resulting in daily anxiety attacks (many directed at me. Sigh.). Several friends experienced emotional crisis during this period, and I was the friend they reached out to for support. Our cat got sick and needed medical care. Bills seemed to be landing in the mail daily at the rate of political flyers in November. And the final straw? Our van, our only vehicle, died. The frame rusted out and landed on the steering box, and, well… you can imagine the rest!
The fear started to set in. What are we going to do? How are we going to afford this? What if we don’t qualify for a loan?
Then, I took a deep breathe, prayed to my higher power, and took the first step. Information is power. And, at that point, I had none. All I had was mis-information that was swirling itself into a cyclone of worry and anxiety. Not a good equation for an already over-stressed body and mind!
It got worse before it got better. But, then, last Tuesday, the miracles began to happen. And because I had “slogged” through those daily gratitude lists, I was able to see them, and appreciate them as they occurred. After a few unsavory experiences with used car dealerships, we walked into a particular store and were warmly greeted. For the first time, I felt like each person looked as us as just another human. We were paired with a gentle soul from Nigeria whom had worked at this same location for 20 years and took deep pride in his work. He was not paid on commission and spent hours working with us, never feeling harried or put-out. He not only helped us find our dream vehicle, he figured out a way that we could afford it. He gave us free credit-counseling advice, outlining a 3-5 year plan to establish credit (we are a one credit card family; a negative in today’s consumerism America!). Then my mom stepped in to selflessly lend her name, backing our credit for the bank, so that we would get an interest rate under %5.
Friends graciously lent cars and emotional support. We had some small gifts of “unexpected funds” come our way. And yesterday I got news that my mole was benign. Thank, God!
And, I realized, after weeks of “getting by,” we were gifted a day of reprieve and then another. And that this is the true miracle of life. This new vehicle and all the angels who helped us to get here didn’t suddenly erase the physical and mental pain we are experiencing. But it gave us Hope. And hope is what gets us through the unbearable days.
At some point, life lets up. The miracle happens. We just have to keep our minds, eyes, and hearts open to witnessing it.
Don’t give up. You never know when your 5 minutes will arrive!