Saturday, September 11, 2004

Late at night, lonely, a little scared

...OK, more than a little scared. A bit of background is in order...

During my wonderful weekend in Kansas, I started to get a sore spot on my right side, directly under my belt-line. As I am (to put it mildly) a large-ish sort of fellow, those areas endure more friction than most regular-sizes folks would encounter, (especially in warm weather) so I didn't pay it much mind. "It'll go always does."

By Monday night, though, it had started to get puffy and sore. By Wednesday, it was red and obviously in trouble, but I was used to self-care, so I used some Betadine compresses and ice - still thinking that it was really just a boil that would go down eventually.

By Friday morning, it was obvious that it wasn't going to just go away, and that it was clearly infected - and that's when the fear came to roost in my itty-bitty mind...because of another discovery I made on Wednesday. You see, I found out that my student health-insurance coverage had lapsed.

In the back of my mind, a part of me knew that it was time to renew - after all, the policy had started with the school year. But since I'm not financially able to take classes this semester, it hadn't hit me that I needed to get this done - because you end up doing that particular task during registration. So if you don't register, it doesn't happen.

Unfortunately, since I'm not a student, I also can't use my student account to spread out the nearly $1400 semester premium over six months. I needed $700 cash up front to start the policy - and I needed to mail in the coverage before it would be effective. So I did what I do best - I panicked. In no time at all, I had projected myself into an awful future, laying in a hallway at Cook County hospital, slowly dying (uncared-for) from some gross infection related to whatever the hell is happening on my side. Needless to say, with those kinds of images in mind, you don't have to go far to get to "restless, irritable and discontented" - which my AA text tells me are three particularly unhappy conditions for folks like me to be in.

The good news is, after a reasonable period of sobriety, I know that (of and by myself) I can't think my way out of situations like this; my thinker is just plain broke, that way. And somehow I always boot up in "If you're gonna worry, why pray?" mode - it's something that I have fought my entire sober life. The idea of prayer always comes like the "Wow...I coulda had a V8!" moment.

So if I can't think myself sane, and I don't often think to pray myself sane, what to do? Well, one habit drilled into me by people in recovery is to reach out to people who are fractionally less insane than I am - and that's what I did. (My Kansas friend Bob L. would say, "Action conquers fear, m'boy.") So I called my friend Sandy on the way to work today, and she gave me a loving "mom" talk about taking some action soon. I called my local doctor, whose nurse said that what I'm probably dealing with is an infected spider bite, and it's probably time to head to the ER for treatment. I called the school financial VP, who told me that if I could get the cash together and get it to the school insurance folks before September 15th, the coverage would be retro'd to September 1...a real miracle. An honest-to-God angel offered to loan me the money to get covered - and so I will be at Kinko's early tomorrow morning, to FedEx the stuff to the insurers for Monday delivery.

But by midnight, once I laid down (after a particularly long day at work, between the actual work and futzing around with medical and insurance folks for nearly two hours, on and off), my brain just wouldn't shut off. Fourteen years ago, I had a skin lesion caused by pyoderma (a particularly ugly skin disease) that had to be excised and skin grafted - leaving me a 4" hole in my leg, a particularly gross scar, and memories of a long, long month recovering from that surgery. That process looks a lot like what the internet shows as surgical treatment for brown recluse spider bites. (Don't go looking, unless you're particularly strong-stomached. It's pretty damned ugly.)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).
It sounds so simple. But the voice in the back of my head (the one I'd very much love to strangle, most days) reads that passage, and whispers things like, "I just hope He doesn't answer this prayer like he did the ones about your candidacy - maybe you want to wait to go into the ER until you've updated your will." "Well, at least you won't have to hurry back into the search for work - because you won't be able to work, after this." And so on....

Thirteen or so years ago, one of my best friends (who'd helped me get sober, and settled in Kansas) had a sign on the wall of his chiropractic office. When I would go there for treatment, I'd always read it like I was seeing it for the first time:

I was regretting the past and fearing the future, when a Voice rolled like thunder out of the clouds, saying, "My NAME is I AM !"

The voice continued, "If you are looking for me among the regrets and the failures of the past, you will not find Me. I am not there. My name is not 'I WAS'."

The Voice thundered on, "If you are looking for me among the fears and doubts of the future, you won't find me there, either. I am not a God of uncertainty and doubt. My name is not 'I WILL BE'."

Then, in a hushed tone, like the whisper of the wind, the Voice said, "But if you seek me in this present moment - right now - even when
things seem darkest, you will find Me. Even when you walk through deep places of great despair and death, I will be with you. I am
with you, even now - even to the end of the age - because my name is 'I AM.' "

I just wish -and pray - that I could remember that bit o'truth, and actually live like I believe that, a little more than I do.

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