Sunday, July 20, 2014

Living and Active

So, some people know about my kidneys and others don't. It's not as sexy as cancer, but yeah... I've got bum kidneys. It's a dual disease of Barters syndrome and Gitelman's syndrome. (I'm all about them syndromes!). Basically what it means is that I've got about 30%-40% function in my kidneys, and it's been decreasing more rapidly this past year than it has in the previous 4 combined. That means the degeneration is speeding up. A lot. When I was at the Mayo Clinic last Thanksgiving, I saw another specialist. She looked at my history, and the rate of decline of my kidney function. I asked her "How long till you think I'll need a new kidney?" She paused and looked at my chart and said "Ummm... probably 4 or 5 years."

Boom. FOUR or FIVE years?!?!?! I had thought I was at least 10 years out. That one sentence hovers in my mind like a gargoyle waiting to pounce. I've heard about transplants. They are not fun. Things never quite go back to normal afterwards. Shoot, I'm scared to even get to the dialysis stage!

I have a vivid memory of before I was diagnosed with cancer, when my body was going even wonkier than usual. (Yes, that's a real word. I checked!) I was with a group of girls from my church. I can't remember what we were doing there. I think it was a class of some sort? At the end, we ladies were all in a circle praying. More like a cluster really, laying hands on each other or something like that. I was sitting on the floor with my head against a friend's leg. Randomly (or not so randomly) someone started praying about Psalm 139 and how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we were. At that point the levy broke, and although I was silent, the tears flowed in a stream down my face so fiercely that all I could do was watch them drip onto my jeans, creating a dark puddle on the denim. Gina (who's leg I was resting on), was the only one who saw me. Although we didn't know each other very well, she just stroked my hair. It was the best thing anyone could have done for me in that moment.

M tears weren't flowing freely because I was comforted. They flowed because I was frustrated. Possibly angry. I can't remember exactly. I just remember thinking "If that girl knew what my body was doing to me right now, there's no way she would pray that. At least not to my face. There's no way that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". I feel like a consequence of the fall which marred the perfect world with genetic mutants like me."  It felt like an old wives tale, like "You shouldn't go swimming for 45 minutes after you eat." There's some truth to it, but nobody really believes it to the fullest extent. Is it true for some people? Probably. Is it true for everybody? Not really. We've all broken that rule and come out just fine. We just say it to kids to get a general principle across. Fearfully and wonderfully made feels like that: one of those phrases that healthy people throw around to comfort sick people. Is it true for some? Sure. For me? Probably not, or at least not completely. Maybe generally.

Fast forward to last Sunday. A woman who is a spiritual mentor of mine challenged me to read and meditate on Psalm 139 this week. Although I doubted that I'd learn something "new", I did it. The word is living and active right? It can speak to us in new ways each time. I read through it 3 days ago and tried to garner new meanings and new insight, but I got nothing. It was the same Psalm 139 that I've read a thousand times before. But I kept hearing her voice in my head, so I did it again today. I study the word like I do everything else: like a nerd. I like to go to the Greek or Hebrew and read it line for line, studying the translation of each word. I didn't do that last time so I decided to do a legit study today. Nothing jumped out at me until I got to verse 13.

"For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb."

I've seen "inmost being" also translated as "inner parts". However, the way it was translated on the site that I was on was odd, so I clicked on it to see what the literal Hebrew translation was. Would you like to know what the literal translation is? Kidneys. Psalm 139:13 literally says "For You have created my kidneys..."

(Go see for yourself: here and here)

Living and active my friends. Living. And. Active.