Monday, July 27, 2015

Flesh Eating Bacteria

This is not a feel-good blog but may be more of a rough don't read on if you are looking for something positive and upbeat this Monday morning.  I don't think I write a lot of, "Somebody call the waaaaaaaambulance" blogs....but this is definitely one.

Last week was a rough week for me - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Flesh eating bacteria literally entered my body, but also seemed to enter figuratively, into my soul, my emotions, and my mind.

The week started with the opportunity to meet with old and dear friends, long-time supporters who have "had my back" since 1997.  Toward the end of our meeting, they informed me that they would no longer be able to support me as much, as I was becoming "too evangelical" because I am working with the church.  That hit me hard. When I examine the word, evangelical, it means "pertaining to or keeping to the gospel and its teachings."  Doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me.  Just last week I met with a pastor from the Reformed Church of Zambia who shared with me that the Church in Zambia is telling their business people terrible things about the nature of their work and how unholy it is.  That is not "keeping to the gospel and its teachings" so I am happy to be "evangelical" in that way.  My fear, and where the flesh eating bacteria begin to enter into my mind and emotions, is that "evangelical" is lumped with "fundamentalism"  and because I am adamant that the church needs to be the change agent as it relates to business, I could be cast as a fundamentalist, which is definitely an insult in this day and age.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I began to feel ill with fever, body aches, etc.  By Thursday morning, I woke up with a completely swollen ear and surrounding tissues, hot to the touch.  When I went to the doctor, I was told it was a serious type of cellulitis and because it was on the face, it needed to be monitored closely, as it can quickly become life-threatening.  It is caused by a flesh eating bacteria that can go both deep and wide - causing permanent damage to the eyes, nerves, brain, and other precious parts.  If it was to spread at all, I was to go directly to the emergency room.  Hannah took Thursday afternoon off to monitor me; Michael took Friday off.  They marked my face with permanent marker to be able to observe any spreading or other symptoms.

Also on Thursday, I received a number of bad news emails from ICM, ranging from partners in a number of countries very sick and in need of resources, to significant budget and fundraising alarms, to program demands that are increasing beyond supplies.  The flesh eating bacteria went after my mind, "See you can't do this job."  "See, you can't raise money - people are leaving you, not joining you." "See how many people are looking to ICM and to you - good, serious people with serious medical issues - and you can't do anything."

On Friday morning, I had to return to the doctor who didn't like what he saw in terms of lack of progress, and decided to give me a shot to try to keep me out of the hospital.  Later that afternoon, I received an email from the publisher with whom I had been talking for some time - the one I was hoping would take my book; they reported that they decided to pass on my book.  I immediately felt the spread of the flesh eating bacteria in my soul, with whispers of "see, you can't write" and "see, no one wants your book - no-one sees the value except you, therefore it must not have value."

On Friday evening, we had a serious blow up at our house.  Not uncommon in a small home with two merging families of many young adults, not to mention tremendously complex extenuating circumstances that are mostly outside of our control, making us often feel like victims.

But that was enough to pretty much shut me down.  The straw that broke the camel's back.  Let the flesh eating bacteria have their way.

Saturday found me searching the want ads, looking for a different line of work, despite the fact that my face was beginning to heal. My thoughts were, "Let me find a job where I do my work, get a paycheck, and go home.  Let me find a job where there aren't so many people depending on me.  Let me find a job where I don't have to constantly think of how to fund the work, on top of doing the work, which is actually difficult to do." An overreaction?  Absolutely.  But an indication of flesh eating bacteria having found their way into my system?  Yup.

As I cried out to God on Saturday night, peace didn't come like a river attending to my soul.  I didn't wake up Sunday morning saying, "It is well."  I was reminded that we will have earthly troubles; that we are to endure hardship for His sake; that suffering is often not meaningless; that "my will" needs to become "Thy will;" and that God will "never give us more than we can bear."  All of these words felt cerebral; none seemed to address the flesh wounds.

And so it's Sunday morning as I write this.  And I am choosing to stay in bed, write this blog, and lick my wounds.  I am praying that tomorrow will show a ray of light in some way to give me the energy to put one foot in front of the other again, and rekindle my energy for the work to which God has called me.  If you got this far in reading this blog, I would appreciate prayers, as I believe that much of this is spiritual warfare.  I also know, in my head, that I am immensely blessed, beyond words.  But beyond privilege and blessings, all humans can be knocked down for a count; I know that what matters is that we don't stay down.
Postscript - I didn't see my regular doctor on Thursday but actually had a doctor who grew up in Nigeria as an missionary kid.  We got to talking, and she is the first person who told me that it IS possible for sepsis to not produce a fever (as in the case with Bob).  As I read about flesh-eating bacteria, and remembering the number of sores that Bob has on his head the night before he died, and having just returned from Nigeria, I am now thinking that we might have a possible cause of death:  necrotizing fasciitis that got into the bloodstream, causing sepsis.  Five years later and I continue to look for the cause of death.  This one seems to get a lot of it right.  I still wonder about the shot of heparin that they gave him just twenty minutes before he died when they "thought" they heard a pulmonary embolism.  I wonder if that shot expedited something in relation to the septic shock that his body must have been in (based on autopsy results).  My reading does show that heparin can react poorly with antibiotics, which is what they had put him on when he entered the hospital.  I wonder, I wonder, I wonder....I will probably wonder until I die.