Lessons Learned from Pneumonia

It all started two weeks ago with nagging back pain during the days that Hurricane Sandy hit Maryland. Intense aching in my back, with increasingly intense coughing, and pounding headaches which developed over the next few days. Something was definitely not right.
Sandy closed schools in Harford County that Monday through Wednesday, so I was occupied from home with finalizing our celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints for that Thursday at John Carroll. Thank heavens for text messages, email, and Facebook to allow fast access to my Campus Ministry team from the distance.
School reopened on the Feast Day with Mass at 9 a.m. for our community. I was really excited to welcome Father Michael DeAscanis, our new Archdiocesan Vocations Director, for his first visit to JC. It was a great celebration and Father Michael gave the students a lot to think about during his homily on their call to holiness as young people. He also included a great reflection on discerning God’s call to the priesthood and the religious life.
It is always good to talk to our youths about their future endeavors and how important it is to discern where God is calling them. After Mass, Father Michael and I met with our principal about developing ideas for Vocations Education in coed schools.
It was a good morning. Except for that nagging cough. I remember telling a colleague on my hallway after Father Michael left us that I was going home to put my cough to bed. Two days later I was diagnosed with pneumonia and acute bronchitis. Chest X-rays, nebulizer treatment, and five prescriptions at that first visit was overwhelming to say the least.
It’s been two weeks now and I’m still home: Three doctor visits and nine prescriptions at last count.
What I’ve learned:
1. Patience: Illness takes time to heal and we can’t rush it. Since I run a busy Campus Ministry Office and always have a lot on my plate, I have been very anxious to feel better enough to get back to school. I expected to be back in action within four or five days, and have had to readjust my expectations and go with the healing process. Patience is a virtue that must be practiced.
2. Breathing: The simple life-giving act of breath is taken for granted. When breathing takes extra effort and becomes difficult, it brings down both your energy and your spirits. I have pondered frequently the plight of those with ongoing breath-suppressed illnesses and have quickly put my own concerns into perspective.
Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
3. What to do, what to do?– I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. Usually busy all the time, I have felt out of sorts with all this time and no energy.
When not sleeping, I have read three books on my Kindle. That’s certainly much more than I’d get to while working. I even watched a number of sessions of the USCCB conference on EWTN which I definitely would not have seen while at school. Most of all, I tried to keep up with any important school business via email and Facebook as I was able. Our present ability to “be connected” allows us to keep up with work as energy allows even from our sickbed. Our colleagues of yesteryear did not have that luxury. I am grateful for the advanced technologies that have allowed me to be somewhat on top of things at any level.
4. Rely on others: Most of us have a hard time accepting the help of others,  especially if we are used to taking care of others. I have been incredibly blessed to have the care and devotion of my husband during these past weeks. From doctor visits to dispensing my meds the first week, preparing meals and taking care of the house, running errands and providing moral support and comfort, George puts into action our vows of “in sickness and health.” Not to be forgotten, of course, is the companionship and affection of Daisy our pug who has laid by my side with her head resting on me each and every day.
5. Take in stride Murphy’s Law: I have always laughed about Murphy’s Law: If you have Murphy in your name, it’s going to hit you twice as hard: “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” There is never a “good time” for things to go wrong, but it has been hard to be unable to help others who are in need while I have been down. This has been especially true of one of my family members who has been sick and I have been unable to help in any tangible way. Praying has been my connection here and I have had to trust in God’s grace that He will provide and take care of my loved one.
6. Appreciate kindness: I have been blessed with much kindness over the past two weeks: texts, emails, and Facebook messages from many of my students, supportive notes from my colleagues, a surprise Edible Arrangement from my favorite group of friends, and of course the specially-colored picture from our five-year old grandson. Simple acts of kindness warm the heart and bring a smile to the face.
In conclusion, as the name of my blog reflects: God is in the clouds. He’s there walking with us during good times and bad. I am reminded of one of my favorite St. Louis Jesuits songs:
“Trust in the Lord” by Roc O’Connor, SJ  (Based on Isaiah 40: 28-31)
Trust in the Lord; you shall not tire,

Serve you the Lord; you shall not weaken.

For the Lord’s own strength will uphold you.

You shall renew your life and live.
That song has been my prayer. Amen.
God is good!! All the time!!

Copyright: permission granted: Mark Wood: www.humphreythepug.com 

Catholic Review

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