As a bible believer, who thinks that April, May, and June of 2020 may be months on the calendar, but resembled years in duration, what was I to do?
First, I had to accept that I wasn't in charge of this pandemic. I had no control, other than wearing a mask as ordered or staying inside. Part of the reason this wasn't as hard for me as for many was that on April twentieth, I was admitted to Providence St. John's Health Center with diabetic ketoacidosis. I had had blood tests the previous Friday to see if my narrowed heart valve showed up. The heart doctor called my family doctor about the results, and he called me on the 'phone as my brother was driving me back home. This was the first time I'd heard the word "diabetes" applied to me, but they explained the distress my body had been in, and the risks I'd been taking. I spent a week learning the elementary steps of dealing with it. It was made a bit more difficult because the dietician had no idea newer than state of the art 20 years prior. I had to choose carefully what I was going to eat from what they served me.
A week in the hospital, and three weeks at home. At home, I was advised by Susan Dopart about the modern treatment for diabetes. Dr. Huang at Good Samaritan talked to me about replacing the blood tests before each meal with a monitor. Between that and a nurse who knew about diabetic meals (modern version), my blood sugar went down to the normal range reasonably quickly. Notice in all this, the heart valve problem had not been fixed.
I knew the surgeon who was going to do the heart valve replacement I needed: Dr. Pelikan, who had introduced himself to me while I was learning about diabetes. Initially, they scheduled my heart valve replacement for May twenty-seventh, but I was called the previous Friday and told that my insurance company had not approved it. Dr. Pelikan called me on May twenty-eighth and asked how I was doing. I was having a problem with dizziness, and my nurse was keeping me upright whenever it struck. I'd only fallen down in a faint once, which led to 24-hour coverage on the nursing front, but they were trying to make it work. "Making it work" meant ignoring the difference in our sizes.
He probed this problem, and said, "You're in danger of repeated falls, and though the nurses are good, you are not equipped properly for this. The hospital is. Come in to the emergency room now." I was in the middle of closing a real estate transaction, and it took longer than I thought. I did ask the nurse to pack things for me. By that evening, I was back in the hospital. Dr. Pelikan said that he had other heart surgeons come by to evaluate whether I was the right candidate for heart valve replacement, and I met them while I was there. Then I was told that the insurance had approved the operation, and it was going to take place Monday, June first.
On June second, I was back home. I'm up to walking an hour a day if I can find temperatures suitable for walking. Generally, that means walking with a lantern late at night or in the early morning, using the "Dark Sky" app to find temps below 70 degrees.
What you should hear from this story is that I've been mostly taking care of my own health during the time I've spent indoors. I haven't mentioned reading W. H. Auden, or Ted Hughes, or any other poets I read. The only thing you're missing is the call from the heart doctor after my last echocardiogram saying that the replacement was working correctly and that my expected lifespan had increased to 115. Not sure what I'll do for the next fifty years. But then, Jeremiah 10:23 sets a limit on my planning: "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
After all, the reason behind everything that happened is in Psalms 31:15a: "My times are in thy hand." God is in charge. He's smarter than I am, and he loves me, despite my not being worth his love. If you've ever wondered whether God loves you, comment here and let me know. I have a few things you need to hear.