Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 2, 2010

Odyssey of Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

It all began very late one Sunday evening.  I had met up with a college friend in Atlanta.  He was a doctoral student at Duke University.  He was looking for a ride to school.  He assumed he would catch an overnight bus back to Chapel Hill.

I was in graduate school at Wake Forest, but I was not due back for class until Tuesday morning.  But, being a good friend, I suggested that we leave Atlanta at this late hour, drive all night, and have him at school for class the next morning.  He was more than willing, of course.

It was about an eight to nine hour trip in those days without interstate highways.  I recall it was a long, long trip.  I had driven this at night before, but this seemed the most difficult trip I had ever made.  It was even more difficult because my friend slept the entire journey.  It was really fine with me since he had class the next morning.  But I do remember that it was a miserable trip.

About daybreak I dropped him off at his apartment at Duke.  I headed for Wake Forest with an eagerness to go to bed.  There were about forty of us men and women who shared an old dorm.  Many of the students were there because they had not gone anywhere for the weekend.  Some of the ladies had prepared a breakfast, and so I joined them for a quick meal.  Again, I was feeling out-of-sorts.

About the time I finally got in bed for a long morning nap, I felt an unusual pain.  As the pain began to move from my back to my abdomen, and then reverse itself, I knew what was wrong.  I had a kidney stone.  I had experienced one when I was a senior in high school, and it is a discomfort you don’t forget.

I went immediately to an infirmary, but was told that I did not have a kidney stone.  Some medicine was given me and I was told if I was not better by the next day to come back.

That did not satisfy me.  I went to my car and drove the 18 miles into Raleigh.  I found a hospital and went to the emergency room.  Again, they did not feel that I had a kidney stone.  I recall asking for a doctor who had personally experienced a kidney stone.  Of course, that did not get me anywhere.

I must say, however, that I was pleased when they did admit me for observation.  I was placed in the room with an older man who was a successful businessman in town.  He was quite interested that I was studying for the ministry.  His interest was not from appreciation for such a commitment — no, his was for questions of ridicule.  He was perhaps the foulest mouthed man I have ever met.

I was told by the doctor that if I did not show any new symptoms by the next day, I would be discharged.  Convinced that I did have a kidney stone, I went out of my room about midnight and began to go up and down the stairs thinking I could dislodge the stone enough for it to be seen on x-ray.  After about 15 minutes of this exercise, I did begin to experience severe pain and other symptoms.  I reported to the nurses’ station and gave them an update.

Then the process began and by daybreak I was in surgery.  The odyssey was just beginning.  After some botched surgery, infection with fever set in.  This meant I remained in the hospital for several extra days with my “unique” roommate.

Then to add to my dilemma, snow began to fall.  Reports came in that preparations should be made for several days because of the heavy snowfall.  This meant I would have to stay extra days in that room!  I began to ask to leave, but was advised that I should not.  With insistence that I was going to leave, the discharge papers were signed.

I got in my car and drove back to my room on campus.  The snow came heavy and we were snowed in — at least the few of us that remained in that dorm.  Fellow students brought food to me, but I knew I needed better care.  Where could I go but home?

After about three days snowbound, the roads were opened, but still were rather dangerous.  I did not care.  In a weak condition, I cleared my car of snow and ice, and with great determination, I began the long drive home to my parents.  From the botched surgery, infection, weakness, and without proper care, it would take several weeks for me to totally recuperate.

This odyssey of so many days — what is my point? The point is that sometimes we feel life tumbles in and falls apart.  We begin to wonder how long it will last.  We talk to ourselves and question if we will survive the ordeal.

There are times when a parenthesis comes in life.  A time when we seem to be under the control of our circumstances.  We will have such times in our life — it may be for a few days, a few months, or a long extended period.  Yet it is important for us to not succumb to depression, feeling sorrow for ourselves, or a resignation that life will always be this way.

I confess with you there are some difficult inward struggles we face when it appears that one difficult thing after another comes into our life.  It is in such times we must have a strength beyond ourselves.  I do not have to feel alone in such circumstances, as I had the tendency to do during those days in North Carolina.  There is One who is always there.  He will give us a strength and spirit beyond ourselves.  You know . . . His name is Christ Jesus!

” . . .  the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles . . . .”  (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)  “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.”  (Psalm 138:7)  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you . . . .”  (Isaiah 41:10)



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