My wife just sent me an article about the iron lung, an old school ventilator system, primarily made for people suffering from polio. One man, who is 70 years old, is still using this “iron lung” to help him breathe throughout the day. He has spent much of his life with his body inside this contraption, with just his head sticking out.
Check out the video and article here.
Today I received a call from my transplant coordinator letting me know my white blood cell count dropped to 1.8. Just before his phone call, I was explaining to my nieces how caring it is to turn off their phones while hanging out with people at the dinner table. Ha. I quickly excused myself and went out to my car where I had my transplant binder and pen to write down the medication changes I needed to make due to my recent weekly lab results. This is very normal.
Yet, I could tell it was a bit more serious today. My coordinator basically told me I needed to go into isolation until my white blood cell count goes up. He said you may not want to even go back in the restaurant to finish eating, just go straight home.
Whether you are a social person like me who thrives on face-to-face interaction and touch or a person who needs a bit more alone time and personal space, isolation is hard. We are created to need each other. We are relational beings, human beings. God is a triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - three persons in one God. A true mystery. Yet, we are created in His image. We are created to be in community and unity with Him and each other.
One of the proverbs says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
Trust me, most of us who live with health issues do not want to be isolated. We isolate ourselves to get healthy or to remain healthy when needed, when the doctor orders. But, we are not made for isolation.
When you are heathy you don’t even think twice about going into public, going shopping after Thanksgiving or going to a movie on opening night. You don’t even think about staying home with a cold from work. You don’t notice when someone coughs or sniffles.
When you have a low immune system every cough and sneeze around you sends an alert, a shot down your spine. You look to move to safety. Where can you get away? You reach for your mask in your back pocket, but you check yourself, will this offend this person or make them feel awkward? Seconds later the mask is on and you are making plans to get out of the room, to safety.
Outside my hospital door was a sign that read, “Isolation Room: Gown, mask and gloves required.” Even my wife bathed me with a full gown, mask and gloves for two weeks. Can you imagine how awesome it was when the gloves came off? The moment I was able to hold her glove free hand? The first time I was able to kiss her mask free face?
Here I am at home surrounded by family fighting colds and sinus infections, isolated. Yes, praise Jesus I didn’t find out my white blood cell count was seriously low until the day after our big Haas gathering, I think. Ha. I loved playing football with my son and nephews, my brothers and dad. I loved drinking coffee and asking questions and having good conversation with my sister-in-law. I loved getting to do the dishes and enjoying the presence of family.
As I reflect on isolation, I am reminded to take a deep breath. Yes, I can breathe. I can read, write, talk, video chat, eat, and go the bathroom properly (this is a great thing). I am thankful for the many blessings I have, but most of all for the presence of Jesus. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is with me, always.
The more isolated I am the more I experience His presence. The more I experience His presence the more I realize I am not isolated. I am not alone. Nothing can separate me from His love.
The Apostle Paul says this, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can separate us, the children of God, from His love. His presence. Jesus is with us.
Even though it is hard on my wife, my children, me, and others, I know Jesus will fill in the gap. I trust in His promises. He said He will never leave us nor forsake us. I take Him at His word.
If you are isolated or feel isolated, I hope this encourages you. Reach out. Reach out to Jesus. Reach out to family and friends. Use technology. Reach out the me. I would love to chat with you.
I know how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole of depression. I know the darkness. I know what it is like to feel alone. I know the emotional rollercoaster. I know the desire to just quit and die, to give up.
You are valuable! You are worth it! You are worth every penny God provides to sustain your health. You are worth going through the pain to fight with all your might, mind, body and soul.
Do not listen to the lies. The lies come from all angles - social media, strangers, friends, family, yourself, and ultimately Satan. Do not listen to the lies, tell yourself the truth.
God will breathe life into your seemingly dry bones, tired lungs and even into your despair. He will give life to others through you and your faithfulness. You have purpose! Never give up.
I want you to know your worth! I love you.
I am beloved of God.