Most of us are familiar with the “bad news” of extended waits for obtaining medical care within the VA system. Social media and “real news” reports have cataloged the unacceptable and looooong delays for medical care. I am no stranger to such delays. To be fair, however, I’ve also benefited from very quick responses, some quite recent.
One evening, about a week and a half ago, I had some sensitivity on my shoulder. I asked Judy to investigate. What I thought was an irritation, she diagnosed as “shingles.” As soon as I was able the next morning, I phoned the Nurse at the VA Medical Center in Hampton, Virginia, and asked for an appointment with my primary care physician. I expected an appointment in a week or so. To my surprise, she asked me if I was available almost immediately. I was. The appointment was made and within an hour and a half, I was seeing my doctor. He confirmed Judy’s diagnosis and then prescribed some medicine from the pharmacy.
I was amazed at how swiftly the whole process went. I was not as pleased with the length of time I waited to have the script filled… My physician arranged a follow-up visit with a dermatologist; the next available consult was for almost 2 months in the future… Fast-forward 9 days, another hastily arranged primary care appointment to confirm the conquest of the shingles virus. Praise the Lord I have been spared a long and painful ordeal.
During this same time, a series of administrative errors, combined with the end of the VA fiscal year, cause an interruption in the provision of my home health care services. Normally, our helper comes in the morning and evening of each day to help with my routine care. The aid relieves Judy from some of the arduous and heavy work of my daily care. Despite my efforts on the phone and in person, the VA had not authorized the nursing agency to care for me. Without the authorization, no care could be extended.
Finally, at the end of last week and after a particularly difficult time due to other domestic difficulties. It was apparent that we needed help immediately. Again, in the good providence of God, our aid, who had been without work for a week, called to inquire about his return. After a brief discussion, arrangements were made for him to work directly for us until the VA debacle could be rectified. He was happy to be working again and we were thankful for the relief. Again, praise the Lord for his care and provision.
It’s interesting that when I summarize these events, I filter out the emotions, drama, and grief. These have been very difficult days for us, and, especially for Judy. I am very thankful for her love and care. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful woman, who continues to receive the short end of the “for better and for worse.” She deserves far better.
On October 10, I head off to the Richmond VA Medical Center for what I hope to be a minor procedure and then some respite time. Following this Judy will enjoy a well-deserved and hard-earned break. Lord willing, she’ll spend a few days painting in the picturesque setting of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, before heading south to Tennessee where she will visit with our daughter and her family. Hopefully, by the time she returns the VA debacle will be resolved and things can go back to “normal.”
Normal – what is normal?
For me, I might define it as an indefinite time, when I am not overly influenced by outside factors or pressures, either positive or negative. But having said that, I cannot think of such a time. Even though I might long for it, normality is not reality. It’s a myth – even a cruel hoax.
The reason for this is that we live in a broken world. Look around. Read the headlines; watch some news clips. Life is ugly and messy and certainly not static. Regarding our personal experiences, it seems apparent that the one thing we can count on is change. Life is full of surprises (good and bad), unexpected developments (again, both good and bad). Those things which seem to please us, we quickly regard as “good” and those things which disappoint us are thought of as “bad.”
The problem is that we really don’t know good from bad. What I mean is that frequently something which seems to be bad ends up being good, and vice versa. Our perspective is limited by many factors, but especially by our proclivities. As our circumstances change, our preferences are altered. To complicate things even further, our preferences are negatively influenced by experience, outside influences, and especially self-centeredness.
What we really need is a sure guide to help us navigate the negative and harmful enticements and pressures which confront us. It’s instructive for me to consider the words of Hebrews 12.1 – 3, which explains the mindset of Jesus as he faced and experienced extremely evil and overwhelming circumstances.
Hebrews 12:1–3 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Here are some things I’ve gleaned from these verses. I’ll try to remember them and follow them in the uncertain days ahead.
- Sin is a great hindrance as well as an enemy which is close at hand.
- Our race has been “set before us.” God both rules and over-rules; all things proceed according to his plan.
- Jesus not only saved us through his suffering on the cross but also sets for us an example of faith:
- anticipate future benefits,
- despise what is shameful,
- and recognize the presence of God.
So, as I anticipate the coming days and weeks, I will try to remember:
I live in a broken world as a broken person; sin abounds. Circumstances are not random; God is in control; he will work out his good plan for me. In the meantime, I will continue to trust in Christ and follow his example of anticipating a glorious future, while I resist what is shameful, and rejoice in the presence and promises of God.