Monday, February 1, 2010

Julia's Healing


The call came in the middle of the afternoon. Excited would be putting it mildly for how Julia felt about this day. Over the weekend the doctors had decided that they would discharge her from the hospital. She was so ready to leave her hospital corner (she had shared a room with six others for over a month) to go out to the Villa. But it was not to be. At least not today. Elvia got the news first and came flying up to my office to get me. Somehow in the span of one day Julia had taken a turn for the worst and her potassium level (high or low, I do not know) was affecting the rhythm of her heart. So off we went to the hospital to see how we might help.

She was in the “intensive care unit” of the AIDS wing (actually there is no ICU on the AIDS wing, it’s just one bed where they keep patients that need intensive care until they can get them transport)and I could just barely see her through the crack in the curtains surrounding her bed. She was sitting upright with heart monitoring wires hanging from her chest. She was conscious and motioned for us to come to her so I just went right into the tiny curtained off area. Elvia hung back because unlike me she actually heard the warnings in Spanish that were being flung our way. No one was supposed to visit her since each visit seemed to send her heart into even more of a flutter. I don’t know how long I stood there before I realized that were yelling at me to get out of there.


The doctors seemed terribly worried and they decided she needed to go to the government teaching hospital since there would be no doctor on call until the next morning. This was not good news. No one wants to go to Hospital Escuela because it is understaffed, understocked, and overpopulated. Often when there aren't enough beds, patients are placed in the hallways and left there for hours. Sometimes they die in those hallways. But there was no other choice. Julia would have to go. There was a flutter of activity to get her ready but suddenly they hit an impasse. There was no nurse to accompany her in the hospital van. Suddenly Julia’s doctor realized that Elvia, doctor that she is, could substitute for the nurse they needed.

Meanwhile, I remembered the verses that God had given to us regarding Julia’s diagnosis….they were still taped to the wall. I went and pulled Luke 7:1-10 off the wall and put it with the discharge papers that were in Elvia’s hand. We needed to be reminded in the middle of the crisis that God had already spoken the outcome. This might seem silly to some, to make such a fuss over a Scripture, but if there is one thing I learned from my healing adventure, it is that faith moves the hand of God. He loves it when we move in the realm of faith, when we trust what He has to say despite the circumstances. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.”

They wheeled Julia to the van and carefully moved her into the vehicle while I ran to our KIA long bed pickup truck. Adrenaline was definitely flowing as I jumped into the pick up to try and follow the rapidly moving “ambulance”. The van swerved to and fro through all kinds of side roads at a speed that caused poor Julia to lose her entire lunch all over her hospital gown. It was hard to keep up but somehow I swerved at the same pace with the van so that I arrived at the hospital just in time to see the guards close the gate tightly behind it. I quickly found a spot to park and flew across the street while breathing this prayer, “God, please make me invisible!” There is tight security at the public hospital and to get in you have to have a special slip of paper that is given to one or two members of the patient’s family. I walked right past the guards at the gate which was now open again to admit another ambulance. No one said a word. The driver of Julia’s van saw me and motioned me towards the glass doors that I had to enter to find Julia. The guards there did not notice me either and I easily found Elvia and Julia in the emergency room.

The emergency room cubicle was tiny, just barely big enough to fit two gurneys with room for one person to move in between them. Several interns showed up and one gruffly asked me what I was doing there. Thinking that he was clearly getting ready to kick me out, I sheepishly said, “I am with her”, pointing to Julia now trembling on the sheetless, pillowless steel gurney. To my surprise he said, “OK, hold these papers”. They were the same admission papers that we had brought with us including the Scripture diagnosis. I smiled broadly and took the papers from his hands. The minutes ticked by and there was much coming and going in the emergency room but no one seemed interested in Julia. When the interns did pop their heads in to ask why we were there, as they discovered her diagnosis the reaction was always the same. They stated flatly, “Oh, HIV positive,” then they turned quickly on their heels to look for a more desirable diagnosis. One intern even said under his breath, “I wonder why they brought her here!” Julia just quietly took it all in. When I asked her how she was doing, she looked at me wryly and said, “God is birthing more patience in me.”

By now her sister had brought a blanket and a small pillow, thanks be to God. Eventually they kicked us all out of the tiny room and still Julia hadn’t received any medical attention. I began to wonder, too, why God had allowed us to come to this place which was so much worse than the AIDS hospital. The sense of helplessness was overwhelming. Out in the waiting room, Julia’s mother began to weep. The Lord reminded me that He was in control so I asked the family if I could pray with them. We made a little circle by the entrance of the hospital holding hands and began to implore the Doctor of doctor’s for help. “Oh God”, I prayed, “please send Your angels to help Julia.” Not more than 2 minutes passed when I looked up and saw a young intern walking by and I recognized him. Isaac had been a translator for a dear friend of mine (Dr. Ken Holden) who is a pediatric neurologist from Charleston and comes biannually to do medical brigades. Isaac showed up at my door one quiet afternoon just over a year and a half ago with a huge bunch of lilies that Dr. Ken and his wife had instructed him to buy for me. I was home alone, still sporting a rather pregnant looking middle and mustard yellow eyes, both results of my liver not quite behaving normally. What I remember most about meeting Isaac was that my dog Carl almost killed me as I tottered to open the gate for Isaac. Carl, a rather largish dog was his very excitable self and when I received the flowers, he jumped up and nearly knocked me over. But I digress. Isaac looked weary but when I tapped him lightly on the shoulder he turned and a look of amazement came over his face. “Oh Betsy, it’s you! You look so different! What are you doing here?” I proceeded to tell him the whole story of Julia. He assured me that he would help us and a sense of peace washed over me as he related that he would be “on call” all night. Isaac was our angel from God. He not only escorted me back into the emergency room to be with Julia, but he somehow located an EKG machine and began placing the leads on her chest. I steadied the machine as he moistened a wad of used paper with alcohol since there was no cotton available in the hospital. It was a makeshift operation at best but I didn’t care, I was just so relieved that Isaac was helping Julia and her famliy get the needed information on the status of Julia’s heart. By God’s grace, it was almost back to normal. All three of us in that tiny cubicle breathed a sigh of relief.

Julia finally was released from the ER in the wee hours of the morning. Isaac visited her off and on during the night and made sure she got the attention she needed. She hadn’t slept much but her pulse had stabilized and the emergency was over. God heard our prayers and used a young intern named Isaac to make them a reality. I bless that boy, Isaac. He reminds me of another Isaac whom God used to increase the faith of a man. Abraham’s Isaac. Isaac is seen by many Christians as a prototype of Jesus. Our Isaac was definitely a prototype of Jesus to us. I praise God for the way he stepped in to help when no one else even seemed to care. There’s a song I love that is in Spanish and the chorus goes like this: This is the reason I love You, this is the reason I praise, You gave me love when no one else loved me at all.” That’s our Jesus, for you. Stepping in and caring when no one else wants to care. I like that in Him. He is full of stubborn, refusing to give up,miraculous, healing love. Thank you, Beloved Jesus, for your persistent, healing love for Julia. And thank you for using Isaac to remind us of Your amazing care for the lost and lonely, the rejected and dejected.

Thank you so much for praying!

Until the next blog I remain,

your Betsy

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