On the wall of the bedroom we put up this poster that the kids from the Excelsior Co-op made. It's a rectangle poster, with dozens of hand-written sticky notes of encouragement framing the words "Jehovah Rapha," which means "The Lord who heals."
That particular name for God is found in Exodus 15, right after the Children of Israel have safely crossed the Red Sea, not long after they've left Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. It's an interesting passage in that the thirsty Israelites come up on a body of water, anxious to drink, only to find the water too bitter to swallow.
The children complain, of course, so Moses - under the direct of God - throws a piece of wood into the water and it becomes drinkable.
It's kind of an odd story, showing up right where it does. It's just one of what will become many times of the appropirately named "Children" of Israel complaining and whining, despite the miracles that they've witnessed God perform on their behalf.
But what makes it even stranger to me is that God doesn't even address their complaint about the water. He goes off on this speech about how "If you'll listen to me and obey me, I won't allow any of the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians to come upon you - 'For I am the Lord who heals you.'"
Of course, there was a lot more complaining to come from the Children of Israel and a lot more of not listening to or obeying God.
Still, God remained "the Lord who heals you."
I'm reminded that God doesn't dispense His love and mercy based on the degree to which I'm able to keep His commands and decrees.
It's a good thing.
MG got a nice surprise visit from her youngest sister Thursday.
Kathleen came into town for one night, and we didn't tell MG her sister was coming. It was a complete surprise. The last time Kathleen had seen MG was while MG was still in the trauma unit, on a ventilator, in a coma, and all swollen from fluids and medicines and trauma. So this was no doubt as good for Kathleen as it was for MG.
It's always good to see family. Having my sister here for a little over a week - even though I was gone for three days and even though when I was here I spent most of my time with MG - was a treat for me. One of my brothers dropped by for a day while I was gone, but I appreciated his visit and I know it was good for he and my sister to get together.
We're expecting MG's dad to come down Monday afternoon, and maybe another of her brothers and his wife and wonderful little girls later in the week.
As long as the expectations of the visitors are tempered, the visits are great. Unfortunately, sometimes MG is just worn out or in too much pain to want to spend much time with even family. The great thing about family in times like this is you can tell them, "Hey, it's time to go,'' and they understand.
I appreciate friends who want to come by, too. I tell them the same thing: I can't guarantee MG will be in much of a mood for a visit, but it's worth a try. So far, everyone has been very understanding, and I've really only had to turn away one or two visitors.
That's not to say we don't appreciate visitors, because we do. It's just to say that we never know how "up" MG will be for a visit until it is time.
I got in an almost full week of work on the Gulf this week, including a day in New Orleans at the office over there. That's been good, because I do enjoy the routine of my life on the Gulf - my small room, two blocks from my office, one block down from a Sonic and McDonald's, across the street from the library, and four blocks from the Small Craft Harbor where I like to take a long walk in the evenings.
MG and I agree I need to get back to work (if for no other reason than we understand the importance of insurance!), and my employer has been exceptional in giving me the leeway to do what I need to do to take care of MG.
Still, it's not easy to be away. But when I'm in Birmingham I'm thinking about work; when I'm on the Coast I'm thinking about home.
Her ribs hurt. Her left foot hurts. Last night, in the middle of the night, MG was really hurting and trying to explain to me how to position her foot to try to get some relief. I didn't understand what she wanted, and MG couldn't figure out how to make me understand. Needless to say, it was frustrating for both of us.
Today I called the doctor's assistant to try to get some relief. We know the worst of the pain is from the nerves in MG's leg and foot waking up. We're on some kind of nerve medicine that is supposed to bring some relief, and it did for the first few days. But as I said, last night and all today it was terrible.
Amy, the doctor's assistant, relented today and told me we could double the dose of the nerve pill at night. She said they really like to wait a week because they want to give the dose they prescribed time to get into the system and work. However, this isn't working.
We also got a prescription for a light sleeping aid. I can't help but think if MG could just get a solid six hours of sleep it would be the best thing for her. It would give her body time to recoup and - more importantly - her mind time to rest. She wouldn't feel so overwhelmed by the pain, and the frustration at not knowing what position to put her leg in to relieve the pain, and the frustration of trying to make me understand what she wants me to do to help with the pain.
That frustration builds, along with the frustration over simply being frustrated. At one point MG was just tearfully apologizing to me. She knows she has nothing to apologize for, but I know how she feels.
Think about it: she's had almost six weeks of lying almost exclusively flat on her back. She can't roll over on her stomach. She can roll up on one side or the other, but not for very long because of the pain in her hips and her knee. We try to keep her moving to prevent bed sores and general stiffness. We put pillows under her knees to give her injured leg a new position to be in. There is a whole series of elaborate aids we've come up with to keep her left foot in the correct position (the muscle/nerve damage is causing that foot to want to point downward, and the doctors want us to work on helping her keep it up at a 90 degree angle). But manipulating that foot is not easy, since the pain of anything touching - in particular - her toes is excruciating.
And it doesn't help that I'm so clumsy. To help her move, we have to take the pillows out from under her left leg and away from her left foot, and then put a pillow between her knees while she pulls herself over to her side. But while she's doing that I'm prone to accidentally kick the leg of the bed or - even more painful - while moving pillows let one drop on her sensitive foot.
And then, of course, there are her ribs. Every breath hurts, and every day as the ribs heal every movement seems to hurt worse.
I took a picture last weekend of MG in the wheelchair sitting outside by the flower garden. Someone suggested such pictures give a false impression of how well she's doing, and people who have been so committed to praying for MG will feel like it's OK to stop.
I don't think so. First of all, I think God has put MG on a lot of hearts, and He will keep those people aware of praying for MG for as long as He desires. Secondly, even if some people do grow tired of praying for her or simply forget or simply have other issues that move to the top of their prayer list (which I completely understand), I don't think it will mean God forgets MG.
Besides, there are plenty of people I know are praying continuously for MG - for her recovery, for control of the pain, for her emotional stability, for those of us who are taking care of her. I ran into a friend at Best Buy today who assured me MG remains on his daily prayer list. We are both grateful and humbled that so many people care.
Tomorrow, MG's walker comes. Monday, she will be cleared to begin to put weight on her right leg, which means she could - in theory - stand on her right leg and even use the walker to get around, as long as he doesn't put any weight on the left leg.
However, I know her right leg won't be strong enough to hold her weight for more than a few seconds at a time, and that her ribs are still so tender than the act of having to support her upper body with her arms will cause more pain.
So like everything else in this journey of recovery, it will be a major step forward, followed by a half step back.
But it's progress.
We can't lose sight of that.
"Jehovah Rapha" - the Lord who heals.
He never said it would comfortable; just that we'd be healed.