Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Traveling Alone

Last week, I went to the Cleveland Clinic, for appointments with a couple of specialists. They still don't know what is wrong with me, but ordered a bunch more tests, some of which we won't get back for a couple of months - or longer. But that's pretty much what I expected, so I wasn't disappointed. However, that's not really the topic of this post. What I want to talk about is the trip itself, and how God went with me every step of the way. While it appeared that no one was accompanying me on this journey, God was.

On my previous trip to the clinic, my sister (Robin) was able to go with me. While the airlines provide someone to push me in a wheelchair to/from gates, having Robin at the clinic meant she could wheel me around the clinic to appointments, and to restaurants. This time, Robin couldn't go, but I figured it would be ok, since there was a golf cart shuttle that went between the hotel and the clinic (the hotel is on the clinic grounds, and there is a skywalk system connecting everything) and I didn't think I'd have to walk much once I got to the clinic. So, I was prepared - or so I thought.

The trip started early Tuesday morning - I had to get up at 5:00 to be at the airport by 6:00. Check-in was a breeze and I sailed through the security checkpoint. The flight was on time, and we were in the air before 7:30. I had a book with me (of course), but I was still pretty sleepy from the early morning, so I decided to read my morning devotional and listen to some Christian music on my iPod. I opened the day's reading (from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) and these were the opening lines:

I am with you and for you. You face nothing alone - nothing.

Oh my. My heart nearly skipped a beat! I was overwhelmed with how much God loves me and cares about me! I had to just stop, close my eyes and praise God. And then song after song just touched my soul, and spoke reassurance and comfort. I was tearing up pretty good, by now - I have no idea what the woman next to me thought, as I kept wiping my eyes. I spent the entire 2+ hours of the flight basking in the presence of God, feeling his strong arms holding me. We arrived in Minneapolis (where I changed planes) in what seemed to me to be just a few minutes. I was so caught up in God's love. It was an amazing flight!

The connection to Cleveland went off without a hitch, despite a blizzard at Minneapolis. We arrived in Cleveland on time, and I was checked into the hotel by 6:00 EST. From the previous visit, I knew there was a cafe about a block away on the skywalk, so I headed there for dinner, and opted to walk, as I really hadn't had to do any walking all day. Uh-oh. The cafe was closed! I knew there was another cafe in the clinic building, but that was in the total opposite direction. Time for the golf cart! They have phones spaced out along the skywalk, where you can call for a ride. I did so, and got a ride to the clinic building. BUT - there was still a lot of walking to get to the cafe. I had no choice: I needed dinner. So I walked. After finishing my meal, I walked back to the skywalk, and called for the golf-cart. Oops! It's after 7:00pm, no golf cart anymore. So I walked back to the hotel. *sigh*

The next day was my appointment day. My first one was at 10:00, with the neurologist. But I'd need coffee, first, which meant waking up at 8:00am, which feels like 5:00am to my body. Ugh! I took the golf cart, but again, had to walk from the skywalk to the the cafe, and then doctor's office. This was a LONG way. Once I got there, I had to wait to check in. And, silly me, I had neglected to bring my cane that folds into a chair. So I had to stand in line and wait. (For me, standing is even more tiring than walking.)

I got done with the appointment, and the neurologist wanted me to schedule an echo-cardiogram. He said the woman at the checkout desk would do that. So, I went to the checkout desk, and stood, and stood and stood, as the woman was on the phone. I finally whispered to her that I needed to sit down, and took a seat not far away. She was finally able to help me, so I stood and went back to the checkout desk. She called the cardiology department, and discovered that my insurance had not been cleared for the echo-cardiogram. So I had to go down to the Financial Counseling Office and get things approved. More walking. *sigh* Thankfully, there was no line at this office, and a chair right at the desk, and it only took a few minutes to get the approval. But then I had to go back up to neurology, and get the appointments set up. More walking. More standing. Got the appointment for the next day - yay!

But now it was time for lunch, before my next appointment. More walking back to cafe. Standing in line at the cafe. Blissful sitting for lunch. Then more walking to next appointment. Thankfully, this one had a speedy check in, and I was able to immediately sit in the exam room. This appointment was with a geneticist - some of the suspects for my condition have genetic markers, so they wanted a consult with this doctor.

Now it was time for my blood tests. More walking to lab. Speedy check in, again. Got blood removed. Too early for dinner, so once again I walked back to the skywalk, and got the golf-cart to the hotel. I sat in my hotel room, and watched a lovely blizzard. (Lovely to me, at least, I didn't have to commute home in it!) Finally, I decided I'd better get to dinner before it was too late, and headed back to the cafe in the clinic. Golf cart to the clinic, but walking to the cafe. I'm getting very, very tired by this point. And, silly me, didn't pay attention to the time while I was eating (blame the book - here's my review) and it was after 7:00 by the time I noticed, so I had to trudge all the way back to the hotel.

I was exhausted by now, but had to get up for another 10:00am appointment for the echo-cardiogram. And I'd need time for coffee, first, of course, so this was another 8:00am wake up (aka 5:00am) - double ugh! Same drill as before: golf cart to clinic, walk to cafe, walk to cardiology department (even further than the neurology department.) This time, I remembered my cane, which I really needed! Thankfully, it was a quick check in here. Got the echo done, and had the followup consultation with the cardiologist.  (My heart is fine, by the way.) The cardiologist also wanted a full EKG, however, so I had to get that scheduled for later in the day. So, I slowly trudged back to the cafe. Ate lunch. Even more slowly dragged myself back to the cardiology department - only to find that the EKG was done at another place, much closer to the cafe, back the way I had just come! Slogged, step by slow step, back to the right place for EKG. Got that done in a jiffy. Again, it's too early for dinner, but I learned my lesson from the previous day, so I just found a nook and read until dinner time. Then made sure I got done in time to catch the golf cart back to the hotel. But I still had to walk to the skywalk. I am literally dragging my right leg, now, as I walk like a 90-year-old, shuffling, leaning on my cane. But I made it back to the hotel and flopped into bed. One more early morning to catch plane!

The flight home was uneventful. Arrived home on time, and Randy was waiting for me in the lobby. Joy!!

One more item to wrap things up: Saturday morning (after sleeping 11 hours), I opened Jesus Calling for the day's devotional, and read this:

Come to me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary.

Again, I was stunned by how much God loves me and cares for me and knows what I'm going through. Had a little teary moment. Smiled. And realized that no, I didn't make the trip alone. God was with me, and he is still with me, on the bigger journey of life. And I am grateful beyond words for his love and his care and his strength.

**A little footnote: I think that if I had asked, I could have gotten someone to push me in a wheelchair between appointments. But I didn't ask. I wasn't sure they could get me to/from cafe, too, and wasn't sure who or where to ask. So I wore myself out because I was too embarrassed to ask, I guess. What's up with that?? If there is a next time, I will ask!