One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament has always been that of Esther, the queen who didn’t ever intend to fill such a role. When King Xerxes was to choose his new queen from among a group of women, Esther balked at this contest of sorts – she was a Jewish orphan who resided with her Uncle Mordecai, and this very wise man saw this as an opportunity for this beatiful, pure young Hebrew woman to help her people and be used by God in a very special way. Mordecai asked Esther a question that helped to turn her mind’s tide: “Who knows but that you have come into the world for such a time as this?”
If you are familiar with Esther’s story, you know that Mordecai was spot on. Queen Esther not only helped save the Jewish people from destruction, but she helped uncover a plot to kill her uncle. (See the book of Esther for details.)
Stories of ancient queens, kings and death plots may not seem to apply to life today, but I experienced a “Mordeai Moment” yesterday. Once a month, I travel to Fort Wayne for my monthly Tysabri infusion, and yesterday was the September infusion day. (In fact, it has now officially been four years since I started the medication!) In the infusion center, there are two comfy recliners in which individuals reside while receiving their medication (mine takes a total of two hours – some are longer, some a bit shorter). There is a TV/DVD player in the room, and I sometimes tote a dvd in my bag in case my arm position has to be such that holding a book is difficult. On many days, I am the only person receiving medication at that time, but this was not the case yesterday. The patient in the other chair (I’ll call her Shari) was having a steroid infusion due to MS. I let her know that this is an infusion I’ve experienced before (at least four or five times, but not recently), so I literally knew how that felt. Shari wasn’t extremely chatty, so I pulled out my dvd to see if she and her sister (who had come with her) were at all interested. We actually didn’t watch much, but this was an excellent conversation starter.
The program I had was a comedy routine by Chonda Pearce – I hadn’t watched this for a bit, and it always makes me laugh. But Shari’s sister has seen Chonda Pearce in person, at a “Women of Faith” conference. And this got the conversation started… if other people are hooked up to an IV, I generally don’t pry and ask lots of questions, as this is a bit of a personal thing, but as we chatted, I found out that Shari was just diagnosed with MS on Friday. This was Monday. Her sister had traveled up from Florida to help Shari make sense of this all, to look for answers… and both lovely ladies were searching. Once I heard this, the DVD went off, and I became a resource and friend.
What exactly is MS? What causes it? Is there a cure? Will these symptoms I’m experiencing go away? How did it start for you? What other symptoms might crop up? …you mean that when I’ve been experiencing depression, for which I’m now on a number if medications, that could actually have been triggered by MS? Where can I go for reliable information? Will I have to go on disability? You mean it’s THIRTEEN years since you were diagnosed? Can I keep working? And what if time due to medical things is an issue with work? Which doctor do you see? Do you live nearby?
Strangely enough, as facilitator of our area MS support group, I was able to give Sherri’s sister answers to write down – phone numbers, websites, definitions, examples, stories, and encouragement. There are five medications for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and I am one of those unusual folks who has been on all five at one time or another. I found the doctor Shari is going to see on Wednesday is Dr. Stevens, the same neurologist I’ve been coming to for thirteen years. (She smiled when telling her sister of her appointment with the doctor last Friday – when Sheri apologized for not having shaved her legs, he smiled and let her know that he hadn’t shaved his either.) The thing that most impressed both ladies, though, was when I shared that even though it wasn’t something we openly discussed, I knew this was a doctor who shared our same faith. Once Shari’s infusion was finished, her sister asked if the three of us could pray together before they left. So we held hands and prayed for God’s will, answers, direction and peace.
Bending my elbow had made the little infusion machine beep – I apologized to the nurse after Sheri left, but I explained that if you need to flex your arm in order to hold hands and pray, I was willing to wait the extra few minutes of infusion time, as this isn’t something that happens every day. Then the nurse – another lovely woman with whom I’ve had similar exchanges before, played the Mordecai role. “Now we know why YOU are the one who was scheduled to be HERE today.” (“Who knows that you have come into the world for such a time as this?”)