“The front lines” no doubt conjures up many different images and emotions depending on just what your “front lines” have been. In general, I believe it is a term that represents a battle, something to conquer, something that requires your best and potentially your wholeness in its entirety. Not so long ago, I was at the “front lines” of my life while laying in an emergency (ER) department being treated for double pneumonia. I was very sick: “the sickest person in the ER” as the ER Dr said, and this was something, as they were very busy.
Now, some may think pneumonia can’t be that bad, surely in this day in age? It is actually deadly for people like who me who battle daily to stay healthy while living with CKD: chronic kidney disease or even ESRD: end stage renal disease. I have been blessed for 19 years next month to have had a transplant which has enabled me to live a productive and very enjoyable life until these last few months as my kidney function has faulted once again and I find myself back on the battle lines fighting to live even more fiercely. My immune system is suppressed as part and parcel of being kept alive with a functioning transplant. In case you don’t know, this means you are at higher risk to be severely ill from things most people can just blow off; like the flu (aka influenza), gastrointestinal infections, cancers, and yes, pneumonia. Well, I found out I had the meanest pneumonia going….and so, there I found myself on the front lines of the battlefield of life and death once more.
While in the battlefields (as I was in the ER for 3 days), I was witness to the human frailties and the brokenness of all kinds. The biggest battle in this world of life and death is the pain, the brokenness, vulnerabilities, loneliness, and family/relationship tragedies that are seen here. Most pronounced was the young females that came and went: all were under 21 years, all were there because of drugs/alcohol and an incident involving either suicide attempts/attention-seeking or being the victim of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression. One of these young ladies actually “coded” and was brought back to life just to be belligerent, combative, angry: broken. After calming down, being nursed, being treated and cared for through their respective hazes of drugs, alcohol, and trauma from the accidents or incidents that brought them to the ER, their families slowly trickled in. The heart-breaking conversations, or lack of, the looks on parent’s faces, the tears, the guilt, the lashing out in anger, the harsh words that poured out from these young ladies and the failed attempts from all that cared to reassure the young women was a very sad and heartbreaking thing to witness. The parents without fail all displayed brokenness.
I can only imagine how I would feel if that was MY daughter there: so many emotions and thoughts that would coming pouring in. The bodily responses would be significant: that weight you feel in the gut that hits you like someone has just ripped your gut and heart out all at once in some barbaric Viking punishment, leaving you literally without breath, reeling, all sorts of pain rushing throughout your brain, your heart, your soul. “WHAT IS HAPPENING”? “HOW CAN THIS BE?” Soul-searching questioned pound through your brain, you search your heart, your soul, your memories, your last words spoken all in the vein attempt to make sense of the battlefield that you find yourself knee deep in!
Battling CKD, having the hope of living “normally” even when your kidneys are failing and having to face many little battlefields over many years or months takes a toll on your soul, your spirit, your humanness, your mind, and lastly, on your physical being. I carry the scars, both physically and mentally of having waged war many a time. Being in that ER battling for my life with pneumonia was a battle I would not want to go through again and would not wish on anyone else. I will be ever grateful for the insights, the lessons taught to my heart, my soul, and my person during those days in the ER and the subsequent days in the ward. It opened my eyes and heart to the brokenness there is in this world. I can only say that everyone of us is battling in battles every day!
I will leave you with a song my daughter texted me after we had had a very emotional discussion, I know for some this song will resonate throughout your body and soul as it did mine.