Update 4 – The Long Hauler

I now read this with a new point-of-view:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you. (Proverbs 9:10-11 NASB)

I don’t know how many years of life have been added (Time will tell.) But I thank God for each day that I wake, each second that I breathe.

I must again thank the believers in Jesus who unite their hearts in prayer for one purpose. Prayer is active conversation with God. Both participants speak and listen, and prayer requests are answered. These requests certainly were answered. Thank you also for the continued support both Mary and I receive daily.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 4:6-7 NASB)

LONG HAULER. My uncle Charles was a long hauler – a long-haul truck driver who carried alfalfa pellets from Tulare, CA to Phoenix, AZ. I also am a long hauler – a survivor of Covid-19 who took months to recover.

Last week, my doctor reminded me that my full recovery will take one year. One year. One second at a time… However, quite a few things have rapidly improved. God is answering prayers for further healing:

   My pressure wounds have closed.

   I do not need additional oxygen around the house or riding in the car.

   I’ve gained 10 pounds since May 27.

   My feet swell less than they did a month ago.

   It even looks like some of my gray hair is growing back.

The other signs of Covid’s effects are less visible. My kidneys began to fail in February while I was on the ventilator. My kidneys are not yet working at 100%. The doctors will continue to monitor them. My recovery enters the slow, but steady part. Healing will be mostly invisible. Updates from me may tend to all sound the same, but an occasional insight may pop into my brain now and then. Improvements will be incremental, like grass growing or clouds transforming from Mickey Mouse to a Dragon. When some miraculous healing does take place, I will surely let you know. (And don’t call me “Shirley.”)

PRESSURE WOUNDS. Much improved. My pressure wounds incurred from being on a ventilator for 46 days are not being packed anymore. Praise God! I have been healed again. This healing took five months and a lot of protein drinks. Thank you, God, for Your healing hands. Thank you, Brenda, my wound nurse. Thank you, Annie, my wound nurse. Thank you, Mary, for courageously dressing my wounds when Brenda could not. The wounds are still sore when I lie on them. Some healing still needs to take place.

WALKING. Much improved. I’m still being careful to avoid all falls. I walk around the house with a cane or holding onto counters and walls. Other times, I’m using a four-wheeled walker for long distances. My balance is good. I have started walking outside with its hazards and uneven surfaces. Each day, I go a little farther. Praise God for this.

OXYGEN. Improving. On July 7, I took off my oxygen to see how I could do without it. Six hours later, I was still maintaining a saturation level above 90%. So, my lungs are getting stronger daily, but they still feel tighter than normal. I still use supplemental oxygen when I’m exercising and sleeping, but for most of the day I do not need additional oxygen. On July 10, I stepped into Starbucks without oxygen and did all right, though I was doing focused breathing the entire time. I’ve taken a couple more outings without oxygen. Praise God for air and lungs that are healing.

FEELING/NERVES. Nothing different. No improvement.

FATIGUE. The same. Most days I have to take a nap; some days not. Most of my activity is accomplished sitting – writing, producing music, watching the birds in the backyard. As I get more active, I fatigue more easily, and my heart rate increases to dangerous levels. It’s a trade-off. Sometimes, my blood pressure drops. And oxygen saturation is something I regularly monitor.

COVID POETRY. I have a friend in Oklahoma named Nathan Brown. Nathan is a poet. And he’s no slouch-of-a-poet. He was the poet laureate for Oklahoma. During the pandemic, Nathan has been doing a podcast called “The Fire Pit Sessions” on Facebook during which he plays some music, has a few guests on, and reads poetry. His reflections on the pandemic led to a four-book series of poetry called Pandemic Poems Project. Book 4 is called In the Days of Our Resilience. The last poem in the series is about my journey with Covid-19. It is titled “Numbering the Days.” I will post times for its premiere when I hear further news. The book is available on Amazon.

STARBUCKS. For those of you who do not know, I used to walk to Starbucks each morning and wind my way back home – 3.1 miles. My iPhone keeps reminding me that I walked much more last year than I do now. Duh! While I was in the hospital, I set a goal to walk into Starbucks on July 4th. I accomplished that goal – Mary parked in the disabled parking spot, and I walked ten paces to Starbucks. Yeah, it’s not very far, but I did it. However, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. The barista crew at Starbucks had followed my ordeal, getting updates from customers that knew me. So, when I showed up on the 4th, Amanda and Laney greeted me warmly and presented me with a “Welcome Back” poster signed by the baristas who knew me. Thank you, Stacy, for initiating this! Someone asked me why they would do this for one customer. My answer: relationship. I’ve been walking to Starbucks for nine years. Several years ago, I simply decided to learn each barista’s name and use it whenever I spoke with him or her – the same thing teachers do with their students. People appreciate being called by their name. (See Isaiah 43:1) Simple. Simple. Simple. I returned on July 10, this time without supplemental oxygen.

The Creator of the Universe knows your name…

But now, this is what the Lord says, He who is your Creator, Jacob,
And He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
(Isaiah 43:1 NASB)

MUSIC. Three things still hinder my guitar playing: No callouses on my fingers, I tire easily when strumming, and two fingers on my right hand have some arthritis and tingling in them. The left hand works well, and I remember most of the chords I knew pre-Covid. But with “three chords and the truth,” you can write a lot of songs.