Friday, June 20, 2008

A Lesson in Everything

This last week, I haven't felt very healthy.  Early in the week, my throat started to hurt really bad, like when you have a pill stuck sideways in your throat.   Soon after, it started to feel like a knife from my throat to my sternum when I would swallow, then the left side of my neck and throat were sore to the touch, and finally, it began to hurt to breathe and to speak. Between that and thinking about how I am supposed to be on a plane tomorrow for Uganda, it's been a rough couple of days.  But as always, God is revealing an amazing lesson in the midst of my struggle. 

On Wednesday, I had coffee with my friend Tammy, and during our time, I told her how I was feeling.  The conversation eventually shifted to talking about Africa and how I would begin conversations with people, what kinds of things are okay to ask, etc.  As we spoke, Tammy suggested a good way to ask people to talk about how they feel having HIV/AIDS would be to share a little bit of my recent health struggle, something like, "Before I came to Africa, I had surgery to remove some growths in my throat.  The doctors were concerned I had cancer.  I was very scared."  Plain and simple:  When I was told I was sick, I was scared.  How did you feel when you were told you have HIV?  

I am now somehow a little glad to have my beastly thyroid growths.  My experience at Gift of Love, working with men dying from AIDS gives me a way to relate to others on how it feels to lose someone you love, but until coffee on Wednesday, I didn't realize that I now have a way to start a conversation about what it feels like to be told you are sick.  Clearly, what I have is not comparable in the least bit to being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, but being scared and not feeling healthy can maybe help build a bridge to really connecting with people and learning their story.  
Even though I thought tomorrow I would be healthy, on a plane to Uganda, leaving for the greatest adventure of my life, I am somehow grateful to be at home on my couch with literally, a pain in my neck, just taking every day for what it is and trying to see the lesson in everything presented to me. 


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