BY CATHY LEE PHILLIPS
Customer service! These two terrifying words are often a necessary evil when my computer has a nervous breakdown. To reach Customer Service, I press multiple buttons until a disembodied voice assures me that my call is very important but all technicians are assisting other customers. The voice tells me to hold and that my approximate wait time is only 11 hours and 42 minutes.
11 hours and 43 minutes later, a techno-guru finally answers and asks the inevitable question, “Have you rebooted your computer?”
“Yes. Actually 2,472 times.”
“To reboot, press CONTROL-ALT-DELETE.”
I know the procedure. I use it when my computer is tired, runs slowly, is confused by too many demands, and gives me scary messages. Sometimes the thing just needs a power nap. If so, CONTROL-ALT-DELETE solves the problem. If not … Customer Service.
My computer is working fine right now.
Unfortunately, I need service. My hard drive has been running at warp speed for 54 years without a break. But a virus and series of recent life-altering events convinced me that I need a reboot.
For more than five years I’ve been exhausted to the point of needing long afternoon naps. My memory and concentration left the building. Work piled high but I had no motivation or logical train of thought to complete it. I was in a fog and just wanted to snuggle on the sofa and be left alone. What had happened to the driven, task-oriented, laughing Cathy I used to be? I worried that my C Drive was about to crash. Skilled doctors and good folks offered varying diagnoses:
· You work too hard and need more rest.
· Remember, you aren’t as young as you used to be.
· It’s menopause. (That really hurt.)
· Are you depressed?
Dear God, I wrote one night. Is this aging? Signed, a dissatisfied customer.
During one doctor’s visit, a nurse pricked my finger for an iron test. She called the doctor quickly and they whispered privately. That is when I discovered I was severely anemic.
“Do you mean I have a REAL problem?”
I almost kissed that doctor right on the mouth.
“Yes. Your hemoglobin is six. It should be around fourteen.”
He was amazed I hadn’t fainted or required a blood transfusion. Anemia meant I had little oxygenated blood flowing to my brain (no wise cracks, please). That explained my fatigue, fog, and lack of motivation and concentration. Treatment began and I gradually felt stronger.
Then I discovered a tiny spot that quickly developed into something frightening.
“Cathy, you have MRSA,” my doctor told me.
“Well, Lord a’MRSA! What’s that?” I wondered.
It is an antibiotic-resistant, flesh-eating, super staph infection. I was only hours away from a hospital bed and possibly months on IV antibiotics. I most likely came in contact with the infection when I worked part-time for a church and visited their senior adults in hospitals, nursing homes, and other places MRSA thrives. I can be a killer so I began extensive treatment.
Today, almost three years later, I still have MRSA. My body has been unable to conquer it and I have had multiple breakouts. I’m not contagious. I’ve never been in the hospital but have been under constant care of an Infectious Disease Specialist. This doctor wasn’t content to simply treat the problem. He wanted to know why I couldn’t get rid of the cursed infection. Months of extensive testing revealed that I have a Genetic Immune Deficiency. My mother died of an immune disease and I inherited the tendency toward immune problems from her. (Thanks, Mom.) My doctor ordered eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, a diet high in protein and major life changes. Stress is my worst enemy and he told me to get rid of as much stress as possible.
That stressed me out!
Then my doctor took my hands and said, “Cathy, you have to make some changes. If not, this can lead to Lymphoma.”
I stopped cold and said, “You now have my full attention.”
Reboot 2011 began right then and there.
My doctor spent time with me, wanting to understand the stress I faced. Owning a house with a mortgage bigger than its current value was my biggest stress.
His prescription? “LET THE HOUSE GO. Lose the house to save the life.”
My writing and speaking suffered with the economic crisis and doesn’t provide what I need to pay the mortgage. And now I can no longer work part-time because of straining my already-weakened immune system. My house went back to the bank and I joined the ranks of millions in foreclosure. Two weeks ago I moved to a small apartment in my hometown of Newnan.
So, why would I share such embarrassment and humiliation with friends and strangers?
This is what I do. I share my pain so that, maybe, others will know they are not alone. I share because we need our church and each other. I share so that we will learn to recognize God in the midst of whatever we face. Bad things happen. This is part of my trouble. Still, I can be of good cheer because Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33).
Like me and every person and computer in the world, you will be pressured, pressed down, and faced with the need to reboot. Remember CONTROL-ALT-DELETE?
You never fully have CONTROL over your life. Admit that and put your trust in the One who will guide you when your world is out of control.
ALTER your plans. God may be leading you down a different road. Leave behind things that bind you and follow Him. Remember, the best place to alter your plans is at the altar.
DELETE old habits, obsolete goals, painful memories, anger, and things that burden. You may even need to delete toxic people who bring you down instead of build you up.
God says, “Behold I am doing a NEW thing. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) Reboot. Rest. Then move forward knowing that Christ is by your side and knows your needs.
This is my story, but many others are hurting today. Gracious God, enable us to be a healing balm to others within the Household of Faith.
© 2011, Cathy Lee Phillips
To learn more about Cathy Lee Phillips, visit www.CathyLeePhillips.com.
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