Simple Gifts...

"'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free."

When I was in elementary school, we learned the song "Simple Gifts" in music class under the tutelage of Mrs. Schnell, not only to perform vocally, but also on the recorders we were taught to play. I hadn't thought about that memory for quite some time, but it came to me today as I was contemplating some rather disconcerting news that I received from my friend Natasha.

Natasha, you see, has lupus, an auto-immune disease that goes through periods of remissions and periods of "flares" in which the disease's symptoms return and intensify. Natasha had been feeling under the weather since the holidays, with an escalating set of symptoms that grew to include full-body swelling over the weekend. On Monday, she was not at work, but she sent me a message that she might be going into the hospital. While she avoided hospitalization earlier in the week, she still had to undergo a battery of out-patient tests, resulting in a diagnosis of vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), with kidney involvement. Tomorrow, Natasha is being admitted to the hospital to undergo chemotherapy with Cytoxan. Contrary to popular belief, chemotherapy is not just for cancer patients -- its immune-suppressing effects can also be used to treat lupus.

On the phone, while she was delivering her news, I was struck by how calm she was. After all, Natasha is used to being sick. She underwent chemo for her lupus when she was 17, has suffered multiple heart attacks due to the disease, and has even had a stem cell transplant that she credits with saving her life, all before the age of 30. So for Natasha to go to the hospital to begin chemotherapy, it is not as terrifying to her as it would be for say, somebody like me. If I were in her situation, I would be coming apart at the seams.

I would like to ask that any of you reading this keep Natasha in your thoughts, or, if you are so inclined, say a prayer for her. At the very least, take a moment to reflect upon the gift of good health that some of us are fortunate enough to enjoy. Being healthy gives us simple lives, in which we don't have to ponder outcomes like chemotherapy. We have the freedom to live without worrying about "flares" or recurrences of chronic illness. There are many people out there who aren't as fortunate. Nobody should have to get used to being sick. Hospitalizations shouldn't be routine for anyone. Those of us who are so lucky should be thankful for the gift of good health, and remember to be supportive to those who have not been blessed in the same way.

1 comment:

  1. As you can see, I am way behind on reading. I'm glad your friend is home now. Prayers for her that she remains healthy.