If I only touch His garment, I will get well (Matthew 9:21)Before the anesthesiologist wheeled my gurney into the operating suite he injected medication around the nerve just above my right collarbone to numb my right arm. He said my arm would be paralyzed and insensitive to pain for the next 24 to 36 hours. He also gave me instructions to take my pain medication that evening, in case the numbing medication wore off sooner. He wanted me to stay ahead of the pain.
He was right about the paralysis. When I awoke in the PACU (recovery room) I had absolutely no feeling in my arm and couldn’t move so much as my pinky. The disconnect between my arm and my brain was so complete, when I touched my fingers with my left hand, it felt as if I was touching another person. I left the PACU with a large bulky dressing from my right elbow to wrist, and my arm in a sling. My wife drove us home. The complete paralysis continued into the night. I took my pain medication as ordered and went to bed.
In my semi-drugged state I dozed on and off until around 3:00. Trying to get more comfortable, I shuffled several pillows around my head and arm – and for some inexplicable reason removed my sling. A moment later when I again tried to get more comfortable, my right arm suddenly flew over the side of the bed. I’d forgotten I had no control whatsoever over my arm.
In the dark and in my narcotic-induced haze, I thought my arm had flopped over the mattress by my chest, but when I reached for it with my left hand I couldn’t find it. I searched along the mattress and grew a bit frantic at the thought that I’d lost my arm. Fortunately, logic subdued my rising panic and I realized if I reached up to the place where my arm originates – my shoulder – I could follow it to where my arm should be. Moments later – and much relieved – I cradled my arm to my chest. And I replaced my sling.
Not too unlike my experience that early morning in the dark, sometimes life has kicked me so hard in the gut I’ve fallen to the ground gasping for breath. And not satisfied with that, life kicked me again while I was down until I could do nothing but lie there, paralyzed. Numb. Darkness overtook me. I felt as if I’d lost direction. Hope. Joy. Peace. Like losing my arm in the darkness, panic worked its talons up toward my throat and squeezed until I couldn’t breathe. If not for a glimmer of logic that settled over me, I don’t know where I would have ended up.
That glimmer reminds me of a critically important principle I learned years ago. When I lose my direction, my confidence, my security . . . when nothing any longer makes sense, that’s the time – like no other time – I need to reach out, as often as necessary, for the place where hope, direction, joy, and peace originate.
At the feet of Jesus.
Sometimes stretching myself beyond what I think is the limit of my endurance until I touch Him, I reach for Him in frequent prayer, the Sacraments, and through reading His word. And each time I touch Him – and then follow Him – I always find what I lost.