Where is God in All of This?


I would start by referring you to http://doctorblue.wordpress.com/about/#comment-208 wherein the author gives a reasoned and articulate record of her journey through the American medical industry in pursuit of a diagnosis and treatment for actinomycosis.  She has raised some important issues, particularly about medical malpractice and the physician’s ability to listen.  But she has also—if inadvertently—raised a question:   Where is God in all of this?

She went to thirty-two doctors in seven years to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.  As detailed in my blog yesterday and tomorrow (“SOB and the S.O.B.s,” parts I and II), I went to eight doctors in ten years to get the correct diagnosis.

My diagnosis was put in the mouth of a member of my church.  I had not seen her in six months, and it took us several weeks of persevering with emails before we even were able to set up a meeting. 

And there is not a doubt in my mind that God sent her to give me the message.

Doctor blue makes no mention of her faith, but I have to wonder how her journey to diagnosis was impacted by faith or faithlessness.  She went to a new doctor, on average, every two and a half months for seven years.  Wow.  Do you know what that means in terms of appointments, tests, transportation, money, time and energy?  Would it not have required singular focus that excluded all other human activity?  For what?  To restore a body that will die anyway.

It has been my experience that if you serve God, then God will give you everything you need when God decides you need it.  It also has been my experience that if you are serving yourself instead of God, then pretty much nothing will go right in your life.  In days gone by, I fought the American medical industry on my own terms, which resulted in tears, anger, pain and suffering—and continual frustration in getting what I thought I needed.

What trust in the Lord means is giving up fighting for yourself and letting God fight for you, even when you don’t like the way he’s doing the job.

I went the route of thirty-two-doctors-in-seven-years, or some approximation of it, back in the 1990s.  Lord, it was awful!  Being pummeled and punched and interrogated and insulted and disrespected.  Having countless tests and taking dozens of prescriptions, which just made me sicker.

Then, in 2001, I made the decision to take physicians prescribing pharmaceuticals out of the middle of my life.  Thereafter, all my medical decisions would be made directly between God and me.  If God wanted me to live, he’d find a way to make it happen.  If he wanted me dead, then I was prepared to meet him on his terms.

It was an act of faith, and I did not know it.  I did it to escape pain, not to declare fealty to God, even though that’s exactly what I was doing.  Sometimes we take action based on intuition and then spend years figuring out what it all meant.  Thereafter, I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and praying. 

What I learned was that God is perfect love; that God wants to enter into a loving relationship with each of us; and that God wants to teach us to extend that love to our fellow beings.  I learned that the most important things, after love, are (a) humility before God; (b) service to others; (c) Truth, and (d) Justice.

Fighting to preserve the clay vessel that contained my transcendent spirit was nowhere on the list.  Death will come.  Accept that and move on.  The important question is what you will be doing when you are claimed by death.  I stopped looking to doctors to save my body and started looking to God to save my soul, and that inevitably meant service.  I have a half-remembered quote about “The only good place for man to die is where he dies for man.”  The exemplary death is the death in service to others.

I became an activist for people who are poor, sick, disabled, elderly or otherwise limited in receiving care-full service. 

I took on the local bus company and it’s paratransit service, resulting in filing a federal complaint that caused the bus company to have to spend about half a million dollars on the purchase of additional buses to serve its four thousand disabled riders.

I took on a Medicaid transportation company that was engaged in a corrupt relationship with the county.  I spent years working with state law officers, which resulted in the company having to pay back $80,000 and agree to long-term legal oversight of its practices.  Medicaid transportation for twenty thousand of God’s poorest, sickest people was brought up to federal standards.  It nearly cost me my life.

Most recently, I have taken on the city for its failure to maintain accessible curb-cuts and sidewalks in the most densely used part of the city, wherein are located three hospitals as well as large residences for the elderly and disabled.  The mayor said the city was too poor; I said the city was serving the abled to the exclusion of the disabled.  People in wheelchairs were being forced into the streets with vehicular traffic, so I filed a federal complaint.  Last week the city started tearing out substandard curb-cuts in preparation for replacement.

Thousands of people will have a somewhat better life because I work for God and he works for me.  I have a dozen—make that a dozen plus one—illnesses, several of which are killing me.  I live in a two-room 540-square-foot apartment, have an income of $782 a month, sleep in a hospital bed and travel in a wheelchair.

And I have a functioning brain, the ability to communicate in writing, and a computer with Internet access.  God has given me what I need in order to do his work.

I am dying—and happy.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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