There are many things in life that will make you feel like you’re sinking in quicksand with no one to pull you out.
I’m looking at you, strep throat.
I hate being sick. I can’t think of many people who would say they enjoy it, but I want to make it clear that I HATE being sick. I’m not very good at that whole “listening to your body” thing, so I always try to go on with my life as if nothing is different when something is actually wrong with me—I mean, I’m the girl who decided it would be a good idea to go on a run when there was a 9-millimeter kidney stone trying to pass through me.
Last Sunday evening, my throat started to hurt a bit. I told myself that I was fine and that it was nothing but maybe some allergies (even though I don’t think I normally have allergy issues). When I woke up Monday morning and couldn’t swallow without wanting to scream and had a headache that made me feel like that stinkin’ Wile E. Coyote dropped the anvil and actually hit his target, I told myself I should probably go running, because surely that would make me feel better.
To answer your question, I have no idea what’s wrong with me.
I don’t think I need to tell you more about the run, other than that it wasn’t my best idea, and it hurt. I texted my boss to tell her about my condition and that I thought I needed to go to the doctor, and this was actually a huge step for me—I typically wait to go to the doctor until a hospitalization is required. The nurse did three different tests that involved gagging me, stabbing me and draining every last drop of blood from my finger, and prodding so far up my nose that my left eye almost popped out (zero exaggeration over here).
The doc came in a short time later to tell me that I tested positive for strep throat. This wasn’t good news to hear—I certainly didn’t have room for strep in my life. That memo apparently got lost somewhere along the lines.
The ensuing days were miserable.
Day 1 was filled with me trying not to swallow and failing worse than me trying to get and keep a date to a wedding (for those keeping count, I’ve been in 19 weddings and attended plenty more, never had a date who wasn’t my sister, and had two guys bail on me for two different weddings).
Day 2 (I showed up at work and was sent home by my boss) involved a head that I was sure was going to explode, the loss of my taste buds and sense of smell (so eating was zero fun), and out-of-control chills accompanied by a body that felt like it was on fire.
Day 3 (I showed up at work again and was sent home by my boss again) brought in more congestion than ever, swollen glands that wouldn’t go back to their normal sizes, an aching body, and someone telling me that I looked like I had been hit by a truck (best compliment ever, obviously).
At this point, I know it might be nice to hear that I rested during this time, but I tried running each day—you know, just to see if I was better yet, because clearly the feeling of complete misery inside my entire being wasn’t indication enough that I wasn’t quite healed.
Day 4 brought in a bunch of coughing, thanks to all of that drainage from my stuffed-up nose falling down into my chest. But there was still so much congestion in my nose/head area. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, BODY.
When you’re sick, it sometimes feels like you don’t remember what it’s like to be normal and healthy and like you may never get to feel that way again—it’s as if there’s no end in sight. It can be like that when you’re going through a tough season of life, such as emotional and heartache pain, too. It’s as if there’s nothing you can do to make the pain go away and make everything feel better. Instead, it seems as if it all just keeps getting worse.
I know firsthand how much life can kick a person in the tail and just keep kicking. We all go through different storms and sometimes feel like we’ve been left all alone in the pouring rain, lightning, and thunder during those times. But I can also tell you firsthand that there is hope—and hope is beautiful.
Strep throat doesn’t last forever, and neither do those challenging seasons we face. Even those warriors who don’t survive their battles here on earth are hopefully dancing forever with Jesus, which is better, anyway.
I had a lot of antibiotics, Sudafed, chloraseptic throat spray (that I swallowed every time on accident, even though you’re technically supposed to spit it out), and disgusting sore throat/cough lozenges (such a difficult word to say) over the course of the week, and I’m sure they all helped in some ways to get rid of the nasty illness. It’s not always as simple with other troubles we have to endure, but I’ve found that love helps to ease the pain, even when it comes in the simplest forms. The truth is that we all need love—just look around the world, and I think you’ll see that there’s not quite enough of it.
Strep throat may be able to suck out your physical strength for a while, but it can’t suck all of the hope and love out of your life—nothing can, as long as you don’t let it. I can’t guarantee I’m not going to continue to try to act like pain isn’t there when it really is, but I’m also not going to let it keep me down for long when I finally admit it hurts. Instead, I’m going to continue to believe that there’s never a moment when all hope is completely lost. Life is tough sometimes, but so are people.
And, to quote the wise Dolly Parton, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”