There are about 5 of us that undergo hyperbaric treatment at the same time. One of my chamber companions is Bill. Bill has severe diabetes. He suffers from foot and leg ulcers, one of the many side effects of extreme diabetes. He has already lost one leg due to the ulcers and is undergoing hyperbaric treatment to treat the ulcers in his other leg. He has been in the hospital for the past few months, and has battled this illness for years. Every day I am greeted by Bill with a smile and a friendly hello. He is always positive and is rarely in a bad mood despite being confined to a wheelchair and a hospital room every day. One thing I have learned about Bill is that his faith remains steady despite his suffering. Today, I arrived at the hyperbaric chamber early so I sat in the waiting room. Bill was also in the waiting room as he was just dropped off by the transport services that take him to the chamber from the hospital. Another chamber companion of ours was also in the waiting room and he was intently listening to Bill talking about the point in his life where he had to completely give everything to God. Soon the other patient was called into the back to be examined by the doctor, but before he left the room, he put his hand on Bill's shoulder to let him know how much he needed to hear Bill's words of encouragement. Soon, Bill's attention was soon directed to me and he began to tell me a story...one that I have been carrying with me throughout the day. Here is the story:
There was a group of men carrying their crosses, plodding along and dragging crosses on the ground after them. One of the men suddenly stood up from his trudging and asked, "Lord, can I make my cross smaller?" Despite God's silence, the man decided to hew off the end of his cross with a little hacksaw. Throughout his journey, he continued to ask God to make his cross even smaller. After the cross had been whittled down to a manageable size, the man picked up his modified cross and fairly skipped along with it, praising God saying "Thank you! This is so much better!" The group of men reached a canyon. Everybody laid their crosses over the crevasse and walked upon the crossbeam to reach over the other side. The man with the smaller cross did the same. Alas! It was too short. He couldn't make it across and watched the others move on without him.
After Bill finished telling me this story, the chamber staff came into wheel Bill to the back to prepare him for treatment. As he was wheeling in, he was telling me that we need to be patient while carrying our heavy loads and to accept the load that God has given us. I was left to ponder the meaning of this story and I felt like I was just given a lesson I needed to learn. There have been many times I have asked God to help take away the cross I carried and continue carry as a result of battling cancer. Bill's story gave me a completely different point of view of my suffering: carrying my cross, the cross God has given me, is something I should do with pride and purpose. My cross will help me to someday cross an seemingly impossible obstacle or to help me get where I need to go. My cross will also allow me to help others carrying their own cross that aren't quite long enough to cross over their own obstacles.
This has been my experience in the hyperbaric chamber. I have encountered some amazing people, all with a strong faith and positive attitude despite their own sufferings. I feel like I have been put into that chamber for a reason, and at the right time. I am so blessed to have met my chamber companions.
Treatment has been going well. It is too soon to tell if the treatments will work, but my doctor is confident the hole will close. At 30 treatments, I will FINALLY be able to have the flap of skin across my face removed and I will then finish the remaining 10 treatments. If all goes well, and the hole closes, I should be done with treatments and surgery and be able to move on with life.
Please continue to pray that hole will close as well as this chapter in my life. It will be a glorious day when I can start looking towards the future and leave this all behind.
Luke 9:23-26 (The Message) "Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat - I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it be to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?