Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Sacrifice

A few years ago, I went down with the flu which eventually turned into pneumonia. I had a 103 degree fever, and for a couple of days, I barely ate, drank, or slept. It was bad. In fact, the body aches were so severe, I couldn't sleep laying down and had to sleep in an upright fetal-position on my couch. That, of course, didn't bode well with me being at that angle and in so much pain so I don't remember getting much rest during that time. By the third day, I knew I was in pretty bad shape and needed to get medical help. In my delirious state, though, I couldn't think of anyone to contact who wasn't either too far away, or would be burdened by my request for help. I know, I know, in a situation like that, it shouldn't matter, but that's just how my brain works.

So, mentally fried by the lack of water, food, and sleep, my only thought was to ask nicely on Facebook. Why not? Lots of people were using it then, and I figured someone who might see my post and volunteer to come get me would, therefore, be doing so willingly. I posted, and within minutes, a co-worker of mine said he was on his way and to text him my address. 20 minutes later, he arrived, picked me up, and drove me to urgent care. Since he needed to get back to work, he said to text him when I was done there, and he'd come get me and take me home. I checked in and sat down in the waiting room area across from the pharmacy. And then I passed out.

Hearing my name being called woke me up, and with some help, they laid me on a table inside. I passed out again. The next thing I remember was a doctor waking me up. He calmly looked me in the eye and told me that I was not doing well, and that since they were unsure of what was going on, I needed to go to the ER where they'd be able to run more tests. He then told me an ambulance was already on the way. I can remember looking out the back window seeing bridges go by and thinking, oh, I know that street. During the trip, I even managed to somehow contact my family to let them know I where I was headed. Later that evening, I was still in the ER with my brother by my side. From what I can remember, I had around 8 bags of saline solution pumped into me as well as 4 different liquid antibiotics. The doctors were still unsure of what was going on, and from what I could tell, they were extremely worried. Sometime in the middle of the night, they placed me in ICU under quarantine. There I stayed for three days and anyone who came to visit had to gear up head-to-toe in full protective wear.

When it was all said and done, and as I was preparing to go home, a specialist came in and sat down with me. He had a sizable stack of paper with him, and told me what all my tests and treatment had discovered: I had sepsis, and had I not gone to urgent care when I did, I might have had 2 or 3 hours left before I would have died. What he didn't tell me was how severe sepsis can be. After arriving back home, I looked it up and was shocked to find out that I had stage-3 sepsis which has a 50% mortality rate. The urgent care staff, the nurses, the many doctors, and especially my co-worker, Chadd, had all saved my life.

The Sacrifice, by Linda Saskia Menczel (1972-), is a contemporary bronze-on-bronze sculpture of Jesus depicting Him holding two walls apart while His body slowly melts into liquid. Strikingly, the look on Jesus' face is that of fatigue yet determination and purpose. Setting aside Menczel's intent, however, the symbolism is remarkable and beautiful. Here we see a man holding the world at bay creating a safe area while having his very essence drip away. It's okay, though, because his face says this is by choice, this is needed, and this is what must be done. It's called The Sacrifice for a reason, and while Menczel was likely referring to Christ's death on the cross and the religious ramifications of it, the work still exudes a vivid image of what sacrificing for others can mean for the person noble enough to do something.

There are risks in everything. Chadd risked being reprimanded, or worse, fired for leaving his desk to come pick me up. The urgent care and hospital staffs risked getting infected themselves by physically interacting with me while trying to keep me alive. Everyone's essence, in some fashion, dripped away but they all stepped up to help me willingly. Not one of them asked for recognition. They just did what they did and moved on. Actions that defined the very meaning of sacrifice; attitude and purpose that defined the very meaning of nobility. Did any of them receive a great reward? Doubtful, but each one of them now has a memory of doing something life-giving for someone else that will last them a lifetime. And each one has my eternal gratitude.

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