by Marlene Evans
Founder of Christian Womanhood 1933-2001
November 11, 1999
Please note the date, and you will immediately see why I am writing reflectively. Well, at least many of you will as you have heard me mention my birth date (11-11-33) over the years.
The place of writing might give another clue as to my writing reflectively. Not only am I at Mayo Clinic, but I am here on a very unscheduled trip.
Last Friday, my heart rate and blood pressure numbers were running at a stroke or heart attack level. I was resting at the Durbins’ home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, preceding a ladies’ meeting at Central Baptist Church, pastored by Brother B. G. Buchanan.
The Buchanans and their whole church full of people were just ready to “roll with the flow” as I trotted off to a clinic at the advice of my Mayo oncologist’s nurse. If all this had to happen, their church was the church in which to have it occur.
After ruling out an immediate stroke or heart attack, I went on to the meeting, spoke with the help of many people, and flew back home with the assistance of Loretta Walker, Belinda Casteel, and June Ryland.
The next morning after getting home, I started for Mayo. Jane Grafton drove and stayed with me two days, after which Bev Buskol took the handles of the wheelchair.
Now, here I am deep in the midst of tests for high blood pressure, high heart rate, and tests to find the reason for a problem of several months—electric-like sensations up and down my right arm and hand. (Discs are suspect as I had a neck fusion 30 years ago.)
Be all this as it may, I am celebrating my sixty-sixth birthday while getting ready to go into an M.R.I. machine instead of being in Tennessee with my husband where we were to be speaking at Brother Dave Baker’s church.
Several people have kindly mentioned yesterday and today that this might not be an ideal way to spend a birthday. I feel as if I could get depressed about it all if I chose to do so. I do believe that depression or victory depends upon my choices in this case.
Loving disclaimers, I want to use one right now. I do not believe all depression is a choice. There are times of certain kinds of illness or times of functioning on certain kinds of medicine, for instance, that bring depression that is beyond a person’s choice.
Let’s just be sure we avoid depression that can readily be rejected. We can refuse to entertain thinking that has power to make us dwell on the down side of events. If I don’t get depressed in this case, it will be because of my choice of thought.
Please Follow My Train of Reasoning by Taking the Following Test with Me:
1. Should I dwell on the facts surrounding perhaps a wrong decision to go to Baton Rouge when I had not felt well when I left?
2. Should I dwell on the fact that there was one terminal cancer lady who had come from the hospital right after her most recent chemo injection just to see me at the Baton Rouge ladies’ meeting?
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3. Should I dwell on my not being able to be my normal self at a mini-spectacular?
4. Should I dwell on the knowledge that there were two other speakers at Baton Rouge, trained partially by me, who could help the ladies as well or better than could I?
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5. Should I dwell on the number of people who seem to do well going to any medical facility? Should I wonder why I am the oddball who seems to have to tip my world to get to Mayo six driving hours from home?
6. Should I dwell on the help I have received at Mayo Clinic for 27 years; the home which has been opened to me in Rochester, Minnesota; and the good, dependable car in which I travel
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7. Should I dwell on how long the trip can seem?
8. Should I dwell on music and preaching tapes; seeing the Black Wolfe Lodge as we travel by it; stopping at Burnstad’s in Tomah, Wisconsin; and checking the first sight of rock formations high in the sky in Wisconsin, as well as deer, wild turkeys, and pheasants?
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9. Should I dwell on the logistics of getting settled into the town, home, and clinic?
10. Should I dwell on seeing Mary at Scherwood’s Clothing Store whether or not I can buy anything; Marie at the Kahler Coffee Shop; LaDonna at Dr. Frigas’ office; and things I have to tell Dr. Hartman, my oncologist, that will make her smile?
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11. Should I dwell on getting back to Desk E-12 to pick up a new set of appointment cards for tests and doctors’ appointments?
12. Should I dwell on going back to Desk E-12 to pick up an arrangement of flowers for my birthday sent by a friend right to the doctor’s office on the oncology floor?
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13. Should I dwell on a wait of two hours to see a heart doctor?
14. Should I dwell on reading, writing, visiting, phoning, and other things I can do while sitting in a very comfortable waiting room, getting ready to see a world-known doctor who will give me all the time I need when I get in to see him?
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15. Should I dwell on getting out of here (Mayo)?
16. Should I dwell on the fact that I am wanting the Mayo staff to be as aggressive as they think it wise to be to help me gain and/or maintain the best quality of life it is possible for me to enjoy no matter what time is involved?
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17. Should I dwell on the MRI and the EMG tests I am to experience on my birthday?
18. Should I dwell on God’s goodness in giving me another year; the family party that will be held whenever I get home; the phone calls, the flowers, and the meals provided before and after tests?
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19. Should I dwell on scarcity of parking spaces and the construction all around Rochester?
20. Should I dwell on the flocks of Canadian geese flying in a “V” over Rochester all day long, the unseasonably beautiful weather, and the subway which is so handy when we have a rain?
The Conclusion of the Matter
I chose victory! I rejected depression. In choosing to dwell on numbers 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20, I chose victory. I DID NOT CHOOSE TO BE DEPRESSED!
Believe me, I had to fight off the opposite feelings I did not choose—in every case! That is why I know what all of those feelings are.
Even though I have tons of good help and the climate of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, for which I thank God, I can be just as worried about things as if I did not have help. In fact, I try to worry about those things which would be best left in the hands of the helpers, just as much, if not more than if I could accomplish those things myself.
We must face the issues of late appointments, picking up appointment cards, being prepared for difficult tests, and all the rest of the hard facts of life, but we don’t have to dwell there. It’s often our choice—to be depressed or not to be depressed.
DISCLAIMER: Let me repeat, there are times in certain types of illness and medication when you have no choice! Only you know whether you can choose to be victorious or depressed.
Epilogue: I am on my way home from Mayo Clinic with Jenny Crase and Melissa Manwell. When I got home, Carissa Grafton helped her mom settle me into the house.
The Findings: I have dysautonomia. The sympathethic nervous system is out of sync with the parasympathetic nervous system which can happen with people who have malignancies. I probably will always need to take medicine and keep monitored to be in control of the pulse and blood pressure.
The right arm “buzzing” is due to worsening carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist. They are starting treatment with a splint to be followed by shots and therapy if needed. They, at Mayo, are very slow to do surgery.
Thank you for continuing to pray as I and those around me continue to adjust to each complication I develop.