Monday, July 18, 2011

Humble Pie

It's been a while since I blogged.  I've been rather overwhelmed and chowing down on some humble pie. Eating humble pie takes time, energy and lots of patience.  It started out innocent enough and even fun. We were taking our new boat out on our favorite lake for the 1st time and I wanted everything to be just right.  We were not going to get a chance to go boating again for a while, so I wanted this day to be perfect.  And it was, truly. I was a good girl and used sunscreen on my face, neck and exposed arms, packed a few drinks and some chocolate, donned my favorite sunglasses and we were off!

The weather was slightly cool, but the sun felt good. The lake was a little choppy, but we just took it a little slower than we might otherwise. Our boat performed perfectly!  She floats. She powers up easily. She's easy to get in and out of the water and we had a wonderful day.

The next day, Sunday, I woke up and got ready for church and while sitting in my Sunday School class, my face felt a little itchy.  Then, my arms starting itching a little. Just a little. No big deal; I'd been out in the sun all afternoon, of course I'm going to itch a little.  Not a big deal at all.

That Sunday afternoon, we left for a 12-hour drive to Denver for a conference.  We and our 2 youngest sons. We drove to Lincoln, NE that first night and it was enough driving.  We got to our hotel in a blinding thunderstorm and were glad to make it safely that far. We checked in and got ready to go swimming in the hotel pool.  And every once in a while, I lightly scratched my face, then my arms, then my neck. No big deal.

The next morning, I woke up and my face felt like it was on fire!  My arms and neck were itching out of control and I was in a lot of pain. I realized what was going on; I was having an allergic reaction to the sunscreen.  One look in the mirror confirmed my worst fear - my face was swollen, red and starting to get tiny bumps all over it. The bumps were starting to form on my neck as well. And, my arms itched like crazy.

A quick stop at Walmart to get some anti-itch gel and some allergy medicine and we were on the road to Denver again.  I was, however, becoming quite miserable.  The gel didn't provide the level of relief that pharmacist had thought.

But, we made it to Denver, got checked in, had dinner with our oldest son (who was working the conference and got there ahead of us) and the first session of the conference began.  I did learn a lot at that first session; preaching from the Book of Acts, but I was miserable and my face hurt and I was swollen like a blowfish. My face felt tight. My arms were starting to break out in tiny bumps, and they itched and they burned and the bumps that were all over my face were spreading down my neck.

At this conference, we see friends that we only see this one time a year.  Humble pie; I looked pretty awful. People kept asking me if I'd been sunburned.  I had to explain over and over again what was going on.

Tuesday afternoon, the boys and I had some free time, so I took them to the hotel pool. I sat reading my Kindle while they swam and I was getting more and more miserable and my neck was starting to form welts and my face felt like it was on fire.  A friend spotted me and came over.  She wondered how I was and I started to cry softly. I was so, so miserable.  She said I needed Benadryl; that the allergy meds I was taking weren't working.  Her husband saw me after a while & he's an EMT. He took one look at me and didn't like what he saw.  Humble pie.  I took the Benadryl & waited a while. It didn't help.  The EMT thought I needed to see a doctor. I don't have a doctor in Denver.  But, I was getting nervous since this reaction was spreading.

Another friend, a nurse, later said she thought I should see the conference doctor.  The conference has a doctor?  I'm there!  By this time, it was 7:00 PM on Tuesday night and I had gone beyond miserable. The pain was intense; my face felt like it was on fire and the welts on my neck were bigger than ever, a few oozing lightly.  I was in trouble.

The conference doctor didn't have to take a very long look at me; he said had I not come to see him, I would be calling 911 by midnight, unable to breathe.  The welts were growing so rapidly that he feared they were also growing on the inside of my neck and could compromise my breathing.  He quickly called a pharmacy and prescribed a steroid that should quickly knock it out of me.  And he told me never to use sunscreen again.

The medicine worked. By the next morning, while I still had bumps all over my face and it was red, the swelling had gone down, the welts had shrunk and I was no longer feeling like I was on fire.  By Wednesday night, I was no longer in pain, but I remained red for a long while.

So, I ate humble pie. I was embarrassed by how I looked, especially since I only see most of the people at the conference once a year.

How does my theology play into this?  I was awestruck by the compassion of my friends in Denver. Everyone I saw was so sorry this had happened to me. No one told me I looked awful. When I needed help, help was more than ready and everyone wanted me to be better and felt bad at the timing of that reaction.  So, my theology played itself out in the form of gratitude. I am so very, very blessed to have people in my life who genuinely care about me and want what's best for me.

So, a little humble pie never hurts.  If you ever have to eat it, you might just find out who really cares for you. A hearty THANK YOU to all in Denver who came to my aid!

A very fresh-faced....