I went for a consult first. After years of avoiding the dentist—not my dentist, not my neighborhood dentist, just all dentists—I found myself in the reclining chair of my fears. I had a literal mouthful of problems to address, most of which my tongue could easily have told you about. A break on this tooth, a too-large gap on this one, a chip here and a chip there. It wasn’t pretty. How ugly was it? The dentist showed me. Not in a mean way, but in an educational, the-more-you-know kind of way. On his big screen he pointed out what was going on and what we were going to do about it.
Now, friends. I deal in the world of lovely images. Pretty pictures. Even the not-so-pretty ones are far more interesting to me than the state of my mouth. What was meant to be educational and instructive was, to my mind, a nightmare. Let’s just say I’m not a dentist for good reason. I don’t want to see my own mouth, or someone else’s for that matter. I don’t want to see anyone’s feet either. And though I’m fascinated by childbirth, I’m cool without seeing a cervix, too. Though I am the daughter of two nurses, I did not inherit their skills whatsoever.
Today I saw x-rays of my hands. For a decently tall woman, I have surprisingly child-like hands; they surprised the PA who commented on their delicacy compared to the burly hands she normally sees (lots of elderly men, I suppose). And like my experience in the dentist’s seat, I was shown images that I’d rather not see. Rheumatoid arthritis, up close and personal, doing its slow work of gnawing away at my joints. In the big picture, the little pictures of my hands were no big deal. The disease process has not altered my hands in two years and for that I am grateful. Really, it wasn’t until I was sitting in my rheumatologist’s office that I realized that I feel pretty good overall. Sometimes it takes a pause for reflection before I realize how good things are. But the hands revealed a little bit more. They showed tiny bits of damage. Small spots where RA is present. I was shown places on one wrist where bones were smooshed together when they should’ve been separated by more tissue.
I walked out of the office like a balloon with a tiny pinhole in it. Not utterly deflated, but reminded of the truth of my mortality. RA is working within me. And I’m battling against it with all the tools I have. But it’s there. Try as hard as I might to dismiss it, it’s undismissable.
As good as my life is, I know it won’t last forever. Whether I live on this earth for 37 years or for 73, it’s going to go fast. How glad I am that I’m made for more than this! What a relief to know that this life isn’t the only one I get to live. Though I’m relatively content with the body and life God has given me—relatively being the key word there—I really look forward to the resurrection someday. In Christ, I’m going to be a new creation. What’s true in my soul today will be true in my body. No more damaged joints—maybe I’ll do lots of cartwheels in glory? No more cavities. No more need for doctor’s appointments with x-rays I do not want to see. What a relief, this promise of Glory. It’s enough to patch up the pin-pricked balloon. For a few moments at least. ;)