Sunday, June 1, 2014

Right Place, Right Time

I don’t believe in coincidence. Too many remarkable yet seemingly random things have occurred in my life that remind me the hand of God is orchestrating events for my benefit or so that I may do some good. For instance, when I was pregnant with Alex, I developed a rather rare autoimmune blood disorder causing my platelet count to drop, leaving me at risk for bleeding. (Thanks to the healing of God, I no longer have this chronic disease.) To rule out other conditions, I underwent a bone marrow biopsy, a procedure often characterized as quite painful. Thankfully, I found the experience did not live up to its hype and was more of a feeling of pressure than of pain. Unfortunately, my test results came back inconclusive, requiring a second bone marrow biopsy. At the time, I was frustrated that I had to go through another biopsy, but I was more upset that I would have to wait longer for results that would rule out a potentially life-threatening condition.

After the second biopsy, which was as uneventful as the first, the doctor asked me to take the sample to the lab myself, which struck me as odd at the time. When I arrived at the hospital lab, I explained to the clerk that I needed to drop off a bone marrow biopsy, which seemed to surprise and horrify her at the same time, and she quickly called for a technician to deal with the situation. As I waited for someone to take my bone marrow sample, a young woman appeared behind me and politely told me that she had overheard me tell that the clerk that I’d had a bone marrow biopsy, and she wondered what that was like. She wasn’t being nosy; she explained that her little girl needed to have one and had heard they were terribly painful. As a mother, she wanted to be able to prepare her child and was worried about what she might have to experience. At that moment I knew why I needed to have two bone marrow biopsies and had to carry the second one to the lab myself—so that I could reassure a young mother that her daughter, like me, would get through this testing fine. As she thanked me, I could see relief on her worried face, and I knew that God had placed me at there at the right moment so that I could be of help.

When Alex was hospitalized two years ago for extreme anxiety and aggression, we were terribly upset that he would have to be away from home for the first time in his life yet knew he needed intensive intervention to get better. While we waited in the emergency room for the nurse from behavioral medicine to come get him to admit him for in-patient treatment, I prayed for a sign that we were doing the right thing. As I looked up, I saw that the nurse, who became one of Alex’s primary caregivers during his hospitalization, was wearing her identification tag on a lanyard nearly identical to the one I wear for my job. Our lanyards, emblazoned with the name Jeff Gordon and number 24, show our support for our favorite NASCAR driver. I knew at that moment God had sent her to mother Alex in my place when he needed specialized care we could not give. That small sign in the form of a fellow NASCAR fan reassured me that everything would eventually be fine.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with one of the technicians at the pharmacy where we get Alex’s medications. As she saw the name of the psychiatric nurse practitioner who prescribes his medicine, she told that she also worked part-time at a medical facility in town and had heard that Alex’s nurse practitioner was moving her practice here. A few days later, we received a letter from his nurse practitioner confirming what the pharmacy technician had told me: she is moving her office to our town this summer. This change means that we will no longer have to drive forty minutes to see her; she will only be ten minutes away from our home. While she could have moved her office to several towns in the area, she chose to practice here. I know this move was not coincidental; God made this more convenient for us.

Yesterday, I had another one of those being at the right place at the right time experiences. Every few months, we have to take Alex for routine blood tests to make certain the medications he takes are the proper dosage and are not affecting his metabolism adversely, especially his liver and kidneys. Fortunately, Alex eagerly anticipates blood draws; he never minds having medical procedures and finds them strangely entertaining. I think we have been blessed to work with medical personnel who have always been kind and gentle with him so that he has no fear of doctors and medical procedures. In addition, I’m always tried to schedule appointments carefully so that he never has to wait long, which can make him anxious. Fortunately, we have also found a nearby lab where their kindness and efficiency always makes blood draws easy for Alex.

When we pulled into the parking lot, Ed and I noticed that the car parked in front of us had an Autism Awareness license plate, which caught our attention. After the registrar quickly processed our paperwork, a lab technician whom we had not seen before treated Alex very kindly and seemed to know instinctively how to work with him, even though we had not mentioned his autism, as we often do. Once again, he made us proud as he handled the blood draw calmly, never complaining a bit. As we were leaving, we thanked the lab technician, who commented that she has a son like him. I then noticed that her identification card lanyard was decorated with the autism puzzle pieces logo and realized that she, like me, is an autism mom. We could have taken Alex anytime to the lab, which is open 24/7, but we were supposed to meet this mom.

While Ed and Alex went to wait in the car, I talked to her briefly, and we compared notes. Although her son is younger, she has experienced many of the same things we have. As she expressed some concerns about recently putting her son on medication, I was able to reassure her how much the same medication had helped Alex. In a matter of minutes, we had bonded because we shared a devotion to our sons with autism, and we could empathize because of our similar experiences. After she had asked me a few questions, I sensed that she wanted to talk more, but we both knew that we didn’t have the time right then to do so. I wrote down my e-mail address for her so that she could contact me, which she seemed to appreciate, and she told me to ask specifically for her anytime Alex needed lab work. Once again, I knew that this meeting was not random; God intended for two autism moms to come together to help each other. Although I am confident that God always directs our steps, whenever these “coincidences” occur, He reminds me that His plan for our lives is good, reassuring me that in the end, everything will be all right.

“…He makes everything work out according to His plan.” Ephesians 1:11


K. C. Wells said...

I love this SO much, Pam. You inspire me to look for or simply accept what's meant to be in all situations. I needed to read this!

Pam Byrne said...

Dear K.C.,
Thanks so much for your kind words. You and your family are in my prayers for hope and healing and for patience as you wait.