My thoughts were all gathered to write a post on Monday morning but my body had other plans. I'll tell you about that later. While I'm a day late expressing some of my most recent thoughts about the 4th of July, I still believe that some of us need an attitude adjustment when it comes to the birth of our country and what it really means to be an American who honors the flag and the Constitution and Bill of Rights that were meant to maintain the freedoms so many of our ancestors died to give us. How much we owe them for their sacrifices and their willingness to give all so their posterities could have what many of us take for granted and seem intent on losing all in the name of social and political progress.
How I honor and love my faithful, strong and committed ancestors. They were not wealthy or powerful individuals who drew great masses to their ideas. They were simple, hardworking farmers and small business owners who struggled to put food on their tables and pay their bills. Many of them lost every material possession more than once because people took objection to what they believed. They were driven from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs and what they could carry in their arms, and they lost family members and loved ones along the way as they struggled to find a new place to call home. Like many groups of people we read about in the scriptures, their faith in God was strong. They knew he would guide and protect them as long as they did not deny the truths they had been given. And even if their lives were lost, they had the inner knowledge that their obedience would eventually be rewarded in the life to come.
Perhaps that's why I am drawn to genealogical research so much. I love learning about my ancestors and while life histories do not go back very far, I love to trace different family lines and see where people came from and where they ended up. Some of my lines go back to before the birth of Jesus Christ. I have family in South Africa, dozens of European countries, Canada and Australia. I'm sure I will eventually be able to trace branches around the world. How excited I am to meet each one of them some day and learn their stories. My only real claim to any fame is being related to President Woodrow Wilson on my material family line. But as simple as my own life is, I hope I can make each of them proud of me in some way.
From many of the news reports touting the events of yesterday, Americans in general are feeling less patriotic each year and are becoming very vocal about it. Celebrations were down in nearly every community and the violence didn't take a day off. All that is happening in a country where everyone once stood for the flag, sang the national anthem with enthusiasm, attended Independence Day parades, studied the Constitution at school and was given a more correct accounting of history troubles my heart and brings tears to my eyes because despite all the turmoil, disregard for civil liberty and downright evilness that is so rampant in our society, we still live in the greatest country on earth that provides us the most freedoms. This country was preserved for the final days before the Savior's return to earth. It was a new land of complete freedom from tyranny and oppression. But most important for me, it was a place of religious freedom where people could worship God, live by his commandments and enjoy every blessing available as long as they were willing to work for what they needed and wanted and fight to maintain everyone's freedom.
While our founding fathers were not perfect--as none of us are--I believe they were great and brilliant men God ordained to come to earth to design a government that was meant to preserve every liberty that is being stolen from us today by men and women who love power, money and personal indulgence more than living by any of the laws that made this country a true world power that was honored and respected by other nations. I love to see people in positions of influence who are taking a stand against the evils that are meant to destroy our society and often wish I was half so brave. But like so many people of my generation, the fear-peddling that is meant to stop us from expressing how we feel is a little daunting.
Still, my heart is filled with gratitude and love for the country I will always call home, even though I can't express my inner feelings to all of the people I love because they have bought in to so many of the misguided ideologies that cause me to tremble and shake because they are nothing less than a fulfillment of prophesy. Like many other Christians, I pray for the Savior's return, but God is in charge of that. My only recourse is to stay as close to him as possible and stand with others who share similar beliefs. Regardless of what we may be required to face before our lives are over, I want to be on his side when I pass through the veil.
So how has that changed my view of July 4th? I didn't do any outward celebrating, but I did spend some time reading about our founding fathers and the importance of not having our constitution rewritten or completely done away with like so many people in power seemed determined to do. I know it is hanging by a very thin thread right now, but it was inspired of God and our nation is only failing because so many of our people have turned their backs on him. I also spent some time in my back yard marveling at the beautiful variety of flowers God has created and looking up at the majestic mountains to the east of my home. I thought about all the blessings I have that are a direct result of living in America and knowing that God will prevail.
My wakeup call for another reevaluation came on Sunday night. The muscle in my right arm was hurting so much I couldn't sleep. It's been doing that for almost nine months now, but I'd been avoiding seeing a doctor because I would only be told to quit digging in my yard and doing other things I have a real passion for. About one in the morning I got this crushing pain in the center of my chest. It wasn't like the normal indigestion that always gave me a start. It came on without warning, radiated to my shoulder, and lasted for several minutes before stopping as suddenly as it began. Whatever was going on had gotten my attention, but the pain in my shoulder left at the same time the intense pain in my chest did so I just let the sleep come.
Since I have a long history of heart problems and am under the care of a cardiologist, I figured it might be wise to see what was going on. So I headed straight to urgent care the next morning and asked to see the doctor. When I told the receptionist what was going on she told me I needed to go to an emergency room because they weren't equipped to deal with things that could be so potentially life threatening. I was no longer I pain, just a heaviness in my chest and some nausea and dizziness that was making me very uncomfortable.
There was a hospital less than a block away, but I wasn't sure my insurance would cover a visit there and my doctors were at the hospital twenty to thirty minutes away, depending on the timing of the lights. Being my very independent self, I drove myself down the freeway and along busy city streets praying all the way that I wouldn't cause an accident. There were only four people ahead of me in the emergency waiting room. I felt like a fool for not just letting nature take its course but it was a little late to leave once I had told the young man behind the desk why I had come.
I was amazed at the speed with which the specialists began working on me but was only told that I was lucky it hadn't gotten really busy yet. An ECG was taken and a few minutes later I was put in a room and told to strip to the waist. It had been 40 years since I had been in an emergency room, but I tried to concentrate on the book I'd brought with me to read. Not unexpectedly my blood pressure was much higher than anyone wanted it to be, and I didn't like having all my vital functions monitored, but the first real pain came when my blood was being drawn for the test that would show if I'd had a heart attack. An IV had to be inserted and the student who was learning how to do it nicked something when she tried to push the needle further into the vein. I didn't let my displeasure show in any way but was very glad when her supervisor took over.
While the blood test was being run, I had two chest e-rays and was given a nice warm blanket. When the doctor finally came back she said the enzyme detecting a heart attack wasn't there but the marker indicating a blood clot in my lungs was so she was ordering a CT scan of my chest. That was a little unnerving but it came back clear, other than the discovery of gall stones--something very common in women over 40 but rare in men. I felt blessed but very foolish for wasting so much time in the ER room, even though I knew my double insurance would cover the costs. It was at that point that I asked her about my arm. I think she was a little worried about the length of time it had been bothering me because she ordered another e-ray to make sure the bone was okay.
Four hours later I was ready to go home and very grateful for having such a kind and caring doctor--one I wished I could see on a regular basis since I often feel my doctor of record isn't all that great and his bedside manner leaves something to be desired. She took the time to really listen and answer any questions. To help assuage my feeling foolish for responding to a false alarm she told me that most of the people who come to the ER with a possible heart attack are fine, but it's always best to listen to our bodies when something unexpected and unexplainable is going on, especially when we have a history of heart disease in our family and have are seeing a cardiologist on a regular basis.
She hadn't found any indication of bone cancer which she had suspected and she was confident the ongoing pain was nothing more serious than bursitis that could be easily treated with cold compresses and Aleve--less disruptive to the kidneys than Ibuprofin. Before leaving she told me not to worry about the gall stones unless I had another possible flair-up when I should consult a surgeon about taking them out. And if I started to pass one I would know it because the pain would be excruciating with nausea and throwing up.
So a day I had planned to spend writing, reading and working more in my yard was spent in the emergency room where I was lucky enough not to have had a mild heart attack and where no blood clot was found in my lungs. I'm not excited about having gall stones, but at least I now know what's wrong with my arm and how to treat it without letting all the yard work go. And if I do have any more pain like what I had on Sunday night I have a better idea of what the culprit might be.
So despite all that is going on around me, along with my own human frailties and body that is aging more rapidly that I would like, there is much to be thankful for. I didn't hear from either of my children yesterday even after texting them and wishing them a fun 4th, but they're young and doing things with their families and friends as they should be this time in their lives. And their decisions in how they spend their time do not take away from the gratitude I feel for being born in a free country where I can live life on my own terms, as long as my actions do not infringe on those of anyone else. I have full confidence and trust in my Heavenly Father and know that things are unfolding as they should. My role is to stay strong to my beliefs while loving and serving others the way Christ did while he was here. For someday he will return and what a joyous time that will be for all who still remain here and for those of us who have gone before and are still his faith disciples.