Many of you are familiar with the song Hallelujah written in the 1980’s by Lenard Cohen. It has always been a favorite of mine. From its vague allusions to scripture, to the truth of life in the early 1980’s, it always struck a sacred chord for me. Yesterday was no different.
I had a cerebral angiography yesterday. Basically that is medical speech for they went into the femoral artery in my groin and traveled up to my brain to shoot dye in to look for abnormalities. Okay stop laughing now, we know there is nothing normal about my brain but they are hoping. Give a woman a break!
The procedure is like a heart cauterization, except they go to your brain, not your heart. I will admit I was scared and on the grumpy side. Again, stop laughing! Yes, I will admit I have been a tad grumpy lately and yes, I am prone to tears, sadness and feeling sorry for myself. Joy, isn’t always fully available even to me! I get angry, frustrated and plain pissed off at the world, especially in the last few weeks as my life has careened down a path I have no control over or ability to change.
My Pastor, Winn Collier, came to the MRI/INR waiting room and we prayed before I went back and I was in good spirits. Then we had trouble getting my IV started. Being the daughter of a onetime nurse and an ex EMT, by try three, my patience with poking around, trolling for rolling veins, was minimal to say the least.
True story: When I was 20 I had a cyst surgically removed, back then (yep the dark ages!) I was even more mouthy than I am now (surprising I know, go figure). As the guy dug around looking to catch one of my “rolling” veins I lost my patience. By then he had poked me 4 times in each hand. I told him he had one more shot or I’d start the line myself! Calling me a not so nice name under his breath, he laughed and gave me the needle (this was 40+ years ago, life was different then). I started a perfect IV line in my wrist just like I was taught. Then went off to sleep while they took out my cyst.
Back to yesterday: My patience was waning when finally after three different people tried, they listened to me and went for the really big one in my mid arm close to my elbow. And guess what they got in first try. Amazing I tell you! :o) I can hear the phlebotomist at my PCP’s medical office right now “really Adriana, you have the best veins around, how the heck could anyone not hit them?” It’s possible is all I can say.
This issue with starting my IV allowed my anxiety to get the better of me again and my attitude was tanking. I was frustrated, angry, on the verge of tears and ready to just go home. Then the women who did my lumbar last week walked by, recognized me and stepped into my room. She was a hoot last week, between her and her partner, they kept me calm and smiling the whole time they did the lumbar puncture, which kept my anxiety minimal. Her face was a refreshing sight. We talked briefly and she wished me well. Then my doctor came in, he has the best bedside manner for a neurosurgeon! He has an honest smile, takes the time to talk being sure you comprehend everything and truly cares. But, I was still nervous, I needed more assurance God was at my side.
After getting one last kiss from Mike, and one last trip to the bathroom, off I went to the procedure room.
Switch tables/beds, lots of activity, medicine (oh blessed medicine!), greeting from Doctor (who talked me through the whole procedure because the more I know the less stressed I get), pressure, warmth, still fearful, then music…? Really is that music I hear? Oh and now someone is singing along with this music? Wait is that really what I think I’m hearing? YES! It is Lenard Cohens Hallelujah and my Doctor is singing!
I felt a warmth that was not from the dye fill my heart and soul, it was the warmth of prayers answered, peace, comfort and the blessed assurance I was not alone. God heard my cry, the Divine One who is above all things reached down and provided a beautiful song to fill this singer’s heart. Tears slid from my eyes, taking the fear with them. Afterwards, I thanked my surgeon for the music and he apologize for the singing. I told him no apology necessary. He delivered a gift to me straight from God.
Do not get into a disagreement about what the meaning of the lyrics are either. For me it is simple: Like King David, I am often broken, full of regret, desiring the wrong things and full of fear. My apology is broken and not the best, I cry out with it anyway and the Creator of the Universe, who was and is Alpha and Omega, response is a simple, “I hear you and you are not alone, relax I have this one.”
At times holy, at times broken, I will sing to the Lord who is my strength, who hears my cry and offers mercy! I do not make this journey alone. Whether this path goes wrong or right, no matter the outcome, I have the Creator of the Universe by my side forever.
“I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”
from Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
My personal favorites: