Friday, October 30, 2009

Life Goes On…On Both Sides of the Grave!

Medical errors account for over 100,000 deaths in the US each year. Those startling statistics from the Center for Safety and Clinical Excellence may inspire you to be your own health advocate. It could save your life. On Woman to Woman®, the week of September 19, we began a two part series on this topic -- not to put down the medical system, but to hear how involved you must be in monitoring your own care. How do you advocate for yourself or a loved one? What questions should you ask and of whom?

One of my guests was Bruce Meyer who lost his wife, Carol, at age 57 to cancer last year. Or was it? Bruce agreed to talk about his situation publicly for the first time, to help us learn more about advocacy and what can and does go wrong. You can listen to that interview at your leisure and share it with friends. During her treatment, which went well, Bruce and Carol trusted her doctors. They also left everything in God's hands, while trying to stay on top of available information. They faced her possible death standing on the promises of God in Christ and looked forward to eternal life.

After Carol died, Bruce honored her by designing her tombstone, pictured here with Bruce. He discovered an outlet for his grief and a way to use his artistic gifts to comfort others when they visit the cemetery. Some of the feedback on his art and its impact gets back to him, even though it is not a signed work.

Another piece of this story, not on the air, is featured in Dr. Dale Meyer's "Meyer Minute," a daily devotional available online. Dale is Bruce's brother, and the Brad mentioned is Bruce’s son. I include it here as a reminder that life does go on:

The Meyer Minute for August 21, 2009

When it comes right down to it, each of us lives life alone. Hopefully you have good support groups, family, friends, church and other groups. Still, each of us faces life in our own skin, no one else’s. What a great blessing then to know that there are people to be with us as we make our solitary way.

My nephew Brad has learned that, and in a way that makes his family burst with pride. About to enter his fifth year in pharmacy school, Brad realized a dream by riding his bicycle from St. Louis to Denver...about 900 miles…solo, all alone. “This has been a great experience,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help from strangers along the way; people I didn’t even know. It’s really rewarding knowing that people want to and will take the time to help a stranger. For example, people I don’t even know have fed me dinner. I’ve sat at the table with people I didn’t even know…and that’s cool.” (Press release, St. Louis College of Pharmacy)

I have a mental picture of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan but in my mind the traveler is on a bike. There are Good Samaritans that help all of us in our pilgrimage to the city more than a mile high. And, Happy Birthday, Brad!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gravity Hill

"Gravity Hill" is a secret whispered, discovered and proven for generations. The mystery is never fully explained, only experienced. Park your car in neutral on Putney Road right outside of Arcadia, MI, facing frontwards or backwards -- doesn’t matter -- then gravity pulls you uphill. Really. It’s the Putney Road Phenomenon. Four generations of our family have been awed by this tried and true transport. You just go to the bottom of the hill, put your car in park and while you sit there watching the road incline upwards, your car is pulled up in neutral.

I know -- it’s weird and thrilling, fun for everybody who visits, to witness and write home about. People leave shaking their heads. It’s tough to explain, except for my dad, a civil engineer, who would quietly explain after people had fun with it that it’s just an optical illusion. He knew people wouldn’t believe him. The car was pulled uphill, after all! He seldom mentioned that his level proved his point. He was content to know the truth and let people have fun with the fiction. As the saying goes, he knew “which hill to die on!”

Off Putney Road, I can have fun with fiction and ignore the truth about the stacks of stuff overtaking my area of the basement or the porky pounds accumulating to help me bulk up for winter. I can fool myself with mirrors that start at the neck and by avoiding the basement. But at some point I have to face it, or face the consequences. Even my access to some of the best minds and guests on the globe through the Woman to Woman® show doesn’t put me on auto-pilot for good habits.

Occasionally there is sweet victory. I change best when I level with myself and take inventory of where I’m living an illusion compared to the truth of God’s Word, which is like the level my dad put on Putney Road. When life’s journey gets bumpy and feels like an uphill climb, you might ask God to put down His level to show you the Truth so you can find the Way. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Great place to start, whether it’s uphill or not!