Right before I was diagnosed with Leukemia, there were a few red flags that alerted me that there was something wrong with my body. One of them was a bruise on my leg. Actually, “bruise” is an understatement. When I was on vacation in California (one week before my diagnosis) I hit my leg on a bench at my parents house. I remember thinking, “THAT’S gonna leave a mark.” It certainly did. When I returned home a few days later I noticed that where I expected a bruise there was a giant hematoma! All different colors with a hard center and the size of my fist. This seemed bad to me. By the time I had a CBC (complete blood count) test a couple of days later, my white blood cell count was 100,000 ( normal is between 4,500 and 10,000) while my Hemoglobin, neutrophils and Platelets were all WELL below normal-dangerously low, in fact. So here’s platelets for dummies: things in your blood that help it clot and prevent you from bruising and bleeding easily or excessively. By the time i went to the doctor I had bruises and red dots and “road rash” looking areas on my legs, arms, neck and mouth ( VERY attractive). To sum it up, I still have low platelets occasionally and occasionally need a platelet transfusion. I can generally tell that I need one because things like bug bites, playful knee-squeezing, and, say, a shot in my stomach produce large red sores, fingerprint-shaped bruises and lots of bleeding from a mere pin prick. In other words, minor injuries, that would normally go unnoticed, become a big deal. You have probably read enough of my blogs by now to know where I am going with this…
This makes me think of how we need to keep our “spiritual platelet count” in check. Have you noticed that there are times in your life where minor injuries to your soul caused excessive sores, bruising and bleeding that would normally go unnoticed? This is a result of not regularly checking our “spiritual platelet” count. Have we been trying to do life by our own power? Have we been living out OUR WILL rather than GOD’S WILL? Are we serving mainly ourselves instead of others? This way of living depletes our spiritual platelets. Symptoms include being over-sensitive and angry over the words, actions or behaviors of others. An innocent slight from a friend wounds deeper than usual; Your heart hemorrhages. The confrontation of a spouse who loves us throws us into a rage; We develop a hematoma. An idiot driver cuts us off or drives UNDER the speed limit; We are scarred as if our leg were sliced open.
Keeping our spiritual platelets at a healthy level requires DAILY connection with our God. And not just once a day to check it off our list. ALL DAY. There aren’t any rules on HOW we do it. We just have to be vigilant. Most of us are good, responsible, capable people who could manage to do life pretty successfully on our own. For a time. My tendency is to “not bother” God with my life ( so many others need “real” help) UNTIL it becomes unmanageable. Until Things that used to roll off me are causing me to bruise and bleed more than usual. I love how Bill Wilson puts this problem in perspective for me: “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. WE ARE HEADED FOR TROUBLE IF WE DO…What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”
One more observation: the past couple times I got platelet transfusions, when the bag was ALMOST empty, I got HIVES! This is a possible reaction to putting someone elses platelets in one’s body. It requires you to stop the transfusion, get IV Benadryl and steroids and wait for them to go away so you can finish the transfusion. It turns a one hour transfusion into a 3 or 4 hour transfusion. Fun times. Some of you have developed HIVES from the mere mention of having to do something “spiritual” or rely on this “God” guy to do life. I totally get it. But you have permission, from me and from God, to connect with God on whatever level is comfortable for YOU. Again, I think Wilson says it best: “…God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him…the realm of the Spirit it broad, roomy, all-inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek.” From experience, I can tell you, that the Hives don’t last forever, and it’s worth getting those spiritual platelet levels up so you go through life without bruising, bleeding and scarring so easily.