24 August 2016

Sometimes s%#! happens & all you can do is pray

Preparing and planning for WYD in Poland took us a little over two years. But no matter all the dotting i's and crossing t's, sometimes the most detailed plans do not go as expected.

And that was WYD 2016 for me folks.

I would always joke in previous trips, the group was allowed just 1 hospital visit in case of emergency. Well this time around, I used the 1 visit + an additional one.

The day our group went to the salt mines, I got really woozy and dizzy and had to leave. On top of feeling a bad cold coming on, and feeling a little worse over the past few days I decided to make a run to the hospital because being a sick group leader of 11 people is no flipping fun.

The doctor was friendly, said I was starting to get dehydrated (so pump in the water!) and gave me some scripts for a viral infection. Well somehow it got lost in translation that I was here in Poland as a WYD pilgrim and was constantly outside in the sun.
Because the second time I went to the hospital, I found out the reason I was so sick (preview of coming attraction) is because those original meds I should have NEVER been in the sun to begin with.

So fast forward 2 days later.

After spending a somber, but powerful morning in Auschwitz, our bus was heading to the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa for Sunday Mass. On the bus ride, I began to notice small red bumps on the inside of my palms. Didn't think much at the time, but thought it seemed a little strange.

Over the next 2-3 days, my hands and feet began breaking out in small, red, and very painful bumps. My Dad and I thought it was an allergic reaction so I stopped one of the meds. They began to feel very itchy and the pain and burning was getting more intense. 

The afternoon we went to the Divine Mercy Shrine, I was at my mental and physical limit. I didn't even go in the shrine because I was in so much pain/exhausted and was waiting outside to meet up with two nurses from another group so they could see and try to figure out was going on with me.

The burning pain in my feet and hands was nothing I have ever experienced. I had to sit with my palms facing up waving them around to help distract me, and outside the shrine took my shoes/socks off because my feet were burning so much. Add to that an explorer's hat and I was probably quite the sight to see.

A friend kept me company outside as I waited to the nurses, and that's when I lost it. I started bawling my eyes out. 
I then proceeded to give God my two cents and said "I just wish I had something I could f-ing offer this up for!" And as soon as I uttered those words, I said to Katie, "My gosh, I know I need to offer this up for him!"...my former husband. It hit me like thunderbolts, I could use this physical pain and my feelings of being very scared for someone I'm still being taught about lessons of mercy.

I pulled out my tiny blue cord rosary and started praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. When the pain got more uncomfortable, I just moved the knots through my fingers repeating softly, "Jesus I offer this up, Jesus I offer this up." Throughout the next few days, I rotated between praying those words and the chaplet.

The nurses eventually came gave some medicine and cream and helped me get back to our dorm in a taxi.

However the next morning I was no better. The red bumps were now spreading up my legs. I could barely walk. The only way I could walk that was least painful was on the very heels of my feet.
Our travel agent arranged for an English speaking-Polish speaker to come help take me to the hospital. My feet were so swollen and painful, I could only wear socks without shoes.

Waiting in the hospital I just kept praying and trying as best as possible to offer up all the scary and pain I was experiencing.

This image, these words mean so MUCH more to me...
Finally I saw a doctor who then sent me to see the dermatology section of the hospital. 4 dermatologists later, I was told I should have never been on those original medicines and by the end of the week it could have almost killed me. Ummm....what the what?!
Moving forward I could not be in the sun, and if I was I had to be completely covered...that's why in a lot of our pictures I am under the safety of umbrella's.

4 new oral meds later, 1 shot in my butt, and completely bandaged feet (with instructions to do for the next 3-4 days) I hobbled into a taxi with my life-saver Polish friend Marta and we headed to the pharmacy. She even took me to a grocery store to get something to eat before helping me get back to the dorm.

For the next 1 1/2 days I had to stay behind from the group, so I could rest and let the new, safe, non-killing meds do their healing work. During that time, I just lay in bed praying the chaplet , drank a crap ton of water, and constantly went to the bathroom.

Eventually I was able to re-join our group and finish the rest of the pilgrimage with them. They were so sweet sharing their umbrella's with me till I found a HUGE one in Krakow and making sure I had enough water and was covered from the sun.

Waiting for the Pope, enjoying the shade ;)
It was very scary and confusing. 
But at the same time, I felt so close to the heart of Jesus. Literally I could do was lay in bed and pray. Those many, many hours God took me deeper into my understanding of what it really means to offer up and unite our pain/suffering to Jesus. I felt like this gave me a sliver of an insight into people who constantly struggle and suffer from chronic pain. Yes I was praying and offering this all up for my primary intention, but I was so honored to have friends from home (even some of our travel agent guides) texting me prayer intentions.

As a result, I have a much deeper appreciation and love for St. Faustina and the prayer Jesus taught her in the chaplet of Divine Mercy

I had strong sense in my personal prayer before WYD, that all that has gone in my life this past year + being the Year of Mercy was by no way a coincidence. God is using all of these details to weave something bigger and more powerful than I could have imagined. The word mercy is no longer a casual concept or "nice" Christian-ese word to me...it is a word that has broken and restored my heart many times over the last months.

World Youth Day in Poland was absolutely NOTHING what I had prepared for over the last two years, but at the same time I wouldn't change one moment of it. Sure looking back I can say that now. But somehow I think it was exactly what God wanted to teach me and I can be okay with that:)

Grocery store trip with "Patty the Vampire!"

Sometimes in life shit happens and literally all you can do is pray.

And sometimes those are best teaching moments, the moments where God messes you up in beautiful and radical ways.

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  1. Wow! So crazy, Patty! Someone needed your prayers/sacrifice. You may never know the entirety of the story until heaven but, rest assured, something big was happening there.

    So glad you recovered!!

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  2. Oh my goodness, Patty, I am so, so glad that you didn't almost die and that your travel agent was so good at getting a Polish speaker to help you. When you said that things didn't go as expected, I was like, "Oh, they probably had flight cancellations or got lost or something." God really works in mysterious ways, and I think it is so beautiful that you could offer yourself in such a beautiful way as a sacrifice for so many people. Are you all recovered by now, or are you still dealing with the aftereffects of the meds?

  3. Did they ever say what you were sick with? I saw the picture and immediately thought of hand, foot, and mouth. My baby and husband just had it (and I had it badly as a toddler). Regardless, I am so glad you got the right mess for healing and we're able to be so peaceful during a stressful time. I'm sure all those prayers offered will be heard!

  4. Did they ever say what you were sick with? I saw the picture and immediately thought of hand, foot, and mouth. My baby and husband just had it (and I had it badly as a toddler). Regardless, I am so glad you got the right mess for healing and we're able to be so peaceful during a stressful time. I'm sure all those prayers offered will be heard!

  5. And this here is why I don't trust Polish hospitals. There are other stories of things like this going bad (way worse than your case mind you). Maybe it was just the language barrier that prevented you from hearing that you had to be out of the sun. But I remember being very glad that I never had to go to a doctor's office in Poland, let alone a hospital. The country is advancing thankfully, but some services are still like they were in the ol' PRL. I remember telling Nick in a lighthearted way that if I had to get surgery done, I'd ask them to airlift me to Vienna or Berlin lol. Obviously I'm glad that you made it out of this ok and thank Jesus you survived that incompetency!

    1. Note to self for the future, lol! If I ever get the chance to back, I'm certainly not planning to make another stop at the hospital:)
      Amen to that!!

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