Last week, on Friday morning, I took my husband to the Methodist Hospital ER Unit on S. Voss in Houston. For the prior four days, he had been running temperatures which got up to 101-102. For about a week before that, he had been complaining of feeling tired and not very hungry. I had been trying to keep him hydrated, and putting ice packs on his neck and head when the temp got high. I had been sure that I was losing the hydration battle, and now water was making him nauseated and he was throwing it up. So I took him in, believing that he needed more care than I could provide.
Their ad said they accepted people regardless of ability to pay. I told them up front we have no money. They treated him for blood sugar and slapped saline solution in his arm. Three hours later, the doctor tells me the ambulance is on the way to transfer him to the hospital. I haven't driven alone in years, much less in a heightened state of anxiety. By now his fevers were spiking to 103.
My brother took my car home so I wouldn't have to pay humongous parking fees. My mother-in-law called. Our cell phone died. The room phone died. Tuesday night, they still didn't know what he had, but he was hitting and passing 105, and his face and neck were turning beet red. Wednesday night, I came unglued. I was scared he wasn't going to get well, or he would be disabled in some way. I was scared of how we were going to pay for it. I started crying. My brother doesn't "do huggy touchy feely.' I did not have a single person, other than my husband, I could talk to, and he was sleeping and running a fever. Maybe if I had a tablet, I could have chatted online. There's not one person in Houston I could talk to, except a cousin I couldn't call at that hour. I prayed and cried and prayed some more. Then I cried some more. Then my husband's fever broke and he woke up, and I talked to him. What I know is that life without him would be unbearably lonely.
The hospital finally released him Friday. They still didn't know what kind of virus he had, but his temp and blood pressure and blood sugar had all stabilized. I have no idea what the bill was. A young woman had come up to talk to us Monday, and I told her we had no money and no assets, and she went away saying she'd turn it over to the woman who handles charity cases. That was the last I heard, and while I know a bill still might show up, I suspect the hospital donors took care of it.
When I got home, I saw that 5 or 6 people had responded to my post about going to the ER with wishes and prayers, and after I posted that we were home and he was ok, another 2 or 3 posted comments. I have prayed for about 30 of my FB friends when they have asked for it for themselves, their spouses, their children, their parents, etc. I cover everyone in a general prayer daily, and I am sure that there are a few who did that without posting anything to me. I'm not going to stop being me; I'll still pray for those who need or request prayers. I'll vote for them to win contests. I do feel a little sad, however, that I am as alone as I am. It would have made me feel a lot less alone if more of the people who are real life friends would have posted something, just so I would know that they care about me.
There's this rather spooky thing that happens to me. Maybe it happens to other people as well, but nobody has ever mentioned it to me. I have an innovative idea, and almost as soon as I voice it to anyone, someone else comes along and does it. When I was younger, I quickly stopped telling anyone about my ideas, thinking that the people I was telling them to were passing them on. However, I quickly reached an age where the likelihood that the person implementing my ideas had any contact with the person I told was inversely proportional to the physical distance between the person implementing the idea and myself. Moreover, the only person I say these things to now is my husband,, and I'm sure he isn't telling anyone. Sometimes I'm not even sure he really listened, so how could he repeat what his brain never took in?
Then I reflect on God moving in mysterious ways. What's wrong with me now is physical. I don't have the energy or physical strength to implement most of my ideas. The latest idea I had, some months ago, concerned the "urban food deserts" in Houston. These are areas in which access to fresh produce is limited or non-existent. Residents reliant on bus services to get about, particularly the disabled and elderly, are hard pressed to make the journey to the stores which offer good fresh produce.m I said "What if some grocery store had a big truck that could roll up to a community center or deserted strip center, drop its sides and offer fres\h produce?" Now, while it's not a grocery store doing it (yet) Houston's Recipe for Success, founded in 2005 by Grace and Bob Cavnar to provide nutrition education, fight childhood obesity, and encourage long term health has instituted exactly such a program and hopes to be serving up fresh produce by the end of the year.
Perhaps my speaking about my ideas, putting them into the Ether, or Cosmos, are directed by God to the hearts of those with the energy and strength to implement them? Maybe it's a coincidence, but it has happened so often, that the statistician in me has to wonder why coincidences with a small probability keep happening over and over. Could it be that this is a form of prayer? Perhaps many were trying to come up with a way to get good food to the people in these under-served areas, and my thought went into God's inbox, and God looked around and said "Gracie! Bob! Listen up...here's your next task in the pursuit of your goal!" I don't know, but I am thrilled that the idea is going forward and wish to support it every way I can. They need money, kitchen items for their cooking classes. They take donations but are also selling a cookbook aimed at kids with healthy recipes. along with T-Shirts, hats, and other items. They have a wish list, and I happen to have Bed Bath & Beyond coupons available that I won't use. So if you are moved to give them a gift, contact me by the form on my coupons page or message me on FB. I'll get them to you one way or another.
Fresh produce vans will roll into Houston's 'food deserts'By Allan Turner, Houston ChronicleUpdated 10:29 p.m., Sunday, February 5, 2012 (interestingly, this photograph was taken at the school my mother and brother went to, although I think perhaps it's been remodelled or updated or even rebuilt since then. My grandparents house is now gone; it would be about the middle of the southbound feeder for Hwy 288 at Wentworth.)
Thanks to Gracie and Bob for starting this service, to Allen Turner for writing about it, to Councilman Stephen Costello for championing solutions, and to H.E.B. for opening Joe V's in undererved areas