By Crystal Hayduk
At nearly midnight, we hear a faint knock on the campus apartment door.
Following the first day of a professional conference, overstimulation and dorm-style beds mean we’re still awake. Angela, the resident night owl, opens the door.
Margie softly requests our help, unsteady on her feet from weakness and fatigue. “I must have left my medication at home,” she says. “But I need to have it.”
We’ve known Margie for several years, through annual attendance at the conference and from Facebook. We understand the urgency of her request because Margie has a chronic health condition that requires medication for maximum control. She used public transportation to travel from her home in the Midwest to the conference in the Northeast, which means she needs help to get her medicine. Angela volunteers to take her to the local community hospital’s emergency room, assuming that obtaining the prescriptions will be a simple matter.
The next morning, I find a note on the kitchen table. We got back at 4:00. I’m going to bed. Margie has the prescriptions, which need to be filled. She’s speaking first thing this morning.
I mentally adjust my morning’s schedule to allow for a trip to the pharmacy, then rush to where Margie is giving a short presentation.
Despite getting only two hours of sleep, and missing her medication, Margie’s attitude is positive. Her shuffling gait and soft voice give away her physical struggle to the trained observer, but most of the audience probably have no idea how hard she’s working to keep her commitment to them.
When she’s done speaking, I tell her that I’m going to help get her prescriptions filled. But, it’s still not straightforward. A couple of her medications aren’t commonly carried at most pharmacies, and she needs to sign for them. We decide to call ahead to determine which pharmacy to visit.
We discover that none of the pharmacies in town can fill the prescriptions as written, so we brainstorm a solution. Rather than drive 50 miles to a larger city, we return to the ER to ask for acceptable substitutions.
As we drive the hilly countryside from college to hospital to pharmacy and back again, Margie reveals why her medication problem turned into a four-hour wait in a small, country facility.
“A man was having a heart attack in the space next to me,” she says. “They had to call a Code Blue.” She shakes her head and shivers as she relives hearing the resuscitation efforts in her mind.
“I kept praying and praying for him. And I prayed for the people taking care of him, too. He survived, and then a helicopter took him to the university hospital,” says Margie, naming the large city about 70 miles away. “Afterwards, I told the staff I had prayed. They seemed glad.”
I nod my head, acknowledging that prayer is a powerful thing.
“It made me wonder if maybe that’s the reason I didn’t have my medicine with me,” she says, musing. “I’ve never forgotten it before. It was ready to go, yet I didn’t grab it. And I didn’t realize it was missing until bedtime. Maybe God planned this just so I would be there at that time to pray for that man.”
The idea that my friend had been part of God’s grand plan on behalf of the man on the next stretcher causes me to break out in goose bumps. And, her willingness to serve without complaint brings tears to my eyes.
Despite her chronic illness, Margie lives each day to its fullest and strives to help others to do the same.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” ―Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Our Family Friend’s caregivers provide a listening ear and encouragement to help their clients maximize their personal sense of purpose.
*Note: Names and some details have been changed to protect privacy.