She was talking about people coming to St Joe Hospital (Fort Wayne) for carbon monoxide poisoning. We were at the hospital, Nancy and I, to visit friends from our congregation that were in for that same reason.
Fort Wayne got iced on Friday. Up to half an inch of ice. Everything was covered. And at one point, 70% of the houses in the city were without electricity. As a result, people turned to alternate power and heating sources. Generators, kerosene heaters, fireplaces, charcoal.
Yes, even charcoal.
While we were there, a family of three came in; parents and a 4-year-old. While we were there, four more people were coming in.
And in many cases, people were there because, in desperation, they did what they knew wasn’t wise. People know that charcoal gives off carbon monoxide. People know that the garage door should be open when you are using a generator. People know that you shouldn’t leave a kerosene heater burning all the time without adding fresh air.
We know lot of things that we don’t do.
And that’s the other part of the story.
We were there to visit our friends, but I ended up in an emergency room bed myself. About 6:30 on Saturday evening I started feeling pain in my chest (right side, not left side–relax and keep reading). There was a knife under my arm and a band of tightness all around. We got dressed to go to a concert and had to stop twice on our way because of the nausea and choking feeling. We got to the concert venue, picked up our tickets (free), went inside, and got a call about the aforementioned couple in the hospital. Because we were already unsure about sitting through the concert with this pain, and because a hospital seemed to be a great place to be at that moment, we went visiting.
They ran all the tests (everything was fine), gave me a delightful muscle relaxer that didn’t make me drowsy but targeted those particular muscles, and let me go home.
Here’s what happened: shoveling ice on Thursday made the chest muscles tense. And then the stress of power out on Friday, major car repairs on Thursday, backlog of self-imposed deadlines, running behind on shopping, and several other internalized pressures all tripped the switch on the tense muscles and I ended up with a huge muscle spasm.
Here’s why I tell you this: I’m as bad as people using charcoal in the kitchen. I know better than to let stress pile up. I know better than to try to solve every problem, than to blame myself for repairs that cannot be foreseen, than to worry about having enough resources when we know that we have the money in the bank right now.
In fact, I talk all the time about having a conversational relationship with God, about asking him for advice, about not worrying. I talk all the time about talking with others. I talk all the time about community. It’s just that when things seem particularly desperate, we ignore what we know to be true and we revert to…the things that make no sense.
I’m doing fine now. So is the couple we went to see. So, I hope is the family of three and the four people in ambulances on their way to the hospital that night. All of those people will do everything they can to be wiser about how they add heat to their lives. I will be doing everything I can to be wiser about actually trusting the God I try to point to…and accepting the fact that he loves me even when I try to take his place.