Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A different kind of central line

The central line has been...well...central to the treatments Talitha has been receiving at the hospital because it's the portal through which medicines, IV fluids, transfusions, chemotherapies, antibiotics, and stem cells flow. It is also the portal through which blood samples are drawn; so the central line is necessarily bi-directional.

In order for this central line to function properly, it must be kept open or free from coagulating blood, and it must be kept clean from infection both on the outside interface where it enters the body and also on the inside.

Maintenance of the central line requires daily effort and diligence. For instance, if you forget to flush the central line with saline and heparin, the portals will close off as blood begins to enter and coagulate to form new flesh.

Under most circumstances, except for when you have to constantly clean the skin from Thiotepa excretions, a large, sterile bandage is placed over the central line's entry point into the body and this is effective in keeping the infections out for the better part of a week before a new sterile dressing is required to maintain cleanliness.

A good, functioning central line makes all aspects of the treatment run more smoothly. When the central line breaks down or isn’t functioning at its best, it can really have some negative consequences as we found out during the induction rounds of chemo.

I’ve lost count of the number of times during the last months I’ve thought how much prayer is like a spiritual central line. When prayer is functioning properly, the Lord is able to access portals to our soul through which He is able to draw out our heartfelt desires and fill us with peace, happiness, joy, love, hope, and faith.

When we keep ourselves clean both on the outside and on the inside, prayer seems to work better. But it takes daily effort and diligence to maintain a good bi-directional flow. Daily scripture study is a wonderful flush that clears through the fleshy pursuits of the world that would otherwise encroach upon us and eventually seal us off from vital heavenly flows.

Going to church each week is a great way to cleanse more deeply, to clear away stubborn build-up of sin and weakness. It’s important to prepare for the new week by removing the old and starting fresh with a brightness of hope in Christ and a renewed commitment to always remember Him and keep His commandments. That way, we can receive great protection and strength through the promise that we may always have His spirit to be with us…which is, after all, the optimal environment for a highly functional central line of prayer.

When the central line of prayer is operating effectively, it makes all aspects of our life run more smoothly. (The opposite is also true. When this central line breaks down, it can bring on some really negative consequences like fear, anger, bitterness, and despair.)

I’m so grateful that Talitha’s central line is functioning so well during these bone marrow transplant cycles. Little by little, we’ve learned how to take better care of it. And the diligence and effort have paid off.

Interestingly, I’ve learned a lot about the central line of prayer during this process as if the learning curves of each have been on parallel paths. Little by little, my knowledge and understanding have improved and the central line of prayer has become more effective as a life-saving means through which I’m able to daily pour out my thoughts, feelings, heartaches, and desires and receive comfort, strength, peace, and understanding.

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