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shoephoneI sometimes refer to my job as being a plumber, not the kind of covert spy like the plumbers of Watergate, tasked with wiretapping and making sure dead men tell no tales, as some melodramatic souls on the internet have implied. An amusing idea indeed, but no, not that kind.

Nor do I mean the kind of plumber that can fix a faucet and snake a drain, although I can do some of those things, too. I mean a plumber in terms of human plumbing, the plumbing within the human body. Not just the plumbing that lends itself well to potty jokes, but mostly circulatory plumbing, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels.

Most of my people have assorted circulation issues, blockages, aneurysms, diabetes, and much of my work involves keeping an eye on potential wounds, skin checks, circulation. If your blood isn’t flowing well, healing stops, actually it reverses, and a wound rather than getting smaller, will begin to grow. If an infection sets in you are in deep trouble, because no blood flow means no healing and no way to get rid of the infection. We forget, but in very recent history before antibiotics, even healthy, young people could die from what we today would call a minor infection.

If you have a wound that blood can’t reach and all other medical avenues have been exhausted, often the only solution is to amputate. If doctors don’t remove the infected part, it will basically spread, poison you, and you will die.

Our own blood is life, literally. It cleanses, repairs damage, and brings healing. Where the blood won’t go, death sets in quickly.

In a Christian context I am often amazed by that biological fact and how it is reflected so clearly in a spiritual sense in scripture, scripture written a few thousand years before man even realized that germs existed. Heck, we were still bloodletting only a few hundred years ago.

The Blood of the Lamb, it heals too, cleanses, prevents infection, and restores life.

I have a praise, a healing praise, because I have been engaged for months in uphill battles to care for people’s tiny scratches that have now grown into ugly wounds, that have thwarted all my efforts and the efforts of doctors, some that have simply reached the point of no return. There is almost no circulation, and someone I adore is now facing the inevitable which is going to involve removing a limb. I have prayed and grieved and encouraged, and prayed some more.

So they went to schedule surgery and the doctor said, “hold up here, we’ve suddenly got some blood flow.” Long story short, what should have been a short trip to emergency surgery, had the doc so encouraged, he’s decided to wait and do another follow-up.

It really is astounding. A few days ago, I was being chided for saying, “well, let’s just try to think positively.” I meant think positively no matter what the outcome is, but the doctor and the nurse both spoke about the need to face reality and not engage in false hope. Heck, what would they know, most of the time I don’t even engage in real hope.

Do you ever notice that when people tell you to face reality, they always mean the worst possible scenario? Why is that always more “real” than any other possibility?

Anyway, swelling is gone, skin color has returned, and the wound has shrunk a hamster whisker. Now I hear someone is suddenly demanding pain relievers. It’s the oddest thing to see people with wounds that don’t really hurt, but where there is no life, there is often no pain either. Pain is a good sign, pain is a sign of life and potential healing happening.

I love unexpected surprises.

I don’t know what the outcome will be or what tomorrow brings but I celebrate the blood daily, the blood in our bodies that brings healing, and sometimes I even celebrate the pain that signifies life. In another realm, in another context, it always reminds me to praise the Blood of the Lamb that also cleanses and restores our lives.