I haven’t always been the most flexible person. I am a planner and I like sticking to the plan. I am responsible and reliable and I take my commitments very seriously. So, when January 17 came and it was time for me to head out to do some community volunteering in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, you can imagine how upset I was that it was not in the plans for me to be sick – really sick. Two days later, I found myself in the hospital ER hooked up to an IV and getting a stomach CT.
After about six hours of tests, it was determined that I was not having an appendicitis and they sent me home with instructions to take it easy for a few more days. It took about three more days for me to feel like I could function again. By this time, I had missed MLK “a day on” and the volunteering that I had planned to do the following weekend with Habitat for Humanity. This was not my plan and certainly not the way I wanted to start out the New Year. Within a few days, I had developed a chest cold that kept me pretty much bedridden for another week. Frustration was boiling. January was slipping away and my “plan” of starting off the New Year with giving to different local organizations was slipping away.
I have taken on the position of volunteer coach for my daughter’s basketball team. They are a challenging group of girls. Some are passionate and enthusiastic about playing and learning while others act as if they would rather be anywhere other than on a basketball court. The weather hasn’t helped our team. The ice and snow have kept us from the gym when we desperately needed to practice. This has been the only volunteering that I have been able to accomplish since January.
As the snow and ice continued to fall, my children and I spent three ice and snow filled days at home. By the third “snow day”, I was sick again. This time with the stomach ailment that I had had two weeks prior. It was decided that I should see my doctor and begin the many tests that will (hopefully) lead them to a diagnosis of whatever it is that is ailing me. The testing began this week and as of yet, no diagnosis. I can’t even get in to see one of the doctors until March. Then today, I wake up and have no voice – none. I can squeak out a few words but not without straining my throat and sounding like Peter Brady in the infamous “Time to Change” episode of the Brady Bunch.
So, after the initial shock wore off and I stopped being mad that I just couldn’t seem to get well, I started thinking about my voice. This is only temporary. By next week I am sure I will be yaking and yelling as usual. It made me think about how lucky we are that we live in a place where we can have a voice. Where, when I have an opinion, I can voice it. Where, when I disagree with our government, I can voice it. I can say what I want to say, be what I want to be and do what I want to do.
I recently came across an organization that really touched me. It was a few weeks before my daughter’s 12th birthday and I came across an article about thegirleffect.org. It is an organization that raises money to give girls a voice in developing countries. We take for granted our voice. They have no voice. They are sold to men or slavery at the age of 12. They are uneducated, often abused and exposed to all kinds of health risks. Twelve years old! Please take a few moments to watch their video. I may not be able to do everything as planned and you may not be able to physically hear me today but I do have a voice and it is something I hope to never take for granted.