Unexpected

Our jeep bumped along the rugged trail that was going to take us to the main road and back home to Nairobi, after a successful humanitarian aid project in a distant rural area of Kenya. My thoughts were already traveling to the busy week ahead. The next project was around the corner and needed to be planned and organized, and there seemed to be too few hours in the day to get it all done.

My knee had been bothering me for the previous few days, and that eventually escalated into a constant dull pain. So far, I had managed to ignore it, but I knew I’d probably end up needing to get it checked. I just couldn’t seem to find the time and kept putting it off.

After arriving home, I went to bed early, feeling exhausted and achy. During the night, a pounding pain woke me up, and I discovered swelling all around my kneecap. I popped some painkillers and tried to catch a bit more sleep. In the morning, the pain was even more intense, and I called my doctor, who immediately summoned me to his office. There, a thorough checkup, blood tests, and an x-ray confirmed that there was a deep-seated infection in my leg that was threatening to spread.

The doctor furrowed his brow as he looked over the results. “We need to hospitalize you immediately.”

I tried to argue. “But I have pressing appointments and work to do this week.”

“Your work has to wait!” the doctor insisted. “This infection has to be stopped, or you might even lose your leg!”

Relenting, I hobbled over to the adjacent hospital to check myself in. Then a nurse met me with a wheelchair and escorted me into a small room. After she left, quietness enveloped me, and the fact that I was grounded sank in. The room was sterile and white, and flower-curtained windows faced a treelined courtyard. There was a small TV attached to the wall, a sink with a small mirror, and a metal-frame bed. I sank into its covers, frustration and worry welling up inside of me.

Soon, the door opened and a nurse entered to set up a drip. “Don’t worry, dear, you’ll be better soon,” she said reassuringly, then smiled and left the room. I was alone again.

I realized that I had two choices. One was to let the situation pull me down, dreading each minute I had to spend there. The other was to start searching for a glimpse of the silver lining that must be hidden somewhere behind the dark cloud. I decided to choose the second option and prayed that God would help me find joy in this unexpected and potentially depressing turn of events.

A knock on the door brought me out of my reverie. It was a colleague with a large bouquet of flowers. This was soon followed by several phone calls by loved ones offering their best wishes for my recovery. I began to cheer up.

A tray with tea and cake was wheeled in for an afternoon snack, and I couldn’t help but grin when I realized that it had been a long while since I had been served in bed! Later in the day, I rested, read, and watched a movie. It felt great to just relax and let myself enjoy this unexpected but much-needed break.

Within a few days, my knee improved and I was able to go home. In the meantime, others had managed my project just fine.

I’m glad that I chose joy, which brought along peace, and in turn helped to get me back on my feet quickly.