THE RED ZONE

The last twenty yards, the distance that brings victory within your grasp but still out of reach… the red zone. 

Wondering why I haven’t posted about the clinical trial in awhile? Because it’s BORING!    We have been knee-deep in a wonderfully welcome routine rut. We started the year with what was probably my best and worst day yet… the day he was pushed to the max and I was terrified; and he tolerated the equivalent of seven peanuts and I was gobsmacked, ecstatic, so overwhelmed with joy and hope that I sobbed uncontrollably. And that was it. Maintenance. No more updoses, no more challenges, much fewer restrictions… just maintain a level of tolerance. Sit back and let your body and the peanut powder do the work. For six more months, we would stay at the target dose of 300mg/day with a monthly visit to the clinic. You know when your doctor tells you to finish the antibiotic even after you feel better? That’s where I am. I know it worked. I saw the challenge. I saw him NOT react. I saw it work. Now we just have to finish the treatment and be officially declared healthy.

Football is a slow game. I don’t know how old I was when I realized that the three hour block of television coverage was only for sixty minutes on a game clock. WHAT? Just play! Move that ball, get your winning score, dump the gatorade, booyah! I love football, LOVE IT, but I am not a patient person. I am not a stop and reassess person. I’m full steam ahead. I’ve already thought it through. This is how it works and this is how we win. I’m the mess in the red zone that gets covered up in a pile of opponents and yellow flags because I don’t want to adjust. I just want to score and be done.

We’ve moved this ball up and down the field for over a year. There have been interferences and fumbles and Hail Marys and textbook plays. We have gained ground…. HUGE gains! The gains and touchdowns were the spoils of victory for an amazing team. Team Coleman. The weakest player on the team was the one who let the opponent get in their head, the one who just wanted to score and be done. I have driven my coaches and teammates crazy. Sidenote: this is why I’ve never played team sports. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m slow, clumsy, and extremely unathletic…. AND – I let the opponent get in my head. That’s why I’ve never played team sports. I still hold value with the team, though. They need that example of what NOT to do. They need that player who takes the hits. I’m that player. (Que video of last year’s faculty vs. student dodgeball game.)

Today was mid-maintenance day, the halfway point in this stage of the trial. Except it wasn’t. Our three month appointment was scheduled for next week. But there was a personal foul… a yellow flag… a time out… COVID-19. The officials are all over the place, nobody knows what to do with this, the penalties make no sense at all and all the sense in the world: from business as usual to mandatory lock-down. We are almost to the fourth quarter, we are almost to the red zone, and we are looking at going into overtime with no clue of how this game will end.

And so instead of easing into the red zone, we were called into the hot zone. “The clinic will close to outpatient care at 5:00 tomorrow. Can you come in?” YES! We need our next month’s supply of medicine! We need the fuel to get to the red zone. But… NO! We’re socially distancing. That’s why you’re closing, right? Why in the world would we come to a hospital right now? Okay, you’re the experts, we’ll do what you say. But this is a foul that has never showed up on our field… are you sure?

Listen, I entered this whole thing prayed for and prayed up and, albeit weak, I never doubted my faith. It was tested. It was stretched. It grew when I thought there was no room for growth. My faith was and is in God. He gave me the teammates and the experts. Each has their own function. They have been the assurance that God has orchestrated every good and perfect part of this process. And this process HAS been good and it HAS been perfect and it HAS been a gift from God. So no, I have no questions or doubts or regrets about entering the hot zone today. We went. We all talked and processed and did what everyone else in the country is doing. We figured out what we need to do for the next play and we did it. Because that’s how you win the game. You win by playing the next play. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that.

I’ve set the two month countdown as our twenty yard line, the red zone. Our next observed dose is in five weeks. For reasons beyond me, we have seven weeks’ worth of medicine. We have the red zone.

Today’s “time out” is just a very, very thin sliver of what almost everyone is experiencing. I don’t have more or better answers about what to do or not to do. I’m not leading a team, and I’m not letting a team down. I have faith. I’ve learned how important faith is. I’ve been admonished and edified in my faith. I believe that we have already received the good and perfect answer to all of our concerns: eternity with Jesus. I don’t know how I’ll get to the end of the game, but I know how my game will end. I just have to play the next play. 

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