Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GRADUATE (08/01/19)
TITLE: Far Better Than A Mortar Board
By Mariane Holbrook
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By morning, when her thermometer registered 102 degrees, her mother made an immediate appointment with the family's physician. By then, Janice was also losing muscle control.
"Mom, my arms feel floppy. I can hardly lift them," Janice said as
her mother helped her dress.
"It's probably just the flu, honey. Don't worry. Dr. Zoltowski will have you feeling better in no time."
Dr. Zoltowski had treated the medical needs of Janice and her family for many years and was easily regarded as the most capable and respected physician in town.
After a cursory examination, he asked the nurse to help Janice dress while he left the room to speak privately with Janice's mother.
"If my suspicions are correct", he said, "Janice has Polio. I want her admitted to the hospital immediately. Since Polio is highly contagious in its earliest stages, we'll call for an ambulance and you can follow behind in your car. My nurse will phone the hospital now to make all the arrangements. I'll come by this afternoon after my office closes.
Dr.Zoltowski hugged the trembling, weeping woman and walked her
back to the examination room where Janice was waiting. Janice listened as the doctor explained the need for tests at the hospital to rule out anything serious or contagious. The word "Polio" was carefully avoided in the conversation.
At the hospital, tests were immediately conducted and Janice was placed in solitary confinement with a "QUARANTINED. DO NOT ENTER" sign attached to the outside of the door.
The next morning, with her mother and father standing by her bedside, Dr. Zoltowski and a neurologist explained the diagnosis to Janice and the treatment she would receive. When the words "Polio" and "Iron Lung" were finally spoken aloud, Janice began to cry.
"I'll admit I'm scared to death," she said through her tears,"but I gave my heart to Jesus when I was eleven years old so I know He'll be with me through this. Daddy, will you pray for me now that God will help me to be brave and that He will heal me?"
The doctors remained through the prayer, then excused themselves so the parents could console their stricken daughter.
Janice's mother phoned me that night to tell me the news. Janice and I had been best friends since first grade when we were assigned seats beside each other in the classroom. Our families attended the same church which helped to cement our friendship.
The first time I was permitted to visit Janice in the hospital, she was ensconced in a massive, intimidating iron lung, with only her head visible. The size and structure of this metal vibrating machine were so disturbing and frightening that I could barely speak.
But we tried to cheer each other up by reliving humorous events from our long friendship. Before leaving and at her request, I read from the Bible, then placing my hand on her forehead, I prayed for my dearest friend.
Janice desperately wanted to complete high school so when she began to improve, I began bringing my textbooks and homework assignments to the hospital every afternoon after school. After discussing the material, I would record her answers to the homework questions and return them to her teachers the next day.
At the end of our senior year, her teachers verbally tested her at the rehab center and she passed every subject with good grades.
Three hours before the graduation ceremony at school, Janice's teachers, the principal, family members, some friends, her doctors, and a few nurses arrived at her room bringing a black graduation gown and mortar board cap. Her high school diploma, matted and framed, was securely placed on the machine above her head where she could easily read it.
A short speech was given by the valedictorian, then everyone joined in singing their school's song, followed by the familiar "Amazing Grace."
Two years later, Janice stood upright and unaided before the magnificent throne of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to hear these words, "You have fought a good fight, you have finished the course and kept the faith. Here is your crown of righteousness. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord." *
*Based on 2nd Timothy 4:7-8 and Matthew 25:21 (KJV)
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