Saturday, February 21, 2009

With Wings

The time has come. I’ve had four years of hard work, challenging work. There were many times I wondered if I would ever make it this far. Yet, by God’s strength, here I am, facing the Qualifying Exam for my interpreting program. All of the work, sweat, tears, and yes, joy, comes down to twenty minutes. Two ten minute texts for which I must absorb every word, figure out the meaning, translate into another language and culture, and produce smoothly--all while still understanding the next sentence, and the next, never loosing a concept.

If I pass the QE on Monday the 23rd, I’ll be assigned an internship with a few skilled interpreters, and will began working under them as a classroom interpreter. Then I can graduate this spring (though I’ll have to take a few summer general ed. classes to complete my AA degree) and begin working in low-risk settings as an interpreter.

We have four chances to pass the QE. My class took the first one a few months ago. Only one student passed. I almost passed that one and was feeling confident about passing this next one. But God has a way of making sure that every time I start trusting in myself, a reminder comes along that HE is the one my strength comes from--I can’t do it myself. And so it was that I had a bad flare during much of this school term, primarily debilitating fatigue and cognitive problems. I went almost a month with only a few hours of interrupted sleep most nights. I failed a test because my short term memory couldn’t grasp what I was seeing quite long enough to write it down. I was having language production problems, meaning I was walking around saying things like, “Dad, it’s your turn to heat your food up in the dishwasher.” or, “Wheryugn?” And that was just the English chat, my ASL was worse and my interpreting… well, mostly wasn’t.

I’m doing mostly better now, but besides the tests I messed up, I feel like I lost about three weeks of practice time, and maybe even went backwards in skills. So here I am, facing the QE feeling totally unready, but trusting God because He’s already proved that He can do the impossible in my life.

This term hasn’t been all bad, though. In school we are focusing on K-12 classroom interpreting and our last topic in ASL class was interpreting children’s books. We each got to pick a book and then performed the story for our test. I wish all tests could be like that! I love it and had so much fun. I posted a video of it here.

I continue to be encouraged by how God uses my struggles to reach out to others. I was recently interviewed by a researcher from OHSU for a book she’s writing for teens who have Fibromyalgia. Then just last night I was invited to sit on a workshop panel of interpreters with disabilities. The workshop will be this spring and the panel will have a mix of hearing and Deaf interpreters with visible and invisible disabilities. Also this spring, HopeKeeper’s magazine is going to publish an article I wrote shortly after being diagnosed with Fibro.

Oh, I guess I should give an update on my heart, too. I now have a heart monitor, which has proved to be rather noisy and sort of amusing. When I start feeling heart palpitations (which is generally constantly from evening through to the morning, and occasionally all day) I’m supposed to push the button to record my heartbeat. Then the little machine gives off a loud tone with an even louder beep for each beat. Thankfully I can mute it a little by putting a finger over the speaker, but it still distracts my classmates. Then it rings every half an hour until I can get to a phone (can’t use a cell) to transmit the recording. I just lay the receiver of the phone over the monitor and it screams its beep into the phone at four times a faster speed. It often sounds rather like a beeping tea kettle. Somehow I don’t think that’s quite what a heart is supposed to sound like… I see the cardiologist next month. If something is wrong with my heart, I’m sure that’s contributing to my fatigue and sleep problems.

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Is. 40:31)