Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 22, 2017


Observations from a hospital bed


        Since problems are opportunities, I have looked upon my weeklong hospitalization as an opportunity to observe and learn from what is going on around me. Here are a few of my observations:


1)   Baptist East Emergency Room in Montgomery is staffed with fine people who work well as a team. You realize quickly that your recovery depends not on one, but on several people doing their job correctly. Each team member has an important task to perform in determining the needs of each sick person. I admired each person who helped me, including the one who cheerfully removed the trash.


2)   Many people are sick during the winter months. Baptist East is full of patients most of the time lately. I had to wait 24 hours before a bed was available in the hospital.


3)   It takes special people to work well in an emergency environment. It is not easy to be polite, courteous, and caring with one sick person after another for 12 hours at a time. However, the people I encountered were doing it.


4)   Whatever your problem, there is likely someone down the hall with a worse dilemma. While I was calmly discussing my stomach pain with a doctor and two nurses, suddenly they all left me alone in the room while they rushed out to attend a new arrival with a major problem. I prayed they would be able to help the unknown person whose need was greater than mine.


5)   There are few things in this world finer than kindness. To be treated with indifference is demeaning; it makes you sicker. To be treated with kindness helps you feel a sense of worth without which wellness is devoid of meaning. I spent a week receiving kindness from people who knew me only as a man who was hurting and in need of help, which they could and did provide.


6)   At age 84 I am “at risk” for falling. My nurses constantly made sure that every precaution was made to keep me from falling. In my room, and I suppose in every hospital now, the ceiling tile about my head contains the words in bold letters, “Call Don’t Fall.” I smiled night after night, looking at the message, and wondering if it was there out of genuine concern for the patient’s safety or out of fear of liability lawsuits. Probably both I concluded.


7)   It makes a difference for your doctor to appear unhurried and willing to take the time to listen to your concerns. Some doctors have walked into my room, told me what they came to say and abruptly walked out. Though 40 other patients may be waiting to see my doctor, I want the doctor to give me three or four minutes to respond to my questions. This week my doctors took the time to listen to my concerns, for which I was deeply thankful. I felt like a real person.


8)   The illness for which I was diagnosed was quite a surprise – an infection that is highly contagious and requires a 14-day isolation from contact with others. For the first time in my life I am learning what it feels like to have others afraid to get near me. It is a strange feeling that is rather unnerving but I am seeking the grace to handle it. The good news is that this cloud will be over me for only two weeks.


9)   Pain and illness produce fear that can fill the mind with wretched thoughts. At my age every serious illness causes me to wonder if the end is near, for I know it will come one day. Have I looked upon the faces of my loved ones for the last time? Is the time of my departure at hand? Scripture can often overcome fear. It did for me this morning. My friend Ed Williams posted this on Facebook:


I lie down and sleep; I wake again,

because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands

 assail me on every side.

Psalms 3:5-6


The liberating four words that chased away my fear – “I will not fear.” That affirmation has been the wind under my wings this day. And it will have no less power over my senseless fears as I continue this journey called life for I am in touch with someone who will sustain me.  + + +