Altar Call –
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
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
because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
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. + + +