It took me 61 years to finally have my first experience with such luxury—at the push of a button—people actually come to your bedside to meet your needs! I arrived home a couple days ago from an unexpected 4 day staycation on the 4th floor of the 4 star “hotel” located on a major thoroughfare of our city. The staff at Cape Coral Hospital took care of all my needs and then some!
And, go figure this—I was denied food or liquids by mouth for the first two days and then only clear liquids for another day. Finally, I had actual food the last evening I was there. And, I came home weighing nearly 10 pounds MORE than I went in. I guess it must have had something to do with about a million or so of those 2 1/2 pound bags of fluid hanging on a pole and emptying into my veins non-stop from Monday evening until Friday morning!
I had lots of time to think and reflect. I learned (or was reminded of) a few things.
Life Is Uncertain – I had a packed schedule. Tons of very important meetings planned. I didn’t have any clean socks, underwear or toothbrush with me when I went to the emergency department. After all, the few other times when I’ve been at the ER, no doctor ever told me I was going to be admitted. But meetings can be missed and rescheduled. Others can and will fill in the gap.
Scripture describes the posture we should daily live in, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15 NIV). That’s how I’ll start this coming week, because life is uncertain.
Some Things Are More Important – As a pastor for 36 years, I’ve told many people, “Some things are more important than other things.” I’ve always tried to be a good steward of my temple. But when you are flat on your back absorbing the narcotic they just gave you for heavy abdominal pain, and the ER doctor gives you a worse-case scenario of the diagnosis of diverticulitis—possible surgery, a temporary colostomy and a second surgery to reconnect the bowel, you listen. At least I did. Some things are more important; your health, future, well-being, staying active and quality of life.
People Care – I never doubted that people cared but I did witness it in action as a recipient. While I intentionally kept my hospitalization on the down low and didn’t post it on social media or let many know, one way or another friends, family and colleagues prayed, called, texted, emailed and visited. I was touched when one of my children drove a couple hours to come and pray for me. I was honored that the hospital CEO stopped in for a brief visit. We may get the impression by watching the news that no one cares anymore. That’s really not true. People care.
People Still Love Their Jobs – I was so impressed by how much those in the hospital enjoy their work. My wife is a maternity nurse and of course she loves her job. Who wouldn’t love bringing new life into the world? But the food service workers, maintenance crew, housekeepers, laundry workers, spiritual service volunteers, phlebotomist, CT scan techs, doctors, nurse assistants and administrators were all smiling. I heard no one complaining. They seemed to genuinely enjoy taking care of all my needs.
Gratitude is a Choice – I’ve believed it and preached it for years. I’ve blogged on it. I authentically experienced it for myself this past week. I’m very grateful I went to the ER when I did because I was told it could have turned out much worse had I waited. I’m filled with gratitude for the diagnosis. I don’t require surgery, radiation, chemo or immediate preparation for my funeral. Instead, I can manage a healthy future with a fiber-rich diet and avoiding a few foods I can easily live without. I’m sincerely grateful for my wife, my children, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and my pastors. I’m thoroughly grateful for God’s grace, healing, peace and presence, at all times in all situations.
Each part of our journey in life can be something we just go through or grow through. I’m thankful that my first hospital experience was a time of learning and blessing. God is good.
Previous Blogs on Gratitude: