I've spent many a days looking at the world from a hospital bed. Some of those times I was so sick I didn't know what planet I was on and others days that was painfully clear. For the last 20 times, meaning those that were due to orthopedic surgeries, I gave little thought to the person in the next room or on the floor above me. I was there to have a surgery that would help me walk better, or repair a disc that I blew out in my sleep, and looking past my own issues was not something I was aware of. Little did I know my perception of hospital stays would change quite dramatically. In January I was in the hospital for 11 days and by chance landed two doors down from the ICU. Most of my stay was pretty uneventful, that is outside my door, until the night I heard a blood curdling scream. I knew what had happened, someone had died, and my heart broke for them. The screams flew down the hallway, there was a loud commotion, but I kept to myself because I knew that family needed their family moment. I asked the nurse was it someone who was young or old. She said that it was a mother of two, a 14 and 12 year old, and it wasn't expected. That is all that I would know, but the experience stayed with me. I wonder if God was important to them. I wonder how those kids would handle losing their mom at such an early age. At the time that is all I would do, wonder about it. I had no idea that my next view from a hospital bed would be different. This past week my heart monitor had it's third wacky report. I had trusted that my doctor was correct in his assumption that for the most part I was ok, but I needed to rest and try to keep my heart rate slow. He never said I needed to go to the hospital to have things checked out. Wednesday night was different. I knew that my heart was beating way too fast for normal and that I didn't feel right. A different doctor called and said the report showed multi-focal tachycardia and that I needed to go to the ER and let them do an EKG. At first Bill and I talked and I wasn't going to go. He and I are medically overwhelmed and wanted nothing to do with another ER or hospital. But, he asked me how I felt and I said not right. So, I decided to err on the side of caution and went, with the expectation that I would be coming straight home. To make this part of the story short, I ended up having my heart stopped in the ER, restarted, and landed myself back in the hospital. It was a bit surreal, but I was grateful I sucked it up and went, and so was Bill. I only stayed two days, they were able to see the rhythym they needed to see when they stopped my heart and were able to find a medication that corrected my heart rate to normal. It was a close call, but once again God had his hand in it. During the stay I now understood that my medical issues wasn't the point really. God wanted to show me that despite what was going on medically I could share my faith in him with the staff there, or who ever I felt led to. I shared it with two dear ladies and the experience was a life changing one. I don't know the outcome of our conversations, but I do know that they left with an understanding that God can use any trial for his own purpose, as long as we are willing. It seemed to give them hope I think. As I walked the halls on the cardiac floor I looked into rooms that had older patients lying there, alone, no family, no one to talk with. It made me very sad and aware that many people leave this world alone, quietly from a hospital room. Who is it that will go listen to their stories? Who will take a few minutes out of their lives to reach out to an ill person they don't know? God showed me a need, a very important one. Old people are often times forgotten and alone, it is them who need a friend or someone to simply care at a time in their lives when they see the end becoming very real and near to them. As I walked back into my own room I felt a desire to color them a picture, to leave them with something to brighten their day, but I had no crayons or paper. It made me realize how important crayons would have been, to carry with me, along with paper, no matter where I'm at. It seems like a little thing, but I bet to those patients a crayon colored picture of their very own might have been a big deal. Disabled artists spend a lot of time in and out of hospitals. It's part of our reality and daily struggle sometimes. I know at least for me, I'll have crayons and paper with me in some form if I am ever back in the hospital. God may choose to draw someone a picture and if he does, I hope I am ready for him to guide my hand. (The painting above started with crayons)
In my bible I have a copy of a song which is the prayer of St. Francis, the refrain goes like this:
Oh Master, grant that I may never seek So much to be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love, with all my soul.