Hospitals are not fun, but often necessary. I’m still recovering from a recent procedure and stay in the hospital. I thought I’d done the hospital thing enough that there wouldn’t be any surprises, but there were. I didn’t handle general anesthetic as well as I thought I would and spent a long night with the room spinning and feeling nauseous. I’m sure I still don’t fully understand what it is like to suffer from vertigo, but I think I have a little more empathy.
I’m grateful for many things because of this experience. I’m grateful for my wife who made sure I was in good hands and that there was nothing she could do before she left to go home and get some rest. I don’t know how common this is, but I’m also grateful for a roommate who looked out for me. When I couldn’t find the call button he’d push his and get the nurse to come. He was in extreme pain, and still somehow managed to talk to me with soothing and comforting words. The fact that we shared a belief in God was very reassuring. His words continually reminded me that I wasn’t alone and that what I was going through was only temporary.
Generally, it is hard to rest in the hospital because the nurses and staff must wake you up to check on you. On this night I wanted the attention and I got it. Ashley took great care of me and worked hard to find a solution to my nausea. About three in the morning the room stopped spinning and I was able to rest, but the real lesson was yet to come. It took four people to replace Ashley at the shift change. I had two nurses and two student nurses watching over me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the student nurse who taught me an important lesson.
Without going into detail, I had made a mess of my bed. I was both uncomfortable and embarrassed. When she came to the room the first thing she asked me was my name. She wanted me to know I was still a person and not just a bed number. She gave me a new gown to put on and then said something that stuck with me, “We’re not afraid of laundry.” It’s probably silly, but that was encouraging to me, especially since I could tell she was serious. I was the patient and I was expected to create dirty laundry. It didn’t matter how many times I did it, she would be there to gather it up and make sure I had a clean bed and gown.
I think her attitude was a fitting example of Jesus’ response to Peter:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)
I’m sure this student nurse wanted me to be well so that I wouldn’t make messes anymore. However, I wasn’t going to get well if I resisted the people who were trying to help me. Forgiveness is what I need to stay engaged with the people who are trying to help me be whole and well in all the other areas of my life. If their help seems limited or measured I may pull away or refuse to hit the call button.
I still have a way to go to reach full physical recovery. I’m grateful for an encouraging wife and the prayers of many brothers and sisters. I’m not alone and that is very good to know.