Jeff Weddle | @anti_itcher
“Are you OK?” the nurse asked me. “Here, take a seat, we’ll be right with you.” She sat me down in a chair and ran off. Soon she came back. “Here, hold this,” she said pressing a towel and ice pack to my forehead. “Put your head down and breathe deep.”
I sat in the chair getting my bearings and waited for the room to stop spinning. She hovered around me making sure I didn’t faint. “Are you OK? You’re all white and sweaty?”
“I. I’m. I’ll be fine.” She didn’t believe me, so she continued to hover and give me kind nursely advice.
“Just take it easy,” she said patting my shoulder consolingly.
“You all right man?” asked the guy lying in the hospital bed covered with fresh burn scars over a quarter of his body. No, I was not the sick guy here; I was merely doing my pastoral duty of hospital visitation and had attracted medical attention for my wimpiness.
“Oh man, I don’t know. I hope I pull through this OK,” I joked.
“Yeah, I was a little concerned for you,” he said with some mockery.
Ah yes, this was not the first and will not be the last time I get sick visiting people in a hospital. I don’t know what it is, the smell, the sights, the sounds, or what, but I get physically ill in hospitals.
Granted it has gotten better the more I’ve done it. My puke to visit ratio is declining, but it’s been quite the journey. There was the woman with back surgery who had an insatiable desire to share every single detail of how they screwed what things into what pieces of the body. Then the guy who grossed me out with all the details of his lung scraping procedure. Then there was the amputation.
Oh, the amputation. I still shudder.
“Oh, dear Lord help me” is my constant refrain in hospitals. Ever since I was a kid I’d get sick in hospitals, which did keep me healthy and outside of hospitals. I’d go to school on my deathbed to avoid a doctor. “No, it’s OK mom, I’ll just drag my legs to school. I can walk on my hands. I’ll be fine.”
I puked on an eye doctor once when he took the air pressure in my eye with that needley thing they just about jab in your eyeball. What if he flinches? Puke everywhere.
Perhaps my imagination is too vivid. I don’t know, I just know I lose control of my lunch in hospitals. It is only by the Holy Spirit’s power that I have survived hospital visitation over the years. There is probably no pastor on earth who prays so regularly for the health of his congregation. “Dear Lord, please keep the people healthy so I don’t have to visit their hospital rooms and throw up on nurses. Amen.”
I have a great appreciation for the great Christian men and women who helped care for the sick, what a proud tradition. I don’t know how they did it, but I’m glad they did. The Church is a Body with many members, when one member hurts, all the members hurt. I am grateful for this because if it were just you and me the Bible would say, “when one member hurts the other member throws up” and that does not have the same ring to it.
As a pastor I am forced to visit hospitals and have been forced to grow up. I’ve gotten better at hospital visits. I even cherish some of the moments in hospitals and the lessons I’ve learned. If I can do it, so can you.
The next time you hear of someone in the hospital, clear some time and go see them. Hospitals are dreadful places and company is appreciated. Even if the company ends up puking his lunch, it does provide distraction, and that’s what hospital visits are all about.
Jeff Weddle is the husband of one wife and father of three kids. He is pastor of Rhinelander Bible Church in Rhinelander, WI. He enjoys reading, writing, guitaring, and although he does not enjoy running, he tends to do that a lot, too. You can contact him on Twitter at @anti_itcher or at his blog: AntiItchMeditation.wordpress.com.