Tag: hospital

Five Things I Learned in the Hospital

duke_univ_hospWith my almost 3-week hospital stay behind me, I realized there are several things I learned from the experience. Here are five of them:

1. People who are in the hospital are really sick.

You might think that would be obvious, but when I say sick, I mean really sick. With today’s cost-driven medical care, you’ve got to be really sick to be admitted, and really, really sick to stay for almost 3-weeks like I did. Recognizing the degree of a person’s illness should have a great deal to do with how we minister to those in the hospital.

2. Brief visits are good visits.

While I enjoyed seeing everyone who came to see me, when I was at my sickest the shorter the visit the more I appreciated it. There are several reasons for brief visits. First, the patient is really sick (see Item #1 above). Second, being really sick means your attention span, your strength, and your ability to carry on a conversation are all limited. Third, hospital patients often have to use the bathroom more frequently than others due to the nature of their illness and medications they might be receiving. Keeping your visit short avoids the embarrassment of their having to ask you to leave while they call for the nurse for assistance.

3. Privacy and Dignity Need to Be Preserved by Visitors.

I discovered that being in the hospital means that doctors and nurses ask you about bowel movements, urination, incontinence, and other personal body functions. Often they do this right in front of everyone in the room, assuming that its okay to ask any question with guests present. Visitors should help the patient preserve what little privacy and dignity they have left, by excusing themselves when the doctor enters the room, or the nurse comes in to check on the patient. By exhibiting sensitivity toward the patient’s privacy and dignity, guests will show respect for the patient.

4. Let Sleeping Patients Lie.

Believe it or not, hospital life is not conducive to sleep. Almost every night at 3 AM, a lab technician would come in to draw blood for lab tests. Of course, she had to turn on the overhead light, and I had to sit up for her to find an unused vein (they grew harder to find each day) from which to draw blood. So, if you come into a hospital room where the patient is asleep, write a note and then quietly leave. The patient will appreciate your visit and your thoughtfulness.

5. Offer specific ways you can help.

Offer specific ways you are able to help make the patient’s stay easier. While there we had people offer to take our dirty clothes home and wash them. Others brought us food, or drinks, and some offered to do so when we got home. Two men in our church installed a new shower head in our shower so I could shower seated. Others offered transportation, help with travel and parking expenses, and many assured us of their prayers. Saying, “I can’t do everything, but I can wash clothes. Can I take yours home and wash them and return them tomorrow,” is a great way of offering to do something specific.

Of course, I learned more than 5 things while in the hospital and maybe I’ll share some of those later. But for now, these are things that can enhance your hospital ministry whether you’re a pastor or concerned church member. I’m also interested in what you’ve learned from your experience being hospitalized. What things would you add to this list. Put them in the comments, and I’ll add them in a later post. Thanks, and it’s good to be home again!

My Biopsy Is Negative

We got good news this morning from the surgeon who performed the biopsy surgery. My biopsy was negative for lymphoma. They attribute the PET scan results to “reactive” lymph glands which can be the result of an infection.

Possibly the infection came from the virus I had in January. In any event that seems to narrow it to an auto-immune disorder. I still am struggling with the symptoms of numbness in hands and feet, and some loss of activity in legs and some body functions.

I have a follow-up with the Duke hematologist next Tuesday, then my neurologist at the end of April. I appreciate your continuing prayers for whatever the next steps are. During this Easter season an “alleluia” or two is our response to this good news!

A Great Day Sunday and Back To Work on Monday

We had a great day on Easter Sunday! Les Adams led the service, Don Reagan read scripture, Eleanor Haskins presented the children’s sermon, others prayed, Charlotte was amazing on the organ, and the choir outdid themselves on Resurrection Sunday. Thanks to our great lay leaders, all I had to do was preach — and I got to do that sitting down!

Seriously, it was great to be back, and folks graciously welcomed me home after a three week absence. No one was happier than Debbie and I were. To top it off, we had guests from our former church in Greensboro. Fran Moseley, the minister of music then, and Nancy Davis, our accompanist, and her husband, Jerry were welcomed guests at our service. Actually, some of our folks thought they were a pastor search committee, so they weren’t welcomed warmly at first until that issue was out of the way!

This week I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who did the biopsy, and hopefully I will start physical therapy. Debbie spent part of the morning on the phone with Medi-Share, a Christian medical bill sharing ministry that we have subscribed to since 2008. They were very helpful in clarifying everything, and advising us on physical therapy. To top it off, I was in the office a couple of hours this morning, until I got really tired. But, at least I got started. We hope to hear from the biopsy on Tuesday or Wednesday, and I’ll update you when we do. Until then, our faith is in the God who raised Jesus from the dead during this Easter season.

We Are Home

After almost 3 weeks in hospitals, we are finally home! We’re thankful to God whose Spirit sustained us, to friends and family whose concern encouraged us, and to skilled doctors and nurses whose training helped us. Thank you again for all the prayers, cards, visits, calls, home repairs, and everything else. We love and thank God for you. Come see us…at home!

Going Home

I may be going home this afternoon! I have one more plasma pheresis treatment and they want to watch me for awhile after that, but barring any problems we should go home late this afternoon. (Or tomorrow at the latest but I’m counting on today!)

The good news is that there is noticeable improvement. I now have some reflex response in both legs, which I did not have yesterday. I can stand and walk more steadily, too, so hopefully whatever I have is leaving gradually.

I see the surgeon and hematologist next week for follow up and will get biopsy results then. Until then, we are grateful to God for these hopeful signs, and to you for praying for us. See you in Chatham!

Biopsy Complete and Successful

The biopsy went well today. The surgeon was able to take three lymph glands from my left groin. Lab results will be available in 2-3 days, so by Thursday or Friday we ought to know something.

Tomorrow I have another plasma pheresis treatment. Physical therapy is also scheduled to work with me. Both physical therapy and the plasma pheresis treatments have enabled me to walk better with a walker.

I keep reminding the doctors that I want to go home on Friday. Until then we’re here at Duke. God’s grace is indeed sufficient and his strength is made perfect in weakness. Thank you for your prayers.

Biopsy on Tuesday

I had a busy day today. The plasma pheresis folks showed up this morning about 9:30 am. The treatment finished about 11:45am, so it took quit a while. However I think the treatments are helping because I am walking better than a few days ago.

While the treatment was going on, the surgeon came in to talk to me. After examining me, he decided to take out a lymph gland in my left groin area. Although this is often done as outpatient surgery, they do put you to sleep. The surgery is scheduled for 2:45 pm on Tuesday, so I would appreciate your prayers then.

I also had a swallowing test. The test consists of swallowing vast amounts of some very nasty barium while they X-ray you from various positions. Apparently I passed, so we can rule out one more thing.

We’re still planning to be home Friday evening, and I will remind the doctors of that tomorrow. We are so grateful for all of you who are praying. Keep it up, especially tomorrow at 2:45 pm. As one of our favorite songs says, “It is well with my (our) soul…”

A Quiet Sunday

Not much happened today which is what we expected. I did get another IV bag of calsium because the plasma pheresis treatments strip too much of the calcium from your body.

Debbie pushed me down to the cafeteria and later the in-hospital Starbucks. Before that we had a nice visit from Ben and Betty Davenport. They gave us a great report on worship at our church this morning. Several other friends and my dad called, and we enjoyed hearing from each one.

Tomorrow I am told I will have a swallow test, a surgical biopsy of another lymph node, and my fourth plasma pheresis treatment. We appreciate more than you can know all of the prayers, calls, cards, and visits. We feel your prayers which give us strength each day. Pray for a definite diagnosis and treatment plan this week. We are at peace with whatever comes our way.

Home By Good Friday

When the doctors came around today, I asked them if I could be home by Friday. The head doctor asked, “Why, do you have something you want to do Friday?”

I said, “I’m a pastor and I really want to be at church on Esster.”

Both doctors looked at each other and decided that there was no reason I couldn’t be home by Good Friday, barring any further complications.

So that’s the plan: home in time for
Easter! Keep praying, please.

Good News But Not Good Enough

Let’s get right to it: the needle biopsy of a lymph node under my arm showed no cancer. Normally that would be good news, but the doctors were skeptical that it would show anything from the beginning.

That means on Monday I should have a surgical biopsy where they take a whole lymph gland. Unfortunately the “brightest” one is near my aorta, but there are others that are more accessible.

I also had another plasma pheresis treatment today. They seem to be helping as I have regained some leg strength. Still need a walker and PT is coming to work with me tomorrow.

Other than that we’ll be hanging out by the pool soaking up some rays this weekend. Not. Anyway my goal is to preach Easter Sunday. Please pray that I’ll be able to do that. We have so many dear friends both near and in other places. We appreciate your cards, visits, prayers, and thoughts. As Paul said, “I thank God for you….”