At the Hospital.


Hey friends, a couple weeks ago, I was in the ER. Not as a chaplain, but as a patient. I’m okay today, but wow—what an experience. It was both awful and affirming.

I was at work (so fortunately, already at the hospital) and had lost my balance and gotten feverish and was shaking like crazy. It all happened pretty quickly: I went from high-fiving fellow chaplains to hugging the wall with a 101 fever.

I was given a bunch of tests: a blood draw, X-ray, CT scan, a long Q-tip that went as far up my nose as possible, a rectal exam, and 350 ccs of rectal contrast. It was all pretty invasive and embarrassing stuff. The loss of autonomy is remarkably fast and total. I was half-naked under my gown. To use the restroom, I had to call for the nurse to disconnect my IV and oximeter. I didn’t have my toothbrush or phone charger; not a big deal, but things I’ve taken for granted. I’ve seen this sort of thing hundreds of times with patients, but of course, it’s a whole other thing to switch places.

The nurses and doctors were incredible with how gentle they were. They narrated every step of each procedure. They maintained my privacy. They kept me updated with total clarity. And when I returned to work later that week, no one made it weird. Well, I did, for the guy who inserted the rectal fluid. I blurted out, “I’m glad it was you!”—and immediately regretted my decision.

The most important learning for me was the value of chaplains. Two of them were with me. It was a huge difference having a chaplain in the room, and the impact stayed. Sometimes I’ve wondered about what I do and what it actually means for people, but I get it now. The power of presence, of a connection to the divine, is so crucial in crisis. To have someone pray for you when you’re that vulnerable is like nothing else, like the breaking of bread right out the oven, like warm water over cold tired hands, like the first gleam of light in a darkened tunnel. I’m so grateful for my fellow chaplains. Thank God for them. I can’t believe I get to do what I do.

The tests, by the way, came up just fine. A temporary body glitch, or I need to take better care of myself, or I’m just getting old. Like they say, even the Mona Lisa is falling apart. We all get there.

It was pretty scary, but I’m certain my experience isn’t nearly as hard or harsh as many others who have gone to the hospital. I think, at the very least, I have a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to be the one looking up from the hospital bed. Thank you to those who prayed and for those who will. I’m feeling much, much better today.
J.S.


Photo by Images Catalog, CC0 1.0

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7 thoughts on “At the Hospital.

  1. Wow, that sounds like a very scary, challenging experience.  Glad your doing better.  Thank you for what you do as a chaplain, coming alongside the hurting, grieving “with those who grieve.”  You and your fellow chaplains are indeed vital hands and feet of Christ.

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

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  2. Very encouraging. I definitely go through stages as a workplace chaplain where I do not feel as valuable. Interestingly enough in times when I have been hurting God will put someone in my path that I get to lead to Christ, or a hospital visit with someone who has been in and out several times and they serve as a great encouragement to me. The decision to walk by faith as a Chaplain is moment by moment, and to walk with the assurance Christ provides is the most freeing place to operate from.

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  3. Wow! So glad that you are okay! The whole thing sounds very scary and yet so thankful that it all turned out really good! Praise God! I am glad that you had good support all the way around you and it is truly important for sure. May God continue in those moments of doubt come and prop you up with His shield.

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  4. I’m very happy that you are doing better. I love that you mentioned being prayed over I know that’s an amazing experience, to have another soul pray for the best of you. I had a similar experience except it was with my ankle. I loved the staff at the hospital they were careful and attentive to my needs. I wish nothing but the best for you.🙂

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  5. Firstly I thank God Who chose to make your medical incident one that was overcome. Fir decades I have made it clear that I believe sometimes God makes people hospital patients for very good reasons that have nothing to do with human frailty. May this give you, as you indicate, a renewed sense of the work of Paraclete through those who minister to the vulnerable.
    Peace

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