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Thursday, March 26, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Monday was hand surgery day for Priscilla, my wife.

Several days prior she had been sick with the flu. Fill in the blanks. But Monday she was well enough to have the cut-through.

However, waking up Monday for me was not fun. I now had the no-energy-at-all. Yet I was to drive her to and from the hospital. After all.

I literally dragged to the van, turned the key and hoped to stay put on the frost heaves of River Road.

By the time we got to the hospital, Priscilla went off to see the surgeon. I waited in the state-of-the-art reception solarium.

I was handed what appeared to be a type of remote which would wiggle and tickle when it was time for me to visit Priscilla through those awesome closed doors that signed AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL

I said to the receptionist: “I am sick. I really have no strength even to sit up in a chair.”

She pointed to another reception area off the main section. “Go in there. It’s quiet. Put some chairs together and lie down.”

I waddled right in there, laid the “remote” at the top of my head on a little table, and didn’t care what came next.

There were already four comfortable chairs lined up in a straight cot-like shape. I stretched out upon them all, my jacket thrown over me. In no time, lights out.

After a time frame I know nothing about, security fellow Charlie said, “Now, Mr. Swank, take your time. But your wife is waiting for you back in the surgery unit.”

Slowly, very slowly, I pried myself into vertical, handed Charlie the “remote,” then followed him through the ONLY doors.

At the end of the long, long hall was the cubicle housing Priscilla. Thankfully, the hospital with its most accommodating provisions, had a lazy-boy chair for the visitor-with-patient. I made swift use of the chair, tilted back and closed my eyes.

It took an hour for all the finals to be carried out by a couple of nurses and attendants, then
the surgeon—a young fellow, most kind and gracious—closed things out.

“You can bring your vehicle up to the side entrance,” the nurse instructed me.

I slowly walked down to those automated doors, walked across the parking lot, opened the van door and turned the key. Presently, Priscilla and nurse positioned her in the passenger’s side.

It was now mid-day. I dared not put anything in my stomach because of you-know-why. Yet the strength was not upping.

Nevertheless, I was the designated driver. So home we went, Priscilla talking about meds for pain and my head gradually focusing on what was really important.

I collapsed on the couch, losing contact with the world through the few hours beckoning. When awakening, Priscilla said, “You know, I’m going to have to go back to the hospital because the nurse left a needle in my arm.”

Sure enough. The nurse had forgotten to take the “port”—is that what it’s called; I have no idea about medical terminology? Anyhow, it’s the needle that’s
put into the flesh by which more whatevers can be added to the body for this and that.

Yes, it was there all right. And it could not stay. Infection and so forth.

“I don’t know if I can drive into the city. The hospital. It seems so far away,” I replied, unthinkingly, for who else was going to do it?

Back in the car. Night had fallen. I felt wretched. Priscilla was dealing with pain-after-hand-surgery.

We got to Mercy Hospital Emergency Room, checked in with the receptionist and so on and so on.

Priscilla disappeared into the inner sanctum where professionals could take care of the “port” that should have never been left in her arm.

To my right there sat a handsome young fellow who started to explain to me that my wife could have been taken to the local fire department where a medic would have extracted the object without us having to do what we did.

From that subject, we moved to his subject—which was that he suffers from diabetes, has an esophagus problem by which he cannot eat anything but apple sauce diluted with water.

“I’m losing weight. I have gone down from 225 to 155. The doctors don’t know what to do with me. I’ve been to the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. They don’t know what to do with me. I can’t keep losing weight. Yet when I eat anything, even jello or soup, it comes right up. I hope I don’t have to have a tube inserted in my side. I don’t want this to turn into cancer.”

More detail. And more detail.

Being a Christian, I listened and empathized. I genuinely cared and he knew it.

He told me about his parents who are divorced. “My mother has had one heart attack. I don’t want her to have another from worrying about me so I try to keep all this from her as much as possible.”

He spilled out specific after specific. In other words, he needed a listening ear. I was it.

Interestingly enough, I was not feeling weak any longer. I felt full strength and was wide-awake.

Then there came out this detail from Jeremy: “My mother is strict when it comes to religion.”

I asked him what church she goes to.

He replied with the name of the sanctuary. “I know where that is. And I believe what your mother believes. You don’t know it, but you have been talking with a minister.”

He looked startled—but pleased.

In short, I continued to talk to him about God, the biblical promises, and the power of prayers. The bottom line: I witnessed to him about Jesus. He was
most receptive and thankful.

“Be certain that we will continue to pray for you though we may never meet again.” With that, I handed him my pastor’s card with name, address, etc.

As Priscilla and I drove home at 10:30 PM, passing through a quiet city and then into our own village, I thought back over the belabored day.

Such joy filled my heart.

Jesus was in charge. And how many times has this same sequence played out in my life over and over again: problems, difficulties, barriers, slumps and then—surprise—the hand of God in-my-face?

“Thank you, Jesus, for overruling today. The nurse forgot the “port”? We had to go back to another hospital because it was merely a nuisance?

That’s life. It’s a damaged world.

Yet Jesus has promised in the consecrated life to use everything “according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. Recall?

Pray for Jeremy, will you? Pray for Jeremy. It was such a privilege to have met him. He certainly is one hunk who could use a lot of saving grace and a healing miracle besides.

Thank you, Jesus. I know you know and are in charge.

Now as to the state of the present-tense world. . .