The following write-up was written shortly after the experience happened to me, about eight years ago, if memory serves. Came across it and thought, still relevant.
Over the weekend, a reminder of how we are angels to each other.
Last weekend I was scheduled to do the Universal Life Expo in Columbus Ohio, sharing a booth with Books Etc. (an Orrville, Ohio bookstore owned by my friends Charles Sides and Jenny Horner) and, on Saturday, speaking and doing a workshop.
The trouble was, I got sick the week before, a cold that developed into asthma. It kept getting worse, even at the airport waiting for my flight out. Flew out, and on Saturday gave the talk, gave the workshop, and had a fun supper with Richard and Tara Sutphen (but felt myself getting sicker as the night went on).
Sunday by pre-arrangement I slept late, hit the show about noon, toughed it out through the afternoon. (First time I ever did a trade show sitting down.) Got back to Charles and Jenny’s in Orrville, had kind of a hard night, coughing up phlegm – or trying to – for most of the time. Even sicker Monday morning, but had just one thought in mind: Get back home.
I have been dealing with asthma for more than half a century. It has been a continuing challenge to my self-reliance and independence. Many of my friends think I am far too resistant to getting medical assistance, perhaps not fully realizing what my life looks like from inside. It is often hard to be sure that independence and self-reliance have not passed into pig-headedness, and I have to make the judgment call one incident at a time. When in doubt, I usually have erred on the side of independence, regardless of discomfort.
Monday became decision-time, in a big way.
Charles and Jenny drove me to the airport. I was stopped by security (turned out to be my inhaler causing the beeping) and could scarcely stand unassisted during the wanding. Had to sit and rest before and after putting my shoes back on. It was hard getting to the plane; the few steps down and then up wore me out. The stewardess saw me sitting white-faced and rigid in seat 1A, smiled and asked if I were nervous! All I could gasp out was “asthma.”
It is only a short flight to Pittsburgh but by the time I’d gotten into the terminal, totally breathless, I had to grab a couple of seatbacks, and wait to be able to continue. I had an hour between planes, but didn’t think I could get to the other gate. I flagged a cart and asked for a ride, which represented a first crack in the do-it-yourself-at-all-costs philosophy. Asked if I could pre-board. Second crack. When the plane arrived in Charlottesville, I thought about how far away my car was, and asked the stewardess if they could get me a wheelchair and wheel me there. Third — major — crack in the structure. They did, and as they wheeled me out to the car the guy persuaded me that we should have the guys from Pegasus – a sort of air-rescue unit – check me out. I thought about it and said okay.
The Pegasus guys gave me oxygen and a nebulizer treatment, took blood pressure, pulse, etc., and strongly suggested that I go to the hospital via ambulance. I fought the idea, figuring I could drive home (driving isn’t actually much physical exertion; nowhere near as much as walking, for instance) and then see my doctor. I had just about decided to do that, but then thought that it would be muddle-headed to overrule so much strong advice from so many experienced men — at least half a dozen by then – who were there to help me. And the ambulance was already sitting there. So I gave in, and the rest of the day, and the next day, was a luxury of being cared for by others instead of having to struggle through it by myself.
The entire stay was interesting and I may write about it, but all this is merely leading up to this. There is an old saying that God has no hands to work through but ours. Regardless of your theology, surely you can see that the saying is not only true but obvious. It is never more obvious than when your life is in another person’s hands, which is more often than we usually realize. I watched the functioning of the emergency room for several hours, and what it amounted to was that all these people – doctors, nurses, orderlies, various technical types – are there every day, waiting to help whoever comes in needing help. I woke up early today and put into the form of a cinquain.
To these calm strangers, knowing them
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Be well, my friends. I send you my love.