Lessons from a Children’s Hospital aren’t lessons any of us really want to learn. They are the lessons best learned from textbooks rather than in the field. I wish that was the case here. No such luck. After Evan’s most recent stay at the hospital I took from it some things that were more than just medical. It taught me a hospital stay is more than meets the eye.
For us, an emergency trip to the hospital is a strange mix of terror and relief. When walking through those hospital doors we’re running on close to empty, physically and emotionally. Fortunately, these are the times we feel the Holy Spirit coming the closest to us. We know God is in control even when we are spinning out of it. I bet these are experiences that many face, not just those with special needs.
We see people on our church prayer list that are in the hospital for many reasons. I am the worst offender when I see the church prayer list – sure, I pray. I keep the prayer list in my email so I see it and remember to pray … at least twice. That should cover it, right? Evan’s been in the hospital quite a few times. But this trip was … hard. It taught me that maybe I should be making a little more of an effort than just privately praying once or twice when I see the prayer list. Here’s a few of my lessons learned:
- Hospital stays are expensive: And I don’t mean the actual medical costs, because, yeah, expensive doesn’t even begin to cover that. What I’m talking about is all the other stuff. Just the gas can be half a paycheck. Gas pumps don’t take insurance cards. Let’s not even talk about hotel costs if this applies to you. Yikes, it adds up fast. Then there’s the expense of meals. Sometimes meal time was the only time I got out of the room. Who knew eating in a cafeteria would be a special treat? An expensive special treat.
- Hospitals are lonely: We talked to those nurses until I remember one telling us she had to leave to see other patients. Whoops. When all that time is spent cooped up alone in one room, we started to go a little crazy. (Well, more crazy than my normal kind of crazy.) I know how difficult it can be to visit people in a hospital. But we were soooo bored. There are only so many times we could watch Finding Nemo. We needed some distraction. I’m pretty sure Jesus told us to care for the sick because they are bored out of their minds.
- Just because you are discharged from the hospital doesn’t mean the problem is gone: This is especially true with a medically fragile person. Discharge just means ‘comfortable handling the situation at home.’ So many people equate discharge with cured. Not always the case.
So what am I going to do about this? Don’t worry, the next time you are in the hospital I won’t be showing up with my entourage of busy people. I can see it now: “Mom! What’s this machine do?” *unplugs machine* BEEEEEP!!!! Nope, we won’t be visiting any sick people in hospitals. But I do have texting, Facebook messaging and email. We walked into our hospital room and received a text from a friend that lives many miles from us. I can’t tell you how much that text meant at just the right time.
Sometimes I wonder why God allows the experiences like this; unexplained illness, disability, or children having to be in children’s hospitals just to name a few. Probably not so we can sit and wallow in our own self-pity. (But I totally get this. Believe me. Been there, done that and I’ll probably go back there and do it again.) I’m guessing one of the bazillion reasons he allows things to happen … so we can learn to comfort those that need comforting.
2 Corinthians 1:4 “He comforts us in all our troubles. Now we can comfort others when they are in trouble. We ourselves have received comfort from God.”
It’s easy for me to get locked into our own special needs world. It’s difficult to just pop into a store to pick up a get well card, a gas or food gift card. It means dragging everyone and all of our issues along for the ride. But now I know how much the little word of encouragement meant. So that’s where I’m going to start. There’s so much more that I could do. The obvious stuff is right there. Baby steps, people. I’m sure it’s going to overwhelm people when I start sending out messages. There will be talk. The ‘What’s wrong with Stephanie,’ kind of thing. Maybe we should do this together? What do you think? Join me in taking over the hospitals with words of much-needed encouragement. Because one of the biggest lessons learned from the Children’s Hospital was we are a hurting people in need of each other.