Grateful Heart

*Editor’s note
Hey folks, Lawngren came up with a great idea recently and after talking with Daisy, we agree that we’re going to make this another regular ‘column’ theme.  We’re going to need your help on these though.  Read Lawngren’s article below, and then think about some special people in your life at one time or another who’ve helped you, cared, mentored or encouraged you in your life. If you’re like most of us, there are more than one, people from all walks who’ve entered or been in our lives for a purpose- and had been there when we needed them most. It can be teachers, parents/relatives, friends, total strangers.  The more you think on it, the more you’ll remember- and the more stories you can share. So look forward to more of these!  

God HAS blessed America. He has blessed us in so many ways, and these blessings have existed so long, that we take them as the natural order of things. They’re not – except in those islands of grace where for one reason or another, the Holy One of Israel has poured out His blessings. This is about one of the human blessings resulting from the presence of Judeo-Christian culture in America: medical professionals. They may be Christians diligently attempting to live like King Jesus, or they may be what the world calls good people, living up to the highest moral and ethical standards known to humanity. These medical professionals are deeply compassionate people with an intense commitment to helping those with medical trouble.

July 31st of this year I had a total knee replacement. I was cared for by so many deeply compassionate people that I’m not sure I’ll remember them all, but I know God does. May He pour blessings on their heads for their compassion and dedication to helping people back to health. This is my thank-you to them, as well as to the God Whose perfect righteousness was strongly infused into America at the beginning. His righteousness resulted in a culture of fervent compassion for fellow humans, be they neighbors or strangers.

This was inspired by the nurses, PAs, and surgeons of North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic and Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, NC, but it’s a story that could be repeated millions of times all across America, every day. God bless you all !

And by the way, the food the kitchen staff served was wonderful. I told them, “Your food is helping me heal!”

Latoya, an emergency room nurse. About four days after my operation, I got an infection in the leg. A friend drove me to the ER, and after the doctors and PAs had come to their conclusion, it was Latoya who stood in front of me so I could easily see her, spoke slowly to be sure I understood, and explained why I needed to go to a hospital room for a few days. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re a senior who has ever tried to understand the hyper-fast and often poor speech of young people today, you know that was very helpful to a man alone in pain and fear.

Not everyone sees things the same, and there was a doctor treating me at first whom I lost confidence in. The surgeon’s PA came in for followup, I discreetly let him know, and I never saw that doctor again. And the surgeon’s PA, Jamie Messersmith, tracked my treatment from then on, and he did inspire rock-solid confidence. He touched base with me till my discharge, and cogently answered my questions about my condition and about home health care versus a rehab facility. His conversation was always to the point. An upbeat, cheerful but all-business ally. He told me what I needed to hear in blunt language without being the least bit rude.

The surgeon, Dr. Scott Kelley. The infection was not his fault. Who knows how it happened? But I initially went home the day after surgery with a pain level so low that it was really just discomfort. During all that followed, there has been no significant pain. On a couple of occasions, I took an oxycodone to get me to sleep, but that was mostly because I was so stressed I needed help relaxing enough to sleep.

I told a nurse not long before I was discharged that I was sure nurses were pre-qualified for angel wings. The nurses who took care of me in the hospital room were amazing. They were knowledgeable, courteous, friendly, and never rebuked me for calling them too often. When you’re alone in a hospital with a potentially serious problem, nurses can make a massive difference in your attitude, and therefore in your outcome. These ladies were so natural in handling embarrassing situations that after a day, I forgot to be embarrassed. Absolutely amazing. And they were kind, considerate, genuinely concerned people. The carefulness with which they attend to patients is a confidence-builder, and when alone in the hospital, you surely need confidence.

I try to handle most things with humor, and I discovered that most nurses will respond to and join in your temperament, if it’s a helpful one.

There were two nurses named Judy assigned to successive shifts. Nurses get together with each patient at shift change to update each other. There was a dark time when nothing seemed to be going right, and “the two Judys” saw my discouragement. Looking for any good thing to say, one of them looked at my toes sticking out of the full-leg wrap and said, “Look! His toes are nice and pink!” She pinched one and said, “Look how fast the color rebounds!”

My response was, “This is the first time in my life that a woman has been interested in my toes.” They got a laugh from that, as I intended. And I felt better for the humor, but mostly because I knew I was in friendly hands.

Especially in medical treatment, there have to be rules. But there comes a time when the rules get in the way. That’s when someone – a nurse, in these two cases – has to have great courage and do the human thing, knowing that if it goes wrong, she could be in big trouble. I had probably better not go into detail, but there were two instances of such human understanding that made my stay much easier. I’m grinning as I write this. I wish I could tell you the details. Enough to say that human compassion trumps rules in many cases.

Years ago, I read an article about gun violence. A Baptist minister being interviewed said, “The guns don’t cause this. You can’t have the results of Christianity without Christianity.” The same thing applies to the above. It may be that none of the individuals I’ve mentioned are Christian. I didn’t ask. But where did they learn compassion for others? It was part of the culture they grew up in. For a long time, America has had a strong element of Judeo-Christian faith, ethics, and morality. Those who hate God, or just want to get rid of Him, need to look carefully at the nations that have nothing to do with the God of Abraham. The difference is not a coincidence.

So finally, this grateful heart wants but fails to find words to express adequately my thanks to God the Father and King Jesus for creating this nation as a strongly Christian nation in the beginning, and sending us warnings when we strayed too far off the paths of righteousness.

King Jesus is my Ultimate Hero. Mel Gibson’s all-time classic movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, tells part – part – of the pain King Jesus suffered to make it possible for God to forgive our deadly sins and let us into Heaven. While millions of our countrymen seem to be rejecting God, we still have thousands of blessings remaining from His influence. Let us encourage each other of these blessing, many of whom are in human form, and honor them for the powerful good they do. Amen.