As I advance in age, I have begun to read the obituaries on a daily basis. It is not just about seeing who has passed away, it is also because I want to have the opportunity to comfort friends who has lost a loved one. A few months back, I came across the obituary of UVA professor Walter Hauser http://bit.ly/walterhauserobit. He had been diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome when he was visiting India. I was struck that, after his recovery, he made it his mission to visit anyone at UVA hospital that was admitted with GBS.
I have felt compelled to do the same now that I am slowly but surely recovering and therefore am out an about on a regular basis. I reached out to several people and shared my interest to be of help. I had gotten no response until this past Friday. A friend reached out to me last Friday who had been such a blessing to Dottie and me while I was at UVA. He has followed my recovery via Facebook and now this blog. He asked if I would be willing to come see a patient with GBS at the health care facility where he works. I, of course said yes, but then nervousness and a bit of fear entered into my mind. We set up a time for Monday at 3. I knew this was something I needed and more importantly, wanted to do, but was struck by questions like; “what would it be like to see this person in a bed just like I was a few short months ago? Ridiculous thoughts life, “Am I sure GBS isn’t contagious in some way?” And finally, “would I be the right kind of visitor who could provide some sort of hope for this person in need”
I decided to reach out to my wife and a couple of friends to ask them to pray for me remembering that Matthew 18:20 says, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them” Another friend sent me an awesome verse-Deuteronomy 31:6 which says, ” Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” And finally Psalm 56:3 that reminded me, When I am afraid, I put my trust in you Lord. “
Knowing folks were praying and armed with these biblical promises, I met my friend and we headed up to the patient’s room grateful to have the privilege of helping someone dealing with adversity. She was a young woman that was having a much more difficult time than I ever did. She had been ready to leave rehab and relapsed. My plan was to stay 20 or 30 minutes and was there for an hour and a half. My hope was she could see me after 7 months so that she could see recovery is possible. I now was on the end of the bed saying, “this is tough, you could get worse, but you will get better” A colleague of the person who asked me to come sat in the room while I was there. When I apologized for staying so long her answer was “No. It was super helpful. Thanks for taking the time – she clearly needed to have that conversation.”
I was sensitive to not over stay because Dottie and I have learned what it means to be visited in the hospital and in rehab. There are good ways of doing it and there are not so good ways. I will give you my own personal thoughts about how to visit and why it is good to do so in a future post.