Lessons Learned One Afternoon in the ER (while on vacation, sigh)

Well, it’s not exactly what one would plan or want on your vacation. But since when does life take much notice of your plans or wants?

Friday night was rough. I apparently ate something that did not not agree with me. I was pretty sick. Finally I went to the ER, not being able to eat or drink very much. I went to the ER in Reston. Let me tell you, if you are sick and anywhere near it, go there. From the receptionist to the doctors and everyone inbetween, they are professional, caring, compassionate and kind, all the things you need when you  are sick and afraid.

Anyway, after a lot of tests, everything registered ok, except for my blood pressure which was elevated (something that runs in my family). We have never got a PCP (primary care provider) in this area as we have not needed one until now. But these good folks at Reston recommended one and we will take care of that straight away.

Today I am feeling much better, more human, more like myself. And I have a new perspective on some things.

As a pastor and having been through hospital chaplaincy, I have seen a lot from one side of what goes on in hospitals. But let me tell you, when you are the one in need, the one lying on the bed with needles sticking out of you, it’s a whole new thing. I think this experience will make me a much more sensitive person and pastor. My empathy will certainly be significantly deepened.

Another thing – when you are sick, you begin to realize that too often you have taken your health for granted. Think about it – your health is a pretty big deal! When you don’t feel well, everything is changed. Everything looks different. It sure has a way of focusing your priorities. It also makes you aware that you need to take better care of yourself. The Bible calls this stewardship, which we often take to mean money. Not so. We are to be good stewards of our bodies, which, Paul says, are the temples of the Holy Spirit! So, I know I have to be much more careful about what I eat and that I stay active, with a regular routine for exercise.

Diet and exercise, which you hear about all the time for good reason, help prevent a ton of problems. Ministers, it has been my experience, are not the best stewards of their bodies. If I am talking about you, then listen up. Get a physical if you haven’t had one in a while. When you sit to eat, eat the right things, the things that are right for you – vegetables and fruit and drink plenty of water. Make sure you exercise. And also make sure you take a regular Sabbath and some mini-Sabbaths. Not only is this good for you, it also sets a good example for those you serve.

I can’t say that I will plan or want part of my next vacation to be spent in an ER, but I can say that this time I learned a lot of about myself, about the quality and character of a lot of our health care givers, and how very precious your health is and the importance of nurturing it. Don’t let it take a trip to the ER to teach you these things. Now you know. Take it from me. If you do, maybe you can spend your whole next vacation doing a lot more fun things.


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