published Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Dalton Roberts: Joy is checking out of the hospital


by Dalton Roberts

The happiest people in the world are people being released from the hospital.

It doesn't matter which hospital it is; it doesn't matter how long you've been there. It doesn't even matter whether your surgery was a blazing success.

The thing that makes us soar out the door is regaining that tiny amount of control over our daily activities. We don't realize how important that is until we lose it. When they put that little name and number bracelet on you in the hospital, it means you are theirs as long as you are there.

Not all hospital employees take away our little cherished routines and freedoms. Some actually make it easier on us by simple caring. Like Gilbert, an Erlanger hospital painter.

Recently, standing in front of an elevator at Erlanger, trying to read almost a full page of directions to a surgical suite (many times I have called Erlanger "The Maze" because I am completely lost there), Gilbert approached.

"May I help you?" he asked, flashing the biggest Friday-morning smile I've ever seen.

He tried to give us directions but, realizing they were only confusing us, he said, "Ah, just let me take you up there."

He also said, "I will be praying for you." If there's anybody I want praying for me, it's loving, caring, helpful people like Gilbert.

The second reason I was so happy was that home had never felt so good to me. It felt like angels had come in and done a complete home air replacement before sprinkling a little angel dust all around. If I hadn't been so weak, I think I just might have had a running fit. I think it would have sent me running across Jordan into the promised land.

But I was at Erlanger for surgery to improve my walking, and it will be awhile before I can resume my running fits.

On the way home, we picked up two foot-long hot dogs from Sonic and it seemed to kick in all the nutritional value from four days of hospital food. If TV's Matlock says hot dogs are good health food, that's good enough for me. If you can't trust Andy Griffith, you can't trust the man who admitted cutting down the cherry tree.

I have written about how my friend Redbird Clingan surgically removes the skin on a tomato for our breakfast every Saturday. When he heard I was coming home, he found a great tomato and skillfully performed skinology on it, dusting the slices ever so gently with Celtic sea salt.

As if God wasn't about to let me sink into negativism after having less-than-exciting results from the surgery, I met a man that improved my mood the next day.

The morning after surgery, our car battery was dead, so we took it to be repaired. When the technician, Chris Mathis, saw my driver's license, he said, "That man is my hero. Can I meet him?"

I had a wonderful chat with Chris, discovering that he is going into the hospital for surgery in a few days. Praying Chris through his health challenge will give me something to put my heart into rather than sitting around measuring my progress 100 times a day. I respectfully ask you to remember him also.

about Dalton Roberts...

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