Monday, June 11, 2012

Infection and the ER

I will not say that my latest trip to the ER at Loma Linda VA hospital was the highlight of my week.  I will only say that it was a day not soon forgotten!

Last Thursday, Sondra was out and about, shopping and doing errands as well as making sure she kept a dentist appointment.  Well, about 11:30 am I began to have severe pain in my abdomen area.  I thought maybe I had eaten something that didn't settle well, and so I tried to just wait it out and hoped the pain would go away.  It didn't.  All afternoon, the hard dull pain stayed.

About 4:30 pm, I got in the van and drove myself to the VA hospital 20 minutes away.  I knew Sondra was probably in the dentist chair by then, so I waited until I was at the ER before texting her where I was.  She really needed the dental work done because of pain, and I didn't want her to leave the dentist early before her appointment.  I arrived at the ER front desk close to 5 o'clock, checked in, had my vitals taken and began my evening ordeal of waiting.  First thing, though, was a urine sample that would be sent to the lab for analysis.  About 6:15 Sondra came through the door and was naturally worried about what was going on, as I had a bout with a gall bladder attack last year.

We sat and waited.  I was in pain.  We sat and waited some more.  Finally, about 7:45 I was ushered into the ER examining room area.  A nurse came and asked me the same questions I had answered in the lobby.  She said to wait in the examining room (Sondra was with me there also) as the doctor would see me next.  I asked for something to help with pain but was told no one could give me anything until the doctor had seen me.  So we waited.

Around 9 pm, the doctor came in, poked and prodded and asked where I hurt.  He asked me the same questions I had already answered twice!  The urine analysis showed a high WBC (white blood count) which indicated infection, and it was determined I had a bladder infection which led to a urinary tract infection.  The problem I would face, if this was not corrected, would be kidney infection and infection in the blood stream.  That would be serious and would land me in the hospital for several weeks.

The doctor left and the nurse returned to start an IV with antibiotic and another IV with pain medicine, and then she proceeded to draw blood to send vials up to the lab to run more tests.   I laid down on the gurney and began to feel much better.....with the pain medicine taking effect.  It was close to 11 pm when the IVs were done and the blood tests results came back.

Another ER doctor showed up (the previous one went off-shift) and this doctor recognized me from previous ER visits.  We had a wonderful time of chatting and catching up on life (he knows I am a pastor), as he has become a friend of sorts (if that makes any sense).  He talked about admitting me overnight to continue the IV antibiotics and to monitor my blood count, but he sensed my apprehension about staying.  So, after a short discussion, he told me he would send me home if I promised to take it easy and return "immediately" if any symptoms reappeared.  He ordered the prescriptions for me to pick up at the pharmacy right then.  As he left me, he said "God bless you."  Doctors don't normally do that!

I came home with three prescriptions:  (1) Cephalexin to fight infection, (2) Phenazopyridine to relieve symptoms of infection irritation, and (3) Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen for pain.  I was told not to drive home, as the strong pain medication would have some effect on my driving ability.  I found that out very quickly as I tried to get up off the gurney.  It seemed like the world was moving, and I had to catch myself and put my hand on the wall close by because I felt so woozy.  Naturally, Sondra drove me home in her car, and I left my van there to pick up the next day.

It was close to midnight when we arrived home.  We had not eaten, so we munched on some food and got into bed after 1 am Friday morning.

There were other things that were highlights during the week, however.  I had lunch with Roger on Monday, discussing the California Baptist University mission trip to Alaska that he and Julie would be participating in with 10 college students in Ketchikan.  They left early Wednesday morning and will be gone 10 days.

Last Tuesday, I picked up a man who had been recently released from prison and needed work.  I took him to Coronado Stone to apply, and then I took him to breakfast.  He said that biscuits and gravy were on his short list of foods he wanted to eat as soon as he got out of prison!  Some other things on his list are In-N-Out Burger, Chinese food and pizza.

Sondra and I watched the grandkids on Tuesday for Crystal and Shawn, as they spent the day studying.  We all went out for dinner that night at Claim Jumper.  Wednesday was church, and we are continuing with a DVD series on "The Passion of the Heart" with featured preacher/speaker Louie Giglio who is in demand on many college campuses.

On Friday, Sondra went to a wedding.  Her sister (Sharon) had a daughter (Sarah) getting married, and we were all planning to go.  Because of my fun Thursday outing (ER), I stayed home.  Sondra took granddaughter Bailey early, as Bailey was to be a flower girl in the wedding.  Alden went with her also.  Sondra was torn whether to stay home, in case I needed to return to the hospital with recurring symptoms or go to the wedding.  Naturally, all her Langdon side of the family would be there and that was important too.  I told her I was doing fine and that she should go.  All I wanted to do was rest!  I wouldn't be going anywhere that day, as far as I was concerned.  She went and it all worked out.  She returned about 11:30 pm Friday night.

On Saturday, I geared up to speak to elementary-age children (grades 1 - 6) about missions.  I had been lined up months ago to speak at a Children's Mission Day Camp for our Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association.  This Day Camp was held at a nice park in Riverside from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.  The missions focus for the day was England, and since I had been on a mission trip to England last fall I was asked to give a presentation.  There was an unexpected twist to this for me, as I thought I would be sharing to the whole group at once.

Nope, that was not the plan.  At 10:30 am, I spoke for an hour to a group of 5th/6th graders.  At 11:30 am, I spoke for an hour to 1st/2nd graders.  At 12:30, I spoke for an hour to a group of 3rd/4th graders.  It was fun, but I was wore out and had a hoarse voice.  Sondra and I left the park around 2 pm and I fell on the couch and did nothing the rest of the day!

Yesterday was Sunday.  I had a young man named Doug Myers (who works at Coronado Stone) lined up to give a personal testimony of his struggle with addiction and loss of everything (wife, job, family, house, finances).  His personal faith in Jesus has brought him to the point of getting back on track with life, having to deal with resulting divorce and financial ruin.  It was a powerful testimony of God's power to forgive and redeem.  This man has lost all but is determined to see what the future holds with God's leading.

Because of the time for testimony, I preached briefly.  I used the Scripture reference of Jesus telling the story of the Prodigal Son.  I used the Prodigal Son as an illustration of one's downhill slide in life due to addiction.  Addictions are those damaging and destructive lifestyle decisions and habits.  They destroy health, finances, relationships, jobs and morals.  The Bible says the prodigal went into "riotous living."  That is living with no restraints, no limits, no boundaries. Addictions take all forms -- drinking, drugs, pornography, gambling, smoking and so much more -- with no restraints.  I told the congregation that I am no expert on addiction, but I am an expert on loving people with addictions and past addictions.  I have found that addictions can only be broken when one has hit bottom!  Only then, just as the prodigal son did, can truth be faced and a new beginning unfold.  Addiction is broken when (1) there is realization of a better life through (2) love from another who can help break the cycle of pain and dependency.  That happens with repentance and trust in God completely.

It was a powerful service in which many hearts were touched.  After church, we took Doug to Cuca's Restaurant for a time of sharing in fellowship and food.

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