Driving for seven years with little exercise and a bad diet was bound to catch up with me. Sitting on my butt all day in a car, 14 hours at a time. Plus eating a steady diet of double cheeseburgers from many a drive-thru, and consuming mass quantities of diet cola for the caffeine content to get me down the road awake and alert. Lately, my stomach had been hurting me badly.
Then a few weeks ago, I had just delivered a car to Clearwater, FL. I was staying for a few days with my old friend Pastor Rex Porter, who I had not seen in many years. When he found me on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night doubled up in pain, he insisted on rushing me to the nearest hospital. The ER doctor said that I was in bad shape, and needed to be checked in so they could run a series of tests on me. I was very scared, and didn't know what to expect.
Over the next few days, I was poked and prodded, and samples of pretty much everything I have in me were taken to be tested. Oh what joy, what bliss. I got restless quickly, as I am not used to staying still. And they were pumping several IV solutions into me, including antibiotics, antibolic steroids, and sugar water. I was not allowed to eat anything, and that got frustrating after day two.
My roommate was an elderly gent who was still reliving WWII from his bed. I'd hear him yell out in the middle of the night, "We're taking the beach, boys! Normandie is just in sight. Buck up, fall in line, follow me!" In between these proclamations he would make all sorts of odd and sometimes unsettling noises. He never quite mastered pushing the Nurses' call button, because when he needed them he'd shout repeatedly, "Help. Help. Help..." I learned to press my own Nurses' call button right away, so they would come and I could direct them to his side of the curtain.
As miserable as I was being there, they did relieve my pain with morphene every four hours. I've never had that particular drug before, and I must say it was a very unique sensation. I felt a wave of warmth surge from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes, and suddenly the pain drifted away. I would not want to get used to this feeling, I can see how it would be addictive. But the nurses and staff were extremely competent and obviously had my best will at heart.
There was one nurse in particular named Randi. She worked through the night, and she made me feel all warm and googley inside. I'd tell her stories of my life on the road. She was 23 and just starting out, but she had a wonderful bedside manner, combined with a sultry voice which she used often to call me "darlin'," and she sort of stole my heart. She could tell I was nervous and did everything she could to comfort me and make me feel special.
One night I was awakened from a deep sleep by a woman screaming bloody murder down the hall from me. I was startled as I sat up, and wondered if she was being beaten to death. Then she began yelling "No, no, no, no!" I was curious, and also needed to stretch my legs, so I decided to take a walk. I got up slowly and grabbed the rolling stand with all the IV bags that were attached to me, then headed down the hall. I guess my hospital gown had come unbuttoned a bit while I was in bed, but I was too doped up and drowsy to notice. I walked by and looked into the room where all the noise was coming from, and saw this odd woman standing on the bed. She reminded me so much of that woman in the bathtub that Jack Nicholson is frightened by in the movie THE SHINING. She yelled at me, "You need to put some clothes on, what's the meaning of you walking down the middle of the street at noon time wearing just a nightgown. Shame on you!"
I felt a hand on my shoulder from behind, and I jumped. It was Randi, and she said, "Easy, darlin'. Don't you pay her no mind, it's all good."
"What time is it, she said noon."
"It's midnight, and don't pay any attention to her. Besides, I think your gown looks cute, but you're coming apart. Let me fix that for you." Randi gently snapped the gown back together and tied it in the back. She leaned in and whispered, "Nice tush," and at that point I knew she was just trying to be nice. "You need anything else, darlin'?"
"Well, I am having a little trouble sleeping. Think you could come and read me a bedtime story?" She just laughed and walked me back to my room.
The next morning, the Doctor dropped in to tell me that I was stabilized and they were sending me home. But that I needed to rest for a week, and also to stay on a strict diet and exercise program daily so this would not happen again. It was a gastro-intestinal problem, and trust me, you don't want to know this kind of pain. Neither do I, ever again, so I intended to follow the Doctor's orders to the letter.
As I was getting dressed in preparation of my departure, the old gent in the bed next to me started shouting, "Yellow corn is not meant for eating, its only meant to be used to make bread." He repeated this same statement loudly over a dozen times. And then very suddenly, he shouted, "OK men, parachutes all in place. Get ready, we're right over the target. Jump, jump, jump!" It was time to check out, and I was ready to go.