When I checked into the CICU one of the questions the admittance staff asked was if I wanted to be visited by a chaplain. I said “no.”
Two days later, I was upgraded to a regular room as my body stabilized after a serious incident. I experienced a cardiac effusion that led to a cardiac tamponade in which 1.5 liters of fluid was removed from my heart cavity called the pericardium. Three chambers were collapsing at the time of the procedure to remove the fluid. Post incident, seven attending physicians remarked, each in their own style and unique bedside manner, that they were amazed I survived it.
After the initial shock and awe of the first 24 hours, I became quite disoriented emotionally as I considered what might lie down the road ahead of me. That third morning in the hospital after transferring to a regular room, I sat for an hour in prayer lamenting to the Lord that I just needed someone to listen to me.
I didn’t think anyone could truly grasp the extent of, yet again, survival against the odds. After a 2004 CICU “code blue”, 40+ ER trips, over a dozen hospitalizations, 3 abdominal surgeries and now this, not to mention the years and years of strenuous and tedious protocols to prop my body up against unknown forces that continued to hammer me, I was feeling pretty beat up. I was also feeling confused – what next? How much should I be doing if anything?
Wonderful emails and visits from friends continued to flow in over the next 24 hours. But the ache to be listened to seemed to get stronger with each outreach. I really needed time to process this. I needed to be listened to.
Thankfully, my recovery was remarkably quick and four days after the incident, I was told I could go home. I dressed and emptied the room of my belongings and sat in the room waiting for final instructions and release from the nurse.
A woman walked in the room. She was nicely dressed and asked if there was a patient in this room. I explained that I was the “former” patient and was just waiting to go home. She smiled and a bit hesitantly entered the room. We talked pleasantries briefly. She mentioned she was a chaplain. I shared briefly my situation. She sat down. Then I shared openly for about 5 minutes my current situation and the things I was thinking about. AH! I felt like I could breathe again!
I asked her why she was here? She said, “Cheryl, I’m here just to listen.” Tears welled up as I thanked the Lord for His rapid response to my cry just a day earlier. Then I asked her why she came in my room seeing as there was no patient in the room. She explained, “I arrived late and missed the morning rounds to find out what was going on with the patients. I had no choice but to simply pray and ask the Lord to guide me to a room. I sensed this was the room I was to visit, but was confused when I didn’t see a patient.” I shared with her my lament to the Lord the day before. Her eyes then welled up with tears as she realized she had followed the Lord’s prompting.
I learned such a valuable lesson. The Lord is listening to me. He is listening to me. I forget that. I doubt that. I question it. The crisis caused me to feel wobbly in my faith . . . I needed a “Jesus with-skin-on moment” to remind me that He is still with me in the storms.