Monday, August 17, 2009

It Didn't Turn Out As We'd Planned

My friend and college freshman roommate, Joyce, was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday morning. The good news is that she appears to be healing – slowly; the bad news is that she’s still in the hospital.

Things certainly did not go according to plan. You see, I had plans to meet with my long-time friends, Joyce and Lynnette earlier last week for a reunion. We were freshman roommates (in fact, there were 5 of us – yes, 5 of us in one room our freshman year at BG!). We had planned to meet last Tuesday at the Morning Glory Suite, the Bed & Breakfast where they were staying, with plans to have lunch and enjoy the wonderful shops of Berlin, Ohio.

On the appointed morning I got up early, excited to see my old friends! I had breakfast and was enjoying my morning coffee when I got a call. It was Lynnette and she had news: Joyce had to be rushed to the hospital in the wee hours that morning, as they thought she was having a heart attack. Because of the incredible pain in her chest they called 911 and were taken by Rescue Squad to Union Hospital in Dover. I joined them a few hours later in Dover, where after extensive testing, we learned Joyce had a lacerated esophagus. She had been eating the previous evening when a piece of chicken had gotten caught in her throat. While coughing repeatedly, trying to dislodge it, her esophagus had literally torn about 8 inches! No wonder she was in so much pain!

I sat with my friends at the hospital to keep them company during those difficult hours. Joyce was in immense pain and was hours from home in a town she knew nothing about (and was really ticked off that because of her predicament, we were not going to be able to ‘do lunch’ and shop!). Lynnette was exhausted from the lack of sleep and the worry of having to share the news with Joyce’s husband and kids. Since they all live several hours away in the western part of the state, they were truly away from home. It was bad enough to even be in the hospital, but to be in a hospital so far away from what was familiar was difficult for both of them.

I have been worried about my friend, too, but I felt then, as I do now, that she’s in the care of a knowledgeable, competent physician. Not knowing exactly how to comfort them last week, I tried to just be present and offer our home to Lynnette as well as Joyce’s husband. In the meantime, we sat in the hospital, trying to be advocates on Joyce’s behalf, and seeing Joyce, even while sleeping, in immense pain.

As crazy as the circumstances were, the best part of the situation was that we were able to visit – truly visit – and catch up with each others’ lives. Even Joyce, during the time the strong paid meds were effective, chatted with us in her hospital room where we were a captive audience for each other. That part was really good and we all enjoyed the opportunity that presented itself in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Joyce is still in the hospital and will be until at least this Wednesday. The last test was discouraging, as it showed a leakage from her esophagus into her chest cavity. The prayer is that the esophagus will heal itself soon so that open chest surgery at Cleveland Clinic can be avoided. Although we know Cleveland Clinic offers awesome care, having open chest surgery is not how we wish to test that belief, so please join us in praying for Joyce’s quick recovery. She has a daughter, Allison, who will be moving in this week as a freshman at the University of Toledo. A younger daughter, Kristin, and son, Tim, will be starting school in the coming days, too. It’s very difficult for Joyce to know she’s hours away from home in a hospital bed where she can’t be with her kids at this time. Joyce, a teacher herself, is planning to venture back into the classroom this fall, after a break from classroom teaching.

This has been a difficult time for Joyce and one which has tested her patience and endurance. Yet, I know she believes God has a hand in all of this and He knows best. She and her husband gave my son, Matthew, a beautiful silver key chain for graduation with one of her favorite Bible verses. The verse is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The timing seemed uncanny for all of us. It was a wonderful reminder that God really is in control and we need to relinquish that control totally to Him, knowing His plans for us are always better in the end than our own...

On a final note, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to share the hospitality shown to my friends by a business down in Amish country during this time. One of the wonderful things to come out of this time was the hospitality shown to Joyce and Lynnette by their Innkeepers of the Morning Glory Suite. My friends had gotten to know the Innkeepers, Wade and Carol Mullet, the last couple of years, but they were amazed by the kindness and generosity shown to them by these folks during this last week. Because Lynnette accompanied our friend to the hospital in the Rescue Squad, she had no transportation for herself at the hospital. Carol and Wade brought Lynnette’s van to the hospital and then Carol sat with Lynnette for a while before I got there during those first hours when Joyce’s condition was unknown. Carol also called to check on them and left them thoughtful messages.

Beyond that, the Mullets had availability at their Inn during those first few days Joyce was in the hospital, and they even offered use of their lovely Bed & Breakfast to those staying with Joyce. Lynnette spent the remainder of her time here with my family, but the amazing blessing offered by Wade and Carol was a godsend for Chris, Joyce’s husband. He was able to stay at the B & B at night, where he could sleep and shower and then spend the days with Joyce at the hospital. Thank you, Wade and Carol, for your generosity! We pray God blesses you richly for your kindness! (What was it we said about "Trusting in the Lord....?")

If you ever have the opportunity to stay at a Bed & Breakfast in Ohio’s Amish Country, I hope you’ll give the folks at Morning Glory Suite a look. Please check them out at Their accommodations are absolutely charming and the view is beautiful! Even more importantly, though, the Innkeepers exhibit the personal service, care and attention that one would hope to find in a small Inn. You won’t be disappointed!

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