By Mark Robertson
In January, 2002 I awakened early in the morning, unable to breathe. I thought I had the flu and doing normal “flu cure” things would take care of it. I suffered for two days — my fever was very high and I could barely think. I finally had sense enough to decide to go to the hospital.
Unfortunately, I’m in a new city and have few friends close enough to share something like this with. My family lives three states away. I’ve lived on my own for many years and have confidence in my ability to survive, so I just don’t reach out for help.
One time two years ago I did ask for help. I awakened coughing up blood, and called a friend and asked for a ride to the hospital. I had to beg for half an hour before she agreed to help. I wasn’t going to beg again. This time, with a raging fever, I drove myself 10 miles to the hospital.
When I arrived, I was shocked when the nurses and doctors all gathered around me with heart monitors and a defibrillator. I had heart problems and I was terrified. Five hours later, I was admitted to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I was in panic over what was going on, but there was no one nearby to call for comfort.
The hospital ICU admitting nurse needed an emergency contact phone number. Since my family all communicates via email, I didn’t remember their phone numbers and couldn’t state one to her.
When I could, I called my boss’s secretary, whom I’ve known for a few years but never felt close to. I simply wanted to tell her I wouldn’t be in for work. Instead, Lanell asked if I’d been able to call my mother yet and I explained the situation.
Lanell took over. She used the Internet to locate my mother’s phone number. She kept trying to reach her without success, as my mother was out of town. She enlisted the help of another secretary, who finally spoke with my mother.
Next thing I knew, I had visitors from work bearing useful gifts, and by early evening my mother had called me. I never had surgery, but worrying that I would, and not knowing what was going on, was terrifying.
Lanell visited me herself during her busy workday. Then I learned from someone else at work that Lanell’s husband has kidney disease and was undergoing life-threatening surgery two days after my call. I’m stunned that Lanell put aside her difficulties to help me. (Her husband got through his surgery in great shape!)
I also learned how many friends I do have, even though I don’t always realize it. Some were upset with me for not calling them. That is different now; I keep in touch with several of them. This change is all because Lanell knew what I needed. Indeed, she restored my faith in people.