Lessons Learned in the ICU

Disclaimer:  I certainly recognize that many others have gone through more serious, long-term stays in hospitals.  These are just a few thoughts from my own personal experiences this week.  

Our oldest son, Gary, went to the ER with respiratory distress early Monday morning.  He was admitted to the ICU, sedated and paralyzed, and put on a ventilator.  My husband and I hopped on a plane and have been with him ever since.  While I wish Gary and his sweet wife, Chelsea, didn’t have to go through this, there are several reasons I feel blessed to have been here this week:

  • God’s Family has no geographical borders.  Our home is in Colorado.  Our son’s home is in Alabama.  We have been welcomed and helped by Christians here just as if we were one of their own.
  • Christians are second-milers.  Oh man, I don’t have enough word-count to share every kindness that’s been extended to us.  We’ve had visits and messages of encouragement.  We’ve been brought snacks, homemade bread, blankets, parking tokens, meals, a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers to the hospital, a vehicle to borrow, and magazines.  We’ve only slept in the waiting room one night because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of friends and local churches.  The kindnesses just keep coming!
  • Every prayer matters.  Within a couple of hours of our first morning here, we had four different area preachers come by and pray with us in the ICU.  Through the years Neal and I have circled up with folks for a prayer around a patient’s bed.  I never really knew how courage-bolstering that could be.  So many others have let us know they are praying.  Every single time, we feel comforted and grateful.
  • Things get put into perspective.  The world goes on outside these hospital walls but in here it feels like time stands still.  We are mostly focused on life, faith, and family.    Questions rise to the surface:  Does Gary know how much I love him and how proud  he makes me?  Do our Christian friends know how acutely we feel their concern and how much it means to us?  Through it all, we’ve been praying and contemplating.
  • Love is greater than fear.  It seems like every time my heart begins to worry, some kind gesture or word comes our way.  We are really seeing the Light this week.  Its warmth covers our cares.
  • Inside beauty is invaluable.  Oh, our sweet Chelsea.  She has helped Gary through things that weak stomachs won’t want to read about.  She works long hours and sleeps short nights in a hospital room but has yet to complain about a single thing.  Just now Gary asked her, “How are you holding up?”  She answered, “I’m fine, Hon.  You don’t have to worry about me!”  She is a cutie pie but more than that, her inner beauty has been a blessing to us all.  She is a worthy woman and we thank God for her.
  • Progress is worth celebrating.  Every little step on the road recovery causes rejoicing.  From big things (like coming off the ventilator) to little things (like sitting up for the first time), we smile and hug each other as we witness evidence of improvement.  I was never so excited to walk in and see someone eating applesauce.  When we share these good bits with others and they rejoice with us, it makes us smile all over again.  Consider how much more important spiritual progress is for new babes in Christ or for those making their way back from waywardness.  Every small step is a victory.  If we celebrate with them it can only encourage them to keep trying.
  • God is so good!

I was going to include a point about vanity.  It doesn’t matter that I only had five minutes to pack and left behind hair products and other beauty essentials (um, like tweezers).  Our first visitor was an old college friend we haven’t seen in over 26 years.  We’ve been meeting people for the first time and reuniting with family members this week.  I’m wearing sweats and have my hair pulled back in a ponytail.  I was going to include that point about vanity, but I do care.  I wish I looked better.  Ah well, I haven’t learned everything in the ICU.

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Author: Kathy Pollard

I'm a Christian woman, happily married to my best friend, Neal. We have 3 teenage sons, Gary, Dale, and Carl. Neal preaches for the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, CO. We love the Lord and His church! We pray that we will live in such a way as to have true success: to have our family spend eternity together in Heaven, and to take as many people with us as we can.

9 thoughts on “Lessons Learned in the ICU”

  1. Hardships DO make us see from “someone else’s shoes”…I learned a lot about empathy and being non-judgmental when faced with sickness/hospitalization. Like a physical workout at the gym, these “hiccups” bring us spiritual strength! I’m glad Gary is better, and the support system he has is continuing to pray for his physical body to heal and the comfort that the spiritual body brings! Hugs!

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  2. Your story is so heartwarming. We have never personally met but I feel as though I know you. Our family went through a tragedy 13 weeks ago and the outpouring of love from our Christian family and friends was overwhelming. You really can learn a lot from the ICU whether you are there less than 36 hours or days or weeks. Our prayers continue for Gary and Chelsea and your family. I also learned that you can’t be vain and spent hours in a hospital waiting room.

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  3. Thank you for this great article. We are so thankful you and Neal are there. Wish we could be. I knew from the time they met, Chelsea found the love of her life, and vice versa. We are proud to call Gary our son-in-law and you all, family. And God’s family is so amazing. Love you all so much.

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  4. So grateful y’all could be there and loving my girl like your own. I rejoice in God’s blessing and taking care of Gary and giving you all what was needed. I continue to pray for his recovery. Much love to you all❤️

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  5. Any time spent in the hospital is really a time that can be difficult. It is a bit foreboding, all the machines, the doctors, the nurses, the machines, etc. I am sure your son had wonderful care. Also as a mother I am sure you were beside yourself with concern for him. Nothing that has to do with our loved ones is little! You have gone through a stressful time, and I am so thankful that all turned out well. Your stay was made better by the love and thoughtfulness of the Christians there. How could they not love you both? You 2 have given so much to so many people. God bless you all and thank you for sharing a little bit of your heart with us. God be with you.

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  6. Kathy I love your blog …..eventhough you all have really been through it this week you always have great encouraging words for others!! We will continue to hold you all in our prayers. …. 🙂 ♡♡♡♡

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  7. What great news to learn that he’s improving! This is a very insightful article that can certain be relatable to so many. We’ve been thinking about all of you here in Dripping Springs. Prayers for Gary’s continued recovery. xoxo

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