Posted October 14, 2011 in MH Edmonton AB:
My Hospital Stay

by Jude Fischer.

Someone here once said that when you get sick—even if it’s for a very short time—it’s a change in your work assignment.

The following is a sort of newsletter from one of the staff who was unexpectedly assigned by God to our "sickness" department," someone who has been seriously ill for several months.

When I went to the emergency room in late May, I never dreamed I’d end up in the hospital for more than six weeks.

A previous visit to the emergency room followed by two months of countless medical visits and tests had all failed to provide a diagnosis. Now finally a CT scan and MRI showed I had a severe infection of bone and muscle. This required six weeks of IV antiobiotics, and morphine for the pain.


I had the good fortune to have a bed by a window with a great view of the city and the big constantly changing sky.

During the latter part of my hospital stay, when my pain was controlled enough that I could begin walking, I could enjoy the hospital gardens. There was the indoor atrium garden where Michael Fagan, one of my fellow staff workers, would often join me for a game of King’s Cribbage.

Then later (on the very first day I was able to navigate that far with my walker), a second garden opened on the rooftop of a new part of the hospital. What a treat it was to get outside after being confined indoors for so long!

Next to this garden was a new chapel—such a peaceful place for a quiet time of praying with the Scripture readings of the day.


Alarm bell of the intravenous pump alarm screeching for prolonged periods of time. Since I had the kind of IV that only a registered nurse could attend to, sometimes I had to wait quite a while.

Other loud noises at night (it seemed to be the usual time a new patient would be transferred to the room!): Being awakened from a sound sleep to see if I needed anything!

Whereas some of the nursing staff were like angels anticipating one’s needs, others seemed to respond to your call bell by putting you on indefinite hold or "ignore".

Roommates and Neighbors

I had about nine different roommates in the course of my stay.

Several elderly ladies, one with a lovely family who spent hours on end with her and generously helped me out as well, and others who never or rarely had any visitors.

A Chinese lady who didn’t speak English. A young homeless drug addict who wanted to leave the hospital against medical advice, but died there instead in the bed next to mine. A woman with dementia who kept wandering over to my bed in the middle of the night looking for the washroom.

Another elderly woman had fallen in her home, couldn’t reach the phone, and wasn’t discovered until a couple days later. Besides numerous physical problems, she suffered from mental illness, constantly harassed by voices and music that tormented her.

One of my visitors was surprised one day to find I had a man as a roommate. It turned out he was a patient from down the hall who had wandered in and found that bed momentarily vacant, so made himself at home.

One lady in the room kitty-corner from me would frequently sing her laments over and over again at the top her voice: "Nobody cares about me," or its variant, "Nobody gives a damn about me;" "I need a hot, hot blanket," "I need a blanket that’s warm."

"Where, O where has my apple juice gone? O where, O where can it be?" or "I wish I had some whiskey, to put me to sleep, cuz I’m not getting any apple juice," or "I want to die and go to heaven."

Once I was able to begin walking, I went over and introduced myself to her, and found her to be an elderly paraplegic woman who could be quite delightful in spite of giving most of the nurses a hard time. I continued to visit her each day until she was discharged a few days before I was.

Here in the hospital, no less than at Marian Centre, God was putting in my life people he was calling me to love and serve, people beloved by him, people in whom he dwelt.

Poustinia in the Hospital

The hospital was my poustinia, my place of prayer "in the marketplace." As always, there was the call of letting go and living each day in great simplicity, with very little, coming face to face with poverty and death, carrying the suffering little ones around me. And all the while, I was being carried in the great goodness of God.

Home Again

Now I’m finally home and continuing with oral antibiotics. I’m coming along slowly but surely. The prognosis is good, but it’s a matter of watching and waiting.


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