A Dastardly Tale of Blood, Needles, and Humiliating Apparel


For the past three weeks I’ve been having what you might call stomach “issues”. To put it simply, the inside of my stomach has been trying to get on the outside of my stomach. Anytime I would eat anything of substance I would feel nauseated.

The doctor gave me a few medications which didn’t help a whole lot. This past weekend the nausea started tag-teaming with stomach pain. They make a really good team, and I decided that I should probably make a pit stop at the ER, just to make sure I wasn’t dying or about to have an alien burst out of my chest.

For some reason, being in the hospital puts me in a reflective mood. As I lay back on my ER gurney, here are some of the random reflections that flickered through my mind.

  • I’m so grateful that I live in a country where I can get immediate medical attention. This is the wonderful common grace of God. Millions of people around the world walk miles and wait days to get proper medical attention. Some can’t get it at all. I was admitted into the ER within 15 minutes of my arrival. Thank you Lord for your kindness to me and this nation. Plus, our hospital in particular is wonderful. The staff and doctors are fantastic.
  • When a nurse says “big pinch” what she really means is, “I’m about to stick you with a needle that also gets used to tranquilize bison, so try not to scream like a girl.” Sometimes I wish the nurses would just say straight up, “Look, this is going to hurt like the dickens, so don’t embarrass yourself.”
  • The guy who invented the hospital gown should be forced to wear one every single day for the rest of his life. The hospital gown is, hands down, the most degrading piece of clothing ever invented. Just trying to get the thing on is like a circus act. I never can get the right straps tied together, and, inevitably, part of my backside is left exposed. It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.
  • The time space continuum works differently in the hospital. A minute takes an hour, and an hour takes three hours. I was at the ER for either six hours or six weeks. I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with The Matrix.

After a battery of tests, including drinking an awful liquid that tasted like sweetened dish water, having a CT scan, and giving up precious pints of my own blood, the doctor concluded that I probably have a stomach ulcer. This is both good news and bad news. It’s good news because, praise God, it’s not worse. God is kind to me! It’s bad news because it means I can’t drink coffee for weeks (I told myself I wasn’t going to cry…).

Now it’s a waiting game. Lord willing, the ulcer will heal on it’s own and I’ll be back to my coffee guzzling ways. But until then…tea. But I will suffer boldly!

Never Miss Any Goodness

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  • Trace Batton says:

    ::Big hug:: Stomach ulcers are no fun. I will be praying for a quick and complete recovery for you, Stephen. We took one of our daughters to the local E.R. in Indiana, PA while staying at I.U.P. during a Celebration East conference. My daughter (who was barely two at the time) woke up in the middle of the night with an extremely high temperature (104 degrees!) and was very sick. It was hard to be in another state with a very sick little girl in the middle of the night. The doctors and staff at the E.R. were wonderful and we were back at the dorms with a medicated and drowsy little girl in a couple of hours. With four children we've had our share of visits to local (and not so local) hospital emergency rooms…! I am grateful to God for impressing on my heart how blessed we are (as a family and as a country) with our accessibility to medicine, hospitals, specialists, clean water, and a roof over our heads. Recently our A.C. unit went out on a Friday evening. My husband is an electrical engineer and can, pretty much, fix anything. The problem was he couldn't get the part to fix the A.C. until Monday. Before he could dig out a small window A.C. unit from our outside shed the temperature in our home got pretty steamy. But were we really suffering…? I don't think so. We had fans running in every room, cold water from the tap and from the refrigerator door, cool water to shower in, and offers from family and friends to come bunk with them if it got too hot in our house. I'm glad the LORD had led my dear husband to a Francis Chan video (a few days prior) on suffering around the world looks like — i.e. human trafficking, child slavery, etc. Chan was quick to point out that suffering (in and of itself) doesn't, "make one holy" but can be used by our loving heavenly Father for sanctification and as an adjustment to our priorities. We (my husband and I) talked about living without A.C. or not using it as much when he (eventually) fixed our unit. We have kept the temp higher but we still 'depend' on it more than I think we should. Sorry for the rabbit trails, Stephen! Praying for you to heal and feel better! Trace

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Thanks Trace!

  • Ginny says:

    Proof once again why it's always worth the time to read The Blazing Center. Hope the ulcer clears up quickly, Stephen because not getting to drink coffee is a great tragedy. (Yes, I am in love with my morning half-caf even though I know that it's not great for me so I feel your pain…kinda) Love the blog, keep writing, guys. :)

  • Hannah says:

    We lived in India for three years and just recently got back to the States. We had some run-ins with mystery illnesses. Our medical care there was always scant and a little scary. Definitely not what we're used to in the States. I'm thankful, along with you, that our country has the medical care it does.

  • HA! As a nurse who works in a hospital, your observations were spot-on. Hospital gowns are degrading dignity-snatchers. Hospital time is not even close to real life time. And yes, "little pinch" is nurse code…kind of like a doctor's "you're gonna feel a little pressure". Feel better soon!!

  • mike Dara Krolick says:

    My husband and I read your stuff instead of watching TV! just kidding but we are so blessed -Hey maybe you are the new Tim Hawkins!

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