“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!”
declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
- Zechariah 13:7-9
“‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’
- Ezekiel 21:13
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5-8
At the time of writing this, my wife and I are exhausted. We got up well before dawn and drove to the big university hospital downtown. What we learned however was that the big university hospital downtown was many hospitals all interconnected. We had been told to come back to the same place we had been for the kidney transplant evaluation a week earlier, since this was an extension of that evaluation.
My wife had a stress test scheduled, but we did not know that the real stress test was getting to the stress test. I will relate the story in a couple of paragraphs, but her troubles reminded me of trying to teach country boys who maintained equipment on a government nuclear site. Among my many classes, I taught the nuclear physics portion of the training. The government insisted on being able to ask anyone, even the secretary, what an atom was, and they eventually used my text to teach the civil servants who counted the beans at the various plants, and who were the ones tasked to ask “What is an atom” to random strangers as they walked around, counting beans. Okay, they may have edited the book a bit, but not much, even using the font I had personally picked out.
In one class, we had a character in the class, the class clown, that made the entire week a joy. He would have been much better suited to be sitting on the front porch with a hay seed in his mouth, wearing bib coveralls, and absolutely no shoes at all. Instead, he was a highly skilled mechanical maintenance guy, probably having gained the skills by taking his farm implements apart and putting them back together, like tractors and ploughs. He was big enough that he looked like he could lift the engine out of the tractor with his raw strength alone. But his sense of comic timing was excellent. On Thursday afternoon, he pulled me aside and explained that he was a terrible test taker. He was really worried about the test the next morning. (We had two short electrical topics and then the test as the only things scheduled for each Friday, giving them as much time as they wished to complete the test, and me enough time to grade the test before they were released for the day. I personally discussed every wrong answer with every trainee to make sure they did not leave with any misconceptions. I assured this class clown that he had being doing well all week and that he would do just fine.
The next morning, he went to my office after the electrical maintenance foremen had taught their two subjects and he pleaded with me. “Give me the test quick! I studied all night, and it’s a’steady leaking out!” He wasn’t the best grade in the class, but maybe in the top third. I think that they all passed that week.
How does a nuclear reactor examination relate to a stress test, other than both are stressful?
We arrived where we were told to park. The person at the Montefiore Hospital checked his records. He confirmed that we were already registered. He told us to go to the elevators and go up to the eighth floor. Then walk across the short bridge to Presby (Presbyterian Hospital), and into their lobby. Then turn to the left and get our stress test, right there next to the lobby.
There were no wheelchairs available, but by the registration person’s description, it seemed easy. Two problems: 1) He lied and 2) he made his lie sound easy.
What we found was one rat maze after another. And even though we were not rats, they made sure everyone would get lost by not having any signs, or minimal signs, and no information that helped. I think the bridge was designed for employees who knew where they were going. We found the bridge, eventually, after a few unmarked left turns and a few unmarked right-hand turns. But before that, consider that we were on the seventh floor of Montefiore, but that was the ground floor of the parking garage. These connected hospitals are on the side of a steep hill, among the foothills of the Allegheny mountain chain. The bridge was uphill, not steep, but then the bridge had turns and more turns, crossing streets below, and we arrived on the third floor, after probably a two-floor elevation hike upward over a dozen city blocks (how? When the two buildings are on opposite sides of the street?), a dozen blocks, if you stretched out the bridge segments. Wait! The eighth floor, up two floors and we are in the building right across the street from the other building and we are on the third floor? Where did the other seven floors go!?!?!?
As we got to an unmarked hallway, one of hundreds, (hallway in that we finally had no windows to show how far up we were, and locked doors on either side) an angel appeared out of nowhere. She was probably a human angel, because since got on her radio and told someone that she was helping a patient, so supervise yourselves until she got there. I know that I am old, and I have problems judging people’s ages, but this young girl looked like she might be 13-years-old. Fourteen tops, and she was a nursing supervisor. I never got her name. She will always remain an angel.
She asked me if I was lost. I complained about a hospital that had no signs to tell you where you were. She laughed and told me that I was not in the hospital. I was still on the bridge, just in a section that had no windows. I kept looking over my shoulder. Of course, I was forging ahead to figure out where we were and where we needed to be, looking behind me to see my wife fading in the distance. My wife is a trooper, but since the kidney failure, she has had her body ravaged by the disease. Walking from the car to the Sunday school class is her longest walk of the week, about one hundred yards (meters). The usual distance of her daily long walk is from the bedroom to the kitchen, less than 20 yards. According to my pedometer, we had gone two miles by the time the angel showed up, mostly up hill.
I explained that my wife, pointing over my shoulder, was scheduled for a stress test, but I did not know that the stress test was before you got to the lab to have the stress test. She did not notice me pointing to my wife, she grabbed my arm and tried to rush me to nuclear testing, thinking that my wife was already there and only I was lost. Of course, she called on the radio to find out where it was herself. I kept on looking over my shoulder and eventually, she understood that she was making me run away from my wife. She flagged down a technician, and he found a locked closet with a wheelchair, and on the third or fourth try using various codes, the door unlocked, and my wife had wheels!
We, the angel and the two of us, went down countless unmarked hallways to an elevator that only staff could use, and we finally got to the laboratory for nuclear heart testing, the stress test lab. Don’t ask me to get there again. Even if I had the security code to get on the elevator, I was so turned around, that I could not tell you how many lefts or rights I turned. Besides, the elevator had no elevator buttons. The nurse supervisor communicated with the elevator using her cellphone – not even a display to show us what floor we eventually reached. (If we only trusted Jesus half as much as the younger generation trusts their technology!!!!)
When my wife went into the first room to get her IV and the shot of chemicals that artificially get your heart racing, she explained what happened. She had been scheduled to take the stress test on the treadmill, but they could see that she did not have the strength to put one foot in front of the other. She had already walked 2 miles before they started the IV and they placed all the sensors over her upper body. They decided to do everything through “chemistry” – more stress inducing chemicals and less physical activity. The test went well, and the doctors were satisfied that it was a successful test. I was then introduced to an even younger angel (human kind of angel), and she wheeled my wife to the lobby that we never found from the first guy’s instruction (because it was in the Lobby level, not the third floor, three floors above!!!!! Lies, lies, lies. At least, I think three floors. I have been in places that had Lobby, Mezzanine, and then 1, 2, 3, …) And there, my wife got an EKG done, another of the required tests, although the stress test includes an EKG. We asked. The nuclear medicine personnel could not figure that one out either.
The EKG was done directly across the hallway from an in-hospital coffee shop. You know, the kind of shop that is horribly overpriced and none of the size cups make any sense!?! That one. Someone who was also getting an overpriced cup asked us what was next on our agenda – out of the blue – not even Hello, m name is Sally – nope, “Where are you going next?”, and we said home. They suggested that we could go one level further down to the street level and ask the valets to get our car from the other lot, a few blocks away. A third angel!!!!! No wonder that she did not introduce herself!! We waited, but not nearly as long as it would have taken us to walk back. And that does not consider getting lost again.
I got her into the SUV, our bags and canes into the back seat, and then programmed the phone to give us a different route home – yes, I was trusting technology just this once, but we needed some test images from a second hospital delivered to a different hospital – the third hospital of the day – and none of these hospitals talk to each other.
While I was plugging the cellphone into the SUV’s dash for a dash display of the route and clearly heard speakers, my wife said, “If I get a kidney from these people, I will be back here, but not until then. This was a nightmare!!!!” Only one other problem on our day’s travels. Sometimes the navigation system does not know about road construction and road closures. It took a couple of wrong turns just getting out of the hospital street maze.
Hmmm. Hospital hallway mazes, bridge mazes, and street mazes. You wonder if they have hidden cameras where the university researchers are measuring how much worse the humans are at finding the cheeses compared to the rats!!!!
I have been studying 1 John. My copy of Denise Wilson’s book should arrive in a day or so, primarily on 1 John and the tests to know that we are indeed true believers. The subject of tests of faith has been in the forefront of a lot of my writing lately. These tests are real, and God does not shield us from them. He is stepping aside, eager for us to pass the test.
I just thought you might need a laugh, if for no other reason than for some to relate to the concept of “I have been there” and others to laugh about “I hope I never have that experience.” If the latter, your time will come.
And this post is a true story. What might not be true, if I had added it, was my wife saying, “Hurry! Give me the stress test quick! I came prepared for the stress, but it is a’steady leaking out!!” The truth is that she took a long “rest” when we got home.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.