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All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, November 23, 2018

A hospital essay on breaking the rules


I’m writing today from a hospital bed. Three guys in the next bed have been teaching me some lessons.

Funny how things go, but I suffered a heart attack early morning on the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll be undergoing open heart surgery on Monday. Between tests, procedures, injections, and a variety of other preparatory measures, I have time to write.

It goes without saying that prisoners and prisons are on my mind a lot. Even when I'm here. And I’m seeing some interesting parallels while lying in this bed: When you don’t abide by the rules, you’re going to pay the price!

In society, if you violate the rules, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up in prison. When you’re there, you’d do well to contemplate the wisdom and advice of counselors and reentry. Because if you make unwise decisions, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up right back there again.

The same holds true for those who chose to violate rules of caring for the body. There’s a good chance they’ll wind up in the hospital. When they’re there, they’d do well to listen to the experts in the field, and heed their advice. Because if they make unwise decisions, there’s a good chance they’ll wind up right back in here again.

Warren had bypass surgery a few years ago, but didn’t think he had to abide by the recovery rules, which involved such things as exercise and diet. That resulted in clogged arteries, and he wound up back here again. This time, stern lectures.

Greg was a diabetic with heart problems, but didn’t think the rules of diabetes applied to him. An emergency brought him to the bed next to me. I overheard the medical staff lecturing him before his release, reading a two-page list of rules that should not be challenged. “Otherwise,” he was told, “you’re going to be right back in here again.”

And then along came Dale, with diabetes problems that led to heart issues. There apparently was a misdiagnosis along the way somewhere, which prompted him to determine that all doctors and all rules of diet could be ignored. He’s got a physical mess on his hands, with a lot of pain and grief, and he still doesn’t think he has to follow the rules. He’ll be back.

Not all that different, is it?

Violating all the rules and guidelines of good health may not put you behind bars, but the results are still prison, with a different name.

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