Recently, our pal Henry told us he had to be hospitalized for some diagnostic testing. Naturally, we were quick with our sympathetic support.
But Henry, unlike most of us, looks at such bumps in the road of life philosophically. Since he was convinced all would work out well for his health, he told us, "When something like this comes along, I just consider it a paid vacation."
I tried to keep that Henry-ism in focus last week when I dragged myself into the office of my long-time family physician, Dr. N. This exceptional medical man, who has cared for our family for almost 20 years, is far more than my doctor. He's also a trusted friend.
And, knowing me as well as they do, his staff didn't hesitate to get me in to an exam room, even though I didn't have an appointment. One look at me and Tina, Diana and Lauren simply went into action.
This was one of those times in life when you have no idea what's out of kilter, but know without a doubt that your body is trying to tell you something important.
After going over my strange collection of symptoms and concerns, Dr. N. decided an overnight stay in the hospital was in order to get to the bottom of the problem.
So it was that on Monday, Oct. 8, I entered Punta Gorda's community-focused but nationally recognized Charlotte Regional Medical Center.
For the next 24-hours, I was visited by a group of regional medical specialists including a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist and a pulmonoligist. Each one of these learned physicians listened, poked, x-rayed, tested and sought the crux of whatever had sent me into this health slide.
For my part, all I could do was go through test after test in between badly needed periods of sleep.
After ruling out a number of possibilities, the one overwhelming fact that came to light was that something had invaded my lungs. Suddenly, this body that had never had trouble breathing was panting for air. The diagnosis was viral pneumonia.
As things progressed, the original "overnight evaluation" turned into more than a week of tests and treatment to reduce the inflammation and get my lungs back on track for the critical process exchanging oxygen on a dependable basis.
And, during this uncomfortable and difficult time, because of the care I received as well as our insurance coverage -Medicare and AARP's expensive, but comprehensive supplemental plan - I focused on pal Henry's vacation concept.
Much of that vacation conviction was due to the above-and-beyond attention I had from the outstanding team of professionals at every level at Charlotte Regional Medical Center.
I received such compassionate professional care, it was as though I was the beloved grandmother of each and every person who came into my room. That personal relationship was instantaneous with each and every one of the folks I met from the charge nurses to the patient care advocates, from the housekeeping staff to the dietary people, from the physical therapist to the pharmacy representative.
Being in the hospital is certainly no substitute for a trip to Disney World, but when you need medical attention, Orlando isn't the place to be. So, for my week in Charlotte Regional Medical Center, I'm deeply grateful for the excellent care that brought me through my crisis. As paid vacations go, the outcome of this one was far better than others I've had.
Next week, I'll introduce you to some of the fascinating, gifted and dedicated staff members of this mid-size treasure of a hospital we're so fortunate to have here in our corner of southwest Florida. Many have been drawn here from around the globe. I think you'll be as impressed as I was at the folks God has gathered together into this exceptional team.