Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Always on Guard

Last week I got to try out the hospitality of a local hospital (I do this more frequently than I would like). The hospital was nice.  I had my own room, I could have visitors whenever I wanted, there was a TV and an internet connection.  The food however, left me a little nervous...
When you live with multiple severe food allergies you learn to always be on guard.  You constantly read labels, check ingredients, and always second guess what you are putting in your mouth.  However, there are some places you think you would be home, with close friends, in the hospital. Right from the beginning we had stressed that I have multiple severe allergies.  We had copies of my list.  We gave them to the nurse, to pharmacy, to registration, to anyone we could think of.  The first morning that I was there, I called down to dietary for my breakfast.  I reminded them that I was ordering from the gluten free menu and then asked, very specifically, if any of their breads were corn free, egg free and dairy free (three big things that tend to sneak into GF bread and would make me very sick/kill me).  The person on the other end of the phone told me that the bagels met those requirements.  I ordered a bagel and some jelly to go with it.
Soon my breakfast tray arrived.  The jelly was in a little container, like what you'd get at a restaurant. I looked at it and noticed that the ingredients were printed on it.  I scanned them out of curiosity (I'm a compulsive ingredient label reader).   Corn syrup was listed twice, in different forms.  I put it back on my tray, a little leery about food in general, but more sad that I couldn't have jelly on my bagel.
I lifted the lid on my tray and looked at my bagel.  It looked good.  It also didn't look like the familiar, Joy-Friendly bagel I was used to.  I smelled it.  I poked it.  I wondered what the odds were that there existed a Joy-Friendly bagel that I was unaware of.  Then I remembered the jelly.  The ingredients were right on it and they still messed that up.  But I'd asked specifically about the bagel...I put the lid back on my tray and waited for the nurse to come in.
The nurse came in and I told her about the jelly.  I explained that I didn't want to be a bother, but I was nervous about the bagel. Could she please double check it?  She called down to dietary and asked about the bagel.  They assured her it was fine.  Being very wise, she informed them that I wouldn't eat it unless I saw the packaging.  (She was smart...I hadn't told her that, but it was correct).  Dietary brought up the packaging.  The second ingredient on the list was corn starch.  The third, skim milk powder.  The fourth, egg.  In short, if I had taken even a single bite of that bagel, I would have become very, very sick and they would have had to fight to save my life.  I cannot even have skin contact with egg without having a reaction.

I thought about this incident many times since then.  It would have been easy to let my guard down in the hospital.  These were people that were supposed to "get it".  I was supposed to be safe there.  And like with most things that I think about a lot, there was something to learn from it.  A verse came to mind from 2 Peter 5: "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  Be...alert. It's when we feel like we are safe and secure that we tend to let our guard down.  That's when the devil can attack us.

I could probably write more on this, but my brain is fuzzy so it might not make sense.  So I'll just stop. Think. Use your brain.  maybe your brain will know where my brain was going with this, because my brain forgot.

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