Summary: Our complaining and grumbling spirit might just keep us from experiencing all the good things God has for us.

Confessions of a Chronic Complainer

TCF Sermon

March 21, 2004

A few weeks ago, I picked up Laura after school, and she told me, Dad, we have to go to the hospital.

Well, many parents might panic if their child said that, but with Laura, I know immediately what she means, I don’t even have to ask why.

That’s because of this heart condition Laura has, which has had us at the emergency room at least a dozen times in the past five years. Even during BASIC’s ski trip in January, Laura took a late night trip to the emergency room in Gunnison, Colorado. Barb and I got a call about 11 p.m., and I hear, “Mr. Sullivan, this is doctor so and so at Gunnison Regional Hospital and we have your daughter here.”

I knew without asking what was going on. This has become so common with us that the nurses at St. Francis in Broken Arrow know us. They’ve given us a frequent visitor card – buy four, get the fifth ER visit free. They’ve named a new wing of the hospital after Laura. They have an EKG machine with her name on it, and the display shows an electronic image of Laura’s face.

And a special room in the ER with family pictures so Laura will feel at home, and a pillow that says in script....Laura...on it.

Anyway, this has become fairly routine for us. So this time, I called Lisa on the way home to tell her we wouldn’t be home immediately, because we had to take Laura to the hospital. Now, it’s become routine for Lisa, too, because the first thing she said was, “when are you going to be home – I need to go somewhere,”

and she couldn’t leave until we got home because we had Drew with us that afternoon.

It’s a picture of how routine this has become, because most big sisters would have said something like, “Oh, I hope Laura’s OK.... or, tell little sister I’m praying for her.” But instead, it’s “well, you’ve really messed up my schedule.”

I told Lisa, sorry for the inconvenience. So we get to the ER, and we’re checking in at the desk, where they ask you which car you’d like to put up as collateral for the ER bill. I keep hoping they’ll give us a plastic card with a bar code on it, so when we get to the ER, we don’t have to answer the same questions each time.

Hey, we’ve been here before, just look in your computer under large contributors.

As we’re sitting there answering these questions for the umpteenth time, Laura says, “Dad, it stopped.”

What she means is not that her heart literally stopped. That’s what we pay the hospital for, because the medication that is given to Laura to bring her heartbeat back to a normal rhythm, literally stops her heart for about a second.

So, what Laura meant was that it slowed down on its own. That’s so rare with her, once she’s had an episode start. In fact, only once before has it stopped after it’s been up in the 200 beats per minute range for more than a few minutes.

So, they take us in to triage, and yes, it had slowed to normal. We didn’t need the nurse to tell us that... because Laura always knows immediately. The nurse asks us if we want to see the doctor anyway, and that if we don’t see the doctor, we won’t be charged for this ER visit. I told her, no, as much as I like to contribute to the local economy, and as much as I like to see the doctors get a new Porsche every year, there was no need to see the doctor, get an EKG, hook her up to a heart monitor and watch her stare at the wall for an hour if her heart had slowed to a normal rhythm again.

So, we went home, with Dad happy to not have to spend as much as a few hours at the ER, and happier still that we would never see what would have otherwise been a bill for about $1200 for that day.

But here’s the reason I tell you this story.

When Barb called later, I told her what had happened. And I began to complain to her. I complained about the 45 minutes out of my day it took, and what an imposition on my already busy schedule it was. Barb, being the caring, dutiful wife that she is, said, suck it up Sully and quitcher whining and moaning.

Well, she could have said that, but she did commiserate with me. After I hung up, I sat down in my office at home to do what I’d planned to do.

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