No room for fear

Published 4:51 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

This was the long awaited trip to Alabama for the hip replacement I had put off year after year. My eyes perused the somewhat nondescript décor of our hotel room in Birmingham. Our accommodations were neat and clean if not first class. We weren’t here for vacation, after all, so this room close to the hospital would suit us nicely. I only hoped that I could get a good night’s rest before the big day ahead.

As my emotions, which I had held so firmly in check earlier in the day, began to wobble toward anxiety I consciously determined not to give in to worry. I tapped my toothbrush on the sink after brushing and began my nightly ritual of flossing all the while willing my mind to relax.

I showered using the rest of the bottle of special antibacterial soap thinking I would be glad to use my own next time. With a Christian romance novel in hand I nestled into the fresh smelling sheets and prepared to read myself to sleep. No sooner had I settled down than my phone started lighting up. I couldn’t give in to worry when I received a flood of well wishes from my new young friends from the weekend before.

My last conscious thought before drifting into that space between reality and dreamland was how wonderful it would be if I could be the first surgery of the day. I knew everyone wanted to be first, and it was a lot to ask, but I breathed a little prayer anyway.

Morning came quickly, especially since we had to be at the hospital for a five a.m. registration. I couldn’t wear makeup or have coffee or breakfast so it didn’t take nearly as long as usual to get ready. It was cold in Birmingham on Jan. 31, so Mike dropped me off at the entrance while he parked the car. We arrived right on time and had barely taken a seat when my name was called.

Mike and I walked to the back, and things started happening so fast I could hardly believe it. What I had assumed was one step in a long process of waiting my turn was anything but. Before I knew what was happening I was in a room with a nurse hooking up an IV.

“When did you last eat?”

“When did you last drink?”

“Did you use the disinfecting soap for the last three days?”

“Wow! I can’t believe things are happening so fast,” I said to the nurse standing nearby.

“We don’t mess around here. We have a lot of surgeries to do, and you are the first one of the day,” she answered.

At that exact moment I felt a wave of warmth flow over me like golden honey. I knew without a doubt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I didn’t feel fear because I knew that I was not alone.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at