I owe you an explanation about where I have been or not been — as on these pages. To mangle a bit of Charles Dickens, these could have been the worst of times had it not been for a quick-thinking son, and for our family doctor who immediately placed me in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and into the hands of some dedicated professionals there.
It is not a stretch to say that had things gone differently — as in slower — we might not be having this conversation today or anytime in the future. It was that close, I have been told.
A couple of weekends ago, we were scheduled to attend a family gathering at the home of our grandson, Nicholas Wansley, and his wife, Lyndsay, in Cumming. Our son, Ken, was to pick us up and drive us there. I had been feeling a bit punk for a few days, blaming it on a balky back.
Here the story gets a bit hazy because I don’t remember much of what happened after this point. When my son arrived, and was told by his mom that I was sick, his immediate instinct was to get me to a nearby emergency clinic. Life-saving response No. 1.
As soon as we arrived, he called our family physician, Dr. Robert Coney, to alert him to what was happening. Life-saving response No. 2. Dr. Coney didn’t like the numbers he was hearing from the emergency clinic personnel and called Piedmont Hospital with instructions to admit me to ICU immediately. There was no time to fill out paperwork. (How all of that got done, I have no idea.) Lifesaving response No. 3.
At this point, my kidneys had closed down, my blood pressure had dropped precipitously and I was in the care of a number of specialists and the medical professionals at Piedmont. Life-saving response No. 4.
For eight days, I was picked and poked, probed and X-rayed, scanned and examined by all number of serious faces in white coats. As of this writing, it still is not clear what happened and how I got there. The current thinking is that some kind of infection got loose and wreaked havoc on my innards.
The first Sunday was my worst. I vaguely remember being a raving maniac. That happened to be the day I was visited by our new senior minister, Dr. Bill Burch, who probably thought I needed an exorcism rather than a sprinkling of Wesleyan theology. Fortunately, it didn’t scare him off, and his visits and phone calls have been a blessing to my family and me. He is a good man.
My BellSouth colleague, Guy Arledge, showed up the same day, witnessed the same behavior and probably thought, “What’s new?” Guy had a number of responsibilities in my department, including advertising, and had seen similar rants and raves when we went over budget but, in my defense, I always had on a coat and tie, not a fanny-exposing gown and a rubber tube up my nose.
Thank God — and I do — I survived the ordeal. Now begins a couple of weeks of physical therapy as I learn some neat stuff like walking, being able to put on my socks without help and getting up and down in a chair unaided — all the things my brother could do when he was 3 years old.
Almost two decades of correspondence with you has morphed into a special relationship that I suspect is missing with a lot of my political one-note scribes. We talk about our families, our faith, our successes and our tragedies. We even get around to talking a little politics from time to time. You let me know when you agree with me and when you don’t. And I always write you back, even if you fussed at me. (One of the nurses mentioned her surprise that I had responded to one of her emails.)
I am getting a lot of mail from around the state asking what has happened to me and offering prayers and support. I have tried to answer as many as I could, but am unable to keep up. So, I am sitting here in a somewhat wobbly state to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart to all of you and if I don’t respond individually, you will know why.
I serve at the pleasure of the editors and thank them for hanging in there with me for a couple of weeks until I can get all the parts in working order. Whatever happens going forward, I know I am lucky to be alive. May I never forget that.