My first ambulance ride

It has taken me a week, 3,000 miles and a global icon to wrap my arms around my first trip in an ambulance.
I collapsed during a reception while I was selling a book, the kind of thing that should make me happy, which may have been part of the problem.
As eight firemen and EMTs surrounded me, going to the hospital for the first time was the only option presented.
My suspicion was that the combination of wine, chocolate (eight cupcakes) and a hot, crowded room was enough to do the trick, just as it had once before about eight years ago.
Because I passed all the cognitive tests, the ride was not hurried. That kept my life-long aversion to hospitals from taking hold. I was convinced I’d be out in time to watch the game.
As a 56-year-old black male whose father died at 58, prime suspect for every health malady imaginable, the staff at California-Pacific lived up to the hospital’s former name, Presbyterian. They were thorough, went by the book and did everything by committee.
That meant two days of CT-scans, ultrasounds, a stress test, lots of blood tests and 24-hour monitoring. Although attached to a dozen wires coming out of my chest, I surprisingly took it all in stride, mostly concerned about my workload.
I summoned my pastor to borrow his laptop. Once I finished my correspondence the next morning, he reminded me, “let’s pray.”
My cardiovascular tests came out good, although I did learn about something called right bundle blockage, which is a normal anomaly.
As the cardiovascular team finished with me, there was a sighting of a spot on my liver, so that too turned out to be just some blood vessels.
As for the fainting, the doctors pretty much agreed with my conclusion with an admonition not to repeat my mistake, after two such occurences.
“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
Released on Saturday afternoon, my thoughts were on my trip to Atlanta, now pushed back two days, and the State of Black Business Forum Tuesday at the Auburn Ave. Research Library.
By Wednesday afternoon, I turned tourist and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site Visitors Center. In past trips, I had stayed on the other side of Auburn Ave. where the crypt and reflecting pool are.
This time, my motivation to be air conditioned in the 90 degree heat led me to ponder the National Park Service’s interpretive exhibit on King’s life.
The first panel gave me a moment of clarity about my own mortality. The video of King’s funeral showed the moment when his own last sermon was played on tape. The Dreamer discussed how he would like to eulogized.
Dismissing his Nobel Peace Prize and other distinctions, he turned to the spiritual “My Living Will Not Be In Vain.”
While I was lying in the bed Saturday morning, another church member filled in for me to lead the Harvest Pantry as 180 households received food.
And earlier in the week, I’d had the opportunity to help several groups of dispossessed be heard before policy makers.
So I realized I was no longer afraid of going to the hospital, even as my college classmates pass on and have their own illnesses, even were I not to leave standing.
By King’s standard, if I’ve helped someone, my use of air and water will not have been in vain.
So as I invoke the Jesus prayer as my meditation: Blessed Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner, I will ask myself every moment, is my living in vain.