"How are you feeling, Wayne?"
"Pretty weak.....and dehydrated."
He struck me as a guy you ask just about anything and he'd probably give you a straight answer. I did the introductions as we raised the gurney to load height. The door opened. A blur of residents swarmed past. Most of the residents said 'Hi' to Wayne. Some asked where he was going. He explained that he wasn't feeling well and was going to the hospital. It was obvious that he was well-liked.
We were notified by dispatch before going on scene that Wayne has HIV. My mind went where it always goes when we transport a patient with HIV.
I'd love to tell you that I don't wonder about a patient's sexual orientation when I hear that they have HIV. I wonder if they know Jesus. I try to keep an open mind. I've been wrong so many times before.
Wayne told his friends he was disappointed to be going to the hospital. He was looking forward to leading the bible study tonight.
We rolled toward the ambulance and talked on the way. He'd been vomiting and having diarrhea for three days and hadn't slept in two. Considering how sick he was, he had a great attitude.
And great big veins.
I got the IV supplies and told Wayne about the first time I transported a patient with HIV. It was out of Vanderbilt hospital in 1988. HIV was a new disease. We did mouth to mouth on dead people who would usually vomit in our mouth. And we never wore gloves.
The man we transported that day was brutally beaten because he was gay. He was a bloody mess from head to toe. He was being transferred to another hospital because he didn't have insurance. They didn't tell us he had HIV until we were almost out the door. They were afraid that if they did we'd refuse to take him.
Times have changed. Mostly for the better.
The IV went in easily. As I began dumping normal saline into his parched body, my partner disappeared behind the closing door. Wayne and I talked all the way to the hospital. Mostly about eternity. I told him I collected stories about people who had died and gone to heaven then returned. He asked what I thought about the teaching that people 'sleep' when they die.
I told him is was a lot of nonsense. "....To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord..."
I shared some of the testimonies I'd heard from people who had died, including a man we'd transported earlier in the day. He'd been run over by a Humvee and went into cardiac arrest. In eternity he saw a line that he was standing on. He knew that if he went one way, he would live again and if he went the other way, he would stay in eternity.
I asked if I could pray with Wayne to be healed. He said He'd love that. Resting my hand on his shoulder I blessed the work of God in his life and commanded sickness to leave in the name of Jesus.
God's presence in the ambulance made me sway gently back and forth. Peace and joy swept over me.
We talked some more. He told me a few stories from his childhood where he wandered around town for several days being ignored by everyone. It was like he was invisible. No one acknowledged he was there. He heard the Lord tell him when he was thirsty to put his mouth to the ground and open it. And when he did, his thirst disappeared. Somehow, God quenched his thirst. He drank no water for days.
Wayne had known the Lord from childhood. We talked about heaven and how many people say that our existence there is much like being a child. There is no fear of anything. Just a complete innocence and trust that your Father is perfect and all that He made is perfect. We talked about the perfect love He surrounds us with.
Wayne said he is a musician and has songs available on itunes. I'm going to check them out. I really loved this guy and I was honored to be able to pray for him.
Wayne, if you read this, let me know how you're doing. Keep encouraging people with the love God placed in your heart.