By Ronald Brantley


I recently went to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika to have fluid drawn. In fact, my lungs were filled with fluid and they had to get it out of my body or I would drown.

They put me in a room on the top floor of the hospital. I called it the penthouse because you could look out all over that area. On the wall in each room is a dry erase board. On that board is all the information about the patient, the doctor’s name and the nurses’ names. They put my name on the board and out from it they put down what they were treating me for which was shortness of breath caused by the fluid on my lungs and in my body. Shortness of breath is a long sentence so they abbreviated it to read, “Patient: Ronald Brantley — SOB.”

When the doctor came in and read it, he said he needed that to get his day going. The problem was he didn’t dispute it.

In a few minutes, a young nurse came in and said, ‘Mr. Brantley, I will be your nurse today and my name is Angel.’ I promptly told her she was in the wrong room. I told her to read the board; she did and laughed, as if she knew my family history and said I wasn’t the first patient she served with that title.

They started sticking me in the arms and hanging bags of fluid on little metal poles. The nurse practitioner told me they would measure and weigh the fluid. They put three containers next to my bed and I found out why. For the next 24 hours there was no sleeping because every 20 minutes I was using one of those designated containers. At the end of the first 24 hours, the doctor came in and said I had lost 22 pounds of fluid and before it was over I lost 31 pounds total. I also lost my potassium, so I have been drinking tomato juice and eating potatoes.

I had great doctors, great nurses and some of the worst food that has ever entered my body through my mouth. My taste buds almost died during the week I was there. They proudly proclaim there has never been a grain of salt or seasoning to touch a piece of food in their kitchen. By the time the milk and coffee got to my room, they were lukewarm. I like my coffee hot and milk cold.

I feel good and when I get my strength built up, ain’t no telling what this man with strange initials will do. For all of you who have been using those initials when you call my name, I have finally lived up to them.