We have over 1600 active patients at the clinic, and my brain was trying to quickly match this familiar face with a name. No luck. It’s like having a big church and everyone knows your name because you are the pastor, and everyone expects you to know their name.
I smiled and said, “How are you?” hoping he would give me more clues. And then I looked over his shoulder and there sat his mother and father whom I had gotten to know well over the last year.
Before me stood a healthy, 6’0, 215 lb muscular man in his 30’s. He obviously lifts weights as I could feel his powerful arms and shoulders when I hugged him.
“Oh my gosh,” I said, “Is that you “Lazarus?” He said grinning, “Yep. You didn’t recognize me, did you?” I hugged him again, I couldn’t believe it was him.
You see, Lazarus was in the hospital almost exactly one year ago this month. He weighed 95 lbs on a 6 ft. frame. He had many complications related to his HIV. Most of our doctors couldn’t figure out what his new infections were all about.
I could see it in their eyes, they didn’t think he would live long after going home.
Except for one doc. James is relatively young and was finishing up his “Fellowship” in Infectious Disease at UAB. Now, he is an Attending, supervising other younger Fellows.
James spent hours reading journals, cases, and talking about this gentleman’s symptoms, lab results, and tests. He looked up complicated calculations for Lazarus’ medicines to make sure his dosing was accurate. He took time to talk to this man’s mother when she thought her “baby” was gonna die. He and I talked regularly about Lazarus. James believed he would get better.
I have seen Lazarus 2 times since last January, and each time I have marveled at his progress. The new medicines worked, the patient did his part in taking care of himself–physically, emotionally, spiritually. And so we sat down and I asked him to tell me his story.
Lazarus was full of gratitude, love, and said he has so much to live for in his life. He always thanks us, over and over again.
And so I shook hands with Lazarus, thanked James in our clinic who believed Lazarus could live even when he was dying, and I said a thankful prayer to God for reminding me that the hope of Lazarus in us all, lives again.