Friday I had an appointment with the VA in Kernersville. By the time I got to the exit I was dry-heaving and generally feeling very bad. I managed to get in the car and Shirley drove us home. We stopped at Dario for a cup of tea.
Upon arriving home I went straight to the sofa. While the nausea was gone, the incessant coughing remained. I felt like I had the flu. The word is LOUSY. Today I was able to get into see the PA at Guilford Medical who examined me with XRays and other gadgets. She found that I have a sinus infection, prescribing Prednisone, cough pills, Bactrim antibiotic and nose spray.
I was hoping to get a good night of sleep without this persistent, gagging cough. But no, not yet. Maybe tonight… come sweet sleep.
To make matters even worse, Saturday, May 2nd, was Dr. William Gamble’s Memorial Service. I was planning on being there and having a few words to say about this man I have admired since the first time we met. But now I would not be able to say goodbye to my friend in the way I had planed.
I first met Dr. Bill Gamble as he cared for my wife’s grandmother at Cone Hospital. I was impressed with his gentle, listening and caring manner. Little did I know that only a few years later I would be under that same care.
On August 31, 1995 I awoke in the midst of a big-time heart attack. Shirley drove me to Randolph Memorial Hospital where I received the old clot busting shot, placed on a Care-Link CCU vehicle and sent to ConeHospital. I traveled right through the ER to the Cath-lab, where they discovered a one-hundred percent blockage of the descending artery in the back of the heart, significant heart damage and Congestive Heart Failure. The plan was to keep me in the hospital till I built capillaries around the blockage. Didn’t work… one day after leaving the hospital I returned with chest pains and emergency By-Pass surgery the following Friday (September 15, 1995).
All of this was a scary time for our whole family. Everything was new, questions, worries and a flood of emotions. In January 1996 Dr. Gamble admitted me to Cone for the process of drug therapy to handle A-Fib. Late on the fourth evening of the process Dr. Gamble comes in to inform me that the meds had not converted me to a normal rhythm, and therefore the next morning I would undergo a Cardio-version. Needless to say I was quite anxious. He noticed and assured me everything was going to be ok… he had a very good team.
I don’t think I slept well that night. But the next morning around seven this whirlwind of medical people swept into my room. Everyone with a task they began with professional skill and manner. After they placed the pads on my back and chest, just prior to the anesthesiologist having me breath from this bag – to send me off to sleepy land – Dr. Gamble walked to the left side of my bed and took my hand reaffirming me that all would be well.
I have told this story about Dr. Gamble everywhere I could because his compassion and concern is not taught in medical school. It is taught at the knees of his mom and dad by their speech, their daily treatment of all people with dignity and respect, and their daily walk with God. I found out that morning this man was deeply spiritual inside and out. If only more of our medical professionals would practice the same sense of compassionate concern… the more at peace patients would be.
From 1995 to 2010 Dr. Gamble became a true and abiding friend. At every office visit – sometime in the session we would start talking about the latest Palm Pilot and how we were using them. Mine had names and address of all my church members, his had a detailed list of all the meds and their side affects. We always ended with laughter. I recall that JP Hines (ICU Cone nurse) and I were given appointments next to each other on the same day. We think it was to get the problem patients out of the way back-to-back. Or maybe he needed two uplifting sessions in a row.
His photography was amazing. His humor was a dignified laughter at life. His care and concern was rock solid. I remember my first treadmill stress test at Cone after surgery. It was Halloween, 1996 and I was lying on a gurney next to the wall getting all wired-up. All of a sudden this gorilla-faced person jumps out from behind a curtain. it was Dr. Gamble. That should have proved my heart was stronger. We laughed for a long time about that.
I’m not sure what strange world his disease took him into… where he did not recognize the people, places, things and reasons for all that was happening around him. It must have been terrible, horrible, very unsettling. On Thursday, April 25, 2019 I do firmly believe this man of God felt the touch of Someone who had been a life-long Friend, holding Bill’s hand saying: “Bill, O faithful servant, come into the fullness of the Father’s love and grace… come, and be whole, at peace, and filled with joy.” I imagine the Bill Gamble smile was as big as ever and his heart was overflowing with joy and he was reunited with all that seemed lost… family, friends and a world where finally love was at work.
I will forever miss this man. I am honored to have known him and witnessed his constant life of faith.
Grace and Peace