Thanks, angels of the Elliot (40 days could destroy almost anything)

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My wife took me to the ER at the Elliot Hospital in Manchester on April 2. The woman at the intake desk asked all the right questions and expedited my situation quickly. I didn’t get her name, but tried to get all the names of those who helped me after, to thank them for their life-saving care. Surviving the inflammation in my tongue and throat may have happened without their work, but there is no way I could have received better care and quicker results than what they provided.

I had been working 40 days straight due to overtime, without interruption, and was most likely suffering the ill effects. Was I in direct conflict with God’s will and now paying the price? Natural laws and their consequences certainly would apply to my situation, but when I think about the efforts I’ve made studying God’s words and trying to write about life’s most important topics, I tend to look at all the biggest pictures.

“Jonah and the Whale,” oil by Herbert Mandel


Jonah said to Nineveh, “in 40 days you will be destroyed!” The Israelite’s wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until all died that rejected God’s entry into the promised land. And of course, it was Jesus that began His ministry with 40 days of fasting (for me, fasting lasts about 40 minutes and I’m all set with that). Not to mention Noah’s flood started with 40 days of rain (the first time it ever rained on earth) or, Judas selling Jesus to the leaders of the temple for 40 pieces of silver.

40 Days for Jonah

Jonah, also known as the reluctant prophet, went in the opposite direction from what God wanted and would have died inside the whale (some believe he did) without God saving him from his watery grave. Jonah refused to go to Nineveh and preach to them about their upcoming destruction. He preferred God’s judgment for that city and wanted no part in His mercy for Israel’s “most wanted,” enemy No. 1, the Assyrians. As an aside, the wonderful book of Jonah is written with only 48 verses and 8 of which were prayers of thanksgiving for God saving him.

40 years of wandering for the Israelites

The Israelite’s were directed by God to enter Canaan. They were supposed to wipe out and displace the pagan nation occupying the “promised land.” Of course, they preferred to go in the opposite direction and wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Fearful of the “giants” they would fight to take the land, God let all the adults die off except for Joshua and Caleb.

40 fasting days for Jesus

Jesus’ ministry began with 40 days of fasting. I can’t say what he was allowed to consume other than water and other life-saving materials, but I had never thought about how close to death he really was. Any kind of hunger strike for that length of time must be deadly, unless the persons involved had superior knowledge or some serious assistance.

40 days of work for me

Nurse Sierra had everything under control. Photo/Carol Robidoux

My predicament started when I woke from a restless sleep to discover my tongue was swelling for no apparent reason. After Carol got me to the hospital and they quickly got me into an emergency room bed, Sierra was the first nurse who helped me, and kept me calm – even though the situation was anything but. She was followed by Kevin, who took over for her at shift change. Sierra and Kevin are gifted nurses and are deeply responsible for saving lives at the Elliot Hospital.

Next came the doctors and, in total numbers, I can’t say exactly, but here’s who I remember: Dr. Stock, ENT; Dr. Voona, OMS (dental); Dr. Guarnaccia, ED; Dr. Braver, ICU; Dr. Hartman-Heaney, ICU –  and I’m certain there were even more involved. To my mind they met with me and, while I was in crisis, met in a circle just outside of the space designated for me. They were like March madness, the size of a basketball team arranged in a circle discussing the situation and how we could win!

I received all they had to offer and, like a miracle, as quickly as my moment of trial came it subsided. My airway which was almost closed when I arrived, was pretty much normal in short order, and I was moved to ICU and away from ER, for observation. Intensive Care Unit was where I met Tracy, Sarah and Jess, wonderful dedicated nurses.

By the time I landed in ICU I was pretty much my old self and even debated theology with Tracy. Knowledgeable and well versed, Tracy defended her position well. Tracy will go as far in life as she wants –  she is well connected. How could anyone so close to God do less? However It was Jess I was most impressed with. While I was supposed to be sleeping she visited often. She was tested by others in the unit, and was up for the task – and more.

Jess was tested repeatedly and performed so well I had to tell her so. Night life in the ICU ain’t no picnic. Bravo to Jess, a true gem in the night. We talked a little when I was awake and she was like a breath of fresh air. She, too, was a young woman of faith but not as programmed as others, and still working at figuring things out. By the end of her shift I felt like I had a new friend. Thanks Jess, stay as special as you are.

In the morning Lisa, April and Christine were on duty, helpful with housekeeping, getting me an outside phone line after my cell phone died, and finally, discharged. All were a Godsend, truly good people doing good work.

I also was surprised and grateful for two get-well cards in the mail later that week – one from Mayor Joyce Craig and the other from Gail Durant. Both had heard about my misfortune while listening to Carol on morning radio, WMNH 95.3.

Most of all, I just want to thank the Elliot Hospital staff – angels at the Elliot – for making sure I am a survivor. My next stop is an allergist, hopefully to figure out what actually happened. All I really know for certain is that, without their intervention and expertise, I might not have made it to June 9, when I get to celebrate 40 years of marriage with Carol.

Jim Robidoux is father of four, lives and works in Manchester, and writes about life in The Life Section – specifically, his own. He enjoys bicycling to work, urban gardening, exploring things of faith, and watching the Phillies at Billy’s. And, he happens to be married to Manchester Ink Link publisher Carol Robidoux. He can be reached at


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