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OUT TO PASTOR: How many coughs are enough for one day?

This past week started rather rough.

It started with a cough. A cough is not that serious if it’s just one cough or maybe two. But it is not good when it is one cough after another and another.

One day last week, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I enjoyed a fine supper, and I sat back in my chair as we started watching TV and relaxing after a busy day.

Then, my coughing spell began. I coughed and coughed and coughed almost uncontrollably.

Looking at me, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said, “What’s all that coughing about?” She said it as though I had control over my coughing.

“Oh, nothing,” I said, “I think I just swallowed a fly.” Then I smiled.

“What,” she exclaimed, “you swallowed a fly? Didn’t you have enough at supper?”

Now, I’m in trouble. I had no explanation that she would accept.

Then, I had another coughing spell that seemed worse than before. I tried to stop but just could not.

Now, Miss-Nurse-Am-I stepped in. She had a thermometer to take my temperature, and it was high. She gave me a Covid test, and I passed, much to her chagrin and my smile. She then took my blood pressure, and it was high. Imagine 2 out of 3!

When all her testing was finished, she looked at me seriously. This was on Saturday, and she said we had to cancel our Sunday morning service. I tried to protest, but I was coughing too much to respond.

Not having the church service on Sunday morning is a great downer for me. I love nothing more than Sunday church. And there was no replacement, so the service had to be canceled. That made me cough even more with a sour ending.

Then, the law was laid down.

“I’m calling the doctor,” she said, “on Monday and schedule an appointment. You’re sick – I think you have bronchitis.”

In my position, I had nothing to do but cough.

There is nothing more that I like doing than seeing my doctor to begin the week. He loves seeing me, and we all know why. It ain’t my charming, good looks, that’s for sure.

There is no Sunday I like less than not going to church and wearing pajamas all day. I did try to get dressed, but Miss-Nurse-Am-I caught me and said, “Don’t you dare get dressed. You’re spending the day in bed. You’re sick.”

Well, if I want to object to Miss-Nurse-Am-I, I had better make plans for my funeral.

I did not know how long a Sunday is when I’m in my pajamas, not permitted to do anything but cough. And cough, I did.

I tried to take advantage of these coughing spells and sometimes faked some. Don’t let her know, but a fake cough can have a soothing element to it, along with a smile.

Then Monday came, as it always does. The appointment was made for the morning, thanks to a cancellation.

My appointment was at 10:15, and I arrived just before 10:00. I like to be early. I was lucky, and I got to see my doctor at 11:10. This is why doctors call us patients. We have to have patience to see the doctor.

Finally, the doctor was ready for me. First, I had to see his nurse to get the information for the medical evaluation. She took my temperature, my blood pressure, and all the rest.

Thirty minutes after she was finished, the doctor finally came in.

I greeted him with a series of coughs.

“Not doing well,” the doctor asked.

“That’s why I’m here, Doc.”

He looked through the nurse’s information and then checked my lungs.

After checking the statics and asking me questions, he finally concluded.

Looking at me, he said, “You have acute bronchitis.”

I glared back at the doctor and said, “Doc, this bronchitis is not cute to any degree.”

I then coughed in his direction three times.

After the doctor’s visit, the worst part of the day was that I had to return to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and tell her that her diagnosis was right.

Looking at my watch, I saw I had enough time to stop and get some personal medication, an Apple Fritter. What she doesn’t know gets me in no trouble.

While recovering from my sickness, I read something interesting in the Bible. “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12).

As I get older, I realize that there are times when I do need to see a doctor. Even Jesus believed that.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

Ellis County Press

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Ferris, TX 75125