She told me she doesn’t remember the day we met. Honestly, I don’t see how she could, she had been so sick when I had admitted her the week before. I had been floated to the PCU that day, and she was brought to me late in the afternoon, pretty much in what we call “train wreck” condition, essentially unconscious from metabolic encephalopathy.
Also, not only were we trying to correct the fact that basically every system in her body had been thrown utterly and completely out of whack, this was also complicated by the fact that her body had already been weakened and broken for years, crippled from MS.
But even through all of this, I could still clearly see that this woman was beautiful.
She was about my age and, even in her illness, she had the smoothest honey-toned skin and incredibly high cheekbones. I’m not sure exactly what it was about her, but I could tell by looking at her that she had once been someone of significance.
Yet now this stunning woman spends all her days living in a nursing home, alone and totally dependent for her extensive daily care. She had no family, no friends – just the nursing staff at her facility. I went home that night thinking about her, saddened by the life she must live.
Ironically, when I went back to work the next week, I had this patient assigned to me again on my home unit. She had improved significantly over the last few days – her condition had stabilized, tubes had been removed, and she was now fully awake.
I also learned in report that morning that along with her improvement, though, she had also become extremely “particular” in the way she liked things done. As thankful as I was for her recovery, I’ve also been doing this long enough to know that, when you’re juggling five sick patients, those words could mean trouble.
But no matter what, there was such an incredible difference between the woman I was treating that day and the one with whom I’d been last week, I decided I wanted to take the time to tell her about the “place” where she’d been.
It was important for her to know just how far she’d come.
So as I spent my shift trying to satisfy her plethora of “particulars”, I told her about our previous day together – her condition and the tests and interventions we’d done to help her. I even told her how beautiful I thought she was. She just shook her head at me.
She truly had no idea.
This woman … she touched me so deeply. As I looked at her … so beautiful, yet so ravaged by disease … this woman who demanded so much of my time … I saw her discouragement. She was helpless. Hopeless. This was her reality.
All day, every day.
In the two days that I had been with her, not a single person had called to check on her. Not even her nursing home. She truly had no one who cared.
And what she was doing today was her whole life. She may soon move back “home” to her facility, but this was it for her. And it always would be as long as she’s on this side of Glory. She would spend the rest of her days just waiting in a hospital bed.
I was now beginning to understand her need for “particulars”.
This broken person was still someone. She may be just a shadow of her former self, but she still held presence. And she wasn’t letting go of that.
And she shouldn’t have to.
Her “particulars” were simply her way of fighting to keep her presence known. She was fighting to remind us that she was still there and she still mattered.
All those “particulars” were just cries for us to not forget about her.
So … as I mixed her relish, mustard, and seasoning mix together for the third time that day … as I was preparing to spread it ever so quickly over her perfectly warmed hamburger … as I was opening the packet that held the knife I would use to meticulously cut it into four incredibly equal pieces … I thought about all of this.
We get so overwhelmed by the stress of our days, we can easily forget the people. Not the patients – they’re what’s keeping us so busy. But who these people actually are. We can forget that they’re still someone. No matter how sick they may be.
We ended our day with me telling her what a blessing it was for me to go from simply taking care of her, to actually getting to know her.
I also shared with her that I don’t believe in random irony, and I knew that God had a distinct purpose in bringing us together again. Oh, yes – he absolutely did.
Our time together had truly lifted and reminded me. I had been so discouraged lately … spending days feeling so weak and useless in my recliner … but I made sure this patient knew how God had used her in a huge way to refresh and restore me.
All while she lay crippled and helpless in that hospital bed.
She reminded me that, whether my moments are spent running around a hospital hoping to keep people alive, or spent curled up aching from another Lupus sucker punch … they each matter.
Every moment matters.
They all hold purpose.
No moments are useless.
There are NO moments where I am useless.
There are no moments where YOU are useless.
Because they’ve all been given and ordained by our incredible Abba Father.
So, whether we’re out busy in the world, or lying alone in a hospital bed … everything down to the very breath we breathe is a gift from God … and every moment he gives us is precious, priceless, and filled with absolute, divine purpose. Be encouraged and praise God with me.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
I literally stumbled upon this song today from Big Daddy Weave while I was looking for something else. Wow – the lyrics encouraged me. God does not promise us an easy life, my friends, but the fact that he’s there with us through every second of it … giving us everything we need … it overwhelms me sometimes. I get so caught up in my weariness sometimes that I forget about this and I trudge through my days all heavy and burdened. What a shame. We don’t have to do that, you know. This song lifted me again from all that. Reminded me to choose hope and live out my praise. My prayer is that it does the same for you. ❤
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)
2 thoughts on “When they just want you to know they’re still here.”
My 88 yr old friend with CFS wrote, …”Just read this incredibly beautiful Debi’s new entry you sent. What a precious ‘Daughter od the KING she is! ” I wholeheartedly agree!,
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Thank you, Sharon!! I am so honored to have both you and your friend here with me. ❤