“Lord, help me be Your hands and feet today,”
…I prayed, driving to work that morning. Since each day brings different experiences, I wondered what this day would hold.
I arrived on my unit, obtained my assignment and started my rounds. After the night shift nurse gave her report, she warned me about our patient in 601. She said, “She is a handful and good luck.” I stepped into the room, introduced myself and explained I would be her nurse for that day. Approaching her bed, I noted how frail she looked. She was thin and pale with contracted arms, hands and legs, which limited her mobility. Her mind, though, was as sharp as a tack.
Immediately she began questioning me. I guessed that the anger in her voice came from frustration over her pain and limitations. I set up her breakfast tray. Her contracted hand could barely hold a utensil, and she had a special cup to drink from. I cut up a banana into her Rice Krispies and poured her milk into her cup. She asked if I could cut up a candy bar and place it in a cup so she could maneuver it with her finger to her mouth.
Most days I was assigned Ms. 601, but I didn’t mind. Every day was the same routine: breakfast, bedpan, bath, lunch, therapy, afternoon snack, usually the candy bar cut up and placed in a cup, supper, and then I would go home. She, of course, had to stay.
Pain was an overwhelming issue for her. Pain Management for her was a delicate matter, a balance of safety vs. her comfort level. Movement, at times, was excruciating. Rolling over in the bed, getting in a wheelchair, even the weight of the bed sheet was sometimes too much for her. Many days she would cry and tell me how frustrated she was. I tried to encourage her by talking or listening. Occasionally, I even sang to her. We prayed together, and sometimes I even got her to laugh.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
– 1 Peter 4:10 NIV
At the end of her stay, she was transferred to an outside facility. I said my goodbyes and told her she would be in my thoughts and prayers. Soon after, I learned she had passed away.
Looking back, I’ve wondered many times as to why Ms. 601 was placed in my care. I hope I made the load of her hospital stay a little lighter. She had so much to bear with her progressive illness, pain and limited movement. She taught me so much about true courage and resilience. She was afraid of her future filled with tremendous pain and loneliness. No family ever visited or called to check on her that I remember. I believe we were all she had.
This Divine Assignment reminds me of what Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”
•LR•Selena Lollar has been a registered nurse for 32 years. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Robert, and daughters, Lauren and Lindsay. Her hobbies include singing, gardening, making jewelry, cooking, and reading.
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