Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Faith, God and the ER patient.

In the process of returning from taking my lunch break and walking through the front of the ER by triage I spotted one of my daughter’s friends sitting in the waiting area with her father.  I went up to them to say hello and noticed how pale she was.  "What's wrong honey?"

 “I have a headache and I’m a bit dizzy” she replied.

“She had a seizure and passed out while shopping,” her father interjected. 

After a quick triage of what had occurred I got a wheelchair, grabbed the beginnings of her chart and whisked her into room one. This beautiful, young woman, with no history of any health issues, was beginning a shopping adventure at Walmart when she woke up on the floor.  An attendant described to her what she saw happen to her and it sounded like a seizure.  “I knew something was wrong...I fell to the ground with no control of my body and strange things were happening with my mouth…It was embarrassing but I couldn’t stop it…I couldn’t control it…it was terrifying.” 

She had someone call her father and he then went to get her and brought her here.  She and I slowly, but deliberately got her undressed and into a gown before positioning her on the stretcher.  She was her normal polite, intelligent self but she was very shaky and the answers to my questions were taking a second too long to formulate on her tongue.  I hooked her up to the cardiac monitor, started her IV, drew blood, did an EKG and covered her with warm blankets before letting her father into the room.  

I reported her event and condition to our ER doc as I handed him her normal EKG. “Twenty four year old healthy female with no medical issues that had a witnessed seizure at Walmart that lasted an unknown amount of time, no loss of bowel or bladder, but has resulted in a headache and dizziness.  She has a small forming lump to the back of her head but no breakage in her skin.  She is alert and oriented but slow to respond. Pupils are sluggish and more so on the left. No other neuro deficits.  I know this girl personally and she is off just a tad from normal in her response time of questions but otherwise normal.  She has not been sick, denies being pregnant or using any kind of drugs (knowing this girl I knew this was not the case but I knew the ER doc would ask) and says nothing has been out of the usual for her.”

I went back into the room to update her and her very worried father with what would be happening and within minutes had her into Cat Scan for a head CT.  As I pushed the stretcher to CT, she asked me if I was concerned.  Because I have known her since she was 5 years old… “Well… I’m trying not to be” I said with a smile. “Me too, “she replied.  After leaving her in the CT room I walked back to the ER, all the while praying, Heavenly Father…please let this Cat -Scan be normal, and if not…give me the strength to be strong as I help her with any bad news…In Jesus name.

I walked by room one on my way to the nurses station and I stopped outside the door~~ her father (an assistant pastor of the Pentecostal faith) was pacing in the room praying audibly in the his deep baritone voice~~ it brought me back to the pew I always sat in at church~~ Jesus Jesus Jesus, I place Emily before you Lord and I ask you to surround her in your presence during this test and I pray for my daughter to be healed of anything that may be causing her to be ill…Protect my daughter this day Lord… the tears that I had been fighting out of concern for Emily sprang from my eyes as the prayer of this father was being sent heavenward; it was beautiful and haunting.

Her brothers arrived and were in with their father as I delivered her back from CT.  They were visibly worried and hovering around her.  This family is tight and to watch the bond during a crisis is a very humbling thing. They gathered around the stretcher she was lying on, held hands and prayed. They prayed loudly, with heart and with conviction. They prayed the scriptures over her and did so with bold intention. If you have ever been in a Pentecostal service you would know what I am talking about. There is nothing more powerful to hear and it brought me to tears again as I felt the Spirit of Jesus in that room.

“A brain tumor”… the radiologist was on the phone telling me that my beautiful young patient had a brain tumor.  My heart was pounding wildly and my mind was furiously racing in prayer…Jesus be with Emily and her family as we relay this news to them. Provide comfort and strength to them as they process this information and deal with the next few hours of more tests and calling of familyI waited for the doc and together we went into the room to tell them the findings of the CT.  There were no initial tears; there were questions and stoic, worried faces. I went to her and sat down by the bed and held her hand. I answered every question I could and told them every step coming up as I knew it. Phone calls were made and more family, friends and church family arrived as we tried to arrange a transfer to a larger hospital for further testing.  As time went forward the large crowd of loved ones in with this beautiful young woman showed anyone involved in her care that day the power of faith, the place of religion in people’s lives and the amazing power of the Spirit of Christ as His people call on His name.

I share this with you because I recently had a patient tell me (after they asked my opinion) that there is no place for religion in the hospital and that it was on the level of separation of church and state… of course I disagree… I am a Christian so for me there is no separating “church” from anything but on a level of just health and faith… numerous studies have been published regarding faith, prayer and how they affect the patients outlook and overall health for the better.

This young woman went on to have her cancerous tumor (Oligodendroglioma) removed, go through treatments and rehab and is to this day still cancer free.  She is a nurse and a young bride that boldly lives her life for Christ… Thank you Jesus!!

What are your experiences with Faith in your job???

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


I know I’m sitting here on this stool because I can feel it under me.  I see my patient across the room but I cannot easily take in the image.  My brain feels like it has stopped functioning.  I can’t think and all I can feel is the stool and my heart pounding in my ears.  Somewhere in my brain I hear myself praying for wisdom, for guidance and for composure.  

I was called to the ER at 2:15 am by the nurse manager,  “There is a young woman here that appears to have been assaulted…the only details we have are disturbing.”  A sheriff met me when I arrived in the ER.  “She ran into the ER half naked, bleeding and disoriented…she has yet to tell anyone anything and when she was brought to this room she ran to the corner and sat just as you see her now.  We still don’t know her name.”

My patient is not a child, but yet not an adult.  She is on the floor, sitting against the far wall in the corner with her knees pulled up and her arms wound tightly around them.  Her face is buried in her knees and her long blonde, stringy hair is cascading down over her low legs.  Her dirt and blood-covered,   feet are exposed.  She has no shirt on and her shorts are ripped.  Her arms have scratches, dirt and dried blood on them. 

I have been sitting here on this stool for 20 minutes.  The clock is loud, each tick annoying me.  She hasn’t moved or even shifted her position.  Shock.  When I first entered the room, I did so very cautiously as not to scare her.  I told her who I was and then I sat.  I told her I would sit with her as long as she needed me to and that she could take her time in talking to me.  Time has brought me out of my initial fear fog and I am feeling more myself.

Just as I am about to speak I notice my patient is lifting her head to look at me.  Her hair is partially covering her face.  In a mere whisper she asks me, “Am I safe here?”
“Yes you are.  There is a sheriff right outside this door and he will NOT allow anyone in unless I, or you, say it is okay.”

Slowly she edged her legs out in front of her and covered her chest with her arms.  “May I move to the counter and get you a blanket?” I asked her.  A quick nod yes.  I slowly retrieve two blankets.  “May I cover you or do you want to cover yourself?”  No response.  I unwrap the blankets and go to her.  I cover her.  She then grabs the blanket around herself tightly.  “Thank you.”

“So, once again…“My name is Bobbi and I was called in to take care of you.  When you are ready I can help you off the floor and you can lie or sit on the stretcher…or we can talk while you stay on the floor, it’s up to you.”

She again is lost in her mind and doesn’t move or utter a sound for what seems like an eternity.  Finally she again looks at me and asks me, “Have you ever been raped?” 
I take a deep breath and tell her “no, I have not.”  I watch her measure her words as she shifts her eyes to the floor.  A giant tear escapes her left eye and misses her face altogether and splashes on the blanket, “I pray you never are.” 

I will not share the details of the heinous act that happened to this young woman.  My exam time with her was 6 hours. Her life touched mine in a profound and lasting way. She wrote me a letter 2 months after the rape and told me how grateful she was to me for my kindness and for my nursing skills. (Unknown to me at the time…she was a nursing student.)  She told me she had moved to another state with a relative and still wasn’t sleeping, but felt safe.  She asked me to pray for her. She had dropped out of nursing school for now and wasn’t sure if she would return.  

Today is the anniversary of that meeting…4 years ago.  I see it in my mind and feel it in my heart as if it were yesterday.