My Senses

It’s almost one a.m. and I am sitting at the computer at the kitchen table, sipping on decaf coffee and feeling guilty for eating something I shouldn’t have.  It’s quiet. Very quiet.  For twelve-ish hours I have been on sensory overload…monitors beeping, people talking, the phones ringing, the clank of charts being put into the metal rack and the thud of them being placed in the wooden racks. The quiet feels good right now.

I am truly amazed by what and who God has put in my path in one shift in the ER. I pray every time I come to work and I get almost to the door,”God, let me be your hands and your feet, and let my heart guide them.”  I hope I was a faithful servant today.

As an artist, and I hope that isn’t too lofty of a title to give myself,  I am aware of my senses– smells, colors, sounds, textures. As I sit here in the quietness, I think about all of the stimulation my senses received today. I would be lying  to say that all of the sensory input in the ER is pleasant-quite the contrary. Not many people start their day with the smell of urine and feces that needs to be cleaned off the obese woman from the nursing home. She has come in today because the two inch deep bed sore on her back from not being turned is bleeding. It smells disgusting in the room. And she knows it too.  She is relieved to find that she is met with kindness here and recognizes that her care isn’t easy. She tells me that she loves me. And in that moment I believe her.

“Let me be your hands…”

Visually, the ER has quite a bit to look at.  Some days it reminds me of the fair–everyone comes out. Why, it’s a family event! And while we don’t offer cotton candy or a funnel cake , we apparently have the most irresistible chips and pop, because EVERYBODY seems to need a snack after you walk through those sliding glass doors, especially if you have abdominal pain. And just like the fair, you see all walks of life.  There is the feisty 80 something year old that is sharp as a tack and smells of some wonderful perfume.   A pregnant girl waddling down the hall.  A forty year old man panicked and in pain because his heart is beating 160beats per minute.

But I have to tell you, the majority of the patients I “see” are the ones that most people (and nurses) would rather not have to deal with–our psychiatric patients. I have been nicknamed the “psych whisperer” at work because it is my favorite group of patients and I handle them well. I am fascinated by some of them–like the man who is schizophrenic, smiling ear to ear in a goofy way, insisting that he be called Bondservant Holyman. He is homeless, roaming the countryside and frankly, blissfully happy in his little world. I offer him a lunch tray, a pair of hospital slippers and a pack of wet wipes to “freshen up,” which he politely declines. Life seems pretty simple and matter of fact to Mr Bondservant Holyman. He is discharged and all that he leaves behind is a pair of dirty blue hospital slippers, from some previous ER visit.

I also pity some of them-so tortured in their own minds. How can I ever begin to help a man who is covered himself head to toe in a blanket, like a shrouded mummy, refusing to eat the food his sister brings him because he is convinced that the cooler has a bomb in it ? Or the woman who can’t turn the voices in her head off that are telling her to kill herself?  How do I serve the least of these?

Tonight of all of my senses, my sense of hearing was the most worked. I sat in front of my computer, much like now, hearing the sounds of crying. So much crying tonight and all of it at once. There is the  family wailing in grief because their 24 year old overdosed and died,the four year old crying in pain as he gets an IV after a dog bit off his upper lip off, the mother sobbing because her newborn quit breathing and she has already lost one child to SIDS… Crying, crying crying. I see how people go crazy during times of war.

But alas, the clock finally reaches that magical 11:15pm and I get to turn in my phone, no more call lights.

Was I your faithful servant, God? Did I show compassion? Did I use my mind and use the skills I have learned?  I hope so. I thank You for the opportunity to give, to ease someone’s burden.

For now. I am enjoying the quiet.

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7 Responses to “My Senses”

  1. Phyllis Says:

    I’m sitting here with my first cup of coffee, sobbing like a child. I promise that it will be awhile before you hear me whine about my job again. As one who knows first hand about your warm, compassionate nature, I don’t believe it’s an accident that you are where you are. Don’t know what else to say. You’ve moved me deeply.

  2. Sue Allen Says:

    There are tears in my eyes. I am not a person who shows emotion, most things are kept deep inside. Your outpouring has moved me greatly. You are a loving, giving soul, touching everyone around you with kindness and love. I am glad to know you. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.
    God Bless.

  3. artontheporch Says:

    Thank you both, friends. Not every shift has so”much” but when those times come, like this night, I just need to get it out. Thank you for taking the time to listen.

  4. Jan Larson Says:

    I was very touched by your writing. Your patients and their families are blessed to be cared for by you with such compassion and understanding. God bless you!

  5. Sharon Says:

    Such a great rendition of a night. God has truly blessed the people who came in contact with you because you allowed God to use you as a vessel.
    I love you.

  6. Norma J Says:

    You thank the servants of the earth and I thank you for being there for
    all of us when we have need. Giving of yourself is hard work but the rewards are tenfold in the end. It’s a hard road to travel being in the medical field and we owe people like yourself the biggest thank you of all.

  7. Rhonda Says:

    Isn’t God awesome, the way He uses us! I’ve prayed that same prayer everyday before I go to work and I love knowing you do the same! What a difference we can make when we let Him lead!!

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