Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Tuesday 2/9/10 - "LIFE UNPREDICTED"
Probably the biggest lessons I receive from visiting patients in the hospital as a pastoral care assistant are the constant reminders that life is totally unpredictable. Unexpected happenings can come from any quarter at any time. Circumstances of such an unpredictable nature often bring people to the hospital.
I visited a man in critical care yesterday. He was totally lucid with four IV stands positioned at his right side with maybe 6 or more lines running to his chest where they were providing his body with the solutions he needed to live. When I enter a room I have no idea why the person is there unless they choose to tell me. This was his story:
I was with him a long time, almost an hour. It took that long to piece together his story. At least three nurses attended him as we talked. They gave permission for me to be there. I will call this gentleman Bud. The first two things he told me over and over were that he had no feeling at all in his arms and he could not move them. He also kept telling me he was a "terminal case". I asked if they had told him that and he said, "no", but he just knew it was so. I came to believe over the course of my time with him that what he may have been really saying was that if he could not use his arms, it might as well be terminal. (Just a guess on my part.)
Bud proceeded to tell me through the course of our visit what happened. Somehow he became trapped between the toilet tank and the wall in his home where he lives alone. His arms were pinned in an upward position. He just kept yelling for help hoping a neighbor would hear him. I don't know how long he was there, but it was a long time. Finally someone heard him and the fire department came. They had a very difficult time freeing him.
His kidneys weren't functioning either. Though he told me he was a "terminal case", when I offered to pray with him and asked what he might want me to pray for, he said the return of his health. I so understood this. The mind was thinking the worse, but the spirit was hoping for the best. We talked about feelings of powerlessness and the power of God's love.
I have seen so many situations both in this volunteer job and when I worked in nursing homes where people were clearly on their way out of this life and then suddenly they rally. The number of days of our lives are unpredictable.
Maybe I ended up staying with him so long so I could meet his daughter who arrived just before I was ready to leave. It was a blessing. I had prayed with her father alone and then she and I were able to pray with him as well. I found out from her that when her father underwent surgery one of the things that was determined was that there was no dead tissue in his arms. There is hope. Will he live? Will he die? Will he regain the use of his arms? Only God knows. I do know he is getting the best possible care available and if it is God's will, he will live and recover the use of his arms.
The message of the day was unpredictability and "powerlessness". I am reminded every Monday of the blessings of good health and I am filled with gratitude. Because the unexpected can visit at any time, I want to stay connected to God. I practice the principles of the Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon programs and continue to work the 12 steps. They keep the power I lack available.
Thank you God for my health and the beautiful lessons you give me each Monday.
(Photo credit: Rusty leaf by Valinorri@deviantart.com)