Saying Goodbye

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Goodbyes are especially hard for me. I just don’t handle them well — never have. It’s a part of me I don’t quite understand.

When I took early retirement from a job that I loved, I refused the customary appreciation reception; I simply couldn’t bear to think how emotionally hard it would be. I had poured heart and soul into my job. I knew it was a place that God had brought me to serve Him and letting go was necessary but not easy. Additionally, I asked my staff to treat it as if it were any other day and not say goodbye. I felt it was the only way I could get through it. I slipped out the side door of my office and quietly drove away.

When my 14-year-old kitty had to be put to sleep, I declined the private time at the Veterinary ER with her prior to the moment. I knew when I left home with Chloe that she would not be returning with me, so I had said the things that I wanted to say to her before we left and while we traveled to the point of goodbye. After she had entered heaven’s gates, the veterinarian told me I could have as long as I needed to stay and hold her, but I couldn’t stay. While I was still in control of my emotions, I had to get back home.

I was at my husband’s bedside when he died, when they unhooked him from life support, at the time of his last breath. Again, I was told to stay as long as I needed, but I could not extend that goodbye either. Richard wasn’t there anyway. I saw him go home to be with the Lord. I saw him healthy and happy. So did our friend who was with us. She said the presence of the Lord was so strong in the room that she would never again be afraid of dying.

My manner of goodbye seems to be through hurried escape. It’s my way of surviving the pain, I think. I need to distance myself and be alone. I need to move through the sea of grief and get back to shore where I feel safer. I really don’t think it’s the best way to handle goodbyes, but it’s my way and God understands. He understands because He created me just as I am. I have been told that when we love deeply, with total abandon, we hurt just as deeply. In all three of the events disclosed, I loved in total abandon.

When something ends that has been important to our life as we’ve known it, we lose a part of who we are. A layer of our being is permanently gone and can never be recaptured. What it was will forever be, but we can’t enhance or change any part of it.

A friend invited me to a ceremony of closure regarding the ending of her marriage. Just months after they were married, she learned her husband was still married to not one but two other women. Yet knowing this, she continued to love and mourn him. Her counselor suggested the shredding of their marriage certificate with her pastor, the counselor, and a close friend. We sat in our church sanctuary where she was given time to say anything she wanted to say. She did it without anger, just brief statements of her love, disappointment, and deep sadness. Then she tore into small pieces the paper that had officially bound them. She told me that the ceremony provided the closure she needed and afterward she was able to move on without looking back. That was powerful. I wish I could be like her: get help with grief, embrace it, take action, never look back. But we just aren’t all built the same way. I’ve tried to imagine handling differently the ending of things in my life and maybe I wouldn’t even if I could. So there’s so reason to look back with regret, is there?

There was a wise old sage that I used to quote in customer service training. He was filled with such good advice in the most uncomplicated of terms. His name was Winnie the Pooh. He said this about goodbyes: “How lucky I am to have had some things that make saying goodbye so hard.” So am I. Blessed, in fact. Thanks, Pooh, for making something that I’ve thought complex sound so very simple and clear.

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I am so sorry I have confused many with this blog. I am not giving up my blog, not moving, not going anywhere. This was simply meant as a reflection on how I have handled permanent losses in my past.

~~The new masthead is a photograph by my son-in-law, Mark Hearn.~~

Thanksgiving Day 2021

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This day I am thankful for the more basic things of life:

                A lamp over my shoulder by which to read God’s word

                A warm fireplace to chase away the early morning chill

                The sun that brings morning light

                Coffee and food to begin my day

I am thankful for a rich family heritage:

                That I was born into a God-fearing, believing family

                That church was a part of our life, not an option

                That I had parents who took care of me, sometimes sacrificially

                For parents and grandparents who taught by example

I am thankful at night:

                When I recount the blessings of protection throughout the day

                When I lie down in a comfortable bed in a house that is mine

                Knowing that for now our country is still free

                Knowing that for always God will care for His children

I love the memories of Thanksgivings past:

                The hours of excited preparation for our feasting

                Having family and friends in my home and around my table

                The pleasure it gave my parents and grandparents to come for repast

                My full-of-faith, humble grandfather being the one returning thanks

The Lord has blessed me most abundantly.

                I give Him praise and I give Him thanks!

                He is my first thought in the morning,

                my last thought in the evening.

                I lift up the Lord God Almighty in gratitude!

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;

with my mouth I will make your

faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever,

that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

                                                                              ~~Psalm 89:1-2 NIV

I Picked Chloe

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You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. — Psalm 36:6 NLT

Thursday, December 27, 2007. It was going to be a special day for me at the Humane Society where I volunteered. We had decided to add another fur baby to our household and this was the day I would be leaving with a new kitty. I worked on the feline side of the shelter and had my eye on an orange tabby named Henry, but Kristin, one of the employees, said Henry liked people fine, but not other cats. With that said, Kristin reached into the large social room, pulled out a kitten, and said “Pick Chloe!”  She set the tabby with calico markings on the floor and Chloe went scurrying across, pushing a jingling ball. Then she turned around, came running over to me, pulled up on my leg, and looked me straight in the eyes. It was a done deal. I picked Chloe.

Chloe was immediately at home.

Chloe was seven months old when she came to live with us. She did everything right, including giving Samantha, our five-year-old Siamese, her space (which was mostly in my husband’s lap). Chloe took my every step. When I sat down, she quickly nestled close beside me. She understood she was chosen by me; she was my kitty. Both smart and sweet, she understood the rules and complied. It was several days before Samantha even acknowledged Chloe’s presence. One night she looked over at Chloe in my lap and then left Richard long enough to move in close and check her out. Satisfied, she went back to Richard without so much as a single swat or hiss.

It was interesting how they learned from one another. Chloe loved every person that ever came to our house. Immediately, she was greeting them with leg rubs and conversation. Samantha had been shy of people, usually running to the back of the house to hide. Watching Chloe, she slowly became comfortable staying in the room with visitors and approaching them for her own share of attention.

Samantha taught Chloe that it is was extremely important to be tidy with the litter box. Chloe’s initial coverings weren’t the best. She had been used to not so much litter at the shelter. But Samantha, a lady from the beginning, would have none of that. I will never forget Samantha marching Chloe back to the litter box and explaining in her own way how covering was to be done. Chloe looked at Samantha and knew her days of haphazard coverings were over.

Samantha was good about sharing her home with Chloe. They shared pretty much everything but snuggles, which Chloe wanted so much. Yet she knew she was to honor Samantha’s wish to not snuggle – something most cats love to do. So Chloe would follow her lead and nap when and where Samantha did and settle in as close as she could get without touching.

Samantha lived to be 15, outliving my husband (who she considered her daddy), and grieving him terribly. I wrote about her in another blog, My Samantha

Chloe was a great companion. After losing Richard and then Samantha, it was just the two of us. We saw one another through Covid isolation, missing friends coming to visit. I did everything I could to make Chloe happy because that made me happy.  As she aged and developed arthritis, we tried different kinds of beds, and what she didn’t like so much went to the Humane Society. Some afternoons, we went to the secured patio where she could enjoy rolling in the sun, holding her head up to a breeze, or just walking around and checking out the flowers.  At night, she slept at the foot of my bed on a blanket I got her for Christmas. She loved it from the start and it stayed with us for her lap naps. I bought a portable stairway to help her get into her chair as her arthritis progressed. 

In the last year of Chloe’s life, she developed kidney disease, hypertension, and most likely pancreatitis (test had been sent). Looking back, I’m pretty sure she had two or three strokes. There had been three emergency clinic visits and neither time could anything definitive be found.

Then the morning came when we both knew, Chloe and I, that it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a Saturday morning and she was circling the house, finally coming to me and crying out for help. We had spent part of the previous night at the emergency clinic and had not slept once home, just lying side by side. So we took that last trip in the car, this time to stop the suffering once and for all. The doctor who helped Chloe ease into a pain-free life was so compassionate, crooning to her just as I was. Chloe took her last breath in my arms and her fur once again became as soft as rabbit fur, like it had been when she was young. I thought it to be a kiss from God. She was completely healthy again.

I treasure the videos I made of Chloe in her last weeks, even the one of her limping cautiously up the stairs due to her arthritis.  I believe the climb hurt her and I hated to see her do it, but she loved the quiet loft where she had a favorite chair. It was warmer and cozier there. It was where she most enjoyed long afternoon naps.

I have many cherished memories of my sweet shelter tabbico, such as the leg bumps she would give to let me know she was in the room with me, the way she held onto my arm and pulled it close while she was lap napping, and the loving paw pats to my face. Chloe gave me more in her 14 years than I could have ever imagined. So I thank you, Kristin, for lifting that perfect kitty from the social room and putting her at my feet. I’m so very glad I picked Chloe.

My Chloe, one of God’s very best creations. May 13, 2007 – June 19, 2021

I take great comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:21 that says “For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?” I believe Chloe now runs in the wind and grass of heaven, feels the sun always on her back, and enjoys long walks with our Lord. Reader, if you have lost a treasured companion, I hope you will find comfort, as well.

Brown Sack Memories

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Sometimes I have a flashback of an earlier time where I see a picture and maybe even catch a scent. I’m never prepared for that to happen, it just does. This morning it was of paper sack lunches during elementary school years. I grew up in a small town and life was simple. We were sent to school with our lunch in a paper sack; there wasn’t a cafeteria early on. Our name would be written on our lunch sack and placed on a high shelf in the classroom. When it was time for lunch, our teacher would hand us our sack.

My lunch was usually peanut butter on white bread — always the Colonial brand. Sometimes my lunch would be a luncheon meat called Treet. Treet was similar to Spam, and I don’t think they make it any more. I also remember Vienna sausage, sliced, and mustard spread on the bread. When I opened the top of the sack, I could get a whiff of what sandwich I had for lunch that day. Some kids brought ham or sausage and biscuit from breakfast. One classmate brought chocolate on biscuits and I was fascinated by that. I didn’t grow up with chocolate gravy as many did and I suppose that’s what it was, only thicker so it would work as a spread on the biscuits.

Eventually my brown paper sack was replaced with a tin lunchbox and it eventually held onto the scent of what had been packed in it. My lunchbox was was with the red haired, freckle-faced “Howdy Doody” design. There was more room in a lunchbox and no concern about mashing the contents, so Mother added homemade cookies and maybe a few potato chips and sweet pickles that she had canned. I really liked pickles.

There was something about a sack lunch that was special. They went with me to the cotton fields and to the packing shed where I packed tomato plants. When lunchtime came and we of similar age gathered to open our sacks, it was a relaxing and fun time. Sometimes there were silly jokes told and laughter would become loud and the laughter created even more laughter. We were tired and glad to be sharing 30 minutes or so.

I love the memories that bounce back unexpectedly. Days of long ago that bring a smile as I drift for a short time in childhood. It was a nice moment to remember sack lunches packed by my mother and shared with friends who also ate from brown paper sacks. Thank you, Lord, for the memories.

Be Still . . .

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I sat waiting to be called back to see my newest doctor, a specialist in treating glaucoma. My eye pressure had become too erratic for the comfort of my retina specialist who handled another eye problem, that of an eye stroke.

Today was when I would learn if the new eye drops were going to work or if surgery was to be considered to lower my eye pressure. I had faithfully applied the new medicine and soon I would know.

A doctor’s waiting room is a great place to pray for others. Those sitting around you, praying they will get good news. Those on the church prayer list or friends who have asked for prayer. And at this particular time, prayers for those that, like me, who are dealing with eye afflictions.

As I closed out those prayers, I took myself to the Throne of Grace. I told the Lord He knew I was anxious, but I knew He wanted what was best for me, so I accepted whatever that was – what was for His eternal glory. Immediately, there was a rush of these words:  Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10) And then it was like being caught up in a movie someone was fast-forwarding and I was being taken through it by the Hand of God. Scriptures were falling fast into my mind and things God had personally said to me over the years during other anxious and troubled times. I couldn’t keep up! As one thought or scripture came, another instantly took its place. I could hardly focus on one before the next came.  And then I knew what I was experiencing. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, had lifted me into the mighty rushing wind of God’s presence and love! It truly was supernatural.

The pressure readings were great, even better than I had hoped, actually. Dr. Savage looked at me and said “You’re going to be just fine!” Sweet Jesus, how precious were those words! That’s what I wanted to hear, but during that rushing of Holy Spirit wind, I also felt a peace that if the news wasn’t what I wanted to hear, God would take me through in His strength and use me however He needed to use me.

I was blessed in a way that I could understand. He answered how I had prayed and others had prayed for me. How gracious is our God! But I haven’t always gotten what I have prayed for, far from it. However, since I did this time, I must be sure and use the vision God has preserved in ways that glorify Him – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Would you like to hear a beautiful song by Amy Grant on being still and knowing God? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF1duZuGqAw

Not So Blind Faith

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(1) As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. . . (6) He spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud (7) and said to him, “Go, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which meant Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9: 1, 6-7 NIV).

In 2016, I experienced a partial loss of vision in my right eye due to a retinal branch vein occlusion.  In layman’s terms, that’s an eye stroke. When I went for treatment, the retinal specialist also found that my eye pressure was too high and my cataracts now needed surgical removal. With so much to take in, this threat to my vision became uppermost in my mind.

Although I have had excellent care, the journey hasn’t been easy. After experiencing surgical complications, preserving my vision still involves frequent medical intervention. Now, the blind man’s story in John 9 has become more personal to me.

This man had never before experienced physical sight, but his story tells me that his hearing may have become acute. Modern medicine has reported that when one sense is missing, the brain rewires itself to compensate for that part of the brain not being used.

Jesus had just spoken in the temple. Had the blind man been listening? Did he hear that same voice when Jesus stood near him and realize who He was? Did Jesus deliberately walk nearby the blind man to test his trust that Jesus was the Son of God and could heal him? Did the blind man sense with his spiritual eyes what he could not with his physical eyes?

In pondering these verses, I think the blind man immediately recognized Jesus’ voice and heard Him say that He was the Light of the World sent by God the Father (see vv1-5). His hearing may have been more acute, but I believe the Holy Spirit was also at work, giving him spiritual vision. I believe this man’s heart leapt with joy at the sound of His voice and then again as he felt the Lord’s gentle touch. He knew he was in the presence of God and, that day, he received two sights: physical and spiritual.

Jesus could have healed the man with just His touch. So, why did He direct him to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash from his eyes the ointment He had applied? I believe it was a test of obedience. And it is at this part of the story that I pause to ponder more, to ask myself:

What am I doing with what He asks of me?

 How intently do I listen for His voice?

How quickly do I act in obedience?

While I marvel at the miracle of Jesus’ healing, for me, the greater lesson is recognizing my need to listen more keenly and obey more immediately. I pray daily to retain my physical sight. I am reminded here to pray just as fervently for my spiritual sight – to hear God’s call to me and obey.  

Our Self Portrait

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The attitudes worn by people fascinate me. I use the word worn because I believe attitude is as much a part of how we look to others as the clothes we wear. When teaching healthcare staff, I always tried to stress that “everything we say and do paints a portrait of who we are.” I’ve long since forgotten where I read that definition, but it sure speaks attitude to me. 

Dr. David Jeremiah tells the story of a CEO who, when he began his company, recognized productivity as essential for growth. So at first, he tolerated bad attitudes if his employees were highly productive. However, as he grew in personal understanding of what it meant to stay successful, he changed the company’s policy to zero tolerance for employees with poor attitudes. Now that’s my kind of CEO!

There is a store near me where every employee seems mad all the time — no smiles, no offers to help. They will do their best to avoid helping even if you ask politely. I suspect if I asked ten friends which store I was describing, all ten would get it right. It’s amazing that they continue to succeed! But how sad to be known as the store where every person wears a bad attitude.

One morning after having been to the “sour pickle” store for something I couldn’t find elsewhere, I drove over to my bank to cash a check. Their attitude wasn’t exactly bad, but the service was indifferent – not at all what I had ever experienced there before.  Maybe it was just the one employee who was off track. My morning wasn’t going all that well until I stopped for lunch.   

What a pleasure to find every employee in the restaurant pleasant, wearing smiles, and enjoying being attentive. When I paid my bill, I mentioned how my morning had gone and how nice it was to have lunch in a place where employees seemed happy. The cashier responded, “It’s easy to be nice when your boss treats you nicely.” It does make a difference. We often reflect the style of the person in charge.

I want to go back to our self portrait. It’s important to stay around positive people. We can pick up what they do to paint a beautiful picture of who they are.  However, we can’t forget that we are responsible for what we show others about ourselves.  We may be influenced by the negative ways of others, but it’s what’s in our hearts that will dress us.

Dr. Jeremiah reminded readers that, for believers, it is the Holy Spirit who is to govern us. That means we are to dress in colors of kindness, calm demeanor, gracious service, pleasant words, and efficient, respectful service.  

As children of God called to witness in this world, we have tremendous opportunity to reflect the One whom we say governs us. We all experience off-days. So when we stumble with our own poor attitude, we can ask God to forgive us and guide us to better reflect Him.  We can remember each day to be conscious of painting our own self-portrait that says “God lives in me.”

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For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 KJV

Blessed to Learn from Adversity

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After a very interesting conversation with my dear friend Bonny Napolitano Bonny 2012 picabout the Coronavirus, I asked if she would be a guest blogger on Prayer Pondering and speak from her heart about our pandemic. I have valued her advice for many years and turned to her often to pray with me about matters of deep concern. Here’s what Bon has to say about our current situation.

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“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

As a former Air Force nurse who specialized in public health and disaster response, I’ve been impressed and reassured by our government’s guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.  You may have noticed that Dr Anthony Fauci (who authored my public health textbook) and the Coronavirus Task Force speak every day about what they’re learning, and how they’re acting on this new knowledge.

However, for those of us without a preventive health background, we may struggle with feelings of uncertainty, isolation and even fear. But, as believers in Jesus Christ, we can learn to take action to feel calm and confident.

Amidst the noise of newscasts and social media, sometimes I forget that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  What does that really mean?  It means that, like Our Heavenly Father, we are naturally creative, decisive and loving.

God-given creativity:

 I feel blessed by having so many ways to stay in touch with friends and family through electronic media. I’m trying to connect with people I haven’t seen or talked to for a while. It makes me feel both energized and thankful for renewed friendships. Pat and I have known one another for close to 30 years, but have seen one another only about 5-6 times.  In spite of living hundreds of miles apart, we feel like sisters. So use your creativity to keep in touch with friends and relatives in nursing facilities, in other states or even other countries!

God-given decisions:

Our Heavenly Father longs to guide us through His personalized inspiration. I’m finally learning I can pray to know what medical advice we need to follow, what meals I can prepare with limited ingredients, what activities I can try to bring us closer together.  Today in Texas, I smiled as I noticed bluebonnets blooming on the side of the road, oblivious to our drama. It’s a great visual reminder that deciding to “bloom” (and not gloom!) can normalize our daily life.

God-given ability to love:

As God’s children, we have been blessed with an unlimited capacity to love. I get to show love to strangers, friends, families, health care workers, first responders, ministers and missionaries. I can choose words of kindness and appreciation in my home and online. I can read my scriptures and share God’s word with others. I can thank God for His love for us. Like people in Italy who can no longer give hugs, we can sing to one another from our balconies!

As a nurse, I have always stressed that health happens in the home, not in the hospital. I need to remember our heavenly home, and use this time to learn how to live up to His loving expectations.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

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My sincere thanks to my sister/friend Bonny T. Napolitano, RN, BSN, MPH, USAF veteran serving as Environmental Health Officer. Civilian life: specializing in community health, Hispanic health, disaster preparedness, occupational health, patient rights, caregiver support, and healthcare strategic planning.

Our Pandemic and Personal Decisions

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There sure are lots of opinions on what not to do and where not to go with the coronavirus pandemic. It seems we have a war of words and wisdom.  I’ve been thinking a lot about our world situation and want to add some thoughts of my own.

I have some friends who say they intend to do just as they’ve been doing; they don’t intend to start living their lives afraid. They are Christians and will trust God to protect them. I am also a Christian and I trust God to protect me every day in many situations. One of the last things I do at night is thank God for the protection He has provided during that day; I begin mornings with a prayer for protection for the new day and whatever may come.

But along with my prayers of petition and thanksgiving, I trust that God has also given me common sense and the ability to hear His guiding me in where I should go and what I should do. I don’t go into any day “just trusting.” I ask for guidance and then I listen to hear what I believe He is saying is right for me. I know I don’t always get it right and sometimes it is deliberate rebellion, I ashamedly admit.  Maybe not consciously, but I think I’ve already got it figured out, so onward I go. But, why pray, if I don’t believe I will receive an answer with intention to follow? I also know that how He advises me may not be the same way He advises another.

Let me say right off I don’t think there is a wrong or right in many things, but rather a sense of how you are being personally led to act. For example, I rarely go out at night and not because I’m afraid, but because there is an inner guidance that it is better for me to be inside my home once the sun has gone to bed and the stars come out. That’s not the same sense everyone has and I certainly respect that. I have a dear friend who thinks nothing of traveling from one end of this large city to the other after dark and alone. She says she isn’t alone, God is always with her. I believe and I trust that for her she is doing the right thing. God is also very much with me; I never feel without God for a single minute. The difference is she’s following what the Holy Spirit is telling her and I’m following what I believe He is telling me. Why is it different? I can’t say. It’s certainly not a matter of faith for me (and some have suggested that – that I should have more faith). Why my friend and I sense we are to do things differently would be a question only the Lord could answer. I assume there might be dangers around me that aren’t around Katherine. Dangers I don’t know about, but the Lord does. I do not live in my house afraid, but I do live cautiously.

So it is with the matter of the coronavirus. I will be more attentive to whether I need to be in a particular place and more watchful with how things are being handled. (Have you ever noticed that people in the grocery deli wear gloves but they touch absolutely everything in those gloves? The meat they slice for you, the scales they weight it on, and even the cash register in some stores?) I will wash my hands more as I’m opening doors that may have just been opened by others who haven’t seen soap and water for a while. I’m a big hugger, but I’ll probably do a little less of that for a while.

I realize, like most things, there will be little agreement on how this is to be handled. None of us knows all the things that lead another in making decisions and it’s sometimes more than just what medical opinion they have been given.

When I was growing up, there was little I feared. In fact, my mother would get quite frustrated and occasionally angry with me for being afraid of nothing – she said. Now I find myself in that “over 70” age group. My immune system isn’t what it used to be, neither is my pain threshold (goodness, did I ever have a very high one of those!) I’ve had some unexpected health issues in this past few year and will live with one for the rest of my life. It has to be treated with careful attention and treatment so I won’t take unnecessary chances.

However we decide to address our reaction and behavior to this pandemic, I do hope we all make educated and prayerful decisions.  I also hope we don’t forget that God gave great wisdom to medical professionals to help us, not confuse or scare us. I keep remembering a young woman who was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery was advised. She refused it, saying she had full faith that God would heal her. Her family pleaded with her to have the surgery, but Lori wouldn’t budge. That young wife and mother died, leaving behind a 16 year old daughter. I know she loved the Lord with all her heart and trusted to the end that He would heal her, but perhaps the healing He had in mind was by the hands of a surgeon He had blessed with knowledge and skill. There is, after all, more than one kind of healing testimony. Do I believe we can be healed by the direct intervention of God? Yes, I do. I’ve experienced it personally more than once.

Whatever we decide, let’s not make others feel ours is the only right decision. Let’s not push them to question their faith nor cause them to be unjustly afraid. Let’s not argue our position, whatever that is, and here I speak to myself more than anyone else. I know I’m a strong personality with strong opinions, so I’m resolving right now to monitor more what I say to another and not be so free with advice.  I’ll continue to ask God to help us all get through this very tough time, and above all, to love and be kind to one another as we make the journey.

Dr. Emory House

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Every hospital has a code they use over the intercom when calling a CPR team to a patient or visitor who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating.  The Methodist Hospital code was (and I believe still is) ‘Dr. Emory House.’ On occasion, I sat with family members while a patient was being resuscitated, so I knew a little of what it was like for those who could do nothing but wait and pray. What I didn’t know was what went on in the minds and hearts of those who responded to the call for Dr. Emory House. So I asked. I thought you might find interesting what a nurse and physician told me. 

The Nurse’s Statement:

As I am on my way to the area given, I always wonder if it’s a patient or visitor. Once I’m there, I feel out the situation, look to see who is doing what and how fast everything is moving. I tend to get lost in the situation, removing myself from the person and concentrating on the disease. It is only at the time of outcome, that the individual becomes a person again.

If the patient dies, I review mentally all that was done. Did I make an impact on the outcome? I step it through, giving it an overall look.

If the patient survives, and my feelings were that the patient should not have been coded, I have trouble dealing with this personally and morally. I feel I prolonged death rather than extended life.

I always debrief with someone to get rid of the emotional impact it has on me. I think all nurses are careful about doing this. It’s important to talk it out.

After an Emory House, I need reaffirmation that I am still alive – a hug or just some touch. This is especially so if the patient is a young person. I need to feel all the feelings you experience when you are alive.

The good comes when crisis intervention has only positives. The patient makes it and is restored to quality life. I feel I’ve been put on this earth for a purpose and possibly this is one of the ways I fulfill that purpose.

The Doctor’s Statement:

Explaining my thoughts to the code goes back to when I was 13 and my father died. He was ‘re-sussed’ at home and didn’t make it.

As an intern, not yet skilled to participate, I felt a lot of emotion when I witnessed resuscitation. I was medically detached and emotionally attached. Then as a resident, that detachment reversed itself. The medical point is so intense, you much detach emotionally.

When you are coding a patient, you don’t look at the face; you just go by the book. My heart usually races as I think how important it is not to make a mistake. I’m aware eyes are on me to direct the resuscitation. You have to know when to stop, and that’s very hard.

As a private physician, you get pulled back in emotionally. When an Emory House is called on your patient, you think of all you know about that person. You wonder what happened in the last 24 hours. Did I fail to do something?

No one teaches doctors how to tell the family when the patient doesn’t make it. This is probably the most difficult part for me. I learned from watching an extremely compassionate doctor. He showed me the importance of touch and speaking softly.

There’s such a feeling of emptiness when it’s all over. I don’t usually react emotionally, but one night after an unsuccessful Emory House, I went home to watch television. There was a scene where someone was coded and he didn’t make it. I cried.

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These interviews took place thirty years ago, however I suspect little would differ if these same interviews happened today. I’m sure many of you have prayed for doctors and nurses when you or loved ones have been sick – for their knowledge and skills. But have you ever thought to pray for their protection and healing? They need those prayers, too.