Is It Broken?

Volunteer Camp Nurse, Midwest, USA – July, 1980

The various Bible churches in the state have joined together to have a Bible camp for one week for children who attend Bible Clubs and teen Bible classes ages 8-18 years old. We rent a state park that has a group campground with a large lodge with dining hall and kitchen, clinic cabin. The 32 cabins each houses 8 children and one counselor. The camp sits among the forested hills with a refreshing lake for swimming.

We split the children into two separate camps. Junior camp is for ages 8-12, and senior camp is for ages 13-18. All the speakers, counselors, kitchen staff, and nurse volunteer for the week. It is very exhausting and hot and humid this time of year, but it is worth it all when we see children receive Christ as their personal Savior and others yield their life to the Lord. My sister, Marsha, tried to be the junior camp Bible teacher and camp nurse last year, but it was too much for one person. Often the nurse gets awakened at night. So I volunteered to be the nurse this year rather than a counselor as I was last year.

Lake where I was lifeguard and nurse at Bible Camp.

Lake where I was lifeguard and nurse at Bible Camp.

I began to prepare by reading through the manual for camp nurses from the American Camp Association. We copied their health information sheet to hand out to the campers to have their parents complete and give us on the first day of camp. I also replenished our first aid supplies from the previous year, made copies of the medication administration sheets, and read all the treatments for the most common injuries that were likely to occur. I prayed that God would give me wisdom in handling every situation. I was so glad Marsha would be on the grounds as a backup consultant. She has years of experience with pediatric nursing, whereas I have none other than my experience in nursing school.

The children all arrived with their parents Sunday afternoon. I sat at the registration desk with the camp directors and reviewed each health information form with the child’s parents. I collected all the prescription medications and marked on my record the child’s name, medicine, time, and dose so I could bring it to him in the dining hall at mealtimes. Only two children had asthma with inhalers. We gave their rescue inhaler to their counselor so they would have it in the cabin at night in case they had an asthma attack. All the cabins were at the top of very long hills, so it would be too long a hike at night to the nurse’s cabin in the valley near the lodge.

I knew from experience that none of the campers or counselors would get much sleep Sunday night because of their excitement and the occasional mice and bats that invariably came in the cabins after dark. The rest of the week, they would sleep well  from sheer exhaustion despite the critters. Monday we all began to settle into the routine of wake-up, personal devotions and Bible memorization, breakfast when I administered the majority of the scheduled medications, cabin clean-up, Bible lesson,  swimming, lunch, rest period, group games, crafts, dinner, and evening Bible lesson concluding with a group activity.

The most common complaint was homesickness, especially among the 8 year-olds who would complain of a “stomach ache” if they couldn’t quite admit they were homesick. I prayed with them and encouraged them to keep busy so the time would pass quickly. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes it didn’t. Occasionally, the camp director had to call parents who chose to pick up their child and take them home.

One of the campers, Becky, stumbled over a log and fell on her arm. Her counselor brought her to the clinic and I cleaned her abrasion and applied a dressing. Her wrist was bruised, swelling, and very painful when she tried to move it. I suspected a fracture, so the camp director called her parents while I applied a splint and sling. The director drove her to the closest emergency room 45 minutes away where her parents met them. Sadly, it was broken, so Becky went home after getting her cast put on.

Other things I treated were bee stings, splinters, abrasions, headaches, and upset stomach. It was exhausting as I felt like I was on call the entire week with no down time. But overall, I enjoyed it and was thankful for the opportunity to serve the campers so they could hear the Bible and learn about the Lord Jesus Christ.

But Jesus said, Permit little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14

My fun duty was to be cabin inspector along with one of the cooks. After the morning Bible lesson, we would announce each cabin’s score from 1 (filthy) to 10 (sparkling clean). The kids were very competitive and began making elegant signs by the end of the week to welcome us to their cabin. On Friday, the cabin with the highest score for the week was presented a beautiful cake at lunchtime. I also enjoyed being the camp lifeguard during the swimming sessions.

As the week progressed, the Bible lessons began to sink into their hearts and several children received Christ as their personal Savior. On Thursday night, they had a group campfire which was very moving and quite a few more received Christ, including Amanda, one of the teens from the Bible class I taught. Friday night, the campers’ parents arrived for the closing program. The speaker had a clear gospel message followed by a fun time where each cabin did a funny skit. We all laughed so hard that we were in tears!


I am thankful I had the opportunity to be a camp nurse where many children received Christ as their personal Savior over the years. About ten years ago, when I was between jobs as a nurse practitioner, I interviewed to be a camp nurse for the entire summer.  But somehow, in my middle-age years, I decided it didn’t sound quite so appealing nor did I have the energy to do it.

In doing some online searching, I came across an excellent book called The Basics of Camp Nursing by Linda Erceg and Myra Pravda. I also found some excellent tips on how parents can prepare their children for camp and prevent homesickness.


The Atheist Physics Professor

Diabetes Nurse Educator – Midwest, USA -1980

I exited the elevator on the cardiology unit and asked the head nurse if they had any patients with diabetes they would like me to see? She said Richard was admitted with congestive heart failure (CHF), but also was newly diagnosed with diabetes. I knocked on his door and entered his room.

He was a stout 70 year old white haired man sitting up in bed who appeared weak and weary. I sat down in the chair next to him and began to teach him about his diabetes and how he could control it with diet, exercise, and an oral medication which his doctor had prescribed for him. He paid good attention and asked some very specific scientific questions.

I asked, “Richard, what kind of work did you do before you retired?” He replied, “I was a physics professor at the University for 35 years.” I replied, “That was my Alma mater where I graduated from the School of Nursing! I never took any physics classes since I was so busy with my nursing courses. I really loved attending the Bible class on campus and meeting students from all over the world.” We continued our conversation which I concluded a few minutes later.

As I was leaving, I asked Richard if I could give him something to read with some Bible verses that told how he could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? He answered, “Well, Pam, I have to tell you that I’m an atheist. I don’t believe God even exists. But I will take it and read it.” He put the gospel tract on his bedside table.

As I left the room, I silently prayed, Dear Lord, You know all about the poor condition of Richard’s physical heart. I pray He would read those verses and receive You as his personal Savior so He can have a new spiritual heart.” I wondered if he would throw the tract in the trash can as soon as I left. I also thought about Psalm 14:3:

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Richard was discharged home the next morning, so I didn’t have an opportunity to visit him again.

A few months later, I was sitting in my office in the diabetes classroom when my phone rang. The man introduced himself and said, “Pam, do you remember me? I’m Richard, the retired physics professor who told you that I’m an atheist.” “Oh, yes! I remember you Richard. How are you doing with your diabetes?”

“Pam, about a month after I came home, I was readmitted to the hospital because my heart failure flared up again. But while I was going for a heart test, I had a heart attack and my heart totally stopped. They did CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and brought me back from the dead! I was so terrified to die again. I couldn’t wait to get home and read that little paper you gave me with the Bible verses. As soon as I read it, I knew I was a sinner, and I prayed and received Christ as my Savior. I am so happy now and full of peace and joy! I know the next time I die, I will go straight to heaven to be with Him! I just wanted to thank you for giving me that paper.”

I listened in dumbfounded silence, hardly able to believe my ears. Then I told Richard how thrilled I was that he now knew Jesus Christ as his own Savior. I asked him a few more questions, and it appeared that he truly understood the gospel and had done business with God. He certainly sounded like a totally different man. I asked him if I could visit him at home to meet his wife and study the Bible further with him? He said he would absolutely love for me to visit him.

The next evening I entered his spacious lovely home and met his wife. We all sat down at the kitchen table and began to read Bible verses together. It was such a delightful time of fellowship as Richard asked me many questions as a newborn babe in Christ. I asked if one of the elders from church could come and teach him the Bible? He said that would be marvelous!

Richard grew rapidly in the Lord in his spiritual walk, but his physical heart continued to decline. About a year later, his wife called me and told me through thankful tears that Richard had passed on and was now home with the Savior in heaven above. We rejoiced together that he was no longer suffering physically. She sent me a beautiful note which said, “I feel good I know he has gone to join the Savior above and is at rest.”

I wrote in my journal that night “Richard is the first person I know of that is in heaven as a result of my testimony. What a privilege to be used of the Lord. May I labor in love more zealously and sacrificially.”

“Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:9


It still amazes me how God allows us sinners who are saved by His grace to share the good news with others. Like Paul said:

“I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” I Corinthians 3:6-7

Some of my favorite gospel tracts to give to people.

Some of my favorite gospel tracts to give to people.

I always carry gospel tracts in my purse so I’m ready to hand them out at restaurants, the airport, to store clerks, etc. The following are some good websites where you can obtain gospel tracts.

Moments with the Book:

Print My Tract:

Good News Publishers:

Gospels of John in several languages can be found at the Pocket Testament League at

I would love to hear of your opportunities God has given you to share the gospel with your patients. Please email me at

Amputations – “Thy will be done!”

Midwest, USA – 1978

The phone rang and I answered. My dear friend Enid was calling who lived an hour away. “Pam, One of my former coworkers is a patient at  your hospital and I was wondering if you would visit him and share the gospel with  him? For many years he was the chauffeur for one of the wealthiest men in the city and is now retired. He seldom has any visitors.” “Sure! I would love to visit him!” I replied.

The next day after I finished work, I knocked on Yock’s hospital room door and entered. He was a thin elderly man who stared at me with his big sad brown eyes. I introduced myself  and sat in the chair beside his bed. I told him a little about myself, and then he told me more of his story. He had smoked all of his adult life and now had decreased circulation in both his legs which caused him severe pain. He had been in and out of the hospital several times the past year as they did surgery to implant artificial arteries to bypass the clogged ones to try to get more blood to his feet. Sadly, they weren’t working very well and he was still having a significant amount of pain from the lack of blood and oxygen to his legs.

I shared with Yock how much God loved him that He had died on the cross for his sins, rose again, and lived today. Jesus Christ wanted Yock to receive Him as his personal Savior. I asked Yock if I could read some Bible verses to him, and he asked me to please do so. I then read the following verses,

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God– not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

I then prayed for Yock. As I said goodbye, he gripped my hand and asked me to please visit him again because he wanted to hear more from the Bible.

I continued to visit Yock after work every day and often after he went home. One afternoon, after we finished studying the Bible at his kitchen table, I asked him if he would like to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior? He said he would and he was ready. He bowed his head and prayed out loud, “Dear Lord, I come to you now as a sinner. Thank You for dying on the cross for me to pay the price for my sins. Thank You that You are the Son of God. I now receive You as my very own Savior! Amen.” He looked up and was smiling widely. His big brown eyes were no longer sad, but beaming with joy!

Jack was so happy after he received Christ as his Savior!

Yock was so happy after he received Christ as his Savior!

The road ahead of Yock was not an easy one as he went through numerous surgeries over the next months and much pain. The grafts were not successful and they had to amputate his left leg below the knee. His right leg continued to be very painful and his doctor told him that he needed to also have it amputated. The day before his second amputation, we were reading the Bible together and he said to me. “Pam, I read this morning how Jesus Christ said to the Father before He went to the cross, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26:39. That is what I told God today also. “Thy will be done!” he said with steely determination and tears in his eyes. His growth in the Lord was a great blessing to me to behold!

Several months after Yock’s second leg amputation healed, he received two new prostheses (artificial legs). I visited him in his apartment a few days before Christmas, and he said, “I have a surprise for you!” He wheeled himself into his bedroom. After about 15 minutes he WALKED out of his bedroom on his two new legs while leaning on his walker. He was grinning from ear to ear as my tears of joy flowed.


The Lord took Yock home to heaven several years later. It was truly wonderful to watch how the Lord transformed him from an angry bitter man into one full of joy and peace as he grew in God’s grace. The memory of his sweet testimony of submitting his life to God while going through very difficult trials with his health continues to bless me today.

Since then, I have worked with quite a few patients who have amputations. Those who have done the best in handling the trauma are those who trust in the Lord for the grace and strength to adjust to this major change in their life. Others who do not trust in the Lord usually become very bitter and say, “Why me?” Only Christ can transform us when we receive Him as personal Savior!

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Blizzard of 1978

January 26, 1978 – 10 a.m.

I turned on the TV and watched the weather prediction. They told us to brace ourselves for a terrible storm that was coming with high winds. We usually only get 10-15 inches of snow all winter, so this was very unusual. I have never seen a blizzard. It’s about 50 degrees Fahrenheit right now. The wind began to pick up, the snow began to fall, and the temperature plunged.

The phone rang and I answered it. My nursing supervisor, Marie said, “Pam, pack a bag to prepare to stay overnight at the hospital. The National Guard will be at your house in 30 minutes to bring you in for the evening shift tonight.” I quickly packed a couple extra uniforms, toiletries, and my Bible, and watched out my front window. When I saw a 4 wheel drive Jeep pull up, I put on my warmest hooded coat and ventured out. I had to lean into the wind,because it was so difficult to walk. I climbed in the back seat and said hello to the driver and three other nurses he had already picked up.

We drove slowly through the deepening snow on the deserted streets and arrived safely at the hospital five miles away. I took report from day shift and began my evening rounds. My head nurse, Mrs. H. and I were the only staff that made it in for evening shift. Thankfully, they had cancelled all routine surgeries, but all our 30 beds were occupied. There was a friendly air of comradery with all the patients that night. Those who were there for their week of diabetes classes helped us pass dinner trays to the patients who were bedbound.

I went down to the cafeteria for dinner, and was amazed to have the hospital administrator serve us our food on the tray line. He smiled and thanked me for working through the blizzard. No charge for dinner tonight!

The Guard brought in the night shift nurse and aide, so I was thankful to sign off at 11:30. Marie told us there were some empty patient rooms on the 9th floor, and to pick whichever one I wanted. I grabbed my bag, found an empty room, and closed the door. I turned on the TV and watched the blizzard. I watched the unbelievable pictures of 15 foot snowdrifts from the high winds of 69 miles per hour. The roads were nearly impassable and the temperature had dropped to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. I could hear the howling wind as I looked through the window and watched the snow blow sideways in the dim street light. It was nearly a whiteout!

I put on my pajamas and climbed into bed. I had never been a patient in a hospital, so this was a very strange experience. I was too wound up to sleep. Then I heard a patient in the next room start to scream. I lay awake and prayed.

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. I guess I dozed off at some point. I got dressed, read my Bible, and committed the day to the Lord. I went out to the nurses’ station and asked my nurse friends about the patient next to me. They said he was an alcoholic going through withdrawal. They had to put his arms and legs in leather restraints, but he broke out of the restraints and nearly destroyed the room. Finally the medications took effect and he slept.

I went down to the cafeteria and ate my free breakfast and then went back to the fifth floor. I was totally exhausted from little sleep and asked the Lord to give me strength for the day and to bring in the evening shift. Mrs. H and I were the only staff again so we split the floor in half. After we passed the medications and trays, we began the bed baths. We were running out of linens so we only changed the patient’s gown and sheets if they looked soiled. I was so happy when the evening shift arrived courtesy of the National Guard! I gave report, and then found a coworker who lived near me and volunteered to give me a ride home.

I could barely get in my front door from the drifts. My roommate, Jane, had shoveled out as much as she could. We looked at our cars that were buried in the parking lot and decided to wait until the next day to shovel them out since we were both off of work.

My car was buried after the Blizzard of 1978!

My car was buried after the Blizzard of 1978!

I fell into bed after a quick supper, thanked the Lord for carrying me safely through the blizzard, and fell into a deep sleep.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1



That was the only time that I  needed the National Guard to bring me to work. Sadly, 51 people died in my state in the blizzard of 1978; 22 died when they left their trapped car and froze to death while trying to get to cover.  But I still remember the comradery of the staff and patients as we all helped each other through that terrible storm.

I survived several more blizzards during the years I lived in New England. Later in the blog, I will share some of my harrowing tales of reaching my patients in the community as a visiting nurse.


Lord, Be My Vision

January 18, 2006

I’m having trouble with my eyesight again. I pulled out my pocket eye card and could only see 20/200 with my left eye and my glasses on. This means I have to be at 20 feet to see what most people can see at 200 feet. My right eye is better at 20/25. Through all of this, I want to rest in the Lord. He knows all about my eyes and is in control. If I go blind like my uncle, God will continue to provide for me like He always has through the years. I am so glad that He goes before me.

January 27, 2006

The retinal specialist said my eye looked healthy on the inside, so he is not sure why my vision has decreased so much. He decided to review my head scan from a year ago when I fell and was unconscious for awhile. He also is sending me for a second opinion to another retinal specialist.

February 11, 2006

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8

I saw Dr. N. yesterday for the second opinion and he said I have a cataract. He did a test on me where I looked through a pinhole and could see 20/20 which confirms it! This means the lens in my eye has become cloudy over the years. It’s a relatively easy outpatient surgery to remove my lens and place a new one in my eye which should give me 20/20 vision so I no longer need to wear glasses! I can hardly believe this news. I have worn thick glasses since I was 6 years old and have uncorrected vision of 20/1000.

April 8, 2006

Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. I John 3:2

I had my left cataract removed two days ago. I returned to the eye doctor’s office yesterday to have my patch removed. It was an amazing experience as the whole world appears so bright with beautiful colors, and I can see 20/20! Dr. E. said my vision might not stay quite 20/20 after the lens settles in. I can hardly believe the difference in all the colors. It’s like the yellow haze was removed. I think it’s a little taste of how beautiful everything will appear in heaven when I see the Lord and have my new body. Even so, COME, Lord Jesus!”  Revelation 22:20

April 20, 2006

So much has changed since I last wrote. I’m having a terrible time with nausea and headaches because I see two different sizes with each eye. I wear a contact lens in my right eye that still has the cataract. My brain is having a hard time adjusting to 20/20 vision in my newly implanted lens. Then I got a head cold and was so sick that I missed all the Easter services which was sad. This is my third week off of work, so my Dad flew up from Florida to help me out. Dr. E. is on vacation so I saw his partner who told me to patch my right eye and learn to drive and work with one eye. He also said to call Dr. E. to do the other eye as soon as possible.

I drove down the highway with one eye patched which was really scary since I have no depth perception. I asked my Dad to drive home which was just as scary. He has a shuffling gait and can’t remember directions at all. His hearing has also decreased. I think he has early dementia or Parkinson’s disease which is so sad. (See previous post.) He went with me to prayer meeting last night for which I was thankful. On the way home, the stars and glare around all the oncoming headlights was awful. I wonder if I will be able to drive at night anymore? Maybe that will go away once I’m off all the eye drops. I called Human Resources at work to check on short term disability, but they said I don’t have it since I haven’t worked there a year yet. God always provides and won’t test me above what I can bear.

It was difficult to drive with only one eye because I had no depth perception.

I’m thankful for this extra time with my Dad as we look at the beautiful spring flowers in bloom, walk through the woods together, and see historic sites nearby.

My Dad came to help me for 3 weeks. We enjoyed seeing all the spring flowers in bloom.

May 9, 2006

The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

How I praise God for the work He has done in my life the past few weeks. Dr. E. removed my right cataract on May 4, four weeks after my left cataract was removed. The next day after the patch was removed, my eyes began working together. We also stopped the Nevanac (NSAID) eye drop which was causing the nausea. What a relief to be rid of the nausea! It was such a joy to rejoin the choir yesterday at church and sing The Solid Rock.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.    –by Edward Mote

Christ is my solid Rock!


How I thank God every day for giving me corrected unclouded vision. I later was told I developed cataracts at the age of 51 because I have a disorder which caused calcium deposits to cloud my lenses.  I still need to wear thin glasses to read to correct my astigmatism. One of the unexpected treats is to be able to see clearly when I go swimming. I can still drive at night as the glare and stars around all the headlights went away once I finished the eye drops. But most of all, I look forward to that day when I will see my dear Savior face to face in heaven above with perfect vision in my new body.




The Aging Brain

September, 2005 – Geriatric Nurse Practitioner

I am enjoying my new job immensely working as a geriatric Nurse Practitioner in a 500 bed nursing home providing primary care to 64 patients currently. It is like a breath of fresh air compared to working for the insurance company in the same facility. I am also feeling much better physically since I only work four days per week again and have every Friday off. I volunteered to work the late shift so my hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rest of the providers leave between 4 and 5 p.m. so I cover the entire home for emergencies until the night shift doctor arrives at 6 p.m. I like these hours better because I don’t need to get up as early, avoid driving in rush hour , eat lunch and dinner in the cafeteria, and get out in time to attend evening activities at my church. The food in the cafeteria is healthy and inexpensive so it also cuts down on my grocery bills.

I cover one dementia unit, and two long-term care units that are not locked. I share an office with three other nurse practitioners which works well. It’s nice to be able to discuss our most difficult patients and get input from others with more experience. I also like the dictation which is much easier than typing into the insurance company laptop. They have live transcriptionists that type our notes and put them in the cue for us to proofread and correct any mistakes before it goes into the electronic record permanently. In general, the typists are very accurate. The nursing home is so large that it also has a small restaurant, gift shop, auditorium for programs, board room, and beautiful grounds for walking at lunch time on good weather days. They have monthly continuing education for all the providers which is also helpful. I work with three different physicians and they are all enjoy sharing their expertise with me.

Dr. R., the medical director, meets with each provider privately once a month to review our productivity goals and discuss any concerns we may have. He is the kindest and best boss I have ever had. This preventive type management style works so much better than the authoritarian critical style I have had for much of my career. So far, he said I’m doing a good job and meeting all my monthly goals. How I thank God for giving me this job and giving me this schedule.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

The Aging Brain

One of the benefits of this job is that they give me 4 days per year and $1200 annually to attend continuing education outside of the facility. I attended a seminar yesterday entitled “The Aging Brain” that was very interesting taught by a geriatrician. The research shows that people who keep their brains active, exercise, socialize, and eat a healthy diet helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease (memory loss). Since my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s, this is of particular interest to me. Daily, I sadly witness the decline of my patients with end stage dementia.

Ways to keep one’s brain active is to travel because you are constantly problem solving and meeting new people. Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, teaching, doing aerobic exercise, and working jigsaw or crossword puzzles stimulates the brain. If a person lives alone, it’s also important to participate in regular social activities so as not to isolate. Eating healthy foods like blueberries, salmon, sweet potatoes, and other colorful fruits and vegetables is important.

Eating healthy foods like blueberries is good for your brain.


Solving puzzles stimulates brain function.


Traveling and using other languages is great brain stimulation!

After hearing this seminar, I will definitely continue to travel, keep up with my painting, and try and play my violin more often. I’m glad I see my friends at church several times weekly. Since I live alone, guarding against isolation is my biggest challenge.


I continued to work in geriatrics the remainder of my career and witnessed the use of Aricept and Namenda, two medications which slow down the progression of dementia. When I was a home care Nurse Practitioner for the federal government, I took care of our veterans who had early dementia and were being managed by their family members at home. I had many conversations with the caregivers who were usually a spouse or adult child about keeping the veteran safe at home as long as possible while preventing caregiver burnout. I guided them in making the difficult decision of when to place the person on home hospice, when to hire help, or when it was best to transfer the patient to a nursing home for 24 hour care.

Frequently I took young physicians with me on my visits. One doctor from India told me that there is no Alzheimer’s disease in India and people live long lives. I asked her how that can be? She attributes it to the daily consumption of curry in their foods. The main spice in curry is turmeric. So I began taking a turmeric capsule daily and adding curry powder to my vegetable juice every morning. .

When my dear Dad came to help me after I had surgery, I noticed that he was having trouble remembering things and driving me to appointments. I asked him if he was willing to go to the geriatric assessment center where I worked and have his memory checked? He willingly agreed since he recalled how his mother died of dementia, and he had to place her in a nursing home the last year of her life. Dr. R. , my boss and the director of the geriatric assessment center, did a full 4 hour assessment with the team including a CT scan of my Dad’s brain. Since my dad was an inventor and probably at the genius level, Dr. R. said it was difficult to assess his memory because he was so good at covering up his memory deficits. Their conclusion was that Dad had Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) which means it could stay at that level or progress to dementia. Dr. R. did not recommend starting my Dad on Aricept or Namenda as they were not recommended to prevent dementia.

It was sad to see my brilliant Dad slowly decline from dementia. He had 19 patents in paper products at the conclusion of his career.

As the years progressed, my dad did progress to dementia, had to stop driving, and moved to a retirement center with his wife to be closer to my sister. As Nancy Reagan said about President Reagan after he was diagnosed with dementia, “It’s the long good-bye.” My stepmother became his caregiver. Sometimes he wandered around the large building or got lost walking to the dining room. He stopped reading and slept most of the day. He needed a home health aide to help him with his shower. After his wife broke her hip and had to go to rehab, Dad also had to be transferred to the nursing home. He began having trouble swallowing which is common with dementia patients, and food went into his lungs and caused pneumonia. He died quietly alone in the nursing home from pneumonia at the age of 89, nine years after he was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. It was sad to see such a brilliant man slowly lose his mental capacities.

That is why it is so important, dear Reader, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior now, while you still have your mental capacities. No one knows how many days he has left here on earth. The 29 year old son of one of my doctors suddenly passed on last week. Thankfully, he had received Christ as his Savior and is now rejoicing in God’s presence.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7


S-O-A-P Charting

March, 1978 – 11:30 p.m.

I had just finished walking rounds with the night shift nurse, clocked out, and sat down beside the chart rack to begin my charting before I could go home. I usually was able to complete some of my assigned five patient charts during my shift, but it had been nonstop all evening so I barely had time to gulp down my dinner. Each nurse was assigned five charts and must chart on two of the patient problems before going home. We were not paid overtime to complete our charting.

I wearily began writing using the S-O-A-P format in the heavy 3 inch thick chart under the tab marked “Nurses Notes” with my blue ink pen. Day shift charted in black ink, evening shift used blue ink, and night shift used red ink.

S is for subjective- what the patient says. soap bar

O is for objective – what you observe.

A is for assessment.

P is for plan.

I remembered my college instructor’s words about charting.

“If it’s not charted, it’s not done. Try to paint a concise picture with words of exactly what you did using only approved abbreviations. If you are ever sued, you likely won’t remember the patient several years from now. The lawyers and jury will scrutinize your every word.”

Mrs. K. in Room 515 had had a below the knee amputation two days previously. I scanned her problem list and chose Pain and Diabetes from her list. I began writing using approved abbreviations:

#1. Pain

S: c/o moderate RLE pain. (complains of moderate right lower extremity pain)

O: RLE incision intact. Moderate swelling, slight erythema. VS (vital signs): 99.2-76-18-136/84. (temperature-pulse-respiratory rate-blood pressure)

WBC (white blood cell count) 7.4. Given 2 Percocet.

A: Moderate post-op pain. Pain relieved with Percocet. No sign of infection.

P: Continue to monitor incision qs (every shift), medicate for pain prn (as needed). Instruct pt (patient) about phantom pain.

I completed my last chart at midnight, put on my coat, walked out to the parking lot, climbed in my car, and drove home through the black night.


Charting has changed over the years, but the saying of my instructor still holds true in the litigious American society, “If it isn’t charted, it isn’t done.” After Xerox copies were invented, we switched to black ink for charting so the notes were more legible when copies were made.

When I worked in labor and delivery, I had to write my initials and time on the fetal monitor strip whenever I entered the mother’s room, and whenever I gave any medication or did a procedure. Only once was I called to the office of the hospital attorney to review my charting I did on a mother who we sent home in false labor. She later came back that night, but delivered the baby in the hospital parking lot before she made it to the labor and delivery unit. She was now suing the hospital for sending her home, and I was the nurse who did the last assessment. I reviewed my charting about a year after the incident and my instructor’s words came back to my memory. Thankfully, my charting was complete and I never heard the outcome of the lawsuit. They likely settled out of court.

When I was a visiting nurse in the 1990’s, we used a check list system for the daily visits and left a carbon copy in the home for the next nurse. When I worked in the nursing home as a nurse practitioner, we had a dictation service with secretaries which worked very well. We returned once again to the S-O-A-P format. We used both paper charts and electronic medical records which was confusing at times.

In my final job with the federal government, we only had an electronic patient record. The days of heavy paper charts in racks had ceased. I had machine dictation which was only about 70% accurate, so it took quite awhile to correct all the mistakes. But at least we  could read everyone’s notes and never had to go hunting for lost charts. However, when the computer system crashed, it shut down the whole system because we had no access to the patient records. Thankfully, that didn’t happen often. I felt sorry for the providers who had never taken a typing class and had to spend long hours at home in the evening completing their patient’s charts for the day with the old hunt and peck method of typing.

When I called a doctor’s office to request a copy of a patient’s records, his assistant said she would fax them over, but warned me we would not be able to read his handwriting! Over the years, I’m afraid my handwriting has deteriorated also as I have spent countless hours writing in patient charts. Charting isn’t the most satisfying part of nursing, but it is necessary for communication and a required part of every job, so I always tried to do it thoroughly and above all, honestly, to honor God.

“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.” Ephesians 6:6-7

When I toured hospitals in China in 1986, I was amazed that they only had one sheet of paper with a few characters on a clipboard hanging on the end of each patient’s bed. The patients were not allowed to sue their provider, so the documentation was very minimal. A Chinese friend told me each person keeps their own medical record in a notebook and takes it with them each time they go to the clinic for the doctor to write in. It sure seems like a much simpler system!