Living with Sleep Apnea

San Jose, Costa Rica, November, 2006

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

It’s hard to believe that I’m finally in Costa Rica after wanting to visit this country for the past ten years, ever since I worked with Dr. K. who mentored me when I was in graduate school. He grew up in Costa Rica and moved to the USA when he was 16 years old. I signed up to go on a tour last April but had to cancel it when I had complications after cataract surgery. The Lord sold my condo after ten months on the market and I was able to buy another house. They are fixing my new house over the next few weeks while I tour Costa Rica for 10 days and then stay with a friend from church for a couple weeks. It is so kind of the Lord to give me this break between moves.

My flight last night was smooth and on time. I sat next to a Costa Rican grandma and her teenage grandson. She only spoke Spanish, but he spoke excellent English. She asked me what time it was and I told her in Spanish! I’m glad I finished my 16 Spanish lessons on CD. How I wish I would have learned Spanish as a child. It’s kind of tough to learn at my age.

I fell into bed last night at midnight at this beautiful hotel in downtown San Jose. It took about an hour to go through customs followed by a 30 minute taxi ride. The only electrical outlet in the room is about 7 feet from the foot of the bed. So I  blew up my air mattress and switched all the sheets and pillow around so my head was at the foot of the bed. I put my CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine on a chair and stretched the cord to the outlet as far as it would go. I should have brought an extension cord. It worked well and I slept soundly which was a blessing. I remembered to get out of bed on the opposite side so I wouldn’t trip over the taught cord. I was cold and there is no heat in the room so I slept in my heavy sweatshirt. San Jose is the city of “eternal spring” with average temperature of 70 degrees since they are at 3800 feet elevation.

I enjoyed seeing beautiful Lake Arenal in Costa Rica.

Reflection

At the age of 40, I told my doctor I couldn’t stay awake during the day and often woke up tired with headaches or choking. He ordered an all night sleep study at a sleep center. They glued electrodes all over my head, put a belt around my chest, and then told me to sleep as they recorded me all night on video and by electroencephalogram (EEG). They concluded that I stopped breathing many times during the night, my oxygen level dropped, and I had no deep stage sleep. The doctor prescribed a CPAP machine which blows humidified air into my lungs all night to keep my airway open. He said I was born with a small airway which collapses as I’ve aged. It took me several months and several different masks before I was able to sleep all night. I always encourage newly diagnosed patients to keep trying to sleep with CPAP for several months and not to give up. Many people say the mask makes them feel claustrophobic.

If a person does not treat his sleep apnea, he has a much higher incidence of heart attack, stroke, depression, and death. They now can diagnose it with a simple sleep test that can be done at home with a pulse oximeter attached to your finger. It is much easier to sleep in your own bed at home rather than go to a sleep center.

I discovered very comfortable nasal pillows (Swift Fx) rather than a mask. The mask actually made a permanent bump on my nose that had to be removed by a plastic surgeon. Occasionally, I still have trouble going to sleep some nights so my pulmonologist prescribed Lunesta that does not affect my apnea. I never take it two nights in a row since it can be addicting. It also helps me adjust to a new time zone when I fly east or west and have jet lag.

Transcend travel CPAP with 3 night battery and Swift nasal pillows.

I’ve learned how to travel internationally with my CPAP machine. The airlines allow you to carry your machine on board in a separate bag since it is medical equipment. I never put it in my checked bag because it is a fragile machine and could break as they toss your bag around, or your luggage could be lost. In the USA, most insurance companies will only pay for a new machine every five years. They cost $400-$700.

Four years ago before I went to Ecuador, I invested in a small travel CPAP (Transcend) and a three night rechargeable battery since they have frequent power failures there. Insurance does not cover the cost, but I like to do international travel so the small size and rechargeable battery was worth it to me. It includes converters for different electrical outlets around the world. I wish I would have had the battery when we lost power for six nights during a blizzard six years ago. That was tough to go to work every day without any sleep.

This is a humidifier that attaches to the hose, but it only lasts for a week and doesn’t humidify the air very well for me.

 

The water chamber humidifier for the travel CPAP is quite large unfortunately and requires a separate electrical cord. It does not run off the battery.

I also used it for ten weeks in Costa Rica last year and it worked well. The battery solves the problem of outlets far from my bed. I just recharge it the next day. I forgot to bring extra filters for my machine. The active volcano ash in the air clogged the filter so I washed it daily until it fell apart. It’s almost impossible to get medical equipment through customs, so I placed a paper tissue over the air intake port to try and filter the air as much as possible.

I also forgot to bring normal saline nasal spray with me for my dry nose. I couldn’t find it in the pharmacy or make the pharmacist understand what I needed. I finally went to the school doctor and paid him $40 for an office visit. He told me to ask for “Steri Mar” (sterile sea water). I did and finally purchased it for $30. So for $70 I had sterile saline nose spray which I normally buy for $3 at Walmart.

My $70 sterile saline for my dry nose. It’s called Sterimar in Spanish.

I hope these hints I have learned the hard way over the years can help you instruct your patients. If anyone has symptoms of sleep apnea, encourage them to tell their health care provider and have a sleep test. Our bodies heal during deep stage sleep and are refreshed. If you would like more information about sleep disorders, go to http://www.mayoclinic.org

Sleep is such a gift from the Lord. I thank Him that these devices are available for us in this day and age.

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

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A Chinese Atheist Receives Christ

Midwest, USA – 1989

About two years ago, my friend and I were going door to door calling to share the gospel with my neighbors. One lady from China named Nina (pseudonym) invited us to come in. She was formerly a radiologist in China, but had moved to the Midwest recently with her husband for his new job in research. She said she was very lonely and was so happy to have some friendly visitors. We spoke slowly so she could understand our English better, and I told her how much I had enjoyed visiting China three years ago. We also shared the good news about Jesus Christ; how He died for our sins on the cross, was buried, rose again, and lives today. We shared how He wanted her to receive Him as her Savior. We asked if she had ever heard this before? She said that she had as a girl when she attended a school run by missionaries. After the communist takeover, the school was closed and the missionaries were forced to leave. We invited her to Bible class and she eagerly began to attend.

After about 6 months of faithfully hearing the Bible taught, Nina received Christ as her Savior. She was so happy and really began to grow in grace. We all were praying that her husband, Daryl, would also receive Christ as Savior. One Saturday evening, I invited them to my home to dinner to get to know them better along with a couple other people from church. We had a pleasant time together and the others left first. As Nina and Daryl were getting ready to leave, I mentioned something about how thankful I was that God loved us so much. Daryl said angrily, “How can God love us? I saw hundreds of people starve to death in China during the famines!” I softly replied that the important thing was that he had the opportunity to receive Christ now and that God wanted all men to be saved, but He wouldn’t force Himself on anyone. Nina stood there silently with a pained expression on her face. I bid them both good night. All I could sadly think about was Psalm 14:1:

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

About a year later, Daryl burned his legs during an accidental fire at work, and his legs became badly infected. They did not have a primary care doctor, so he continued to return to the emergency room for treatment. Nancy called me and asked if I had any suggestions? I called Dr Pete, my friend who was a Christian surgeon, and he asked Daryl to meet him at the ER where he was on staff. After examining Daryl, Dr Pete admitted him so he could receive intravenous antibiotics.  While Daryl was an inpatient, one of the elders from church visited him daily and read scripture to him and prayed with him. Nina shared that Daryl was deeply touched by the kindnesses of Dr Pete and the elder, even though he was a total stranger to them and an atheist.

In January, Nina told me that Daryl was being transferred by his employer to Miami, Florida. I was heartbroken as she seemed to be growing so much in her faith and he seemed so much more open to the gospel. But we prayed for them to be guided to a good church.

In March, Nina called me and said how much they enjoyed attending the Chinese Baptist Church! She said Daryl had something to tell me and she handed him the phone. “Miss Pam, I heard the gospel in Chinese at the church from the Chinese pastor. Now I understand what you were trying to tell me. I received Jesus Christ as my Savior! I am so thankful that my sins are forgiven and that I have a home in heaven and that I will be with Jesus forever! I am so sorry I yelled at you when you tried to tell me about God.”

I replied through my tears, “Daryl, I am so thrilled that you are now a Christian and my brother in Christ. Let’s pray together right now and thank God.” We had such a precious time in prayer together on the phone, thanking God for His wonderful grace and mercy to us.

March, 1990 – Miami, Florida

The Lord opened the door for me to visit my parents, who now live in Florida, as well as Nina and Daryl and attend church with them at the Chinese Baptist Church. For my sake, they took me to the English service rather than the Mandarin one so I could understand the service. We entered the large bright sanctuary and were greeted by friendly Chinese believers. The service began and after the opening hymn, the pastor asked for visitors to be introduced. Daryl motioned for me to stand up among the hundreds of Chinese brethren. He began, “This is Miss Pam who first gave me the gospel of Jesus Christ when I was an atheist. I hated the gospel back then and yelled at her. But she did not give up on me and now she is my sister in Christ.” My tears rolled down my cheeks as I marveled at the wonderful work of grace God had done in Daryl’s heart as well as my own!

But God commends His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:8-9

Reflection

Nina and Daryl returned to China

Nina and Daryl returned to China

After about a year, Daryl and Nina moved back to China. For a number of years I received a card from them every Christmas. One year, Daryl shared with me how his elderly mother also received Christ. I don’t know exactly when Daryl and Nina went to be with the Lord, but it will be wonderful to be reunited with them in heaven above some day and worship the Lord together!

Face to face with Christ my Savior, Face to face –what will it be? When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me. Face to face I shall behold Him Far beyond the starry sky; Face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by! –by Carrie Breck

 

Christ is Risen!

Easter

I hope you have a blessed Easter worshiping our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ! This week, I will share the precious simple good news from the Bible and a few photos from my journey to Israel in 2013. It was truly the trip of a lifetime! If you ever have an opportunity to visit Israel, by all means go. I felt safer there than anywhere else I have visited in the world.

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that, He was seen of above 500 brethren at once. ” I Corinthians 15:3-6

“But these are written, that ye might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” John 20:31

If you are unable to attend a good Bible church this Easter Sunday, I encourage you to go to http://www.ttb.org and listen to an Easter message by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.

Six day old donkey with shepherd.

Cross of Jesus

An empty tomb of a wealthy family from the time of Christ

Jerusalem Skyline

Rose of Sharon

Surprise in Labor and Delivery – Part 2

March, 1982 – 12:50 a.m.

I glanced at the white board after we transferred the surprise twins to Neonatal ICU for observation (see Part I of previous post). Bonnie, the health tech, had put a new admission in my other room named Wanda. Bonnie handed me her blood pressure and temperature on a piece of paper, and warned me, “Pam, she is extremely overweight, so I think she will have a difficult delivery.” I walked in the room and introduced myself to Wanda who was accompanied by her equally large husband, Martin. She told me she was 23 years old and this was her second pregnancy. She had a miscarriage at 14 weeks last year. Her last weight in the office was 305 pounds. She said her contractions began about 5 hours ago and were now 5 minutes apart, so her doctor told her to come to the hospital to be checked. I had brought the doppler stethoscope with me which was a very sensitive electronic stethoscope that is more sensitive than the manual fetoscope.

Manual Fetoscope to listen to baby's heartbeat. Curved part is placed on nurse's head for conduction.

Manual Fetoscope to listen to baby’s heartbeat. Curved part is placed on nurse’s head for sound conduction.

Electronic doppler to listen to baby's heartbeat

Electronic doppler to listen to baby’s heartbeat

I placed ultrasound gel on the end of the doppler and began trying to listen to the baby’s heartbeat on her very obese abdomen for an entire 5 minutes. I couldn’t hear anything through the layers of fat. Wanda grimaced and said she was having a contraction as she looked at her focal point and started Lamaze breathing. I placed my hand on her abdomen to feel the contraction, but felt nothing. After she said the contraction ended, I did an internal exam and felt her tightly closed cervix with the baby’s head up high in the canal. I did not have an elastic band long enough to go around her abdomen for the external monitor, so  I asked her to walk around the halls with her husband for one hour and then I would recheck her. This was our standard procedure if we were unsure if the woman was in labor.

After an hour, I rechecked her and there was no change. I called the resident MD and gave him my assessment. “Give her one Seconal now and another to take at home if she is not asleep in one hour.” I went back in her room and told her that since her cervix had not changed in an hour, she was having false labor pains (Braxton Hicks) caused by her ligaments stretching and gave her the Seconal. She was NOT happy to be going home and told me so.

I finished that busy night, and as I was walking out the door at 7:30 a.m., Barb, one of the day shift nurses came up to me. “Pam, they just brought Wanda back up from the emergency room. The ER doctor delivered her baby in the parking lot! She is furious with you for sending her home and said she is going to sue you.” My heart sank and my eyes filled with tears as I walked out the door. Sometimes, nursing is a very tough job.

When I arrived home, I opened my Bible to Psalm 46 and asked God to comfort me.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

I prayed that Wanda and her baby would be healthy.

October, 1982 – 7:30 a.m.

After we gave report to the day shift, my head nurse came to me. “Pam, the hospital attorney wants to speak with you in the legal department at 8 a.m. about a law suit from one of your patients.” I took a deep breath and asked God to give me a quiet heart. I entered the office and a tall thin gray haired man greeted me and introduced himself as Attorney S.

“I asked you to come review a chart with me because a woman named Wanda S… is suing the hospital for emotional trauma, inaccurate assessment, and negligent care of her when she was in the labor and delivery unit. You were the only one who examined her,  and then she came back later that morning and delivered the baby in the parking lot. Please look at your charting and tell me about what you remember about Wanda.”

I opened her thin paper chart and read my brief notes. I read the verbal order I wrote from the resident to give her 2 Seconal capsules and discharge her home. Thankfully, he had cosigned it. It seemed strange to be reading my handwriting six months later. Attorney S said, “Did you forget to write any other assessment or do you remember anything else about what happened with Wanda that night?” “No, she was only there an hour. She was very difficult to assess because she was so obese. My charting is complete.” He thanked me for coming and I went home.

I never heard the outcome of the law suit. It was a good reminder to me to chart completely and accurately immediately as things occur, especially in a place like labor and delivery where things change dramatically in mere seconds.

Reflection

One of the huge problems in medical care in the USA is the cost which is driven up by exorbitant malpractice suits against medical professionals. When I took a nursing tour of China in 1986, I was amazed that each patient only had a single piece of paper on a clipboard hanging on the end of their bed. I looked with longing at that little clipboard, wondering what it would be like to only have to write a few characters on each patient each shift. The head nurse explained that since it is a communist nation, the people were not permitted to sue any doctor or nurse for malpractice. Each patient has their personal health notebook that they bring to the clinic or hospital and then take back home. Therefore, there are no departments for medical records or malpractice attorneys.

Minimal charting in China in 1986

Minimal charting in China in 1986

Much of the charting we do is to prove we are practicing nursing according to the standard of care and to cover ourselves if we are ever sued. My college nursing instructor drilled into us, “If it’s not charted, it’s not done.”

The following is an exerpt from “Make Your Nursing Care Malpractice Proof” – January 2012, Vol 7, No. 1 by Deanna L. Reising PhD, RN

Six categories of nursing malpractice claims have been identified:
•failure to follow standards of care
•failure to use equipment in a responsible manner
•failure to assess and monitor
•failure to communicate
•failure to document
•failure to act as a patient advocate or follow the chain of command.

As I thought about the situation with Wanda, thankfully I did not commit any of those “failures.” Babies simply have a mind of their own, and they don’t read a book about how or when to be born. Expect the unexpected in obstetrics.

Surprise in Labor and Delivery! Part 1

March, 1982- 11 p.m.-Labor & Delivery

Mary Lou, our assistant nurse manager, wrote our assignments for the night shift on the large white board at the nursing station after we listened to report from the evening shift. We only had 5 women in labor so far, so she gave me Helen in the birthing room and the first admission.  Helen had 2 children at home, was 28 years old, and was dilated 5 cm (halfway). She was at 37 weeks gestation, which was technically 3 weeks early, but typically the baby would have mature lungs and be over 5 pounds in weight.

I walked into the birthing room and introduced myself to Helen and her husband, Mike. Helen was a pretty blond lady with large blue eyes. Her dark haired handsome husband seemed quite attentive to her. She looked exhausted from labor and being pregnant. As a contraction began, she began to do her Lamaze breathing as Mike held her hand. I placed my hand on her swollen abdomen to feel the strength of the contraction.

After it let up, I asked, “Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?” Helen replied, “No, Dr. J. doesn’t believe in doing ultrasounds if the pregnancy is normal. We already have a boy and a girl at home, so we’re ready for either.” I checked her blood pressure which was normal,  and then did an internal exam. The amniotic sac of water around the baby had not broken yet, so we were not yet monitoring the baby’s heart beat internally. She was further along now.

I looked at the external monitor strip which recorded a normal heart rate and variation at an average of 130 beat per minute. I wrote my assessment and initials on the monitor strip, and said to Helen and Mike, “I’m going to call Dr. J at home and tell him to come in. You will probably deliver in the next hour.” Helen groaned and began her breathing as another contraction started. I left the room, wrote my new assessment on the white board, and called Dr. J. and then assessed another patient in labor whose nurse was in the delivery room.

When I returned to Helen’s room, I found Dr. J with her. He was in his scrubs, and said he just broke her water. Since she was fully dilated, he told her to start pushing. As this was her third baby, she would probably deliver quickly. I pressed the call light and asked the tech, Theresa, to come in and assist. I removed the bottom of the birthing bed, put Helen’s heels in the stirrups, raised the head of the bed, and gave her the steel handles on each side of the bed to grip. Theresa wheeled the sterile table out of the closet and uncovered the instruments so they were all ready for Dr. J.

Helen gave 3 pushes, and the baby’s head crowned, covered with blond hair. Dr. J told her to push gently, and a perfectly formed baby girl slipped into his hands. He suctioned out her mouth, she grimaced, and let out a nice cry. The beautiful sound of that first cry never ceased to amaze me! I pulled the Apgar cord and wrote down the birth time: 11:50 p.m. Her one minute apgar was excellent at 8/10 as Dr. J. placed her in the warmer. She appeared to weigh about 5 pounds, which is slightly small for 37 weeks. I congratulated Helen and Mike on their new baby girl and rubbed her dry with the warmed blanket and put a cap on her head to help her retain her body heat.

As Dr. J massaged Helen’s abdomen to deliver the placenta, he said, “You have another baby in here, Helen. You’re having twins!” Helen immediately began to cry and said, “Oh no, how will we ever pay for another baby?” Mike turned pale. My heart quickened as twins are always a high risk delivery, especially surprise twins. I had never delivered twins in the birthing room before, but it was too late now to move her to the delivery room. I pressed the call light and told the tech at the desk what was happening and asked her to get the resident in here and the Neonatal ICU nurse stat! The room quickly filled with extra staff so we barely had room to turn around.

Thankfully, the second baby was also head down and came out equally as easily 5 minutes later. She was also a girl! Dr. J placed her next to her sister in the warmer and we quickly dried her off. She also had excellent Apgar scores and appeared to weigh around 5 pounds. We handed one girl to Helen and the other to Mike to hold, and they both seemed to relax a little as they began to get over their shock of having not one, but TWO new babies!

Surprise twin girls!

Surprise twin girls!

I silently prayed that Helen and Mike would realize that God could give them His love, strength, and finances in Christ Jesus if they would only trust Him. I thought of many childless Christian couples who would absolutely love to raise those beautiful twin girls in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Children are so precious to God because He creates all of us.

Lo, children are an heritage from the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the man who s his quiver full of them… Psalm 127:3, 5

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, and he that begets a wise child shall have joy of him. Your father and your mother shall be glad, and she that bore you shall rejoice. Proverbs 23:24-25

After I woke up the next afternoon, I was glad it was my day off, giving me some extra time to think and pray. I continued to pray for the new twins to be healthy and receive Christ as Savior at a young age. Sometimes it’s difficult to be content and be single since most of my friends are married and having children. I wonder if God will ever give me a husband and children? I know His will for me today is to simply fix my eyes on Him and be content. I opened my Bible and read,

Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content. Philippians 4:11

It always encourages me to read this and think of the great Apostle Paul who God used to write these words. Apparently he was  a widower during the last part of his life and had to learn contentment also. I decided to get out my cassette tape on “Social Relationships” by Dr Stephen Olford to review Biblical principles of companionship, comradeship, courtship, and singleness. I always feel better after listening to it. Especially when he says, “You dear young people, if God wants you to marry, He will NEVER allow you to miss meeting your life partner!”

Dear Lord, Help me to rest in You in sweet contentment and just live one day at a time. Thank you that I am single today and that Your ways are so much higher than my ways and that You make no mistake. Amen.

Reflection

I was thrilled to find Dr. Olford’s message at the following link:

http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=426&min=20&orderby=titleA

I think every single person and parent would greatly benefit and be encouraged by this message. The Lord has allowed me to continue to be single. I no longer fear being single as I did when I was younger, because God has been so kind and gracious to me over the years and has provided for my every need. I praise Him for His precious gift of contentment.

Some years ago, God guided me to the wonderful verse in Isaiah 54:1

Sing. O barren, you who did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says the Lord.

After I read this verse, the Lord showed me that there was no limit to the number of spiritual children I could have. How wonderful!

Next week I will continue with the next surprise of that very busy night in Labor and Delivery.

 

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!

Reflection

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. http://www.acacamps.org/media-center/how-to-choose/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

Reflection

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: http://www.mwtb.org

Print My Tract: http://www.printmytract.com

Good News Publishers: http://www.crossway.org

Gospels of John in several languages can be found at the Pocket Testament League at http://www.ptl.org

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