Trapped on the Stretcher!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

“Class, after you finish making an occupied bed, put the side-rails up, put the bed in the low position, be  sure the patient is comfortable and all desired items are within reach including the call bell. Answer call lights quickly so that patients learn to trust you and do not feel the need to get up without help. Tell your patient when you will next check in and be prompt, ” instructed Professor Z. during our Nursing Fundamentals Skills Lab.

Patient's Call Button

Patient’s Call Bell

February, 2008 – Emergency Room Patient – 2 a.m.

I lay on the stretcher at with my head throbbing from the gash where I fainted at home alone the hour previously. I had a high fever and was heading for the kitchen when I fainted. I woke up on my dining room floor confused as to where I was and how I got there. God brought to my remembrance that my cell phone was in my pocket, so I called 911 because I was so weak I couldn’t even sit up. The paramedics came through the snow storm to my deck door which was locked. I managed to scoot over to the door and reach up and undo the lock. They kindly and gently applied a dressing to my bleeding head, loaded me on the stretcher and carried me out into the bitter cold and loaded me into the ambulance.

Trapped on the Stretcher!

Trapped on the Stretcher!

The ER nurse started an IV in my arm and started pouring the fluids into me because my blood pressure was so low. They did a nasal swab for flu which came back positive. The masked doctor walked in, introduced himself and said he would put staples in to close my scalp wound. I felt the prick of the lidocaine needle followed by stinging, and then my scalp became numb. I heard the “clunk, clunk, clunk…” 10 times as he put the staples in my scalp.  He said I would go have a CT scan of my head to see if I had any internal bleeding. The doctor and nurse walked out of the room and tightly closed the door since I was now in isolation to contain the flu virus.

After nearly a liter of IV fluids, I knew I would need the bedpan soon. I fumbled for my call light among the blankets. Where was it? I slowly turned my head and saw it lying on the shelf out of reach. I weakly called as loud as I could, “Nurse, Nurse!” I knew no one could hear me call through the tightly closed door. I prayed, “Dear Lord, Please send me someone soon to help me so I won’t have to wet the bed. You know how miserable I feel.” The minutes ticked by as my bladder became more uncomfortable. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes…..I couldn’t hold my urine any longer and wet the stretcher as my tears wet my pillow.

The door opened about 10 minutes later and I told the nurse what had happened. She looked at me with embarrassment at having forgotten to give me my call light, and apologized. She said they had a patient who had a cardiac arrest that they were caring for. I told her I understood. The tech came in and together they cleaned me up and changed the sheets and my gown as I rolled side to side on the narrow stretcher. They sent me for the CT scan which showed I did not have any internal bleeding, so they admitted me for next 4 days. They started me on Tamiflu medicine immediately which would shorten the course of the flu from 2 weeks to a few days. They diagnosed me with a concussion and discharged me home to recover.

Reflection – 2014

I have never forgotten how helpless, isolated, deserted, and forgotten I felt during those minutes on the stretcher when I didn’t have my call light. I was out of work for 3 months while I waited for my brain to heal from the concussion. When I was finally able to return to the nursing home where I worked as a Nurse Practitioner, I became acutely aware of triple checking to make sure my patients had their call light before I left their room!

Even though the nurse forgot about me that night for a time, I am thankful that God never forgets or leaves me or any of His dear children!

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

I was richly blessed this week in reading a selection from Miles J. Stanford’s None But the Hungry Heart.

“We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for out ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper much first be a sufferer. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:4   The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

Well, it is but a little while and He will appear to answer all enquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?”

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

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School of Nursing Begins!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

At last! I finally began studying in the School of Nursing with my 200 classmates. The lecture hall is huge where we had our nursing theory class (5 hours) and Growth & Development class (3 hours). My most difficult class by far was Physiology (5 hours). They split our class in half so one half started with 2 quarters of physiology and the other half started with 1 quarter of Anatomy. I wish I could have started with Anatomy. It’s difficult to figure out how our bodies work if I don’t even know where the body part is located that we are studying. I also continued with my violin lessons (1 hour) and started group Piano lessons (1 hour) for my electives. We went to the Nursing lab and started learning our skills such as how to take blood pressures, temperature, pulse, respirations, give bed baths, and make beds. Then we went to a nursing home for our clinical time and took care of our assigned two patients. It was like when I was a nursing assistant last summer, except it was daylight and the patients were awake!

School of Nursing!

School of Nursing!

This is a big football school. In fact they are ranked number 1 in the country! But since I don’t understand the game of football, I didn’t go to any games. Instead I went to the Health Sciences Library and read all my required readings that were on reserve. It’s difficult to access the articles in the evening when all the other students are reading them, because they only have a couple copies on reserve. This new library is right beside the University Hospital so all the medical disciplines use it. It is supposed to be one of the best Health libraries in the country. Because the books are so expensive, all the stacks are behind glass. When I check out a book, I give them my student ID, the employee enters the request in the computer, and then I wait while the huge mechanical arm gets it from the shelf and puts it on the conveyer belt. It’s really amazing to watch! I like visiting all the different libraries on campus to study. I think they have at least 10 different libraries which I have discovered so far.

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

It was a real blessing to continue to teach the women’s Bible class weekly in my dorm. This quarter we averaged 5 women attending who seemed so eager to hear God’s Word! The Lord also blessed me with a godly roommate who also attends the Bible class. We had such precious times of fellowship and prayer together. We also enjoyed sharing the gospel door to door with the other women in our dorm. Because my classes require so much more studying time than last year, I quit my job at the library and stopped teaching the children’s Bible clubs.

My Roommate in front of our Dormitory

My Roommate in front of our Dormitory

I have continued on with the home Bible study program and was so encouraged when I read the biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary lady to India. She rescued orphans from the Hindu temples and started a large orphanage for them where she and her coworkers taught them the Word of God as they raised  and educated them. I also read a biography about Isobel Kuhn, missionary with China Inland Mission to the Lisu people in western China. What godly examples both these ladies were to me! Isobel Kuhn taught a women’s Bible class in Canada before she went to China and challenged them with Hebrews 6:1 “…let us go on unto perfection (maturity)” which I passed on to my women’s class!

Reflection – 2014

About 10 years after I graduated, a friend kindly taught me how to understand and enjoy watching football so I am an avid fan of my alma mater now! I regret all those games I missed while studying in the library which I could have attended as a student for a few dollars. During my college years, they won the national championship and their star player received the Heisman trophy.

My brother and brother-in-law are also alumni, so about ten years ago we and their spouses attended a game with 100,000 other fans on a gorgeous fall day and had excellent seats. Our team won, so it was worth it to fly in for the game. I thank the Lord for the times He also gives us to laugh and relax! Here in New England, there are not many women who are avid football fans, so I sometimes become a little homesick during football season. But it’s just a game, after all:)

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

Throw That Carriage!

Autumn, 1968 – Ninth Grade

“Class, place your fingers on the keys under the paper towel and keep your eyes on the document holder on your left while you type. As soon as you hear the bell ring, that means the typewriter carriage is at the end of the line. Quickly place your left hand on the carriage lever and throw the carriage to the right as quickly as possible. Immediately place your left hand back on the keys by feel. Don’t look at your hands!” said my typing teacher.

So that is how I learned to type. At the end of the ninth grade, I had progressed to 60 words per minute during our daily timings. When I became a senior in high school, I took one semester of advanced typing for college and one semester of college bound shorthand. At the end of the typing semester, I had progressed to 100 words per minute.

Smith Corona Manual Typewriter like I used in College

Smith Corona Manual Typewriter like I used in College

I received some money for high school graduation and used $50 to buy a solid steel Smith-Corona manual typewriter in a steel carrying case. I think it weighed about 20 pounds! I used it all through college to type my papers since the college would not accept any handwritten papers. It was quite a chore to correct my mistakes before I handed in my paper to the professor. I usually chose eraseable paper and used an eraser pencil. Liquid white-out or white-out papers were other options. Then after I erased the mistake, it was a challenge to roll the paper around the cylinder and align the paper perfectly in the typewriter to type the correct letter. I also had to change the typewriter ribbon when it came to the end of the roll.

Summer, 1974

“…this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 

II Thessalonians 3:10

At the end of my freshman year of college, I asked my parents if I could remain on campus for the summer because I was enjoying attending the Bible class and the Bible church so much. They said I could remain if I could figure out a way to support myself to pay for rent and food. I went to my boss at the main library and asked if I could work full time during the summer, and she said “Yes!” I found a room at a rooming house a few blocks from campus for $50 per month where I shared a bathroom and kitchen with 6 other women. I rode my bicycle about one mile to the grocery store and loaded my food into my backpack to bring it home.

My job at the library was to type 3″ X 5″ cards of the title, author, and subject of new books and then file them in the huge card catalog alphabetically. It was the most boring job I ever had and the hours dragged. To make it more interesting, whenever I came across the name of a country in a title, I would start praying for the people of that country to receive Christ as their Savior and for the Christians there to be encouraged. The fellowship with the other believers that summer who also remained on campus was very uplifting and encouraging. I taught a Bible class weekly to Dee who was a new believer. The last week of the summer, Dee and I held a 5 day Bible club for the inner city children.

I earned $856.34 that summer, spent $547.34 and was able to save $309. I was thrilled to be able to support myself for the first time in my life with a little left over. Truly God always provides!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Main Library where I was a typist for the summer.

Main Library where I was a typist for the summer.

Reflection – 2014

My typing skills have continued to be very beneficial throughout my nursing career. From the manual typewriter, I progressed to an electric one. It was so much easier to strike the keys and no longer have to throw the carriage! Then I bought a word processor which allowed me to see four words at a time on a miniscule screen just before they were typed.

When I entered graduate school in 1994, I broke down and bought my first computer and took a course on how to use “Word” at an adult education class. I started asking people at church who are computer experts to explain things to me which I continue to this day! I thank the Lord for their kindness and patience with me….  I was able to type all my own papers in graduate school, including my thesis, rather than hire a typist as most grad students did. I must admit, it was quite a challenge last year to switch to Windows 8.

In my current government nursing job, I am required to type all my progress notes into the patient’s electronic medical record. In the private sector, I had dictation, but I’m afraid the government is way behind. I pity my colleagues who have to use the “hunt and peck” one finger method to type. They work many hours of unpaid overtime to complete their notes. I am so thankful that I took those two typing courses in high school, and I would advise any young person to learn to type as fast as possible!

I recently spoke with Dee on the phone. It was a blessing to hear how she and her husband are serving the Lord among the Navajo Native Americans during their retirement years. I praise God that she has faithfully walked with the Lord all these years since we had that little Bible class together the summer of 1974.

Sleeping in Statistics Class

College Freshman – May, 1974

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary…” Isaiah 40:29-30

“Pam, Can you please see me after class?” announced my statistics professor. I nervously approached Professor L. who had shared at the beginning of the quarter with the class that he was a Christian. (He was the only professor in my four years of college who claimed to be a Christian.) He said, “I noticed you have been falling asleep in class. Do you have a job where you work at night?”

Sleeping in Statistics Class

Sleeping in Statistics Class

stat class

I explained that I worked ten hours weekly at the main library. The statistics class was from 4-5 pm Monday-Friday when I was most weary. I had also just missed a week of class because I was sick with the flu. We reviewed my midterm grades of 96% (A) on the first one and 6% (F) on the second one. I had never failed a test before and was horrified when I saw the F! I had reviewed my classmate’s notes for the week I missed, but I guess I didn’t understand the material. He kindly said, “Pam, get a tutor to review the material before the final exam. If you do well on the final exam and remaining quizzes, I will drop your F on the midterm now that I understand your circumstances. I thanked him profusely for his consideration and advice.

In addition to working and taking classes, I was teaching the women’s Bible class weekly and children’s Bible Club every other week. It was no surprise that I became ill, because I was simply doing too much! I found someone else to teach the Bible clubs, found a tutor, and did my best on the statistics final exam. In June, I apprehensively opened my grades when they arrived in the mail.  B in statistics!!! Thank You, Lord, for your grace and strength! My courses this quarter were: statistics – 5 hours, chemistry- 5 hours, violin lessons – 1 hour, logic – 5 hours, tennis – 1 hour.

Reflection – 2014

So ended my freshman year of college. It still remains a constant balancing act between worshiping and serving the Lord, working, maintaining my home, and getting enough rest and relaxation. I ask the Lord daily to help me put Him first and do all things for His glory and honor while resting and delighting in Him. When people ask me to do something, I pray about it first and ask the Lord what He wants me to do. As nurses, we are used to always helping people and our automatic response is “yes”. But I have slowly learned over the years to say “No” if God does not give me peace about going forward.

Many times in my nursing career when I have been totally exhausted, I have cried out to God to strengthen me and ask Him to do my job through Me, while leaning hard on Him. A favorite poem of mine is “Lean Hard“.

Child of My love, Lean Hard, and let Me feel the pressure of thy care;

I know thy burden, child, I shaped it; Poised it in Mine own hand, made no proportion

In its weight to thine unaided strength. For even as I laid it on, I said,

I shall be near, and while he leans on Me, This burden shall be Mine, not his;

So shall I keep My child within the circling arms of My own love.

Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder

Which upholds the government of worlds.

Yet closer come; Thou are not near enough; I would embrace thy care

So I might feel My child reposing on My breast. Thou lovest Me? I knew it.

Doubt not then; but loving Me, Lean Hard.

(unknown author)

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.” Psalm 55:22

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7

Rest in the Lord

Overwhelmed in Chemistry Class

College Freshman – September, 1973

” When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 ” …and that Rock was Christ.” I Corinthians 10:4

I entered my nursing adviser’s office and sat down. “Mrs. M, I signed up for pre-med chemistry rather than pre-nursing chemistry this quarter because I liked chemistry in high school. But the professor covered everything I learned in high school in the first two lectures! I am totally lost in the lectures and feel like I’m in over my head. Do you have any suggestions?”

Chemistry Lab

Chemistry Lab
-photo by S. Rao-used with permission.

Mrs. M reviewed how I needed to get an A or B in pre-nursing chemistry to have any hope of being accepted into the school of nursing next fall. Last year, 800 freshman applied for the 200 openings, so it is very competitive. She advised me to drop pre-med chemistry and sign up for pre-nursing chemistry winter quarter instead which was taught at a slower pace. She said I could still register for sociology this quarter so I wouldn’t fall behind in my prerequisite courses.

December, 1973

I followed Mrs. M’s advice and had a fairly easy first quarter of 18 hours credit: Psychology – 5 hours, Sociology – 5 hours, Music History – 5 hours, Introduction to Nursing – 2 hours, and Horseback Riding – 1 hour. I really enjoyed all my classes and learned my way around the gigantic campus after a couple weeks. We had 12 minutes between classes, so I rode my bike sometimes so I wasn’t late. I loved to hear the melodic bells chime from the tower at noon as I crossed campus, especially when they played beautiful hymns!

I was richly blessed by attending the weekly campus Bible class and traveling one hour to the Bible Church  for worship services on Sundays with the other students. On Wednesday nights, we handed out gospel tracts outdoors in nice weather, or inside the dormitories during cold or rainy weather. I always asked the Lord for boldness, love, and wisdom in giving out His precious gospel. Sometimes the students were receptive, and other times they slammed the door in our faces or argued with us. It was quite the learning experience! Afterward we met together to share our experiences and pray for the people to receive Christ as their personal Savior.

I also started a Bible class for the girls in my dormitory. Only a few attended, but I was blessed in studying the gospel of John to prepare for it. How I thank God for bringing me here to this University, a huge mission field with students from every state and many countries around the world. This has been the most exciting time in my life!

Reflection – 2014

The Lord was very kind and gracious to give me an easy first quarter academically. It was quite the culture shock for this country girl to adjust to a big city of over one million people which surrounded the University of 50,000+ students. By God’s grace, I received an A the next quarter in chemistry and was accepted into the school of nursing!

I still use chemistry daily when I interpret my patients’ laboratory results, prescribe medications, and develop their plan of care. I understand now why the school of nursing emphasized the chemistry grade, because it indicated if a person had critical thinking skills which is essential for a nurse. When I contemplate all the delicate chemical balances within our human bodies, I praise God, the Chief Chemist, that He created us so marvelously!

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14