Home Care in the Cemetery

Fall Quarter, 1976 – Senior in College of Nursing

I had a really wonderful quarter of working in Public Health with the County Board of Nursing. I was assigned to a family of 10 Laotian refugees and a pregnant lady who needed prenatal care. The first visits were with my RN preceptor, and then I visited them weekly by myself the rest of the quarter.  The Laotian family had 3 generations who had escaped from the communist takeover in Laos and were sponsored by the Catholic Church. They were placed in the empty caretaker’s house at the rear of the large Catholic cemetery outside the city in the country.

Laotian Refugees coming off the boat in the 1970's

Laotian Refugees coming to the USA in the 1970’s

I had to visit them at night after the father came home from work since he was the only one who could speak some English. I have to admit, it was a little spooky to drive through the huge dark cemetery to their house which stood isolated in the woods. When I entered, they were all gathered around a large dinner table eating rice and vegetables. They appeared tired and looked at me suspiciously. I examined each one of them and took each one’s history using the father as interpreter. They all had parasites and were quite malnourished when they first arrived in the USA. The grandfather was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was being treated for it. At each visit, as they became more comfortable with me and their health improved, they became more relaxed and looked happier. I was never able to find out too much about their story due to the language barrier. I wish I could have shared the gospel with them, but none of them could read English.

Home care in the Cemetery at Night

Home care in the Cemetery
(photo by R. Spearrin-used with permission)

The Lord has laid a burden on my heart to minister to German speaking people in some way after I graduate. I asked the Army Nurse recruiter to come to my dorm room to explain what it was like to be an Army nurse as a way to go to Germany. But she said there were no guarantees as to where I would be stationed. If I was sent to Germany, I would have to live on base with the other nurses, and work rotating shifts in the base hospital. A Christian friend who is in the Air Force and stationed in Germany wrote a long letter to me discouraging me from joining the Army. So after praying about it, I decided not to join.

Then I heard about a scholarship to Germany where the University chooses one student a year to study abroad. I applied, but did not get an interview, so another door was closed. I’m learning to wait on the Lord! I was encouraged by Isaiah 30:18 – And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed (happy) are all they that WAIT for Him. 

Dear Lord, Help me to wait patiently upon You as to where You will have me to work when I graduate. I trust in You to provide a job and guide me to a place where I can be used by You. Amen.

I also took a German history course which was interesting and helped me to understand the culture better. For my third course, I decided to audit German Scientific Writings which was a good grammar review for me. Mr. G, the professor, was a hardened proud older man who made many sarcastic remarks about being “born again”. One morning I awoke at 5 a.m. thinking about him and knew I would not have any peace until I went and spoke with him about his soul. So after much prayer and reading in II Chronicles 20:15  that “the battle is not yours, but God’s, ” I went forth in fear and trembling to his office. I shared the gospel with him, and he then proceeded to rip apart the Bible and Jesus Christ verbally for the next 30 minutes. He gave me no opportunity to say anything else, but I had great peace when I left his office knowing that I had obeyed God. I leave the results with God who convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Remembering how much the Apostle Paul hated Jesus Christ before he received him on the Damascus road encourages me. (see Acts 9)

It is rather a strange feeling to think that I only have one quarter remaining before I graduate and this part of my life will be closed forever.  Quite truthfully, I am not exactly looking forward to a 40 hour work week grind, but I know God will always provide for me and strengthen me.

Reflection – 2014

Home care was one of my favorite quarters in college. Twice in my career I have worked as a home care nurse which I will tell about later in my blog. I enjoyed the autonomy of home care nursing and getting to know the patient within the context of their family. The most difficult part was driving in all kinds of weather, dealing with safety,  traffic, and road rage.

After not speaking German for many years, I met a delightful German couple at church recently. The wife is also a nurse about my age and learning English. So we are getting together so I can help her with her English, and she can help me with my German! I went to http://www.Duolingo.com to brush up on my German, and I am delighted that I am able to recall it fairly quickly.

By the way, Duolingo is a wonderful free web site to learn a new language. I have been working on my Spanish there for several months, so now I am trying to work on both at the same time. I hope I don’t become too confused! But they say learning a foreign language is good to prevent memory loss, so I am going to keep working at it. Plus, I really enjoy it. Auf wiedersehen! Hasta luego!

Come Aside and Rest A While

Summer – 1976 – Midwest USA

I started out the summer working as a Nursing Assistant at Children’s Hospital where I had my clinicals last summer. They floated me one day to the burn unit and the nurse asked me to watch her do the dressings on a 2 year old so I could do them the next time with her watching. As a senior nursing student, they allowed me to do some procedures under close supervision. The little boy stood in his crib as she began to unwind his dressings. As the burned skin was exposed, his blood ran down his legs and arms and he began to scream. I felt myself begin to black out and turned and sank into a nearby chair and put my head on my knees. After the blackness cleared, I stood up and went out into the hallway. The nurse finished the dressings and came out into the hallway to speak with me. I said, “I’m so sorry, but I thought I was going to faint. I have never witnessed anything like that before.” She said she understood and told the supervisor not to assign me to the burn unit again. They sent me back to the orthopedic unit where I was last summer. I guess I deal better with the kids in traction than the burned ones.

After 4 weeks of arising at 5 a.m. in order to catch the 6:30 a.m. bus to work, the dizziness, nausea, and weariness was almost unbearable. I could not smile at anyone and my soul was crying in agony to God. I felt like Elijah under the juniper tree crying out to God to take him home. (I Kings 19:4-7) My Pastor was very concerned about me and asked me to take a walk with him before church Sunday night. “Pam, I think you are so rigid right now and have planned everything so much that God can’t work. Let go, and let God do whatever He wants! For one week, don’t plan anything. Take every day as it comes and do everything the opposite you usually do. Go out to a restaurant and eat a meal, listen to the birds, take long walks in the woods. Don’t study your Bible for one week except to read a few verses in the morning.  It will make you a better Bible student in the long run.”

His words were quite a shock to me, but I was willing to try anything since I had lost all joy in the Lord. The next weekend, I drove up to see Jane for one night and we went hiking at the state park. I had to stop every 30 feet to rest a little. When I awoke on Monday, I was still so dizzy and exhausted that I called in sick. After praying about it the rest of the day, I decided I needed to resign and return to my parents’ home to rest the remainder of the summer. I called the head nurse and told her the situation, and she said she understood. After 7 quarters straight of school, with the last one in psychiatry and the demanding classes, my body was beyond exhausted.

My parents were very concerned about me also and were extremely kind to me. After 2 weeks of total rest, I began to feel like myself again and could smile and laugh! I just finished reading a little book by M. R. DeHaan MD called Broken Things. He said, “The Lord only breaks those whom He is going to make.” “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” I understand better now that I don’t need to strive and push doors open, but just relax and let the Lord open or close the doors. His tenderness in giving me 2 months just to meditate and enjoy Him brings tears to my eyes.

My Dad kindly drove our travel trailer to the state park a couple hours away and set it up so my Mom and I could stay for the week while he returned to work. God has given my Mom and me very precious times together. I so enjoy walking through the woods listening to the rustling leaves, watching the butterflies and dragonflies fly from flower to flower. At night, the chirping crickets lull me to sleep, and the singing birds awaken me every morning. How I thank God for these precious blessings and restoring my health!

Camping at the State Park was so relaxing!

Camping at the State Park was so relaxing!

Reflection – 2014

Since 1976, I have had several other times in my life of total exhaustion when I have simply burned the candle at both ends and pushed my body too far.  As I read the passage in I Kings again about Elijah, he had just run for his life 93 miles to flee wicked Queen Jezebel who was trying to kill him! No wonder he was exhausted. After he said to God, “It is enough! Now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he ate and then slept some more and ate some more. He was able to go 40 days and nights after that. Now I realize I am certainly not Elijah, but the cure was the same for me. Sleep and eat, sleep and eat.

The disciples were deeply grieving after burying their beloved friend, John the Baptist, who was beheaded by wicked King Herod. I love the passage in Mark 6:30-31which says And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said unto them, Come aside into a desert place, and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” It’s so wonderful that our dear Savior sees when we need to rest and provides it for us!

trillium

3 petaled trillium wild flower reminds me of the Trinity!

If you would like to comment, have a question for me, or a prayer request, please feel free to contact me at Pamela.aprn@gmail.com  Have a blessed week of looking unto Jesus!

A restful walk in the woods.

A restful walk in the woods.

Behind Locked Doors

Senior Student Nurse in Psychiatry – June 1976

I drove through heavy iron gates and parked my car at the large state mental hospital campus on the edge of the city. After I studied the campus map my professor had given me, I walked toward the locked mens ward where I was assigned for the quarter. As I walked, I silently prayed, “Dear Lord, Please protect me and put your hedge around me. Give me wisdom in every situation, and let your love shine through me to these men.” I looked at the old red brick building apprehensively and pressed the buzzer on the intercom beside the door. “Yes?” answered a woman. “I’m a student nurse reporting for duty from the University.” As the door buzzed, I pushed it open and entered.

My professor told me I would lead therapeutic groups with 6 men who had been institutionalized here many years. Some had a history of violent crimes, such as rape and murder. Upon entering the locked nurse’s station, I began to read each of their thick charts and took notes. I observed the long line of somber looking men as they lined up at the nurse’s window and were handed their medications with a glass of water. After each man swallowed his pills, he opened his mouth so the nurse could inspect to make sure he wasn’t pocketing any pills to hoard them for an overdose.

After the medication time was finished, I walked into the large dreary day room. It was painted a sickly pale green and had single bare light bulbs hanging from the 12 foot high ceilings. There were iron bars over all the windows. The men were dressed in shabby pants, shirts, and shoes and wandered aimlessly around the room or sat at the table staring into space. There was a hot wire running around the perimeter of the room where they lit their cigarettes. Some of them spit on the floor. One man took off his clothes, seemingly unaware that there was anyone else in the room, and wandered around naked. The stench in the smoke filled room was nauseating.

I asked the staff person to point out the 6 men I would have in my small group.  I approached each of them and pointed to the small room where we would meet. We all sat in a circle and I introduced myself and asked each of them to tell the group his name. I then asked an assigned question and waited for each of them to answer. I was trying to learn the skill of “therapeutic silence” and wait for the person to answer. I waited and waited and waited, but some of them never answered! The whole group was rather pointless in my opinion.

I dreaded my clinical days and began to lose weight. I saw the depths of the depravity of man as never before and continually thanked God for saving my soul. I concluded that reformation does not work, because it does not deal with a person’s sin nature. The only solution is regeneration, a new birth spiritually, as Christ said, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:7 I am so thankful for God’s promise to all who receive Him as their 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  But I am grateful I had this quarter, because it taught me more about the importance of communication, and how to talk with people about sensitive topics.

I also took Personal Finances (3 hours) and Audio-Visual Teaching Techniques (4 hours). I had the joy of attending the graduation ceremony of Jane, my dear roommate, and her brother, Allen, in the University football stadium. I will miss our sweet times of fellowship, but I know God will lead Jane to the right teaching job. Her brother, Allen, who also attended the Bible class on campus, asked my sister, Linda, for a courtship, so that was exciting! I pray they will honor the Lord and seek Him first in all things.

Reflection, 2014

As I reviewed my classes in the college of nursing, psychiatry was definitely the most difficult course for me emotionally and as a believer in Jesus Christ. Amazingly, after I became a Nurse Practitioner, my first job was at a 120 bed psychiatric hospital, age 5 through adult. I was responsible for the admission History and Physical examinations, and diagnosing and treating their medical problems. I also managed the patients who went through alcohol and heroin/opiate detoxification.

The medications that are available today to treat mental illness are much more effective than the few that we had in 1976. I believe some types of mental illness are from chemical imbalances, genetics, poor diet, and side effects of other medications. Other types of mental problems are a direct result of sin that only salvation by Christ Jesus can solve. Still others are from demon possession. As I read about the demon possessed man in Mark 5, it says that no man could bind him with chains, and he lived in the mountains and tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. Oh, the agony of that man! But after Jesus cast out the demons, the people came and saw him “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.” Mark 5:15 What wonder and joy that each of us can now have the mind of Christ!

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

I worked at the psychiatric hospital for 4 years until it closed. I stopped by today to take a photo of the campus and there were large “NO TRESPASSING!” signs everywhere. The owner approached me angrily and asked why I was taking a photo? I said I used to work there, and it was for my memory book. He asked which doctor I worked with, and after I told him, he grudgingly said, “OK”. So I still don’t have very good memories of psychiatric hospitals…. Here is my one photo he permitted. This is the administration building behind all the trees.

Psychiatric Hospital where I worked as a Nurse Practitioner 1998-2002

Psychiatric Hospital where I worked as a Nurse Practitioner 1998-2002

If you would like to comment, have a question for me, or a prayer request, please feel free to contact me at Pamela.aprn@gmail.com  Have a blessed week of looking unto Jesus!

Labor and Delivery Student Nurse

Junior in College of Nursing – Winter Quarter, 1976

Another quarter has passed with its joys and trials and my junior year is completed! Only three quarters to go before I graduate in March 1977. It’s hard to believe I have completed three years of college.The Lord kept emphasizing to my heart again and again that His grace is sufficient and that He wants me to enjoy Him and glorify Him forever.

My nursing courses were excellent this quarter! I studied Reproduction the first half of the quarter and had my clinical days in labor and delivery and post postpartum. Since I only had an 8 hour shift two days in a row, I never was able to see a woman in labor from admission until the birth. I was so excited when I finally was able to see a baby born during my clinical hours! What a miracle how God brings us into this world! I also sadly witnessed a therapeutic abortion to save the mother’s life. She was 16 weeks along, but her blood pressure was so high that they were afraid she would die from seizures or a stroke, so they did a caesarian section to take the baby.

During the second half of the quarter, my clinical days were in Nutrition and Elimination, so I cared for patients after their gastrointestinal surgeries, urology surgeries, and those who had absorption problems requiring tube feedings. My other two classes were Microbiology and the Modern History of the Nation of Israel. It was fascinating to study how modern day Israel was formed in 1948 and how God has been bringing the Jewish people back to Israel from all corners of the world just as God prophesied! “That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations where the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.” Deuteronomy 30:3  I wonder if I will ever visit Israel before I am there in my glorified body during the Kingdom Age?

My greatest joy is simply the Lord. It is so wonderful to be truly satisfied with Him and to be learning more about Him every day. The joy that surges through my heart as I study the Word and meditate upon Christ is indescribable! My greatest trial was when I had a virus the last two weeks of the quarter, and I was too weak to do anything but simply lean hard upon Christ. But it was a privilege to see my nothingness and Christ’s all sufficiency. II Corinthians 12:9-10 became very precious to me: And He said unto me (Paul), My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Reflection – 2014

Little did I know in 1975, that the Lord would open the door in 1981 for me to work full-time on night shift on a very busy ten bed labor unit that had 4000 births annually. I witnessed about 2000 births during my two years there, and it never ceased to amaze me the wonder of how God brings babies into the world and that the great majority are healthy. When I studied to become a nurse practitioner, I took a graduate course in Dominican Republic in 1994 and was able to deliver a baby on my own since the nurses do all the normal deliveries.

Pam holds baby boy she delivered in Dominican Republic as his Mom looks on.

Pam holds baby boy she delivered in Dominican Republic as his exhausted Mom gazes at him. 1994

God also gave me the great privilege of taking a Bible tour of Israel last year for ten days. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and helped me “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” as it says in Psalm 122:6. In preparing for the trip, I read many books on the modern day history of Israel. I highly recommend Zvi by Elwood McQuaid, which is the true story of a ten year old Jewish boy who survived the holocaust and found his way to Israel and faith in the Messiah. He was one of the freedom fighters in 1948 and the other wars that followed. (available as e-book or from http://www.foi.org) Our tour group had the joy of meeting one of his sons who is involved in a Bible ministry in Israel. Pray for Zvi and his wife to be comforted and encouraged who are now elderly with poor health. Shalom.

Zvi, the true story of a holocaust survivor.

Zvi, a true story of a holocaust survivor.

“Real” Nursing Begins!

Junior in College of Nursing – Fall Quarter, 1975

What I thought would be my most difficult quarter academically with 18 hours of class, turned out to be one of my most enjoyable quarters. All my teachers were outstanding, and I especially enjoyed Nutrition and Pharmacology (learning about all the medications). I had clinical in the University hospital for the first time which was conveniently one block from my dormitory. I walked over the night before to the pulmonary unit and read the charts of my two assigned patients. Then I went to the library and wrote a care plan for each of them. At 7 a.m. the next morning after I listened to report from the night shift nurse and made minor adjustments, I handed my care plans to my instructor. The patients were very ill and receiving oxygen, breathing treatments, chest tubes, suctioning, and some were on ventilators.

My other nursing course was about skin, the largest organ in our bodies! I learned how to assess all types of wounds, do sterile dressing changes, and the best types of treatment for numerous skin conditions. The second half of the quarter, my clinical assignment was changed to a surgical unit. My patients had just had general surgery such as gall bladder removal, appendix removal, or surgery for cancer. I am actually starting to feel like a real nurse!

Surprisingly, my greatest trial was my violin lessons. It seemed like all my teacher did was yell at me during the lessons. He is the first chair violinist in the symphony, and a graduate student who has been my teacher since my freshman year. He is so temperamental that I was usually in tears of anticipation the night before my lesson, and again the hour after. I decided not to take violin lessons next quarter and feel such great relief! I don’t know if the Lord wants me to stop lessons permanently, or just for a short time, so I commit it to Him. I was so encouraged when I read Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”The margin of my Bible says commit means to “roll thy way upon the Lord”. It is so wonderful to give all my burdens to Him to carry!

I also continue to be richly blessed in the home Bible study program. I finished reading The Greatness of the Kingdom by Alva J. McClain, and was fascinated to learn what the 1000 year reign of Christ will be like! I also enjoyed the Gospel of John by G. Campbell Morgan and reading through the book of Jeremiah. After completing the biography of J. Hudson Taylor who founded the China Inland Mission in 1865, God has led me to pray for the people of China. When the communists took over in 1949, they forced all the missionaries to leave. I wonder how the believers are doing now 26 years later behind the bamboo curtain? I pray they will be strong in the Lord in the midst of persecution.Hudson Taylor

Here are some wonderful quotes from God’s Man in China by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor (Moody Press, 1965)

Move man through God by prayer alone. p. 29

If we are obeying the Lord, the responsibility rests with Him, not us! p. 163

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies. p. 171

But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One. p. 213

To substitute medicine for the preaching of the Gospel would be a profound mistake. If it is the means of bringing Christ and the soul into contact, then we are truly thankful for them all. Let us exalt the glorious Gospel in our hearts, and believe that it is the power of God unto salvation. p. 283 (He was a trained MD who used free clinics in the early years to reach the Chinese people.)

Reflection – 2014

As I reread my journal about my violin lessons, I was amazed that I was in tears over them! In my younger days, I was quite super sensitive to constructive criticism. Thankfully, God has helped me develop a little tougher skin over the years. I took some more lessons a few years ago and continue to enjoy playing hymns of worship to my dear Savior. Perhaps God will have me play some wonderful stringed instrument perfectly for Him in heaven through eternity!

God continued to give me a burden for the Chinese people and opened the door for me to visit China twice since I first read Hudson Taylor’s biography. In 1986, I took a nursing tour of China and visited several hospitals. One of our Nanjing nurse guides later moved to the USA,  and we have had the joy of meeting each other twice more over the years. After the 1986 trip, I asked the Lord if I should teach English or Nursing in China, but He did not give me peace, so I remained at my hospital job in the Midwest.

Chinese child with doll - 1986

Chinese child with doll – 1986

baby w scalp IV

Baby with scalp IV – 1986

Man receives acupuncture in the base of his scalp - 1986

Man receives acupuncture – 1986

3 boys play

Three boys play! 1986

Pam sits on a camel at the Great Wall! 1986

Pam sits on a camel at the Great Wall! 1986

Sweet Marie- who was born with a serious heart defect. 2004

Sweet Marie- who was born with a serious heart defect. The Lord took her to heaven several months later.

In 2004, I returned to China for a couple weeks to give respite to the caregivers of some orphans. I was blessed in worshiping with a house church during that time. After China was closed to the West for decades, we discovered that the believers were faithful unto death and millions received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior through their testimony. Praise God that no one can stop His Word from going forth!

“What shall separate us from the love of  Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:35-37