September 11, 2001

Psychiatric Hospital, Tuesday, September 11, 2001 – New England

I walked across the campus of the psychiatric hospital where I was working as a Nurse Practitioner to make morning rounds. It was my first day back from a week of vacation and I wondered if the workload would be extra heavy today. After visiting my family in the Midwest, I caught my connecting flight in Washington, DC and flew over New York City before landing in New England yesterday. Today was such a beautiful day with a sparkling clear blue sky. I admired the blooming flowers beside the walkway as I took my key to unlock the door to enter the secured unit. After completing several physical exams on the new patients who had been admitted overnight, I left the building and started walking toward the next building. I met Dr. A. on the sidewalk who was covering today for my boss. I always enjoyed working with Dr. A. since he loved to teach and share his latest research findings with me. He said, “Pam, the janitor just told me that a plane flew into the World Trade Center in New York City.” “Really? Are you sure?”, I replied. I learned to double check anything I heard at a psychiatric hospital since it was often unreliable information. Dr. A. said, “Let’s go turn on the TV in the health clinic since there are no patients there right now.” We quickly walked together to the clinic and turned on the TV. We could not believe our eyes as they showed the smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center. All of a sudden, the newscaster said, “Oh no! Another plane just hit the other tower!” We stared in disbelief and shock.

After about an hour, we knew we had to continue our rounds on the other units which we did together. Somehow, neither of us wanted to be alone in the midst of this uncertainty when no one understood what was happening. The hospital director had informed the staff to turn off all the TVs on the units so the patients wouldn’t be upset since a number of them were psychotic (out of reality) or going through alcohol or heroine withdrawal. The children and teens had all been through so much trauma in their short lives that they didn’t need any additional stress. Not even the adults understood what was happening. We were located two hours from New York City, so a number of the patients may have family members effected by the crisis. I could hardly believe that I had just flown through Washington DC and over New York City the day before.

As the day wore on, we heard that the Pentagon had been hit and another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. When would it end and who was doing this? There were so many questions and no clear answers in all the confusion. As soon as my work day ended, I drove home while I listened intently to the radio. Upon arriving at home, I turned on my television and watched the scenes unfold in shock and sadness. I prayed for all those involved and for the rescuers at the sites. All the planes had been grounded in and out of the entire country.

Friday, September 14, 2001

So much has happened this week. It is raining today and the mood on the hospital campus is as dreary as the weather. I decided to drive across the bridge to the next town to get some lunch to try and get away from the bleakness for a short time. I eagerly listened to the radio to see if they recovered any more survivors from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. I stopped at the red light and looked to the left before turning right on the bridge. There was no one coming, so I slowly started turning. I looked straight ahead, and all of a sudden there was a man and a woman standing in front of my bumper. I slammed on my brakes and then turned off my car. My heart was racing at the horror of having hit two pedestrians. I approached the couple and asked if they were hurt. The woman sat on the curb, glared at me, and started screaming at me, “WHY DID YOU HIT US??? DIDN’T YOU SEE US???” I quickly dialed 911 on my cell phone and the police and ambulance came within a few minutes. The police took down the information. The woman refused to go to the hospital, so the ambulance left. The policeman pulled me aside and said, “This couple hangs out on this corner often and hides behind the tree. Then they jump out in front of a car as it begins to turn so the driver will hit them. Then they collect insurance money.” My blood boiled to think that they had done this numerous times. I silently prayed and asked God to quiet my heart. After receiving my ticket, I returned to work and contacted my insurance company.

Reflection

The woman sued my insurance company about six months later for back pain. She was awarded an undisclosed amount of money out of court. But my encounter with them was nothing compared to what others suffered on September 11, 2001.

Nearly 3000 people died and 6000 were wounded that day. It seems hard to believe that it has been nearly 16 years since that tragic day. An entire generation has been born since then. I recently visited the Flight 93 Memorial in southern Pennsylvania where 40 brave crew and passengers attacked the terrorists and took down the plane in a grassy field to prevent it from flying into the Capital building in Washington, DC.

Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania

None of us knows how many days we have remaining here on earth. But God knows. How I thank God that He would have all men to be saved for eternity. Just like those 40 men and women gave their lives to spare others, Jesus Christ died in our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins so all those who receive Him as Savior will not perish.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

If you have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I pray you would receive Him now. How He wants to give you eternal life and have a personal relationship with you for all eternity!

 

 

The Psychiatric Hospital

December, 1998 – New England, USA

I have now completed my first six months as a Nurse Practitioner in a 120 bed psychiatric hospital. I thank God for my boss, Dr. T., who is a Family Practice Physician and an excellent teacher. The hospital has an adult unit for acute psychiatric problems, a second adult unit for detoxification of patients from alcohol and opioids (heroin and oxycontin mainly), a teen psychiatric unit, and a pediatric unit for ages 5-12. I thank the Lord that He closed the door four years ago to the Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP) program and redirected me to a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program. Otherwise,  I would not be qualified for this job since I need to treat the medical problems of the children and teens.

When patients are admitted here, Dr. T. or I must do their admission physical examination and record it in their chart within twelve hours. We have a full time MD who works all night and does the exams of patients who are admitted after we leave. I am becoming an expert at doing a neurological exam of the twelve cranial nerves. I am also improving in my examination of ears and eyes with the otoscope and opthalmoscope.

Image result for nurse using otoscope

I developed my skill in using an otoscope for ear, nose, and mouth exams.

In addition to being certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), I also had to be certified in handling violent patients without hurting them (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention). I learned how to break a strangle hold in case a patient tries to choke me. I never wear a necklace or scarf to work since a patient could use it to strangle me. If I feel uncomfortable about being alone with a patient in the exam room, I request one of the aides to be present with me for safety. I always keep myself between the patient and the door so I can escape the room if I feel threatened.

The hospital is under investigation from the state because a child died last year. The staff did a face down restraint when the child came violent, and he suffocated. Tragically, they were unable to revive the child. So the state investigators come every day and read each providers’ progress notes, including mine. How I ask God for wisdom in my job! It is sometimes difficult to work under such scrutiny.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

Dr. T. and I write the admission orders for the patients going through alcohol and opioid detoxification. The nurses use a scale to measure the patient’s withdrawal symptoms which guides them to administer the correct amount of medications to prevent the patient from having a seizure or dying.

It is so sad to see patients’ lives wrecked by alcohol and drugs. Only the person who receives Jesus Christ as his Savior can truly be delivered from these deadly addictions.  I pray for each of them to look unto Jesus Christ and be saved. How I thank God that He has put a song in my heart and prevented me from ever using alcohol or drugs by His grace. By following Him, He has spared me so much heartache and grief.

“And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19

Reflection

I thank the Lord for all I learned while working in psychiatry for those four years. It was sometimes difficult to see lives so broken. But my experience with psychiatric assessments was  extremely helpful in every other job I had the remainder of my nursing career. A person’s mental condition often strongly impacts his physical condition.