Knee Rehabilitation

November 16, 2004

I thank the Lord for the progress I’m making here in the rehabilitation center after my knee replacement on November 8. I now only need Percocet for the pain every three hours which my stomach can tolerate right after I eat a snack. It was great to sleep 7 hours last night! I did better in Physical Therapy (PT) today as they walked me on a straight cane rather than the walker, but I am still a little wobbly. The Occupational Therapist (OT) taught me how to put on my support hose with a sock aide so now I can shower and dress myself totally independently. They even had me marching and raising my knees high! I met the recreational therapist and enjoyed doing an oil painting which distracted me from the pain for awhile. She said my church choir could come here to sing for the residents any time they like. I so appreciate the visitors from church and their sweet encouragement to me. I never realized before how much visitors help.

The oil painting I enjoyed doing in rehab which helped distract me from my knee pain.

November 21, 2004 – Sunday

I’m awake for now so I want to record snap shots from the past few days. I am now able to go 5-6 hours between percocet pills for the pain. At my request, they added magnesium and calcium to my medications. An hour after I took them, the deep burning pain went away and I could walk much more easily! I missed church so much this morning, so I turned on the TV and watched a couple church services. My nursing assistant, Angela, walked in and said she enjoyed hearing these men preach and that she had received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.

I asked her if she knew of any other patient who would like to sing, pray, and read the Bible with me? She said she would think about it. Thirty minutes later she brought Teresa to my room and the three of us had such a precious time together. We sang “How Great Thou Art”, “Rejoice in the Lord” and then I read Romans 5 from the Bible. Teresa had some questions about eternal security, so I tried to help her with that. Then we sang “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and “It Is Well With My Soul” and Angela closed us in prayer. Teresa has cancer and will meet with her doctor and family tomorrow. She asked me to come to her room tomorrow and sing hymns again with her.

November 24, 2004 – Thanksgiving Eve

Home sweet home!! Mary brought me home yesterday afternoon. We enjoyed the most wonderful dinner together that she brought me. I slept fairly well last night, but it’s a little tough to get out of bed. Today PT comes. A friend will take me to the Thanksgiving service at church tonight and another friend has invited me to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year! Two other families invited me for Thanksgiving dinner, so I asked them to bring their left overs on Friday and Saturday nights so I have three Thanksgiving dinners in a row and fellowship with my friends. Dear Lord, You are so wonderful. Thank You so much for saving my soul, for Your loving kindness, and for all the help from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

December 8, 2004

I had a good post operative visit with Dr. R. He was pleased with my progress of being able to bend my knee to 100 degrees now, do straight leg raises, and climb steps with 50% of my weight on the hand rails.  He said I could go to aqua therapy since my incision is well healed. I can also drive again even though I’m still taking Percocet for the pain.  He wants me to take the entire 12 weeks off from work so I heal well. If I go back earlier, I’ll be stiff, sore and swollen and may have a setback. My home PT showed me how to do all the water exercises at the local indoor pool, so that will save me money. I only pay $33 per month at the pool compared to $20 each PT session three times a week.

When I got in the warm whirlpool, it felt so delightful that I almost cried tears of joy. I am exactly one month out today from my surgery. We had an ice storm yesterday, so I had to cancel my endocrinology appointment. I don’t dare walk on the ice or snow yet because I certainly don’t want to slip and fall.

December 18, 2004

It has been a rough week. I’m having so much pain at night that I can’t sleep. I decided to go to outpatient PT to see if she can help me with the pain. Kimberly, PT evaluated me and said I still have swelling, I’m doing too many exercises, and I need to rest more. She instructed me to only do 2 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise just once daily in the pool or on land. She reminded me that a knee replacement is extremely painful and takes time to heal. I’m thankful that tomorrow I complete my twice daily Lovenox shots in my abdomen to prevent blood clots. My stomach is all bruised and tender from the shots. Dr. S. mailed me two fun books for Christmas. It was so kind of him to remember me.

Reflection

And so ended 2004. It was a year of stretching with two surgeries, an international trip to China, and adrenal collapse. But through it all, I could see how much God stretched me and caused me to know Him better through these trials. Truly He filters everything through His loving hands for His glory and our good.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing this, that the testing of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect  (mature) and entire, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

 

 

Advertisements

Total Knee Replacement

October 9, 2004

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 “What man is he that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” Psalm 26:12

If the Lord tarries, my total knee replacement surgery will be on Monday, November 8. I visited three rehabilitation (rehab) facilities and chose the nicest one with a private room and private bath. I have to pay $20 extra per day for a private room, but it is worth it since I am such a light sleeper. I don’t want to end up with a roommate who screams all night. This facility specializes in joint rehab and has an excellent reputation. My sister, Marsha, is flying here on November 6 and will be with me through the 15th. I am so thankful she can be with me during this time. My dad offered to give me money every month while I am out of work, so I thank God for my dad’s help also.

I thank God for all the valuable lessons He will teach me in this school of knee surgery that He has chosen for me. Here are the classes: Surgery 101, Inpatient Rehab 102, Home Rehab 103, Outpatient Rehab 104, Out of Work 3 months 105. I know He will throw in some surprise classes and pop quizzes. God encouraged me today with 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. God will not test me above what I can bear. Thank You, dear Lord, that You have it all perfectly planned out.

October 16, 2004

I went to an interesting class at the hospital to prepare me for surgery. They gave me a folder and had me watch a video by a TV actor who had both his knees replaced at the same time. He is now able to ride a horse, so maybe I can cross country ski a little next winter. Dr. S. told me not to give away my skis!

Yesterday I attended a conference for orthopedic nurses and many of the hospital nurses who will be taking care of me also attended. I learned much, but I’m not sure if it was good for me to hear about all the possible complications of knee replacement surgery. I am so thankful my two nurse friends from church will both be working the week of my surgery. It’s always nice to see familiar faces at the hospital.

October 30, 2004

I tried to donate blood to store for myself, but my veins collapsed. Two friends at church who have my blood type volunteered to donate on my behalf, so that was very generous of them. The Nurse Practitioner who was my first preceptor in graduate school now works for my primary care doctor, and she gave me my preoperative physical. It was great to see her again! I only have six days of work left. I am so ready to move onward and forward and have this surgery behind me.

November 4, 2004

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1

I read this verse before I attended our monthly practice meeting yesterday at the hospital. Dr. E., my main boss, asked to meet with me privately after the meeting. He told me they were granting me the medical leave of absence for a maximum of 16 weeks even though they aren’t required to legally because they are such a small practice group. The hospital lost $2.5 million last year and has had to lay off a number of employees. He said he might need to decrease my hours when I return. He wants me to make rounds on all the hospital units to increase the visibility of the rehab unit and to promote the rehab unit as enthusiastically as possible. He said the workload will be difficult for Dr. S. while I am off. They are not paying me any salary while I’m off work, so at least they are saving money that way.

Many changes lie ahead at work in the next three months, but I refuse to worry about it because God isn’t worried! I praise Him for the wonderful peace He is giving me going into surgery.

November 15, 2004 – 2:40 a.m.

I had my surgery one week ago, and I’m now at the rehab facility in my pleasant private room. Marsha flew back to her home today. She was my advocate while I was in the hospital when I could not think straight from the pain and anesthesia. I am so thankful for help from her and the nurses from church. I thought I would lose my mind from the pain right after surgery. I fainted several times in the hospital from low blood pressure caused by the pain medicine, so the doctor changed to another one. They put my leg in the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine which made my leg spasm, so I refused it.

My titanium knee xray looks similar to this.

Marsha drove me from the hospital to rehab in my car, but it was agony to bend my swollen knee enough to get it in my car. I think I should have come by ambulance instead. The rehab facility couldn’t obtain my pain medicine from the pharmacy for 12 hours after I arrived, so again the pain was incredible. Mary, my friend from church, visited me and held my hand when my leg spasmed. We sang one hymn after another to try and distract me from the pain. I’m so glad I brought copies of the words of all my favorite hymns with me. Some of the brethren from church came to visit me on Sunday afternoon which was a blessing. They sang “Rejoice in the Lord” and “Isn’t He Wonderful?” I am finding singing to be very therapeutic.

Reflection

And so I began my 10 day stay in the rehab unit. The intensity of the pain after surgery surprised me. I really didn’t know a person could experience that much pain. The experts say that bone pain is the worst kind of pain, especially in the knee joint because the swelling has no where to escape. People who have had both their hip and knee replaced have told me that the knee replacement pain was significantly worse. However, everyone experiences surgical pain differently. A few people only need mild medicine, but I definitely think I was at the opposite end of the spectrum. One probable reason was my age of 49 years and having intact nerves.

Pain, Pain – Go Away!

April 22, 2004

I had my painful left knee injected with cortisone yesterday because I could barely walk. I have been trying to climb more flights of stairs at work to get in shape for ascending the Great Wall in China, but it has only made my knee worse. I do wish I never would have tried to learn how to downhill ski nine years ago. A bad fall is what started all the arthritis in my knee. It’s difficult to make my walking rounds at work in the hospital because of the pain.

April 24, 2004

“He (God) gives power to the faint; and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

 I saw the Physical Therapist (PT) yesterday and he thinks I have floating pieces of cartilage in my knee again because of the catching and buckling when I walk. The orthopedic Physician’s Assistant (PA) read me the surgeon’s operative report from 1996 who said I have a major defect beneath my patella (knee cap) and exposed bone. My xrays this week showed arthritis behind the patella and a narrowing of the space, so I’m probably looking at a total knee replacement in the near future. The Lord knows. The PT gave me an electrical stimulation machine to use for the pain four times daily over the weekend. I apply electrodes on either side of my knee and then the small machine sends low dose electrical signals through my knee to block the pain.

May 3, 2004

“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth… and I will give you treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places in order that you may know that it is I, the Lord God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” Isaiah 45:2-3

So much has happened in the past week. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) has reoccurred in Beijing leading to one person’s death, eight confirmed cases, and 1000 people exposed. I am scheduled to visit friends in Beijing on May 19. I have committed the situation to the Lord and have asked Him to open or close the door for me to go. It is so wonderful to be still and know that God is in control.

June 5, 2004

I had an interesting trip to China and enjoyed seeing the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and climbing an unrestored part of the Great Wall with my friends. I thank the Lord for the health He gave me and for protecting me from SARS, but all the walking took a toll on my knee.

I just fit in the Circle Door at the Summer palace

I had fun dressing up as Empress Pam at the Summer Palace.

Staying cool Chinese style as I toured the massive Forbidden City.

July 2, 2004

My left knee started catching and buckling again last week, so my boss, Dr. S., was able to call the orthopedic surgeon and get me an appointment this week. Dr. M., the surgeon, is a friendly personable guy. He said, “I really like you, but I hate your knee.” He looked at my xrays and photos from my last arthroscopy two years ago and said I was already down to the bone in several places with severe arthritis. He informed me that a knee replacement lasts 17-20 years under the best conditions and doesn’t work well if I would need a second knee replacement on the same knee. I’m only 49 years old, so I sure hope the Lord comes soon! I also am very high risk for synovitis (painful inflammation of the joint). I will have my third arthroscopy on July 23 to clean out my knee.

August 1, 2004

I have had a rough recovery from my arthroscopy with weakness and dizziness. I saw Dr. M. for followup and he said my knee looks like one from a 90 year old woman and that it is not happy. He suggested that I need to think about getting a desk job, take another week off from work, and then return only four hours per day. The next step is a total knee replacement, but he can’t predict if or how long the arthroscopy will give me any pain relief. This news shocked me, but I’m thankful that my soul is happy in Jesus even though my knee isn’t.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me walk upon mine high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19

God uses change so we can use our spiritual muscles that we have never used before.

Reflection

And so God gave me lessons once more in the school of pain. Little did I know that I would remain in this classroom for many more months. God is so kind to hide the future from us so that we may learn to abide in Him and trust Him just for today. Next post I will continue telling you about my painful journey.

 

What Next, Lord?

January 1, 2003

My Pastor had a wonderful message last night at the New Year’s Eve service at church on Philippians 3:13-14, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” I must forget the trials of the past year and press on, looking unto Jesus. He is the Captain of the ship and is smiling in the storm. He is in control and working out His sovereign will.

Dear Father, Thank You for saving my soul. Thank You that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Thank You that You are my joy, strength, and that You will supply my every need as You did last year. Thank You for a warm, safe place to live and a measure of health. Help me to grow to know You better and to study your Word more. Help me to eat right, exercise, and finish organizing my new home. Guide me to the right job and help me serve You in new ways. I look forward to seeing what You will do this New Year! In Christ’s Name, Amen

January 17

I had an interview last week for a substitute school nurse, but they only pay $12 per hour which is really low. I think that over time, I would become quite bored with school nursing. I sent out three resumes for a hospital research position, for a teaching position at an Associate Degree nursing program, and for a teaching position at a Technical School for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).

Mrs. D, the Director of the LPN program, called me today to discuss the teaching position. The school is located 15 minutes from my home. I would teach two to three days each week and supervise eight students for six hours the other two days per week at a local nursing home. The staff receives two weeks of vacation, eight floating days off, and every Monday off the last nine weeks of a thirteen week module. The students complete four modules in order to graduate and become a LPN. Most LPNs work as staff nurses in long term care facilities giving medications and treatments to the patients. It will be quite a change for me to teach students right out of high school compared to Registered Nurses or master’s degree students. Mrs. D. asked if I would rather teach Anatomy and Physiology, or Fundamentals of Nursing? I replied that I prefer to teach Fundamentals. We scheduled an interview for next week.

The hospital called me and said they are not interested in me for the research position, but would notify me of any Nurse Practitioner positions. I did not receive a reply from the AD program.

February 3

“Be strong (take courage)… and work; for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:4

I had my interview at the LPN school. Mrs. D. asked me to teach the students for ten minutes on something in nursing, so I taught them how to do a computer ergonomic evaluation of a person’s desk to prevent repetitive use injuries. I learned how to do this when I worked in employee health at the insurance company. Apparently the students liked my presentation, because they all voted to hire me! I start work in one week on February 10.

February 20

I have now completed working two weeks of orientation at the LPN school and it has been rather rough between standing for five to six hours daily at the nursing home and dealing with bed bound comatose patients. My back pain is intense at the end of the day. I have been visiting the ten different nursing homes the school uses for sites for the students and shadowing the different instructors. One instructor, Donna, was particularly helpful. She is in her sixties and has terrible back pain, so she is not sure how much longer she can work for the school. She has been at the school for one year and works 40-50 hours weekly. They keep switching her to different modules, so she has to continually make new lesson plans.

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

Dear Lord, Make your will clear to me and give me the strength to teach another day.

psalm 32 8

God encouraged me with Psalm 32:8

 March 7

I have been home sick for three days because I have a bad head cold, have lost my voice, and can’t enter the nursing home with my cold. So I am preparing lectures. I thank the Lord for this break to rest my back also. I’m still not sure this is the right job for me, but I am going to try and teach for six months or until I collapse.

March 22

I completed my orientation my first week of teaching the 31 new students. Some have had a previous career as a nursing assistant, beautician, engineer, accountant, or carpenter. Some were born in Ghana, Jamaica, and Poland, so it is a real mix of students. The school’s only requirement is that they have a high school diploma and pay the tuition of $17,000.

My first class was to teach the nursing process which took four hours. I thought I made it clear to the students, but the director said three students came to her and complained that they didn’t understand the class. She ordered me to review it all again with the students in the next two hours, so I did this in addition to reviewing their homework. Then I taught Environment and Safety in one hour which was supposed to take two hours. I am definitely having trouble gaging how long it takes to teach each topic. I was totally exhausted last night after teaching for three hours with my raw throat.

Reflection

And so began my rocky chapter of learning to teach LPN students. It was a continual exercise of leaning totally on God to give me the wisdom and strength to teach them while learning the expectations of the school. After being a competent Nurse Practitioner, it was a humbling experience to start over again in a new area of nursing. But on the other hand, the variety of positions one can have is one of the unique things about being a nurse.

Why am I so weak?

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner – August, 2002

I have now been working in this very busy clinic for 4000 employees of the insurance company for several months. One of my duties is to give routine vaccinations to employees when they request them. During an unusually slow afternoon, I checked my vaccine stock to see if I needed to order any more. I am praying about doing some medical mission trips, so I decided to give myself a Hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is common in many developing countries and is transmitted by unclean food or water.

The next morning, my alarm awoke me at the usual 5 a.m. I tried to move and get out of bed, but I ached all over and was overcome with weakness and dizziness. By 6 a.m., I felt the same so I called my boss and said I was too ill to come to work today. I knew there was no way that I could survive a busy clinic day.

The terrible weakness, dizziness, and aches continued, so by the third day I went to see my personal physician. He drew blood tests and said my blood pressure was low and to try and drink more fluids. I was thankful my friend from church could drive me to and from the appointment.

These symptoms continued day after day, until a month had passed. After the first week, I had no paid time off remaining since I had only worked for the company a short time. My physician could not determine the cause of my symptoms, so he sent me to a neurologist, chiropractor, and endocrinologist. I became very discouraged and cried out to God for mercy in my weakness.

September 17, 2002

On September 17, my doorbell rang. The postman had me sign for a registered letter from my employer. I sat down on my couch and opened it with trembling hands. “We regret to inform you that due to your prolonged absence, you are no longer employed at this company. You may begin collecting unemployment after you recover from your illness….” Because I had not worked for the company for 12 months, they were under no legal obligation to continue my employment.  The tears flowed as I asked God to help me and teach me all the lessons He had for me. I asked Him to give the doctors wisdom in finding out what was wrong with me, heal my body, and provide my every need.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

I began reading books by other Christians who went through their time of suffering with victory. Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in the concentration camp during World War 2 because she sheltered Jewish people. She suffered from starvation, cold, beatings, and watched her sister die. After Corrie was released due to a clerical error, she wrote a book called “The Hiding Place” and traveled the world telling people that no matter how deep the pit, the love of God was deeper still. She also said,

Faith = Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him!

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident when she was a teen, wrote, “People with disabilities are God’s best visual aids to demonstrate who He really is. His power shows up best in weakness. They persevere. They love, live, trust, and obey Him. Eventually the world says, “How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty!”

September 30, 2002

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:4

God encouraged me with this verse.

“Your weakness will be your strength if you accept it with a lowly heart. Trusting in God is a simple resting in God’s love, as a baby lies in its mother’s arms. The point of trusting God is not to do great things that you can feel good about, but to trust God from a place of deep weakness. Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears. All I ask is that you rest in faith with a teachable spirit.” Fenelon

“Lord, give to me a quiet heart that does not ask to understand but confidently steps forward in the darkness guided by Thy hand. Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. Let the Lord of the Universe do the worrying! Wide soaring gives wide seeing! Keep looking down from your heavenly position.” – Elisabeth Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain…. Having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content.” I Timothy 6:6-8

Reflection

And so began the most difficult time in my nursing career and in my health. After many tests, my endocrinologist finally determined that I had developed adrenal insufficiency from the Hepatitis A vaccine. The adrenal glands control all the hormones in your body. If a person does not produce enough of their own natural steroid, they experience low blood pressure, severe weakness, and dizziness – all my symptoms. I had to take a low dose of steroids for the next six years. How I thanked God that I finally had an answer!

I called Dr. A., my former coworker at the psychiatric hospital who also conducted vaccine research. He confirmed that in very rare instances, vaccines can effect the adrenal glands like this.

After much prayer, I decided to sell my dream house that I had built a few years previously. By God’s grace, I made enough profit on the sale of the house to pay cash for a small condominium where I lived for the next four years. It was a huge financial relief to be rid of a mortgage and a good lesson to hold everything with an open hand to God. My real home is in heaven above with Him for all eternity! After six months, I recovered enough strength to seek employment part-time. Next post, I will tell you how God wonderfully provided again.

Will God Provide?

October, 2001

Dr. T., my manager, called me into his office. “Pam, I’m afraid I have some bad news for all of us. The parent hospital has decided to close this campus in the next few months because they are losing so much money at this facility. Next month, they will decrease our hours to 20 hours per week. They have offered us positions at the parent hospital on the psychiatric unit, but we will need to be on call at night and weekends. Let me know what you decide to do. I think I’ll be looking for another job closer to my home.”

This news took me by surprise. I knew the hospital was struggling, but I didn’t know it was this dire. Three years ago, I built my dream house because Dr. T. told me my job was totally secure. I so enjoy living here because it is close to church and work and I host guests frequently. But I will not be able to pay my monthly bills on half my salary. I think this is a good time to leave psychiatry since I don’t want to work weekends and night shift again.

When I arrived home, I opened my Bible and asked God to show me the next step and to provide for me. Certainly God, who created the universe, can supply my every need. This is my time to trust Him and see His provision.

God calmed my heart as I read Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore, I say unto you, Be NOT anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food and the body than raiment?…For your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Be, therefore, NOT anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will be anxious for the things of itself. “

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the PEACE of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7, 19

God encouraged me with Philippians 4:19

Dear Lord, You know all about this situation and my finances. Show me the next step. I’m trusting You to provide my every need. Use me for Your glory and honor. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

December, 2001

I have had a desire to teach nurses again in some way, so I applied to teach at a Christian college 1000 miles away. I visited the campus for ten days  to observe the classes, speak with the nursing professors, meet with the Dean, attend several different churches, and look at a few houses to buy. The Dean said they would love to have me join the faculty.

I returned home and asked God to show me His will. If I joined the faculty, I would not have time to keep working as a Nurse Practitioner and would eventually lose my NP license. Because it took me so many years to become a Nurse Practitioner, the Lord did not give me peace about giving it up. So I wrote the Dean and declined their offer.

I applied to a home care agency and was hired as a RN to do psychiatric home visits after I finish my four hours daily at the psychiatric hospital. I drive to the worst parts of the city, enter smoke filled apartments with blaring TV, assess the patient, and fill his locked med box for the week. Some of the patients are quite unstable mentally, so I ask God for protection as I quickly work. The agency said I can leave a patient’s home at any time if I do not feel safe. I always keep myself between the patient and the door and keep my cell phone in my pocket. How I thank the Lord daily for His protection! I continue to look for a full-time job as I know this is not the right job for me long term, but I thank God for His provision in the interim.

May, 2002

I interviewed for a job as a Nurse Practitioner to run the employee clinic of a large insurance company. The manager grilled me on how I would handle emergency situations. She said I answered all the emergency questions correctly and offered me the job. The pay is more than I made at the psychiatric hospital, but I’m a little hesitant about the 45 minute commute. I will need to leave my house daily at 6:30 a.m. to arrive in time. But since this is the only NP position God has opened, I accepted the offer.

August, 2002

I was trained at the downtown office by an experienced NP, and then was sent to the suburbs to run a busy clinic alone for 4000 employees.  I have a receptionist, but no medical assistant to help me with vital signs or electrocardiograms (ECGs). The supervising MD comes to the office once a week to review my notes. He is also available by phone whenever I have an emergency.

I am amazed at all I am expected to do. For every new employee, I do an ergonomic assessment of their desk, chair, phone, and computer to make sure it is in proper alignment for them to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive use injuries. The majority of the employees work in a cubicle and are on the computer and phone eight hours daily. We also hold health fairs for the employees periodically where we check their blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose.

And then there are the daily clinics. Sometimes I have a line of 15 employees out the door waiting to see me. They come to work so sick because they don’t want to use any of their sick time or waste time going to their own doctor. If a Vice President comes in, they get to go to the front of the line. In the four months that I have been here, I have had to call the ambulance about a dozen times for emergencies ranging from chest pain and asthma attacks to hemorrhaging.

I also draw routine labs for patients who bring a prescription from their regular doctor, give vaccinations, and run and interpret ECGs. Since I did not need to read ECGs in my other job, sometimes I need to fax them to my supervising MD to have him confirm the interpretation. But if I don’t have time and it is an emergency, I just call the ambulance. “When in doubt, send them out” is what my boss told me.

Every morning I ask the Lord for wisdom in every decision and a quiet heart in the midst of whatever emergency situation walks through the door. I don’t enjoy the stress of this job. I have never worked in the emergency department or intensive care unit. Some days, this feels a little too much like that.

Reflection

How I thank God for carrying me through that challenging period of job changes and providing so wonderfully for me. Little did I know that an even more difficult trial lay ahead of me where I learned to trust Him in the midst of utter weakness.

Mary Slessor of Calabar (Nigeria) – Pioneer Missionary

Free Book Recommendation!

Dear Readers,

Since I mentioned Mary Slessor last post, I decided to republish this about her life.  It’s now a free book on Kindle, so I hope you are blessed in reading about this heroine of mine.

by W.P. Livingstone

I have been reading it this time through the lens of life experiences since I have now visited several “third world” countries, including jungles, and can better appreciate the hardships she endured. She had such passion to give the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ to cannibal jungle tribes in Nigeria from 1876-1915, and endured much physically and emotionally as she trusted God to transform the people by His power.

Mary Slessor- a Scottish single lady who devoted her life to reaching the cannibal tribes in Nigeria

Challenged by the life of David Livingstone, Mary Slessor offered her services as a missionary in Calabar, Nigeria. Arriving there when she was 28 years old, she overcame her fears and inexperience with a genuine love for the people and shared with them the hope of the resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ. Earning the nickname “White Ma” she became mother to many adopted children and never failed to preach the love of Christ to all she met. Many times she was ill with fever from malaria, but God renewed her strength repeatedly so she could carry on the work.

The natives believed that any mother who gave birth to twins must be cast out and the twins be killed immediately. Mary rescued many twins and raised them herself to demonstrate the love of Christ to them.

Mary Slessor with some of her beloved adopted children.

She worked long hours as a mill worker in Scotland before coming to Nigeria in 1876. She was a diligent student of the Bible although she never received any formal training herself. When no worker could be found to go with her into the jungle, she went alone with some natives, trusting God to open doors. She wrote in a letter home in 1888, “I am going to a new tribe up-country, a fierce, cruel people, and every one tells me that they will kill me. But I don’t fear any hurt –only to combat their savage customs will require courage and firmness on my part.”

Even though she was not a formally trained nurse, she did what she could to relieve the people’s sufferings who usually went to the witch doctor when ill. In 1896, she decided to move further up the river with her many adopted children since most of the tribe had moved there. However, there was much sickness among the children by an infectious disease which caused the death of four of them. To make matters worse, smallpox then swept through the country, killing hundreds of people. For hours daily she vaccinated all who came to her hut. A man from the mission downriver arrived when her supply of lymph had run out and assisted her to take blood with a penknife from the arms of those who had already been inoculated so they could inoculate more.

She returned to her old house and converted it into a hospital, and people flocked to it. When she heard her beloved Christian chief Edim caught the smallpox in the new village, she tramped back alone through the jungle to nurse him, but it was in vain.  The Lord took him home to heaven in the middle of the night. Since she had no one to help her, she fashioned a coffin with her own hands, placed his body in it, dug a grave, and buried him.

Mary with Chief Edem who later died of smallpox

Two white Christian men arrived from the Mission House down river to help, and she asked one of them to go back to her old house to gather some supplies. When he arrived in the village, all was total silence and he knew something was wrong. He opened the door of her house to find it full of corpses of those who had died from small pox. The place was never fit for habitation again, and gradually was engulfed in bush and vanished from the face of the earth.

Later in her life, the British government appointed her as Vice Consul because of her unique command of the native language, her understanding of their customs, and the great respect and love the people gave her. People would flock to her from miles around so she could preside as judge over their cases. Sometimes her judgement was to assign hard labor for 1 to 3 months, while other times she would box the person’s ears! This was a huge change from when they would administer the poison bean to some while pouring boiling oil over others. Previously, whenever a chief died, they would kill many of his wives and children to serve him in the afterlife. As more and more became Christians, the twin killing and killing among the tribes gradually stopped.

Mary presiding at Okoyong Court

So I hope I have told you enough to whet your appetite to read or reread this classic biography. You will be blessed, amazed, and challenged as you see how God used this humble little Scottish single lady to transform  tribes of cannibals through the power of Jesus Christ! Her image is now on the 10 pound note in Scotland.

Mary's image on the 10 pound note of Scotland!

“and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Modern day photo of Cross River, Nigeria where Mary labored.