More Knee Pain

August 2, 2004

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” I Peter 4:12

“In every trial, there are gleams of light and relief, but full deliverance is often delayed by our anxiety to obtain it. God Himself and not the deliverance is to be the satisfaction of His servant. Consequently, the deliverance is often postponed until we are without prospect or expectation of it. Then it may happen in a manner so far beyond our conception that we must see and understand the love and interest which surrounded us during the whole period of our trial.” -None But the Hungry Heart

As I begin my second week of recuperation here at home after my knee surgery (arthroscopy), I am so thankful for this encouragement from the Lord. Dr. E., my big boss, was so kind when I talked with him this week. He said to take all the time I need to recover. He knows I’m not hanging out in the Bahamas:) He asked if I have osteoarthritis, chondromalacia (rough knee cap), or torn meniscus (cartilage). I told him that I have all three which shocked him. He said he was at a loss for words to say something to make me feel better, but God is my comfort and strength.

I spoke with one of the nurses at church who had her knee replaced. She encouraged me to have it done as soon as possible so I don’t ruin the other one. She was able to drive ten days after surgery, but said the pain is intense the first few weeks.

August 9, 2004

I tried to return to work last Thursday for four hours, but it was really difficult because I became so weak. I’m afraid the stress of surgery has made my adrenal glands crash again. It took me three hours to do one admission and see nine patients. I can only stand about 30 seconds, so I went back to work too soon. I am going to write out surgical guidelines for myself for the next surgery to help me remember. I spoke with two nurse friends at church who both work in orthopedics at the community hospital. They both recommended Dr. R. who did my first two knee arthroscopies.

I tried to go to church yesterday, but became so weak after driving two blocks that I had to turn around and come home. So I laid on my couch and listened to a good Bible message on thinking right. I keep asking God to help me to see this exercise in my life from His point of view and to help me not to wrestle, but just nestle in His loving arms today.

August 14, 2004

I saw Dr. R. for a second opinion on my knee. He needs the operative report and and photos from Dr. M. He’s not too eager to do a total knee replacement on me because it only lasts 8-10 years on someone my age. If I can wait 11 more years until I turn 60, the knee replacement will last 15-20 years. He ordered water therapy in the pool which I did yesterday and today. I am still getting weak and dizzy once or twice a day, so I’m not sure when I will be strong enough to return to work. I’m off work without pay now since I used up all my sick and vacation time. I know the Lord will provide.

Dear Lord, Carry me this day. I give it to You in all my weakness. Thank You, that this path of affliction is for Your glory and my good. Help me to trust and rest in You. In Christ’s Name, Amen

August 26, 2004

“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

God is so gracious in carrying me along this week. The endocrinologist and naturopath both agreed that my adrenals are my main problem causing the weakness and dizziness and have restarted the cortisone and other supplements. I am getting custom inserts for my walking shoes to try and align my knees better since my knee caps point out instead of straight ahead.

Dr. E. called me again to say hello and see how I was doing. When he worked in internal medicine, he had a patient with adrenal insufficiency and said he knew what a difficult problem it is to have and treat. He assured me that they will not replace me and not to worry about my job or come back too early. If I need to come back just 3 or 4 hours daily, that can be arranged. It was so nice of him to call and reassure me.

I thank God so much for the compassion of Dr. E. and Dr. S. and allowing me to work with these two men. They are so refreshing compared to my two previous nurse managers at the LPN school and the insurance company. But I realize that none of this will matter 100 years from now, so I’m just trying to keep the big picture. I now qualify for disability since I have been out of work for over a month. I thank God so much for His encouragement today.

September 30, 2004

“And after you have suffered for a little while the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ” I Peter 5:10

After taking the cortisone for 9 days, I was finally able to return to work a couple weeks ago, but the knee pain is intense. Dr. S., my boss, ordered forearm crutches for me to walk with as these give the most relief from knee pain. My patients are so sympathetic as I make rounds on them and we joke about our mutual aches and pains. I’m connecting with my rehab patients on a new level.

My knee pain was so bad that I needed to walk with forearm crutches at work.

I saw Dr. R. yesterday about my continuing knee pain. He reviewed the surgical report and photos and said I need a total knee replacement if I don’t want to end up in a wheelchair. I don’t qualify for a partial knee replacement because my bones are soft and I have triple compartment arthritis. I will need about 10 days in a rehab facility after the hospital stay since I live alone. He recommended two facilities and said I should visit both before surgery to see which one I preferred. I will need to be off work for three months after surgery. He is very comfortable dealing with people with adrenal problems, so they will give me a huge steroid dose the day of surgery to prevent my adrenals from crashing again hopefully. He is going to order the newest and most expensive titanium knee for me that is supposed to last 30 years. It costs $30,000! I sure hope it lasts until the Lord takes me home.

Dear Lord, Help me to relax with the pain right now and rest in Your everlasting arms. I just want to line up with Your plan and not my own. You plan this surgery and use it for Your glory and honor. In Christ’s Name, Amen

Reflection

And so God prepared me one step at a time for a very difficult surgery. Many days it seemed like I would never be pain free again in my life. I realized even more what a blessing health is, but many times He teaches me the most when I am so very weak and can do nothing but lean on Him. This very difficult time in my life gave me much greater compassion for the health problems of my patients.

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Teaching Licensed Practical Nurses

May 1, 2003

I had crushing chest pain on Saturday, so I called the ambulance and went to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with pleurisy and pneumonia, put me on antibiotics, and sent me home. How I thank the Lord for the perfect peace He gave me during the hours I lay on the stretcher. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

The job is going better, by God’s grace. I like teaching the students at the nursing home. The staff is very helpful, so that makes for a pleasant learning environment. I discovered that my new neighbor works as a nursing assistant there. Her first language is Portuguese and she only speaks minimal English. I think I’ll check some tapes out of the public library and try and learn a little Portuguese so I can talk more with her.

May 16

I am sick at home again with a fever of 101 degrees. This is the fourth time I have caught an infection since I started working at the school and the nursing home. I asked the Lord to make it clear if He wants me to work again as a Nurse Practitioner or keep teaching. I am required to work 2000 hours as a NP over a five year period to keep my certification, or I can take the board exam again which would be grueling.

June 7

“Teaching is not effective without a good example. You can easily discourage others by being impatient with them. The more forceful you are, the more you need to learn gentleness and kindness.” – Fenelon

The first clinical session has ended at the nursing home. At first, I hated working in the nursing home. But after I became better acquainted with the staff and the alert patients, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched in amazement as the students progressed from being frightened to touch a patient to being able to care for several patients confidently.

June 13

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

Yesterday morning I asked the Lord to help me depend on Him alone and not a paycheck or a job, which He answered very quickly. An hour later, Mrs. D. called me into her office and told me that my position was eliminated because over half of the first module class failed. I asked her why she chose me? She said my student evaluations were not good, and that I was not a team player. She also announced that C. would be the new director. C. has a very foul mouth, smokes, and cohabits with a man, so I know that it would have been difficult for me to work with her. I always felt like a fish out of water in the teachers’ communal office because I did not swear or tell off color jokes like all the others.

I can’t sleep from this head cold and can’t stop my tears of exhaustion. But on the brighter side, because I was laid off, I can collect unemployment while I look for another job. I thank the Lord that I don’t have to get up at 4:45 a.m. to go to the nursing home or prepare lectures at night after teaching all day. Perhaps God will improve my immune system so I don’t keep catching all these viruses.

“Don’t let your work either excite you or depress you too much.” – Fenelon “When we sit under Christ’s shadow with great delight, everything else becomes so small, and loses its hold upon our hearts.” CAC “Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears.”

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

June 24

I had an interview at a children’s residential camp an hour from home today, but it wasn’t a good fit. The pay is too low and the camp is closed for three months in the winter. The atmosphere is so much different than Bible camp. God knows the way I should go.

Dear Lord, I ask You to give me a job where I can freely share the gospel, attend all the services at church, be within a 20 minute commute from home, and have a manager who is kind, fair, and supportive. I ask for a job that is not too stressful where I can use my Nurse Practitioner skills four days per week with good health and retirement benefits. Help me to wait quietly upon You. Thank You for this extra time to study Your Word and draw near to You. Thank You that You own everything and that nothing is too hard for You. Thank You for this measure of health. I love and adore You. Amen.

July 5

The Lord gave me a wonderful week of vacation with another lady from church at Yosemite National Park in California. The rock formations and water falls were breath taking. This is one of the most beautiful place on earth that I have ever seen, but I know heaven will be so much better!

God refreshed my heart at beautiful Yosemite National Park in California.

July 16

Yesterday I had the most difficult interview of my life at the college where I received my Master’s degree in nursing. The position is for Director of Health Services which includes treating the residential college students in the clinic. Four women conducted the interview in the board room with me seated at the head of a long table. Unfortunately, every time I looked up, I saw my reflection in a gigantic mirror on the wall. They took turns asking me about 20 challenging clinical questions from their typed list. My brain kept freezing from the stress, so it was a grueling 90 minute ordeal. After I left the room and closed the door, I heard them all burst into laughter. I walked down the long hallway feeling totally humiliated. This is definitely not the right job for me.

I had another interview today at a large inner city hospital 20 minutes from my home. Because my interview went so poorly yesterday, I spent several hours studying rehabilitation medicine last night to prepare for today’s meeting. I made a professional folder with my resume and business card to give Dr. S., the medical director of the ten bed unit. Dr. S. was delayed in a family meeting, so I quietly observed the unit while waiting. It seemed like a calm, well organized unit. The huge windows in the nurse’s station made it bright and cheerful.

Then Dr. S. took me on a tour of the unit while he explained how it functioned and what my role would be. He asked me a few easy questions about myself in the hallway. He seems like a genuine compassionate person who is board certified in physical medicine. Most of the patients have had strokes, joint replacements, or organ transplants. In acute rehabilitation each patient must be able to do a total three hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapy daily. Some advantages of having rehab in the hospital as opposed to a nursing home is that a patient can be quickly transferred back to the intensive care unit if needed and all their specialty doctors can assess them daily.

Dr. S. has been looking for a NP for eighteen months, so God has been keeping this position open for me! If I am hired, Dr. S. would like me to work from 11 am to 5 pm except on Tuesdays when I would start at 8:30 a.m. so I could participate in weekly team meetings. On Tuesdays, I would leave at 2:30 p.m. Initially, I will be paid for 30 hours weekly with full time benefits. If I want to increase to 40 hours per week, I can do research, inpatient consults, or see outpatients in his office, so there is room to grow professionally.

I will need to work every third weekend and come see all ten patients on either Saturday or Sunday and write a progress note, but it only takes a maximum of 90 minutes. I will also need to make rounds on two holidays, but Dr. S. said I can have first pick of which holidays I want to work. Next, I will need to meet the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Medical Director of the entire rehab network.

I spoke with my former classmate, Kim, who has been a NP on the transplant unit for the past year. She was excited for me and said the rehab unit has an excellent reputation. She makes rounds there after they transfer their post transplant patients to the unit. She told me about the hospital benefits and how she negotiated her salary, so I will see what the Lord does.

Reflection

Job changes are never easy, but I thank God that He went before me in every situation. As I reflect on this part of my career when nothing was stable and each month was rocky with constant change, I can now see how the Lord was teaching me to lean totally on Him one day at a time. He always provided my every need and still does! I pray that you will know the joy of leaning on Him also, the only One who is the solid Rock and never changes.

 

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.

My Nursing Thesis Published!

September, 1998 – New England, USA

After I completed my thesis in graduate school, my advisers encouraged me to submit an article summarizing my research findings for publication. The unwieldy title of my thesis was, “Coping Strategies of Successful Caregivers of Nonambulatory Family Members”. Nonambulatory means that the person is unable to walk.

My parents and one of my patients that I had followed as a visiting nurse inspired me to do the research. After my mother had a major stroke which left her paralyzed on one side and with the mind of a ten year old, my dad stepped up to the plate and cheerfully became her full time caregiver. He had to assist her in the shower, dress her, learn to style her hair, do the grocery shopping, cooking, driving, and pay the bills. Prior to her stroke, my mother was an avid artist and gardener. She grieved that she could no longer do these hobbies. The Lord took her home to heaven to be with Him five years after her stroke. I thanked God that she was no longer suffering.

“…Death is swallowed up in victory….But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:54, 57

My parents were my inspiration for my research.

Another patient I visited at home was an elderly lady who was paralyzed from the waist down from a blood clot that went to her spine. Her husband faithfully learned how to provide all her care and purchased a van equipped with a wheel chair lift. He struggled at times with sadness over his wife’s loss of many abilities, but he did all the household tasks and driving. Other patients with similar disabilities ended up being admitted to a nursing home because their caregiver simply couldn’t cope with all the extra responsibilities.

During my research, I interviewed nine caregivers of family members who were unable to walk and then summarized their problems and coping strategies. I repeated similar research that was done with caregivers of home hospice patients to see if they had the same problems and used the same or different coping strategies. Comparison of the two groups showed they only had one problem in common (stress) and three coping strategies (social support, cognitive reformulation, and respite). I developed an educational handout for nurses to give new caregivers of family members who were unable to walk.

I submitted my research article to The Nurse Practitioner journal and was thrilled when they accepted part of it for publication.  They condensed my year of research and 48 page thesis into THREE paragraphs. Such is the world of publishing… They included it under Practice Pointers and named it Lending a hand to caregivers.

If you need to counsel a caregiver of a family member who has recently lost the ability to walk, use these suggestions to ease the load. First, tell him not to try to give care alone, but to ask for and accept help from family, friends, and health care professionals. To relieve stress, suggest that he try exercise, massage, eating out, music, prayer, reading, and napping.

Make sure he asks a physical therapist for assistance in choosing a wheelchair, if his family member can use one. Suggest using cordless and cellular phones, a lifeline necklace, and a pager to communicate with his loved ones when the caregiver is out of the house.

Finally, when traveling, recommend the caregiver pack a travel kit with a list of medications, provider phone numbers, straws, wipes, and other supplies.”

Reflection

I can’t recall the last time I saw a lay person use a pager, and cordless land lines are disappearing rapidly. Cell phones are commonplace now, but they were rare in 1998.

After I entered the full time work world as a nurse practitioner, life seemed to become too busy to continue to do research. However, I have participated in the Nurse’s Health Study 2 since 1989 conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health. Their findings collected from surveys every two years of thousands of nurses have contributed significantly to women’s health. http://nurseshealthstudy.org If you are a nurse and you were born after 1964 and live in the USA, they are looking for participants to join Nurse’s Health Study 3. I hope you will do so and continue this wonderful research that was begun in 1979!

Blog Update

Dear Readers,

I mentioned in August that I retired from nursing a year earlier than I anticipated. God has opened a wonderful door for me to learn Spanish this year in a very intense language program for missionaries. God has laid a desire on my heart to minister to Spanish speaking people during my retirement years as He gives me the strength and health. I am enjoying the program immensely, but it is a tremendous amount of work every week as I go along “poco a poco” – little by little. God has also given me several opportunities to assist the other students and my professors with their health problems, so I am still using my nursing skills unofficially.

I thought I brought all my needed journals with me to complete this blog, but I discovered that I put some of them in my storage container, so I am unable to write new material at this time. I don’t trust my memory of events nearly 20 years ago!

Since many of you are new readers, I have decided to start over from the beginning and repeat the past posts. For of those of you who have been with me from the beginning, perhaps you won’t mind reading them again. I enjoy rereading some of my favorite books and am amazed how I notice things anew because I am at a different stage in life.

So thank you for praying for me in my language studies as I desire to glorify the Lord here and keep my eyes and heart on Him.

I will close with this poem they found in Hudson Taylor’s journal. He was one of the early missionaries to China in the 1800’s and was used by God to found the China Inland Mission which is now Overseas Missionary Fellowship. I am enjoying translating the English flash card story (by Child Evangelism Fellowship) of his life into simple Spanish for my classmates.

“Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me,

A living, bright Reality;

More present to faith’s vision keen,

Than any outward object seen;

More dear, more intimately nigh

Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.

Hudson Taylor flashcard story I am translating into Spanish. (CEF)

Hudson Taylor flashcard story I am translating into Spanish. (CEF)

“O God, from my youth You have taught me; and I still proclaim Your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”  Psalm 71:17-18

Pamela, APRN

The Final School Year

September, 1997

I completed my one on one research course this summer with the Director of the Nurse Practitioner program, Dr. K. I learned about the different types of research broken into two broad categories of quantitative and qualitative research. Our small school does not have the staff to support doing quantitative research with labs and statistics, so I have chosen to do qualitative grounded theory research. The topic I chose is “Coping Strategies of Caregivers of Non-Ambulatory Patients”. I know it’s a mouthful!

I chose this topic largely because of my observation of how wonderfully my Dad took care of my Mom after her massive stroke. She learned to walk again slowly with a quad cane, but her left arm remained paralyzed, so he had to help her with her bath, dressing, and style her hair. I thought it was so sweet of him when he took Mom to the beautician and asked her to teach him how to use a curling iron! I don’t know of too many men who would do that. He also did all the cooking, cleaning, driving, and grocery shopping. My Mom became his full time job which he did the last five years of her life. Thankfully, he was retired and in good health. He also traveled with her by plane and in their trailer home across the country on vacation.

During my years as a visiting nurse, I took care of a dear elderly couple. Ruth had a blood clot that went to her spine and left her paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 70. Her husband, Ray, learned to do everything for her much as my dad did, and bought a van equipped with a wheelchair lift to make it easier to transport her.

Most caregivers at home are women rather than men, so I think Ray and my Dad were the exceptions. Most people would have placed people like Ruth and my Mom in a nursing home because they simply could not provide 24/7 care for them. So I asked myself, how did people cope at home with providing care for a family member who cannot walk? I noticed that when a person can’t walk, their care could become totally overwhelming.

I completed my review of literature and found an oncology nursing study with a similar theme, so I will repeat it to see if I get the same results. At the Master’s level, we are not required to do original research, but only repeat what others have done to see if we get the same results. My proposal was approved by  my two thesis advisors. My goal this semester is to find caregivers to interview and tape record them to gather all my data. Next semester, I will analyze the data and write my thesis. It was so nice to concentrate on nothing but research this summer and not have to work full time! I thank God for my Dad’s financial support to make this possible.

January, 1998

Last semester was very busy, but I really enjoyed it. My clinical assignments were so interesting as I spent two full days a week working in an Internal Medicine office with two physicians. Dr. R. established his private practice about 20 years ago. He grew up in Costa Rica, so he is fluent in Spanish. He moved to the USA when he was 16 years old, but still returns to Costa Rica annually to visit family there. He is a very kind gentleman and an excellent teacher. He just hired an associate, Dr. G., who recently completed his residency. Dr. G. likes to tell me all kinds of interesting stories about patients he saw during his residency. I see the patient first and take the history and do the physical exam. Then I present the patient privately to Dr. R. or Dr. G. and tell them the plan of care that I think would be best. We discuss it and they agree or disagree with me and tell me their reason so I learn how to treat the next patient with a similar problem. It is working out very well!

One day, a lady who was originally from Jamaica, came to see us in near hysteria. She had coughed up a foot long worm that she put in a bottle of water to show us. I immediately recognized it as a round worm which I had learned about when I was in Dominican Republic. She last visited Jamaica two years ago, so it had been growing inside her all that time. Neither Dr. R. or Dr. G. had ever treated worms before, so I told them the medicine to prescribe and calmed the lady after telling her we could easily treat it. She thanked me and said she felt relieved to learn about it. It was fun to teach the teachers that day!

On my third clinical day, I worked several weeks in a clinic seeing adolescents with a Pediatric NP. Rich was also an excellent teacher. The other half of the semester, I shadowed a Neonatal Intensive Care NP. I was too scared to touch the premature babies who looked so tiny and fragile in the incubators on ventilators. I watched her do a lumbar puncture on one of them where she stuck a needle gently in his spine to withdraw cerebral spinal fluid. I also watched her work in a general Pediatrician’s office. I’m just not too comfortable taking care of babies because they can’t tell me what’s wrong!

I found enough caregivers to interview for my research. I tape recorded each session, then took the tapes home and played them back. Whenever the person stated a coping strategy, I stopped the tape and wrote it on an index card. After listening to all the interviews, I took all my cards and separated them into different piles of coping strategies that were repeated. I’m really enjoying doing this type of research!

Graduation, May, 1998!!!

I completed typing my thesis and both my advisors approved the final copy. It was 120 pages long! I am so glad I didn’t have to hire someone to type it, and am thankful for my high school typing teacher. We each made a poster about our research results and presented it a week ago. All my preceptors came to look at it, so I was grateful for their support. I submitted a summary of my research to the Nurse Practitioner Journal, so I will see if it is accepted.

I am amazed that I have had ten job interviews. The job I chose is to work as a Family Nurse Practitioner at a psychiatric hospital. I have never worked in psychiatry before. I will have all weekends and holidays off, and  don’t have to take call at night since a physician stays on grounds each night. The salary is excellent, so maybe I will be able to move to a one story home in the future.

 

1998 Pam MSN

I was so excited to finally receive my Master’s of Science in Nursing and become a Family Nurse Practitioner!

I thank God that my entire family came to my graduation to help me celebrate. I dedicated my thesis to my Dad and read it to them with my theme verses for graduate school:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me….But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus! Philippians 4:13, 19.

The school placed a copy of each graduate student’s thesis in the school library for others to read.

Reflection

How I thank God for carrying me through four long years of graduate school. I know I only had the strength to complete it because of Him. I enjoyed working as a Nurse Practitioner in a variety of roles over the next 16 years.

The Nurse Practitioner Journal published a few paragraphs about my research. As I recall, the caregivers that did best were those who used wheels to help transport the patient, took respite from care, and recruited/accepted help from others. My thesis is currently in storage, so the next time I look at it, I will see if my memory is accurate:)