My last 2 hospital shifts have been the most amazing things ever. I don’t even know where to start.
2 weeks ago I got to talk to a patient named Shirleanne. She was so sweet, and talked so much. She went on and on telling me about her diagnosis and how she and her best friend were diagnosed with cancer at the same time. She started crying as she told me to never take life for granted, and how hard the past few months have been as her tumor took away her ability to move her leg.
After telling me all about her hospital situation, she said, “But one thing I’m confident in is that God is good, and that he will either cure me again or take me home.”
My heart skipped a beat. “You’re a Christian.”
“Yes, I’m a very strong one.”
“Well that’s cool. I’m actually a really strong Christian too.”
She nodded. “Well I’m glad to know that you understand what I am saying.”
It turned out that she lived rather close to where I do, and that she goes to a church that I have been to before. She told me about how she is so unafraid of telling all the doctors what she believed, which blew my mind once again.
I ended up telling her my life story too, and she said, “It sounds like God really is using you here. There is a reason for everything.”
“It took me a long time to learn to take the word “failure” out of my vocabulary,” she went on, and then started crying again, “and when you go through things that are hard don’t ever tell yourself that God doesn’t exist. Because that just makes going back so much harder. And I can tell you that because I was one of those people who turned away from God, and I wish I never did.”
Before I left, I asked her if I could pray for her. And then she took my hands in hers and said she was so happy she met me, and that she’d be thinking of me and praying for me, hoping that something she said stuck with me that day.
Yesterday I had another shift. I was volunteering with Tatevie, who I literally met in the beginning of shift where we instantly clicked. This one patient wanted water, and we accidentally splashed it all over her.
“Tatevie what the heck!” I exclaimed, laughing. The entire time as we were trying to clean it up, our patient, Nancy, was laughing her head off.
“That actually felt super refreshing!” She said. We took care of everything else she needed and then left her room laughing like crazy.
Later, when my new friend left, I still had an hour left. I had nothing left to do, so I went back to Nancy’s room.
“Hi! I’m bored, and we spilled water all over you so I wanted to talk to you. How are you?” I asked.
She was flattered that I wanted to talk to her. “Other than having an annoying IV in my arm and a bowel obstruction, I’m doing great! I’m assuming you’re a student”
“Yes, I’m a high school student.”
“Are you a senior?”
“Nope, junior! Tatevie is in college, though.”
“So you want to be a doctor?”
“Yeah! Well, basically when a new person comes up here, like a dietitian or a physical therapist we go follow them and see what they do. So there’s plenty more to explore!” I told her about some of the other patients I’ve met, like the time I worked with a physical therapist named Joe and we helped a guy walk. And I just continued to talk about my dream college, Loma Linda university, why I’m so passionate about being a doctor, and how I am currently dying in my calculus class.
She really liked my humor, which made me happy. We then criticized Donald Trump and talked about the popular kids in school.
“Are you popular?”
“Heck no!” I laughed.
“Is that whole scheme still based on what you wear?”
“Whale actually I think I have an amazing sense of style,” I said twinkling my eyes.
“Well, I love your outfit right now! Especially the dignity health logo on your polo!” She said, nodding in approval.
“Thanks!” I flipped my hair and posed. “I worked really hard picking this out.”
We then talked about more serious things like facing death and I told her how I’m not afraid of death.
“You must believe in the afterlife.”
“I most certainly do.”
“Well wow you are just so passionate and I think you definitely have so much more to give to this world. I think you’d have such a great bedside manner, which is so important because many of the older doctors I’ve met are just jerks. It’s been amazing meeting you! Thank you for talking to me, you made my day.”
“Awwe thanks,” I said. “Before I leave, can I pray for you?”
Her face lit up. “Dude that would be amazing!”
I walked to her bedside and took her hands in mine. “Dear God, I just pray for Nancy and that you’d take care of her. I pray that she isn’t too bothered by having to hold her arm straight because of the IV…,” she bursts into laughter, “and can forgive us for spilling water all over her…” she erupts into laughter again, “but most of all I pray that she’d know she is loved, because you love her, and that she’d know everything will work out because I know you love her. In Jesus name, amen.”
“Give me a hug!” She exclaimed.
I reached across the bed and embraced her.
“I hope I get to see you again someday,” she said.
“Me too. Take care,” I smiled, and left her room.
The smile on my face was so big, as I felt so happy. One of the nurses said, “You must really like being here. You’re always smiling.”
“I do,” I said. “Maybe too much.”
I guess I never thought a place as gross and sad and smelly as a hospital could be so beautiful. I am learning that in the midst of the most pain and suffering, perhaps the most beauty exists in the little nooks and crannies too. Perhaps we just don’t look for it enough. Maybe it exists in my homework, in my meltdowns, in the times I fail and the times I succeed. I am confident however that no matter what others see, beauty exists in everyone I meet.
After all, he takes broken things
And turns them into beautiful.