Hospital Orientation and My Memories…

A big day came yesterday – I was oriented to the hospital for clinicals.  Around 8:00 we headed out driving to the hospital.  A rather animated discussion started but somehow I wasn’t totally in it.  As the exchange of ideas got more and more excited my mind drifted further and further away.  I thought back to when I was a little girl.  I thought about the car accident I was in when I was three. I was sitting in my car seat crying profusely while blood was running down my face from the window that had shattered. I was scared.  The next thing I remembered was a guy talking to me.  I heard the helicopter coming in and big voices talking about flying me out.  All of a sudden my carseat cut free from the seat and with me in it was being carried to a waiting ambulance.  My carseat was strapped into the attendants seat and my two big brothers were strapped on stretchers at my feet.  And here was that guy again trying to tell me funny jokes and make me laugh.  Laughing was the last thing I wanted to do so I turned my head to look out the little tiny window beside me.  Tear blurred trees and buildings were flying past as the siren above was wailing.  That guy noticed I was looking out the window and proceeded to point out things like trees that might make me happy.  I wanted nothing to do with him and I was determined not to let him succed at comforting me!  So I stared at the floor and continued my crying.  Then he started talking to my brothers.  I quickly looked out the window again to watch the green gray smear of scenery whisk by.  When I heard my brothers start laughing and chatting away I was indignant.  I turned back to the little confined space and saw that guy joking with my brothers.  How could they ever even think of giving him that pleasure?  That guy looked over and saw me paying attention so he brought out a little stuffed teddy bear and started showing me the funny things it could do.  Oh no, I wouldn’t let this happen; I wouldn’t let him have that kind of satisfaction. Before I had time to think anymore, we arrived at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital and the next thing I remember was lying on a bed thing and my head was being rolled into a tunnel that had three lights above it.  They were red, green, and either yellow or blue.  My last tear had been cried out and I was just exhausted, scared, and hurting.  My memory glitches there until I woke up lying in a bed with big metal rails up on both sides.  My dad and brother were sitting there beside my bed. When I opened my eyes  Jeff got all excited and ran over to my bed to inform me that I had 72 stitches on my forehead because he had counted!  I wasn’t quite sure what all his jabbering was about because I had an overwhelming sense of being pulled into this other dark world of sleep.  But at this same time I was so happy to see people I knew.  I wondered to myself how many years it had been since I had last seen someone I knew but I decided I could figure that out at a later time.  All I wanted to do now was sleep.  Everyone else got to go home that day but I had to stay in the hospital overnight.  A nurse came in and brought me some mashed potatoes and peas for my supper. I had just been told that the 4th of July was 3 days away and my aunt was going to loan us her car so we could go see the fireworks.  I was just too excited to eat.  It was July 1, 1991 and we were going to see the big fireworks in just three days!  As I was calmed down and told to eat I looked around me in awe.  There were all kinds of people that would come in and out to check on me.  They would laugh, smile, and chatter away to me about all kinds of wonderful things.  A little glimmer sparked in my mind and I dreamed of being big one day and making other little girls happy and comfortable.  That, I decided, was just what I wanted to do!

I was jerked back to reality as Heather was asking me which freeway split to take.  I told her where to go and paused to hear what all the overwhelming jabber was about, but somehow my interest didn’t last too long and I was once again swept back into a time gone by.  This time I was 5 years old and my little cousin had just been born.  As I stood in the room surrounded by my mom, my cousins, my brother, and a host of other professional looking people.  I felt the frustration of being the smallest. Peaking through the “crowd” of people I caught a glimpse of this little baby.  He was red and had white stuff all over him!  That wasn’t what babies were supposed to look like; I was confused.  People were everywhere so that little peak didn’t last long.  Since everyone was going crazy over that funny looking baby that I just couldn’t get near enough to, I decided to look at other things.  The sink caught my eye because I couldn’t see any handles on it. There must not be any way to turn it on, I thought it was the silliest thing.  I mean, why would anyway just have a sink in a room when it clearly couldn’t work. As I stared at it a nurse walked over to wash her hands.  I thought about telling her it didn’t work but since I wasn’t one to talk to anyone I just stood there watching what she might do.  All of a sudden the water turned on and she washed her hands,  I opened my eyes real wide and just stared at that sink!  I noticed my cousin Eric (who though being younger than me had already passed me up in size) looking rather bored.  I nudged him and told him about that amazing sink.  We both stood there and watched as a couple more nurses came through and washed their hands at that magic sink.  We glanced around quickly to make sure no one was watching and then ran over to the sink.  We pushed and pulled everything in site and even turned the door knobs on the cupboard beneath.  We waved our hands under the faucet jumped up and down but to no avail.  Nothing we tried could get that water to turn on.  About the time I was convinced that it was hopeless I glanced around the room.  No one was there except Eric who was still trying to make the water come on.  I didn’t know where everyone had gone. I poked my head out into the hall way just to find it empty.  Afraid of being scared, I turned my attentions back to my cousin who was oblivious to the fact that we had been left.  I looked at that sink long and hard and determined right then that when I grew up I would be a nurse and then I could operate that sink, because obviously nurses had a special power to be able to use it.

Alas, my memories were cut short because I had to help find the hospital.  We arrived, found a parking spot, and walked in.  I sat down in the waiting area to wait for the rest of my clinical team to arrive.  Why am I here? I watched as a lady walked through and glanced over at us.  I looked down at myself, white pants, green polo shirt, white lab coat, white shoes, and a green stethoscope around my neck.  I looked back up as the lady disapeared down the hall.  People are going to think I know what I’m doing. They will think I belong here.  They are going to trust me to take care of them. What am I doing here? I’m not capable of all that. My thoughts raced back quickly through the years and I ran across the time when I was almost 11 years old and we got a phone call. My grandma, who I was named after, had cancer.  My mom, brother, and I packed our bags and school books and went over to coastal North Carolina for 6 weeks.  My grandma had surgery and was in the hospital for awhile.  The schedule was that my mom, brother and I would drive an hour away to the hospital about halfway through the day and spend the remainder of the day there.  But somehow I hadn’t wanted to wait that long.  So I often got up early to catch a ride with my aunt who was taking my cousins to school down in that area and she would take me to the hospital.  I’d ride the elevator to the 8th floor and sit with my grandma in her room.  There was a picture on the wall opposite Grandma’s bed and one day she asked me about it.  She said she had a hard time seeing it and that it seemed like at night people were walking around in it and it was changing.  She wanted to know what it really was.   I told her all about the picture.  It was a watercolor painting with ladies in big dresses walking through a park by a pond and they were carrying umbrellas.  I remembered her laughing softly and telling me that she must have been hallucinating at night. Many times after that when I would come in to see her she would call me over to her side and tell me what the picture had done during the night.  We would laugh quietly and gaze at the picture.  But I would look back at her while she was still looking at that picture, I wished I could help her more.  Nurses would come in and out checking on her, bringing her medicine and food, and family would come in to visit.  But I just loved watching the nurses.  Sometimes I would go out to find a nurse for Grandma and then I would see the busy nurses station.  One day I took the elevater with my aunt up to the children’s ward and peaked into the playroom.  I saw lots of nurses busy caring for all the kids. I felt a longing in my heart to be able to do something, to be able to care for people.  I went back and looked at my grandma as she was sleeping.  She had been a nurse, in fact she had done nursing several places overseas during Word War II.  And when her kids were growing up she would go work as a nurse at night to earn money after she had worked all day taking care of her family.   Once again I determined that I was going to be a nurse just as soon as I got big enough.

I thought back through the many, many books I have read through the years about nurses and missionaries.  About the little white dispensaries in the middle of the jungle that helped so many people.  About missionaries who sacrificed so much to help those that were thought of as so little.  As I read each one, a new and stronger passion and fervor would well up in me.  I also thought of my year in Southeast Asia. Specifically of the night I was downstairs baking in the kitchen of our apartment.  I had pulled the bagels and rolls out of the oven and set them on the makeshift cooling rack (laid out chopsticks).  I was chatting with the two girls who I shared an apartment with when we heard a loud bang.  We ran to the glass door and I threw open the curtain.  There, right before my eyes were two people lying in the road directly in front of my.  We walked out onto the cement slab.  I looked up the road about 75 feet and saw the crumpled up motor bike up against the cement median.  I groaned in realization that these two people had flown through the air and landed here. It had been less than a minute since they had wrecked and already a crowd had gathered.  I watched as the guy tried to get up off the road but then crumpled in agony.  The girl wasn’t moving.  All of a sudden someone ran over, grabbed the girl off the road, shook her violently while screaming and dropped her back on the road.  I gasped in horror.  Don’t these people know that you can’t do that?  Where is common sense about protecting an injured person?  She may have a spinal injury.  There is no basic knowledge here. I didn’t know what to do.  There is no such thing as 911, no ambulance was going to come take them away.  Police wouldn’t even come probably for about 6 or so hours because they were probably drunk at the bar where these two young people had come from.  I watched as a couple guys from the crowd scooped up the two and dumped then in the back of a pickup truck and drove off.  It made me want to cry.  If that girl had had any chance before, there certainly wasn’t any hope now.  I walked back inside aching with the realization also that the hospital had no way of helping them either.  The thought that it might have even been good that they had been shaken so they wouldn’t have to suffer as much made me cringe.  This wasn’t the way things worked where I had come from.  The hospitals couldn’t support someone with a spinal injury. I went to bed frustrated that I didn’t have the knowledge to help these people.  Somehow, someway I was going to do something so that I could help the people with no knowledge to gain knowledge.  I determined that when I left that country I was going to go take nursing.

A stir caught my attention and I glanced up to see the white uniforms of my fellow classmates walk in.  The time had come and we were going to tour the hospital.   A slight sense of fear started to creep into me as I saw that I was in the hospital as a student nurse. This is where all my dreams have brought me so far. I tried to shake off the feeling but it refused to go.  We saw the different wings, the med room, the storage rooms, patient charts and vital sign machines.  My instructor was talking and showing us how everything worked and what to do when and where.  My brain was hurting and I still don’t think I can remember it all.  But the thing that encourages me somewhat is that somehow, someway others have done it before me. I couldn’t believe I was actually there.  This has been my dream since I was just a little girl and here I am now, fulfilling this dream.  Next week I start working with patients.  I just pray that the same God who gave me the dream and the burden will give me the strength and the ability to continue through to the end so that I can make that difference in people’s lives.


~ by Maggie Lynne on March 13, 2009.

One Response to “Hospital Orientation and My Memories…”

  1. Hey Margie,

    Sounds like you have had the dream to be a nurse for a long time. I know what it is like to have a dream and then you are able to start fulfilling the dream. I will pray for you as you start working with the patients this coming week. God Bless


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