Monday, March 13, 2017

Patient Belongings

Well, after LAST week's fiasco involving the fire hose up the nose, I imagine ANYTHING would be easier to take, medically speaking!  I headed to my pre-op appointment today, thankfully right here in Berkeley.  No hoses, no saline, and nothing to do with my nose!

Good thing they have ROOFTOP parking, 
or I would probably have to abandon my car!

Now, if they could only install a Zipline over to the hospital...

I had to fill out the STOP BANG paper to see if I had any sort of risk for using anesthesia.  The nurse had to laugh when I knew my exact neck measurement... when you're a Pastor, and you're fitted for a collar, you just happen to know these kinds of random things!

Again, an A for effort goes to the grounds crews
 for enhancing the visual appearances of these medical centers.  
It was a lovely view as I waited for my appointment.  

Gulp.  The first moment of pain...but one of the heart.

These are the pneumatic tube machines that allow 
you to send medicine, paperwork, etc, within the building.  

I had to use one of these this summer, 
each and every time a baby had been miscarried.  

All the paperwork about where the baby would eventually go (cremation or funeral home) would have to be filled out and sent via this kind of tube to the Registrar who logged the data.  It was the last step of a very painful process, and always involved tears.  Today was no exception.  

My pre-op Nurse was awesome, and answered any question I had regarding my upcoming surgery.   I was also relieved that, for once, my medical records were up to date, with all of the recent tests uploaded in true, digital fashion.  We are FINALLY catching up in the medical records field!

She gave me an Incentive Spirometer so that I can practice deep breathing before and after this surgery.  I developed pleurisy (ouch, ouch, ouch) after my hysterectomy, so I'm definitely wanting to avoid that experience again!  I'm pretty sure the incentive is to avoid repeating that pain!

They even give you a special soap you are to use the night before and day of your surgery to wash away any and all of the germs you might be carrying.  It's a skin cleanser and antiseptic wrapped into one.  DIE, bacteria, DIE!

See?  It will be ok...I keep praying... 

....and then I lost it.  UGH.

I was doing SO well.  I really was.

With all of the other major surgeries (the hysterectomy and the removal of my little eye), there was always an aspect of LOSS.  Losing the chance to bear children.  Losing the eye that was always mine.  Lose, lose, lose.  

THIS surgery, however, is all about repair, so my general attitude and demeanor toward it has been more positive and upbeat.  Less fear, more trust.  Less worry, more courage.  

But then, the nurse puts all of my things in this bag, 
and the tears flowed.  

"It's just a bag!" she exclaims.

Oh, kind nurse, it is more than just a bag.

As a Chaplain, this bag was the last thing I'd hand the family
 before they left the hospital...right after their loved one had died.  

Ugh.  This is so much more than a bag.  This is a reminder of all of the heartbroken people that we would walk to the parking lot or to the elevators, embrace, and then send on their way.  With a bag.  THIS bag.  A bag full of the clothing or jewelry that their loved one had been wearing.   

It wrenched your heart to watch them clutch this bag and its contents.
Clinging to pieces of their loved one.
Usually, still in shock. 

This is SO much more than just a bag.  

Personal Belongings, it says.  
Nothing personal about this sterile, plastic bag.

If there had been a medical emergency, 
the bag is thrown in a corner by one of the EMTs.
Tossed on a chair, to be grabbed at a later time.  

If the hospital stay had been longer, the bag was often nearby,
 filled with a change of clothes, or extra socks.  
Sometimes a book or a blanket their loved one might use.  

But so often, the bag just sat there on the countertop, a plastic example of hope lost.  
The items in that bag wouldn't be used by the patient in the ICU.  
The books wouldn't be read by the man in the coma.  
No amount of extra socks could warm the dying grandmother.  

And then the moment of death would come.  

Before, no one cared about the plastic bag in the corner or on the counter.  It was the furthest thing from their minds...right up until they gathered themselves together, and decided it was time to head home.  Suddenly, that bag held the last known items that provided a direct, tangible connection to their loved one.  That bag became the most important piece of plastic in the room.

Where's my wife's wedding ring?  Where's the belt he was wearing?  Here.  In the bag.  

Pieces of a life they knew, gathered together, 
and placed into a crinkly, plastic bag.  

Personal Belongings.

How can our belongings be..............personal?  

To what do we belong?  To WHOM do we belong?

For me, the answer will always be my Creator, my God.  

THE personal of all personals.  

1 comment:

Eric said...

We love you, Brenda. All will be well. God is holding you. We are all thinking of you, praying for you, loving you