Saturday, September 25, 2010

CPE adventures

CPE is a strange creature. Proof that God works in strange ways, but overly taxing, especially for an introvert. My particular floor on the hospital is just a general medical/surgical/telemetry (though I don't actually know what telemetry is) unit, so I get a whole host of people on it, for a whole host of reasons. I get people with random physical ailments, people who have been moved from the ICU, people who are recovering from some surgery. I also get people who moved from the ICU after some overdose or another, whether intentional or not, so the spectrum from sane to certifiably crazy is pretty wide. I saw one patient who liked to ask me random questions about myself, including how I would wear my hair in my wedding (and I'm not even dating anyone, nor do I have immediate prospects), and, after finding out I do photography, asked if she could have a photo of me, and if I would sign my name on it. That just left me flabbergasted, and when my clinical coordinator heard about it the next day he just sat and laughed really hard. Two days later, though, the day she was discharged, she prayed for me after I finished praying for her, and she told me I will make a good 'shepherd' and affirmed this pastoral direction. It was a strange moment, hearing these things from someone who's senility I occasionally questioned, but it made me think God works in ways we aren't usually looking for, and through people we don't expect to hear these things from.
There's this other patient I saw one day on my unit, stopping by randomly to talk to her as she was sitting on her bed. We walked down the hall and back, and I told her God loves her as she is and meets her where she is. She is the only patient I've had a conversation like that with, and she was transferred to the behavioral health unit the next day, so I didn't get to stop by again to see her. I didn't imagine she'd much listened to what I was saying, although I had brought her a book of prayers the department puts out, and I found out the next day through the chaplain on her new unit that she had lost it and wanted another. I told that chaplain that I had seen her and that she might appreciate another visit, but I wasn't sure. A couple days later I got a voice message from that chaplain saying the patient had told her some of the things I had said, and wished she could remember the rest, and asked if she could see me again. I then found out out department director had seen her while she was on the ICU, but when he checked back the next day she hadn't remembered him and didn't want to talk to him. It has been a very strange experience. She did not remember the physical details of our encounter, and seemed to be confusing mine with the visits from the other two, but she remembered the words I spoke to her. In the moments when I am telling her that God loves her and meets her where she is, I believe that in a way I've never believed it before, and I truly believe God is with her. The moment is holy in a strange way, and I hope to God that my words can mean something to her even after she leaves the unit, hope they really can save a life, as the Behavioral Health unit chaplain told me I might have done. It makes me simultaneously aware of the power and utter powerlessness I possess in the exact same moment, and I know I can only trust God with her soul and do my best to represent God as faithfully as I know how and leave my shortcomings to God to fill.

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