It was like one wave after another; only they were not undulations of water but human forms.
Without the aesthetic consistency of the offerings of the ocean, for these visions of mercy came in a variety of shapes and colors; their arrival seemed just as relentless.
For scarcely had I met and appreciated the kindness and efficiency of one, there was another equally as appealing.
It began with a McKenzie, the duty nurse assigned to my dear friend whose battle with cancer had landed him back on the 10th floor of Barnes Hospital. She was updating his chart and answering my questions. She would later bring me a recliner for the night, insisting on cleaning it with alcohol swabs herself.
There was the technician/nurse, Kandyce, that came to take his vitals. Emily who took over at 7 a.m. the following morning. Cindy and Demica that ran the station desk. Martha who specialized in hitting hard to hit veins when inserting an IV.
Adrienna who supervised the department where my friend received the endoscopic procedure to clear bile from a restricted duct. Tyrone who assisted in the CAT scan hours prior to the operation.
Martha who had night duties the following evening. Peggy who found me Graham crackers when I happened to remark I had not eaten for several hours. Cindy who got me a warm blanket and pillow when later I mentioned I had not slept for a couple of days.
There was Rachel, nicknamed “Hayseed” by another dear friend also battling cancer; he on another floor.
There were many others whom I either formally did not meet or sadly did not remember their names. The majority of these caregivers were working series of twelve-hour shifts; especially the floor nurses.
Shifts that frequently ran one to two hours long. Shifts that were often separated by less than eight hours; the break also encompassing travel as well as sleep.
I have confidence that someday I will enjoy that “peace beyond understanding” that is awaiting us all if we but accept, believe and obey. Like many, most days I am in no rush to participate. As time marches on and I find myself “longer of tooth” I have become less anxious of the transition; perhaps a bit more weary of this world’s trials and tribulations.
Then I have a week like the one just past. I meet literally “waves” of caring professionals tending to the needs of those in some of the most trying times of their lives.
I am blessed with chances of my own to comfort. From making the bed of a dear friend (the nurse that evening — fresh from military service to our country — promised to NOT try to bounce a quarter off it!), to praying with a family trying to say goodbye to a dying sister and aunt; I “found opportunity.”
To be a witness and occasional participant to such a system of caring was indeed an honor. Our healthcare is certainly in need of reform; our costs continue to skyrocket and good hard-working citizens of our country find themselves left literally “out in the cold.”
We increase the number of “entitled” and forgo promises to those who have served and supported.
Still, we are a blessed nation. When we have the young people I have recently met that have chosen medicine as their calling; the professionals that after several decades still summon the passion to greet each chance to bring comfort with such empathy and zeal. “…ministering spirits sent to serve…”
Angels among us?
(Rick Mansfield is a seasoned storyteller and writer, and is always looking for new audiences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)