The day a miracle happened
In the world we live in today it is sometimes hard to realize that good people still exist, and we, as a society, have become so “busy” that we’ve, in general, come to believe that miracles don’t happen anymore. When in truth miracles happen; we’re just so bombarded with everything else that we fail to see. Because so few of us actually experience the phenomena of a miracle we have grown cynical.
I work in an inpatient psychiatric hospital; this typically does not help one become more positive regarding the human condition. Many of these patients have been through so much in their lives it is amazing that they are even still standing and no wonder that their mental health has taken a toll. I have seen many, many things in the short time I have been employed at this facility; some things break your heart, some make you feel absolutely helpless, others cause frustration, the whole spectrum of emotions. This is nursing.
Last year I was scheduled to work Christmas (Hospitals never close, you know.), and especially during these family oriented holidays I think a lot about my patients and their families. We, as staff, do all that we can to ensure that the patients’ holiday season is as uplifting as possible. Our efforts always fall short because at the end of the day who wants to be in the hospital on Christmas Day?
Last year at about hour 10 of my 13 hour shift dinner was served. Dietary had prepared the state version of Christmas dinner: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, gravy, a roll, and a small slice of pumpkin pie (I told you we try, but again, this is far from your home- cooked meal.). As I look out across my unit as the trays are served I notice a few things: First, the gentleman patient with the unbelievable IQ mixed with a bit of mania, sits at a round table, glasses perched on the end of his nose reading the day’s newspaper, and I notice that he is wearing the new wool sweater that he received as a gift and he looks just like a college professor sitting there with his paper; from this vantage point one would never know that he is sick; next I notice other patients on the unit showing one another the puzzle books, markers, socks, and trinkets they received as gifts.
Everyone is smiling and, at least, outwardly seems happy and grateful for this day. They are so grateful for the tiny amount of kindness that has been shown to them today. Lastly, I see a young female patient sitting at another round table on the unit. I pause at her because I and other staff members are especially concerned about her; she has been here since October. In that time we have only seen her eat an occasional granola bar and a juice maybe every other day. It’s now December, and she has lost considerable amounts of weight.
She is so thin that we are scared for her, but she believes that she must fast and that God will tell her when she can eat. As I observed her I notice something out of the ordinary; there is a Styrofoam container in front of her. Could it be that she has a try of food in front of her? (Her tray comes in all closed containers as to combat the paranoia that someone will contaminate her food.) It is! So I continue to watch; I don’t want to interrupt her because I fear I might cause her to change her mind.
Then slowly she picks up her fork and slowly she places a bite of food in her mouth and then another and another until the entire tray is gone. This young lady had not eaten a meal in months, but at PM on that Christmas day she cleaned her plate, her Christmas dinner.
So don’t tell me miracles don’t happen anymore; they do, we just have to slow down enough to see them. That day was a miracle. Her eating that meal, the joy of the patients for these simple things, and the magic in the air; there is simply no other word to describe this day other than miraculous.
Candise Belmont RN is an works at a state funded mental hospital for the last two years. She became a Registered Nurse in 2008. Prior to that she worked as a CNA in hospitals and long term care facilities for 6 years. She received her BSN from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Candise has a passion for nursing, mental health illnesses, and writing. She also teaches at Austin Peay Nursing Program in Tennessee.