Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grandma Lucy

For Christmas Day, we went to Perryton, Texas to Grandma Lucy's house. Grandma is lots of fun, cooks really well and she can quote the entire Bible (nearly).

I'll give you just a glimpse of this fun loving lady with a few quotes.

Playing cards:
"I'm not being nice, I'm just trying to beat you"
"Play 'til you win or you won't sleep well"
"I always play to win" (even against a 4 year old!)
"We can't stop now, its only midnight. Renee will play with me until 2 am"
"Crista thinks she's too special to shuffle cards" I really just forgot to help.

Meal time:
"I know you just ate breakfast at 11:30, but its 12 and its dinner time"
"You have to have 5 things on your plate and butter doesn't count"
"I don't eat very much dinner, then I wouldn't have room for candy"
"Nobody ever leaves my house hungry"

On Nutrition:
"They say dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate, because it has more cocoa. I don't like dark chocolate so I just eat twice as much milk chocolate for the benefits"
"For dinner last night I had candy"

When I was fixing her shirt collar she said "Its no use, it won't help this galloping horse"
When she was offered a drink with dinner she said "No thanks, I'm driving to town later" (We meant water, she was kidding, of course)
When I answered the door bell at her house she was standing outside and said "I just wanted to know if you liked me enough to let me in."
When I filled out her Mary Kay order form on Christmas Day, I absentmindedly asked the day's date. She asked "Do you sell any smart pills?"

There are tons more stories that may come out later. She's just such a special lady. She's the youngest 85 year old I've even met!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Best in Class

Just a thought that occurred to me in the many hours we've already logged on the freeway this holiday season......

Don't you think the person driving the big trucks labeled "Flammable" should be valedictorian of truck driving school or, at the very least, employee of the month? That, then, may cut out the fear that we experienced as the Flammable truck swerved in and out of our lane of traffic. Maybe this driver was a fill in because of Christmas vacation. That's what I choose to believe. The Valedictorian will be back after New Year's.

Are my expectations too high? I feel about the same with brain surgeons and bomb squad leaders.

Monday, December 12, 2005


As is common in the world of nursing I was helping a woman with a bedside bath. This consists of a bucket of soapy water and wash cloths...just so you get a picture. The woman I was assisting was a delightful woman, fun to talk to. I was setting up the supplies for her bath when she said "Well, do you know how to wash Grandma?"

"What?" I asked, confused.

She grinned and answered, "We'll wash grandma as far down as possible, then we'll wash as far up as possible, then we'll wash Possible!"

That was the first time I'd heard it put that way!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Common Ground

From time to time I have a patient that speaks only Spanish. I don’t speak much Spanish, so the time I spend caring for those patients tends to be quiet or filled with frustrated attempts on either side to make needs known. Without fail however, there has always been common ground provided by pop culture.

For instance, after almost an entire shift of barely communicating with one gentleman, I motion that I need to plug in his IV pump, as the batteries were running down. The bright light of understanding appeared in his eyes as he enthusiastically sang “Plug eet eehn, Plug eet eehn!” Thank you Glade!

Another example, I tried to communicate to a man on strict bed rest to use the handheld urinal if he needed to urinate. I held it up and said “el bano”- Spanish for “bathroom”. His eyes got very wide and frightened and in perfect English asked, “Number one or number two?”
Thank you, moms everywhere!

Lastly, I cared for a blind Spanish speaking woman. Even though I placed the call bell in her hand, she preferred screaming her requests. One day I heard her screaming “senorita, necesita caca!” meaning “miss, I need to #*&$!!” Thank you cussing guy in Spanish class!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Did you know I'm the devil?

I happened upon Mrs. Schmidt* as she was walking out of her hospital room ripping her clothes off yelling "Schmitty! Schmitty!"

"Mrs Schmidt, what's the matter?", I asked.

"I'm looking for Schmitty"

"Who's Schmitty?"

At that moment Mrs. Schmidt's eyes narrowed into a quintessential GTH look. "Don't give me that. You know exactly who Schmitty is. Schmitty is my husband!! Where is know where he is!!"

Shocked I responded "Mrs Schmidt I do not know your husband or where your husband is, let me help you to bed where you can rest"

"NO! I'm going to the bathroom." I helped her in the bathroom and before I could leave she got an evil look in her eye and said "I Hate YOU. I know who you are. YOU ARE THE DEVIL!!!"

Spent, I glared straight back in her eyes and said "Mrs. Schmidt, I've been here helping you all day and the least you could do is treat me with kindness"

She only glared at me with the same hatred and said "You are all the same. everyone of you."

I just let it go and helped her to bed and prayed very hard that she would fall asleep so I could get my work done. An hour later, I walked hesitantly into Mrs. Schmidt's room to find a pleasant, well rested lady who turned to me and exclaimed "There's my favorite girl! I love you!"

True Story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What's the Deal?

Just a little thought... How ironic is it that on the last Thursday of November every year we use our vacation time to have a feast to celebrate all we are thankful for and then on the last Friday of November every year is the most violent shopping day of the year. You can almost hear the "gimme, gimme, gimme's" ringing out all over America.
Most of those people we saw on TV practically killing each other for a discounted TV most likely went straight home and ate left overs from the aforementioned feast of thankfulness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Of Course!

On one particular Friday 2 weeks ago, I really wanted an Arby's Sandwich. I could taste it. Its actually been years since I ate Arby's so who knows why I had such a hankering for it. I drove through Arby's on my way home from running errands.

I was sitting in the middle lane of the street waiting to turn left to go home. A homeless man in a wheelchair was holding a cardboard sign that said he was hungry. I quickly deduced that it was not God's will to give him my sandwich. I was in the middle lane, not the left lane, after all. Then I realized I was lying to myself and that I would never enjoy that sandwich when someone blocks from my home was hungry. The light turned green so I turned left and looped around the freeway back to give the man my lunch.

When I made it back to the intersection, I noticed my poor friend in a wheel chair had been booted from his corner by another, younger man, who was holding his own sign. I felt the Lord tell me that it was not my call who I was to feed, I was just to be obedient. So, I rolled down my window and asked the man if he was hungry. "OH Yes, Ma'am!!" was his quick answer. I handed him my Arby's bag and felt a little better that I could help my fellow man.

As I drove through the light, I noticed the man in the wheelchair under the bridge. I decided to loop back around and stop at Arby's to replace my sandwich and get one for the man who first got me on this mission. I was too embarrassed to drive through Arby's again, so I went inside and asked for 2 sandwiches each in a different bag. No eye contact, no questions, I just wanted to give the man some roast beef and be on my way.

I made it back to the intersection and drove up to feed the man in the wheelchair, and wouldn't you know he had a friend with him. I rolled down my window and reluctantly handed them both bags. Full of thankfulness, the men shouted "God bless you, baby!"

I drove off. 30 minutes, and 3 homeless men later I had no Arby's sandwich, and there was NO WAY this fat kid was going back to Arby's for the third run in 30 minutes.

I drove home and ate a bowl of cereal.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What I "Use-ta Think" Part II

The appendix is what collects all the pennies you swallow
(in a nursing school lecture I had a moment where I said….wait a minute…..)

I actually was Wonder Woman whenever I had my costume on

Holly would really stop being my best friend if I didn’t lose the “math bee” on purpose (we’ve been best friends for 27 years…but I did lose the math bee on purpose so I guess we’ll never know :) j/k Holly)

The Sonic sign said “Happy Easter” (It really said Happy Eating)

Maxi pads were for women’s bras

My dolls would get jealous if they did not rotate who got to sleep by me.

Every hairy fat man was a kidnapper.

What did you “Use-ta think?”

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What I “Use-ta Think” Part I

When asked if I wanted to go to heaven someday, I asked for the option of coming back after a short visit there.

The way you got to heaven was Jesus flew down to get you and you put on your superman cape and flew up to heaven with him. Imagine my horror and grief when my sister sold my superman cape in our neighbor’s garage sale. I thought I had lost my salvation.

For those without superman capes, God made staircases (what I now know to be jet exhaust) for them to climb to heaven

When you “gave your offering to God” at church, the offering counters would put it in the plate and set it in the middle of the aisle after the church service and it would levitate up to heaven while the counters peeked through the sanctuary doors.

Witnessing to my friends meant taking my Sunday School book to school and telling everyone they better come to our bible study at recess if they didn’t want to go to hell.

What did you "Use-ta Think" about God and heaven?
(Next issue will address all the other aspects of life)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mrs. Miller again

The next day I returned to work and who was on my patient load again but Mrs. Miller. I can’t remember if she was still seeing the little boys in bear suits or not, but I’ll tell you what I do remember about that day.

It was time for Mrs. Miller’s bed bath. She was a paraplegic and needed 2 of us to bathe her. My co-worker Janeen and I were half way through with the routine, chatting about something unimportant, when we hear Mrs. Miller exclaim “Gentlemen, DO YOU MIND! I’m getting a bath!”

I caught Janeen’s eye and we gave each other a strange look. Here we go again.

“Mrs. Miller, what is it?” I probed.

“ Don’t you see those men in the room watching me bathe?”

“Mrs. Miller,” I say in my sweetest, non-judgmental voice, “there are no men in here. It’s just you and me and Janeen and we will make sure the gentlemen stay out until you are clothed”

This calmed her down for a bit, but in mid scrub she yells again, “ GENTLEMEN, REALLY!!”

There was no winning. So right then and there I scolded those men and informed them to leave the room immediately.

Hey, there is a time and a place to talk to imaginary people, and I’m certain that was one of those times.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mrs Miller*

“Do I really have to go to work today?” I whined to Joseph. “I have to take care of Mrs. Miller again and she calls for me every 30 minutes”

In the dreary midst of my whining I had no idea of the entertainment that would be this day.

I was right. From 7:00am to 10:30am, religiously Mrs. Miller rang her call bell. “Send me that nurse!” Then, I got busy and looked up at around 11:15…no call from Mrs. Miller.

My first thought was “Oh, NO! She’s dead!” I rushed to her room to make sure I’m wrong. I opened the door and peeked in.

“Oh, do close the door!” she begs. I’m ok with this. I know she’s alive and I have tons to do.

Another hour passes. No call from Mrs. Miller. I’ve got to know what’s going on. I went back to her room and open the door and begin a shallow “how are you” conversation with her. She seemed panicked. “Please close the door! You’ll let them out!”

“Let who out, Mrs. Miller?"

“The little boys in bear suits, giving me a magic show from atop that cabinet”

Mrs. Miller was usually quite sane and spry. I tried the technique of reorienting her to her surroundings. “Mrs. Miller, I do not see these little boys in bear suits”

“ Oh you should,” she replied, “They are fabulous!”

I tried again, “Have you seen these boys before?”

“No, are they local people?”

There was no reality to be introduced to her. I then learn that they entered her room through the hole in the tree outside her room. I called the doctor to report this mental status change, as is protocol.

He responded “I did not order little boys in bear suits! Well, is she happy? Then let her keep them”

Thank goodness! I had so much to do. And Mrs. Miller’s “babysitters” kept her entertained for the rest of my 12-hour shift!

I can’t make this stuff up!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mrs. Jones* The Final Chapter

On a heartwarming note-- one day a co-worker “Miss Inella” (as named by Mrs. Jones) and I were assisting Mrs. Jones. I asked her to “tell me why you love God today.”

“Oh, I love the Lord because he blesses us!” Here is a woman who is medically fragile, that needs me to feed her and provide her every need, whose family is too far away to even visit her or escort her back to the nursing home and she is exuberant about how the Lord blesses us.

I looked over toward “Miss Inella” and she had tears in her eyes. She is not a Christian, and to hear this woman’s testimony of God’s blessing must have really spoken to her heart. I know it changed my entire worldview at that moment.

Whether she asks for a warm blanket, chitlins, or thanks the Lord in her circumstances, certainly she lends a fresh light on living a life that embodies Phillipians 4:6.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

When they finally allowed her to go home from the hospital, they wheeled her down the hall in a gurney. I said, “I love you Mrs. Jones, and God loves you.”

And I heard her voice clearly as she moved farther away. “He blesses us! Thank the Lord for you, Sista Crista”

Thank the Lord for Mrs. Jones.

stay tuned for the adventures of Mrs. Miller*.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mrs. Jones Part III
(we’re almost finished!)

“Mrs. Jones Do you know my name?”. Probably I asked this question for a little entertainment on my part. I knew she didn’t know. I knew that she could distinguish me from others, as everyone had a different moniker besides their own name. The only one she called by their real name was the cute male night nurse, Jesse. She started calling for him the minute she heard his voice at shift change. The ladies always know, I guess. “Why sure, your name is Miss Betty”, She answered.

“No, Mrs. Jones, my name is Crista”. Her reply has now become legend.

“Oh Thank the Lord for Sista Crista!”

And that is how one of my nicknames was born.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mrs Jones* Part II

“Mrs. Jones* open your mouth for some tomato soup”, I coax.

“I’m opening my mouth for ‘mata soup” she replies as the spoon is in her mouth, thus causing the drenching by tomato soup as described in the last blog.

Mrs. Jones had a practice of repeating everything you say. Another one of her charms.

“Let me help you out of bed,” I offer.

“Miss Betty is helping me out of bed”

One day I was feverishly working to complete my tasks for the day when I hear a terrified Mrs. Jones screaming “Miss Betty! Miss Betty! I can’t see! I can’t see!”

I rush to room 603, not sure of what I will encounter. Mrs. Jones lay there in bed frantic. I am no medical genius but I diagnosed her problem immediately.

“Mrs. Jones…. you need to open your eyes.”

As if this were a new idea, she hesitantly lifted her lids and instantly the world around her was no longer dark. Relief washed over the face of this precious woman. “OH! Miss Betty!” was her thankful reply.

We all forget things…our keys, our mother-in-law’s birthday, but I am still waiting for the day I forget to open my eyes.

It’s not entirely out of the question if you know me.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mrs. Jones* Part I

“Miss Betty! Miss Betty!” I turned the corner on the 6th floor of Harris Methodist Hospital and a mixture of delight and weariness crossed my emotions. She’s calling for me again. Now I know what you are thinking. My name is not Betty. You know that and I know that, but Mrs Jones* in room 603 does not know that.

Mrs. Jones holds the award for “favorite patient ever” and “most draining patient ever” in my short 6 years in the nursing field. She needs everything, she doesn’t know much about what’s going around on her, but the one thing she does remember is “the Lord, oh how he blesses us Miss Betty.” I love her. Though some have heard these stories and may tire of them again, I will dedicate a few blogs to the 1 week I spend with Mrs. Jones and the adventures therein.

There was never a question about what Mrs. Jones needed at any given time because she would pray for it out loud. Very Loud.
“Dear Lord, I pray you bring me down a warm blanket” She’s cold, I deduce.

“Dear Lord, I pray you bring me some holy water!” She’s thirsty.

“Dear Lord, could you send me some chitlins?” Well, the closest I could come to that was tomato soup.

I fed her the tomato soup. It was your garden variety Campbells Tomato Soup. Nothing special.

“Oh Miss Betty, this is the best ‘mata soup I ever ate!” she says while spewing tomato soup all over my face. “Did you make it?” I informed her that Campbells made it. She said “Well could you tell him to put onion in it? I would like that”.

So Mr. Campbell, if you’re out there…..Mrs. Jones would like onion in that soup.

*The names of those involved have been changed to protect their identity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Peace as the World Gives

I was at conference in Washington DC this September for HIV Nutrition. The mixture of caregivers in the HIV community is interesting. You have the Christians (like myself) who are in the biz to love on those in a disparaging situation. (The four day work weeks don’t hurt either) There are also those that are not Christian, but truly great humans that have been affected by the disease in one way or the other, trying to give back and fight this awful disease. Now there are those that do not fit either category, but from my observation these are the primary subsets.

Getting back to the conference….the last session was titled “Grace under Pressure”. Sounds good to me! I was the first in the room, a “front rower” ready to hear what this session had to offer those of us in this emotionally draining field.

The first part sounded good, a couple of breathing exercises, mind clearing activities. It wasn’t until we started chanting and looking for our “inner light” that I got a little scared. Not really scared but felt really “icky”. I could not participate, I had to sit there and pray because I felt the awful feeling of deceit and despair filling the room. What’s crazy is it seemed I was the only one who noticed. People looked up from the exercise with peaceful feelings saying “oh that’s great” “I really found my inner light” “I could stay here forever!”

Forever? I was miserable. Then God whispered the words in the title of this blog to my shaken little heart. It made so much sense to me! I have not doubt that my colleagues felt peace at that moment, but I could see the shallow fleeting nature of it. I felt like Buck Williams in the Left Behind Series in the Board room with Nicolae right after he was saved (Come on! You know you read them!). He could see the deceit happening around him, while others could not.

Peace as the World Gives….. Compare it to the temporary “buzz” of yoga (as in the afore mentioned case), tobacco, alcohol, drugs, buying something new, eating a great meal….. Enjoyable activities that can give peace- if only for a second. What is tragic is that this is the only peace some will ever know.

Enter the “Peace that passes all understanding”. A lasting peace. Not fleeting, not weird…just really profound. I’ve found myself praying this over people.
That they would know this peace and that the peace that they are chasing would be exposed for the shallow fleeting band aid that it is.

I pray this for myself as well. That I will follow hard after this enduring breed of peace.

Monday, October 24, 2005


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