The One I Have Never Forgotten
I went on a Medical Mission Trip just after receiving my LPN license. It was the beginning of my Nursing career.
As a student Practical Nurse, I made a commitment that I would go on a Medical Mission Trip to give back to those less fortunate for what I have been given. I signed on with a group of Nurses and Physicians leaving out of Orlando, Florida, for this trip. I could not wait to graduate to make this journey to Guatemala. We would be going high into the mountains of San Pedro to give care to children with cleft palate deformities.
I graduated in May of 1992. November that year, I was on my way to Guatemala to use the skills I had been blessed to obtain. We flew out Miami, FL and landed in San Lucas, Guatemala. There were many physicians, lay people as well as nurses on that trip. We all made a connection immediately as we felt so blessed to be a part of this adventure.
Once we arrived at our overnight accommodations, we could see the poverty all around us. People burning rubber tires to stay warm. Homes made of metal walls just leaning on each other with a dirt floor. The watering trough for the community, as well as for the animal, brought a fear to my heart of disease for these people. It was amazing to me that an area so poor could exhibit such smiles on the people. I was amazed at how little they had and yet so much they possessed.
The following morning we headed high into the mountains of San Pedro where we would work out of a small hospital to repair the cleft palate/lip deformities. Prior to leaving San Lucas, I was handed a tiny baby to hold as we traveled the many miles to San Pedro. She was frail. She was six-months-old and I was holding her in my arms, attempting to get her to take a bottle of formula. Her mother no longer wanted her if she could not be repaired. So the missionaries brought her on the trip in hopes we could repair the cleft palate/lip. Her name was Maria. She had dark beautiful hair and big brown eyes. Her mother had been feeding her with an eye dropper of cow's milk. She needed more in order to survive. She did not know how to cuddle. Her arms and legs would flail out as I held her.
We arrived in San Pedro at the Hospital. I was assigned to the recovery room for the children. This was not your typical Hospital as we have here in the states. It had one operating room. The families were responsible for the food for their child. The cook only cooked meals for the staff as we were there long hours each day. They had simple accomodations and rewarded us with thankfulness for their care. I would sing to the children as I examined their stitches and gave them their injections. I had to asks the interpreter to tell them to not smile so much because it could tear the stitches in their mouth.
Days went by, as I was worked in the recovery room. Maria was placed in a small wooden box in that room so I could care for her. She began to take more and more formula. The mandibular muscles in her cheeks were beginning to look plump. She would be going into surgery as soon as the Doctors felt she was ready. In the meantime, I had become a surrogate mother to this child. If anyone tried to hold her, she would cry. They would hand her back to me. She would smile and I knew she felt safe with me. The most important Nursing I could do was to care for this little baby who needed special care.
The day came for her to have surgery. I asked to be in the OR to observe the procedure. As the Nurse Anesthetist began to put her under, she began to have bronchial spasms. The procedure was never performed because she was too frail to go through it. The missionaries knew the mother would not want the baby so they would asks for the city to give the missionaries rights to take her. In the meantime, I would return to the States and wait for their call. Once they called, I was going to return to Guatemala and stay there until I could get adoption into the States with her. Maria was taken back to her mother, who stated she did not want her. After two weeks, the missionaries did get custody of Maria. They rushed her to a hospital where she was diagnosed with Dysentery Bowel Disease. She died in the ER that night. I received call from the missionaries informing me of Maria. I began to cry but realized that she was no longer suffering. She was a little Angel that I was blessed to know and care for her.
This was the beginning adventure of my Nursing career. It put so many things in perspective for me. I went onto working in Progressive Care Units taking care of very ill patients. When I would get discouraged, I would be reminded of the little these people had and how grateful they were.
Nursing is a demanding profession. It demands everything from us; emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I am an LPN. I was paid fairly well for my experience. I love being a nurse. I love caring for others. This is why I left 10 years working as a Legal Assistant/Court Reporter to pursue Nursing. You make such a difference in the lives of so many.
Valerie G. Dickens, LPNLast edit by Joe V on Jun 14, '18
I am a LPN. I graduated from Practical Nursing in 1992. Prior to becoming a Nurse, I was a Court Report/Legal Assistant for 10 years. I am married with two children; 19 & 16.
Joined: May '16; Posts: 1; Likes: 33May 24, '16The One I Never Forgot was a 19 year old leukemia patient. It was 1980 & I was a new grad RN and had just turned 21. He was admitted to the hospital for a lung infection. Since I was very close to his age and looked much younger, he would always give me a hard time. One infection led to another and more complications and after being in the hospital for almost 4 months, he died. I never forgot him. Some of the nurses went to his funeral but I could not go.May 26, '16The one I'll never forget was a baby smashed into a bed frame by her father who was high at the time. She was apprehended from her mom as well because she told the ER nurses she would never leave him and the baby showed signs of neglect on top of the hematomas all over her face and body. I rocked her all night. I don't know where she ended up but it breaks my heart that any child should have to suffer like that. Thank you for sharing your story. Nursing isn't easy, we see so much.May 27, '16Thank you for sharing. I always tell myself, when I retire I want to travel the world on Medical Missions and help those that have limited resources.May 28, '16The one I will never forget was a 16 year old girl in a mvc. She had been dead on scene, but revived. When I met her she was at home and still non responsive. I cared for her for 3 years, eventually switching from night shift to days. I took her to MD appointments, to therapy. Eventually she started to rouse. I taught her to speak again. Her family had not dealt well with the accident. Mom never adjusted, she would say " I want my daughter back". The family kept moving from house to house. I didn't understand why, until I found out they would rent really nice houses, not pay the bills, then get evicted. Finally, the family put her in a nursing home. It broke my heart, because I know what nursing homes are like. I worked in that nursing home for about a year. The family had stopped coming to see her. She was losing ground. I could no longer do such physical work, quit the nursing home. I have not been back. I could not bear it. I pray for her all the time.May 28, '16After reading your story (and shedding a few tears) a parade of men, women and children went through my mind's eye … so many people I connected with over the years - who I cared for, and in return gave me something back you can't cash into a bank account. Nursing can be brutal, many times exhausting, and even stressful - but the dividends of caring for people and doing it well is it's own reward.May 28, '16The one I can never forget, an 80 y/o woman nearing the end of her life. She was in my ICU with sepsis. She started to develop a low BP, and I was unable to place another IV. I called the surgeon to get her a Central line. At the same time, this was happening on my side of the floor other were admitting a very sick and also septic young lady. She was circling the drain and also needed a central line. The Dr decided that the young lady would get her line first and then I would be next in line. I maxed out the first pressure med and then I added a second, They both were maxed. My patient still didn't have a blood pressure, and I was frantic to get the surgeon to place a line. I also called family and warned them of the situation. I was new to the ICU and felt all alone on my side of the unit as many others raced to save the young lady. My patient died, she just couldn't hold on any longer. The Dr tried to get the line but with two pressures running he couldn't get a vein. I cried for days that I couldn't help her more. That was eight years ago. The young lady lived and went on to be a spokesperson for my hospital. She lost toes from all the Levophed we had to give her, but she made it. She can continue with her life and care for her children.May 28, '16The patient I will never forget was a 56 year old woman that I cared for furing my clinical rotation. I stayed in touch with her sister after clinical was over and went to see her numerous times at the rehabilitation center where she had been transferred due to respiratory distress and had a trach inserted into her airway. Her Sussex stated that she would bring her home and asked me to help care for her. I was honored and agreed. I went to the hospital and would stay 8+ hours with her. Finally her sister took her home and didn't stay in touch and always made excuses on why I couldn't see her. I was hurt and stopped calling, her sister texted me out of the blue and told me that the patient whom I consider my friend at this point had passed away and the funeral was in a few hours. I was devestated, I never responded back and didn't attend the funeral. I couldn't bare to see her that way. I learned alot from Deb despite her having an anoxic brain injury and being unable to speak, walk or talk. I will always remember her looks of encouragement during clinical when I was doubting my abilities to care for her, her looks of encouragement when I was studying for NCLEX while sitting at the hospital with her. She was 56 and gone too soon, she had been in that physical state since she was 38. She will be missedMay 28, '16be careful what you wish for in becoming a medical missionary! The conditions you could work in or bed in, can be a cultural shock. Forget the North American way of living. Just...be careful. Its nice to be all warm and fuzzy about helping people less fortunate? But are they?
These people are fine, and appreciate the help, its the bosses of your ...you get the idea!May 28, '16Needless to say, that was a very touching experience and I thank you for sharing it with us. Wishing you the very best in all of your future endeavors...Aloha~Jul 6, '16Just wanted to leave this resource here for those who are interested in Medical Missions. There are many agencies that send healthcare professionals to do mission work but this is the only agency which is exclusively for healthcare professionals. The founders are husband and wife nurses who have tons of medical mission experience.
Christian Health Service Corps Christian Health Service CorpsDec 26, '17Quote from Roy HansonHuh???be careful what you wish for in becoming a medical missionary! The conditions you could work in or bed in, can be a cultural shock. Forget the North American way of living. Just...be careful. Its nice to be all warm and fuzzy about helping people less fortunate? But are they?
These people are fine, and appreciate the help, its the bosses of your ...you get the idea!
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