I've witnessed many times when lives are unraveled by illness. I've also witnessed the faith of patients and family members shine through during these hard times.
This holiday season, I'd like to share some of these moments of faith with you. In doing so, I want to illustrate how faith affects the nursing profession.
Not long ago, I was passing by a patient's room. I observed a woman in a wheelchair, nodding off with her breakfast tray in front of her.
Linda Kay Goodwin
She had just arrived back to her room after testing. She was too tired to feed herself. She was a diabetic, so I asked her primary care nurse if I could help. The nurse gratefully accepted my offer, and I began preparing the patient's tray.
I poured milk over bran flakes and fixed her toast. In between sleepy nods, she ate the cereal and peanut butter and jelly bread.
She chewed hungrily and ate swiftly. She said nothing to me as I fed her, but simply nodded when she wanted another bite. While her blood sugar had tested normal, she ate like there was no lunch coming.
I asked her if she wanted to finish her milk, and she did. Taking the carton in her hands, she sipped the rest through the straw.
I knew that her prognosis was poor. She had several underlying diseases that were thwarting her recovery. Unfortunately, she probably had more bad news to expect from her recent tests.
When she was finished eating, she opened her eyes and looked at me a long time. I offered a smile.
In a deep and clear voice, she said, "Thank you."
"I'll remember you," I told her, knowing she'd be placed on my prayer list within my heart.
I was taken aback when she said, "I'll remember you, too."
Our eyes locked and a knowing smile came between us. I read her message loud and clear. She would remember me to God as well.
I felt this woman's faith wrap around me like a warm blanket. Her words and knowing eyes were a gift of comfort and hope that lent a bit of humanity in a hospital room that often can be so bleak.
My day was made by this majestic miracle. The communication of the Holy Spirit is one that doesn't require words to convey.
It was there in the glint of her eyes, like in that of St. Nicholas during the holiday season - that I knew that she knew it was God who brought us together.
Linda Kay Goodwin, RN, BSN, MBA, is a nationally award-winning columnist and recipient of the American Academy of Nursing Media Award for Excellence in the presentation of Health Care Information to the Public. She is employed by Mount Nittany Medical Center and West Virginia University Medical Center.