Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Nurse Story

It started out just like any other shift. I had 6 patients... a full load, even though many days we had to take 7 or 8, because of short staffing. Nothing major. The day was going well. I was caught up on my charting by 1:45, and had discharged a patient. I kept my fingers crossed that I would not get a new patient this late in the day, but to no avail. The charge nurse informed me that I would be geting the next admit, and he was coming from Fulton County Jail. That was really no big deal. We took care of prisoners all the time, and except for the somewhat unnerving handcuffs keeping them locked at the ankle to the foot of the bed, they were quite easy to take care of, and generally undemanding as long as you ordered double portions for their meals.

We saw the police coming down the hall, bearing the stretcher in their midst as if they were the Macy's parade, protecting the mayor's float. There were 6 of them. Six police officers to one prisoner. Don't think we even bothered whispering. We wanted to know who this guy was, and what he did that he needed six armed guards! One of the nurses found out while I was in the supply closet getting the admission kit and towels.

"Sarah. He decapitated his wife."
"He WHAT?"
"Yep. They found him sitting cross-legged on the floor with his wife's head in his lap."
"Are you lying?"
"No, that officer just told me."
Oh, Lord.
"Well, why is he here?"
"His blood sugar dropped, and while they were bringing him here, he was so combative that they had to give him Ativan. " Well, thank God for that. At least he'll be out.

It was a really long walk down that short hall. I had been a nurse for less than a year at this point, still extremely green, and very naive, though I had learned alot in the past six months. Unfortunately, not one of those valuable lessons ever involved "The Care of a Man Who Decapitated His Wife."

I arrived at the door. The police were still all in the room, and as I started to move in, slowly, like a hobbit among these tall, buff, black guards, I could tell that they wanted to clear me out of there, simply from force of habit. "I'm the nurse," I squeaked, sounding every bit as confident as I'm sure I looked, stringy blond hair, stooped shoulders and pale countenance. The forest of security parted with a guarded reverence.

On the bed I saw an asian man, short, stocky, with well groomed hair, lying there in a t-shirt and underwear. He was tied to the bed at the wrists and ankles with police tape and leather restraints. He was covered in blood.

I had a moment. "I need to clean him up." My voice had recovered it's normal low pitch, and I made eye contact with the policeman standing like the North Tower on the side of the bed, indicating to him that he would have to loosen the restraints. "Ma'am, we can't uncuff him." "Well, we've got to get him bathed and in a gown. " He shook his head, and said "Sorry. We can't uncuff him." I sighed and stood for a minute wondering how I was ever going to get this accomplished. I went back out to the nurses station for a pair of sissors, a glucometer, and some sympathetic glances from my teammates. Glances were all I got. No one volunteered to go in there.

I returned to the room, and after checking his blood sugar, which had returned to a safe level, I had to clean him up. But to get his clothes off, I needed to cut them off. I had to cut the underwear off of this dangerous criminal, while surrounded by police officers. It was a surreal moment to say the least. I managed to get him undressed, washed his upper body, and put the gown on him. His hands and feet were brown and crusty from dried blood, where he had strained against his cuffs. I cleaned him in the quiet of the room, when he whispered- "Do you have a knife?" Many, many responses banging at the door of my lips, screaming to reply. I looked up at the South Tower, my eyes wide. "No, sir." was all I said.

I moved down his legs to his feet, and still no one was saying a word. They all stood there watching me. I glanced up at his face. Unreadable. I was fascinated. "Lord, what do you really, I mean really think of this guy? Look at him. He killed his wife...no, he cut off his wife's head! He's the worst of the worst. How do you really see him?" As I glanced down at my hands, I heard the Still Small Voice.

"You are washing My feet."

An audible sob escaped my lips. I knew it was true, and yet it was so unbelieveable, and so wrong somehow! In the midst of the horror of what I'd heard, I was blinded by the revelation of His grace.

He had been this man. He took on all sin at the cross- yes, even this sin, and put it to death. There is nothing that He has not covered by His grace, by His love, by His power. There is nothing that can keep us from Him! Nothing. He loved and wanted even this one! So much so that He covered the man's sin by His own death, knowing there was nothing he could do to redeem himself. He is our Redeemer.

That man might have never known it. I didn't tell him. I hope that someone did, or does if he is still alive. I simply did my job, got him cleaned and passed him to the next nurse. It was enough.

When you are doing it to the least of these, you are doing it to Me.

21 comments:

mare said...

Wow, what a poignant experience. Thank you for sharing.

Jada's Gigi said...

How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation....
What a gift we have been given and not one of us is anymore deserving than that prisoner.
Truly He is ALL and in ALL!

sweethc said...

Man...you just about made me start crying. That is one of the most powerful stories I have ever had the privilege of reading. You are so added to my list of blogs. I want other people to read this.

I have always believed God leads people to each other when they are in need of something. I heard the message of your post loud and clear.

Virginia said...

Wow. Amazing story.

Today (for reason's I'll share later) is a somewhat stressful day for me to look ahead to... but in these moments here as my day starts, you've helped me gain some perspective. :)

(Do you have a knife??!! WHOA!)

Jen said...

I have CRAZY goosebumps right now. What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

missy said...

Few people ever reach a level of faith that God could demonstrate his love so graphically...and have it received...Your faith and love for Him must be great ...and so sincere that He would reveal such a thing....and you could hear it and embrace it.

NicoleBond said...

what an amazing story... and so hard to comprehend...
love ya!

trent@ gracehead.com said...

Wonderful, wonderful grace. Wonderful, wonderful mercy. Thank you so much for sharing!

My wife and I call this FROGLA, which means Fresh Revelation Of Gods Love and Acceptance.
Thanks for my daily dose of FROGLA today!

Ripening for the harvest,
Trent
www.GraceHead.com

afp763389 said...

why im not a woman...

April said...

dang dude...that is so powerful. love this post and love you!

jayjay said...

Hi dear heart! How very YOU to respond so openly and graciously to the small voice inside you. It brought tears to my eyes and to my sisters when I read it to her.
Thanks - the word on GRACE has stayed with me since I read the story.

Father Estaban Cortez said...

Ma'am,

I can only imagine what went over you when you heard the still small voice say, "you are washing my feet." I am a 34 yo soldier, who has lost his right eye due to retinal detachments. I am fortunate enough to have never served in combat, nor will I ever. I am currently working on getting to Bible College, and then on to Seminary, where, one day, I hope God will lead me to preach and instruct. Thank you, for this wonderful story. It warms me to hear of these encounters, and yours was exceptional, to say the least!

Raina_Marie said...

I have nothing to comment other than 'wow'.

I just wanted to let you know I was here and read it three times.

suburban mom said...

Oh wow.

karen marie said...

wow...i'm sitting here stunned...don't even remember how i got to your blog...2peas link i think. this is an amazing and enlightening story. thanks so much for sharing.

Amber said...

oh my goodness. that is about all i can say.

The Mighty Pup said...

Wowsa! That is an absotootly eggselent story of our Savior's love and His Mercy. God bless you for sharing it!

Applesthree said...

Excuse me while I wipe aside the streaming tears, and praise the Lord. What an honor, to wash the feet of our Lord that day. Thank God His mercy is
THAT big!

Arlie said...

It is so wonderful how one can be so dedicated to the Love of God that they could care, tend and love another such as this such as you displayed here. It is things like this that God loves to write into "His Book Of Life".

Thank you for sharing what we all needed to hear.

Arlie

Newbirth said...

Wow. Just wow. I'm speechless. That's beautiful.

schelf said...

Wow. Walk in the Valley of Darkness without fear.