9/12/2010: My story as a nurse
A lot of things have happened today, thanks because I had night roaming guard duty. I have many things to write about. I write only things that I feel have spiritual importance.
Today is not a good day for me. I slept most of the day (due to guard) and woke up to play Counter-Strike because I really wanted to play it. I try not to be addicted to it and I feel I am only partially successful. I don’t play CS or any other games for countless hours now but for only about an hour. I just play it just to satisfy my need for potential and then I’m done.
Of the many things I want to write about today, there is one thing I want to write first and it’s not about what happened when I was on guard. I tried to think about starting it, but the temptation of games got me.
My dad sent me an e-mail and I decided to quickly open it. He would typically send me e-mails but I would seldom write back, preferring the phone call. I quickly skimmed it but at the very end of the e-mail I remember reading, “You almost succeed as a nurse. Would you like to try again?” I didn’t know what to say or respond to that. For me, now that I am closer to God, what I really want to do is to give Him glory. I heard from my church that it doesn’t matter what I chose to become, as long as I give God glory. I need to serve God in what I do. I told people before that my first major was Christian Ministries, thanks to Mid-America and then my second major would be what I want to do with my life. God helped me so much, the least I can do is to put Him first.
See, I’m kind of confused. Does serving God completely mean serving God full-time with a godly profession? Jesus’ disciples were fisherman. They had a worldly job that supports them. Saul (before he became Paul), also had a job. David had a job as a shepherd. Is it pleasing to God for me to chose a worldly career and also serve God at the same time? I know I can also serve God in my job, but would I have done better if I chose a spiritual-related occupation? Can I spend my entire working life just working for God? I can tell others about God’s law on the streets, spreading and teaching God’s Word. I’ll just have to spend, initially, nine parts of time in prayer and only one in evangelism. Later, the ratio would be better. But how would I make a living? Can I just save the money I have in the three (plus one due to training) and just live in my dad’s house? My dad would disagree with me and I might be kicked out. A 100% Christian life is a hard life. It is a life of Paul.
I just came back from dinner and it really gave me some time to think about what I’m writing. When I was a LVN student, I was a very slacking student. I was addicted (enslaved would be a better word) to computer games. I would hardly read the course material and only listen attentively in class. I could pass the written examinations with no problem (to me, it’s just common sense), while others do. What I failed in, was the practical, the hands-on part. Since I didn’t really study or read my expensive nursing book, and I have very little experience with my hands, I struggled. I had trouble doing basic nursing skills such as giving the patient (a mannequin) a bath, emptying their bowels, etc. I would just blank out and not know what to do. I would watch my peers do it and I tried to memorize the steps, but when it came to my turn, I mess up. My nurse instructor had to give me hints and tell me what to do. And then, I would do it again and barely pass. She tells me that she’s nervous about me and that I need to be more confident. Problem is, I felt I was as confident as I can. If I lie about my skills and abilities and pretend to be confident, I may make mistakes and hurt people. When it came time to memorize the different classes of medications, my lack of studying finally caught up with me. I quit the nursing class. Out of 400 applicants, only 30 were accepted. I was so happy to know that I made it, and I felt so bad to disappoint them. The main reason why I failed, I felt, was because I did not give God full control of my life. I sang, I prayed, but I also spent every free minute under a computer screen. Many times, I knew what I was doing is wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. I would force myself to kneel on my bed and pray and ask God to help me. I know what to do. I know how to get healed. The Bible tells me so, but, I just stood no chance resisting my urge to play. Had I gave God 100% and suffered the agony of not playing games; I would have passed my nursing class.
Even though I lacked hands-on skill, I found what I did excel in was in loving people. Yes, loving people. I was shy and introverted, but the times when I’m with patients, I wasn’t afraid to love. At a nursing home (this was when I took nursing assistant at PCC), there was a difficult elderly woman named Geraldine. She had Alzheimer’s and would be very easily forgetful. She was also very cranky maybe due to her condition. All the nursing staff told us that she is one of the most difficult resident in this facility. At times, she would throw things, bite, spit, and do crazy things at you, especially during meal times (there are obviously more stuff she could use against you). Because of what the staff said, nobody wanted her. However, I was naïve back then, and praise God for that, I just felt that if I love her with the love that comes from God, she wouldn’t be difficult. I first few days were the hardest. I find a few things that I couldn’t explain that the nurses were doing. Sometimes, they treat their patients without love, as if they were a burden. When the elderly misbehave (and I think because they know they are mistreated) and do something, the nurses, and at one time, a doctor would laugh at him/her and walk away. All in front of the resident who was fully aware what was happening. It’s really sad. I can feel their pain. My nursing instructor at PCC told us many times, they would be angry, upset, mean, etc, because they are depressed at their condition. These are people who used to lead productive lives, but due to a condition, and aging, they couldn’t do it anymore, but they still know at one point in time, how they were strong. So I can see, feel, and understand their pain and frustration. I told the staff if you were more loving and nice, they probably won’t be so mean, but they said it’s the same, and I think they said the stress makes it hard to love. Anyways, as I said, the first few days with her were the hardest. I chose her because I felt sorry for her condition and how the caregivers just take care of her body but not her heart. I wanted to love her.
I would always talk to her and comfort her. She always says to me, looking at me with big eyes, “are you going to kill me?” I would always kneel down at her, shake my head gently, and say softly, “no, I am not going to kill you, I want to help you.” I would touch her to reassure her. The first step in caring for somebody is to win their trust. I would always try to talk to her. She would say from time to time, “Hello alligator.” The staff told me she used to, before her Alzheimer’s got really bad, be a very funny and sociable person. Everyone loved to be around Geraldine. But, as time passes, she became bitter and more uncontrollable. Sometimes, the nurses have to use restraints on her. I don’t want to use restraints on her. It stops her body but it doesn’t stop the inside. If she punches me, I’ll let her do it and I’ll tell her how much it hurts. Maybe that would develop empathy. I might even hug her. I moved her slowly, so she can see and have time to think about what’s happening to her. I kept telling her that we are going to eat and other friendly questions. Due to her Alzheimer’s, at this late stage, I would tell her I’ll be right back because I needed to get something, and a half-minute later, she would forget who I am. I have to reintroduce myself and I tried to say something that can help her remember. As days go by, she started to remember me. I would kneel down to eye level, look into her eyes with my eyes open, smile, and introduce myself, and she would remember me! I’m so happy when that happens. During meal times, I when I hand feed her (other residents could feed themselves if they can, but she can’t). The staff told me to be careful. She could spit and throw up at me at anytime. So, I was careful. I always asked nicely what she would like to eat. I would tell her the food, maybe let her feel the touch, and then tell her what I’m doing. “Let me open this applesauce up.. there, it’s opened now. Would you like some? Okay. How much do you want in a spoon? Just half-full? Okay, just half-full.” She was very selective about the food and how it’s been given to her. If you’re not careful, she would reject eating it and if you continue to pressure her to eat, she would scream. That’s probably why she spits and throws up food at caregivers, because they aren’t sensitive enough. After feeding her for a while, she would say that’s it, I’m not eating anymore. I looked at the tray and there’s still so much food left. I would try to lovingly talk to her, to persuade her to eat. “You only ate a little bit… see? There’s still so many food that haven’t been eaten yet. Would you like some? I would like you to eat more because it’s good for your health. Your body needs food; it needs energy. How about just a little bit of this? It’s really good.” And then she would agree and eat a little bit more. I just talk to her with love and she gave me no trouble at her. In fact, I really enjoy being with her. Just knowing that she trusts me and can understand me and how I always keep her informed about everything puts her at ease. Love never fails. A few days later, we went to another nursing home and after a week, came back to the old one. I looked for Geraldine, but couldn’t find her. I asked the staff and she told me she passed away yesterday. I felt so sad for her, but at least I take comfort that I gave her some love before she leaves this world. It’s a wonderful feeling to help people. A few days later, thanks to my gaming habit, I was just so unconfident and behind on my hands-on skill that I stopped going to class. It’s painful to just stop going to that nursing assistant class cold turkey. I received calls from my nursing instructor asking me what happened (she had a sad, resigned tone of voice). I would always check to see if our house fax machine has a message. I can’t let my dad find out that I secretly dropped the class. To me, back then, it’s just so scary to give other people a bath or assist them in using the bathroom. I didn’t really have enough life experience or faith in God to continue my class.
Shortly after that, I was accepted to the LVN class at East LA college. I thought to myself, this time, I’m going to study, study, study, and not let games get in the way of my life. I never really faced my gaming problem, so, the gaming problem followed me into nursing school.
But, one thing I did do good at is loving people. In the nursing homes, I was too afraid, nervous, and not good enough, etc, to actually do the nursing tasks. I would just watch my peers do it and hope one day I can do it too. But, the later I wait, the more tasks I have to do and the less time I have to do it. As always, I would be assigned to a resident, and I would talk to him/her. There was once when I decided to ask her if she would like to sing. I started singing “Amazing Grace” and she followed along. It’s great to sing with a resident because of the bonding experience. And then I sang “What a friend we have in Jesus” and she followed along. Then, I decided to test her and sang “His eye is on the Sparrow” and she just looked at me. I asked if she knew the song or the tune, but she told me no. When we sang, I would try to clap hands with her (good exercise). It was awesome. I would also try to visit every room to see how they are doing. When I was thinking about becoming a nurse (back then), one thing I would do is to go into each room and pray for that person. That way, it won’t be just medicine healing the patient, but God. I also wanted to go into each room and see if they want to pray. But, I was afraid to ask that because I was told not everyone is Christian, so I just silently prayed from room to room (I would look at their name plates). After a while, I became self-conscious. The staff may look at me and wonder what I’m doing. They may think I’m secretly trying to kill patients, etc (I think crazy thoughts), and bar me from seeing them. So, I would look around and, if it’s safe, I would go in and pray. A lot of residents also likes to be touched. I think why is because they are always so lonely all the time. The only time they see people is during meal times, medicine rounds, or group activities. I would hold their hand or their shoulder and say good bye. One nursing student at ELAC told my nursing instructor (she is very worried about me) that I did good today. I sang with patients, talked to them, etc, but the instructor just ignored me. I think that’s because she also knows my weaknesses. I tried to tell myself that if I really love them, I would spend the time to study how to take care of them better, but it didn’t work. I still played games exclusively. I only loved them when I was close to them.
I don’t know if I want to be a nurse again. I enjoy helping people and loving them, but I’m not sure if it’s my calling. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m still thinking. After my nursing stint, I told my dad nursing is not for me, but I felt teaching is. I became a tutor at SINWA and I found teaching kids more fun than nursing because I interact with them more and, plus, I can also teach them about their eternal future.
I have no idea what I want to be after the Army, but I will continue to seek and worship God. I think it doesn’t really matter what I chose to be, as long as I serve God.
*For the Record:
Even through Jesus’ disciples were fisherman and tax collectors, when Jesus called them to be disciples, he instructed them to lay everything aside and just follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27). When David was called by God, he left behind his earthly job, and set his heart on God (1 Samuel 18:2).
And also, another reason why I failed my nursing is because of my pride. When I found that I can pass my written examinations with little or no studying and I got better grades than my peers who did studied, I thought to myself that I already know all these basic stuff. I thought I was smarter than them. I don’t <i>need</i> to study. But, I was wrong. I should have humbled myself before God and men and not be deceived by deceiving results.