|Rachel McFarland, RN|
Rachel McFarland, RN, Med/Surg, had an experience with an unforgettable patient at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf in Port St. Joe, Florida. Following are excerpts from a story about the encounter that she shared during the hospital's recent recommitment ceremonies:
During my new-hire training, I crossed paths with one patient I will never forget. He was a gruff, grumpy man, not the cleanest nor the most polite person. He was struggling with respiratory problems and alcoholism. He was constantly on the call light, calling for more assistance or ready to share his latest complaint.
As it's easy to do, internally I grew impatient and annoyed, just wanting to appease him enough to be able to step out of his room and move on with my day and my training. One time when I was in the room with him, he told me he would like to get a shower because it had been a few days since he had been out of bed and he felt like he had the strength that day. His nurse, my preceptor, gave the okay for him to shower.
I expressed that I did not know how to help him shower. I had never helped a weak, grown man bathe before. She helped me gather the needed supplies and I got him up on our lift and pushed him into the bathroom. I warmed his water and got him situated. He started bathing himself, and in his loud, gruff voice he told me he couldn't reach his back and asked for assistance. I washed and rinsed his back for him. Then he asked for my assistance to help clean his feet because he was unable to bend down and reach his feet without getting short of breath.
I bent down and started to scrub his feet. A few moments later I felt his hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him and he was weeping. Through his tears, he said, "Today you have washed my feet like Jesus did, and for that you will be blessed." I was immediately humbled. I felt convicted of my negative and judgmental attitude. Oftentimes, the patients who have the hardest outward countenance are the ones who are hurting the most internally -- lonely, struggling with the chains of addiction or personal strongholds. In that moment, the position of my heart was changed toward this man.
Since then, I have come in contact with several other patients who may be deemed as difficult or needy. I've prayed to see them through the eyes of Jesus -- to see as He does, to love them as He does, to love them like He loves me. …
It has truly been a rewarding year for me being involved with one of the best organizations and hospitals I know -- one that truly lives out its Mission statement … to be "rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, we commit ourselves to serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable …"
At the Last Supper, Jesus performed an act of humility and service and washed the feet of His disciples.
"Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
-- John 13:12-15