I have Beatrice's permission to tell this story
Beatrice is a 84 year old woman who is a well loved cathedral parishioner. She lives alone, has a strong faith and a very supportive family. Beatrice is a friend of mine as well as a Parishioner.
In July of last year Beatrice was knocked over on a pedestrian crossing. As a result Beatrice sustained a very serious head/brain injury and a leg fracture which has taken her the last 15 months to recover from. In fact she is still recovering.
At the time of the accident Beatrice was admitted to ICU and she was critically ill. She was in ICU for a few days and then moved to a ward and then spent much time in AT & R recovering. Beatrice was in hospital for a total of nearly four months.
One of Beatrice's earliest memories is of being prayed for and being really aware of the presence of God. As time went on she felt as though she was safe in the arms of Jesus and that she was cocooned in the wings of angels. One precious memory I have is about two days after Beatrice's accident I was at the hospital and felt to pray for the family we prayed the Lord's Prayer together and the expression on Beatrice face was one of peace and serenity. She was in and out of consciousness at this time.
Initially the family, myself and the clergy were the only people allowed to visit Beatrice. This was both a hospital and family request. With so many people concerned about Beatrice the family asked us to let people know not to visit at this point in time. This proved to be a challenge as some parishioners found this really hard, as they were really concerned about her. After consultation with the family we set up a regular email bulletin of how Beatrice was and there were key people that I rang to update them with information so people could contact them. We always had the families' consent. Some parishioners found this really difficult but most were only too happy with what we decided.
Of course as Beatrice recovered she was allowed visitors for short periods. We were asked by the family if we could set up a roster but this didn't seem to work so instead an email was sent around the parish asking parishioners to keep their visits brief.
One particular person become really upset and felt she had a right to visit Beatrice. She actually rang me a few times. I think from memory she did visit, stayed way too long and was asked by the ward staff to only stay a short while.
With a brain/head injury people can get very tired and visitors can drain the energy of a person. Patients need to conserve their energy to aid recovery. Even my visits tended to be really short.
Not only was I supporting Beatrice and her family through this whole process but other parishioners as well. Now 15 months later Beatrice is alive and functioning really well. She stills needs some support. In July of this year Beatrice stood up in church and gave a testimony of what has happened in the last year of her life. Praise God for Beatrice she is a walking living miracle.
What an honour to journey with Beatrice on her road to recovery. I have been really blessed to be part of this journey with her. This was quite a complex situation. But demonstrates what parish nursing is all about I think. There were two situations here in Beatrice's story the immediate situation and the ongoing situation
I remember at the time thinking of the challenge of what to do and how much information could I share with others, thinking what Beatrice would have liked me to have shared with others. I was very aware of my own feelings in this situation and was constantly asking God for Wisdom. God heard my prayers and God gave us answers. We set up an email bulletin to go out regularly. As time went on the emails stopped and we were able to organise support for Beatrice and her family in other ways. Trying to set up a visiting roster did not work.
As Parish Nurses we can journey with people and their families in a way we can't in other jobs. I was able to support Beatrice and her family as well as the other congregation. Reflecting back I think now how could I have improved upon what happened?
COULD I HAVE IMPROVED UPON WHAT HAPPENED?
This was a very challenging and complex situation that went on for many weeks. I think on reflection and with God's grace we dealt really well with the situation. I think that is good to focus on the positive aspects of this situation.
At one point I felt a bit like a piece of elastic torn in many different directions. I recognized my own concern for Beatrice, the family and parishioners. After praying I realized that I didn't have to deal with this all on my own that God was in control and gives you the strength, courage and peace that you need, I was completely taken off guard by the parishioner who kept ringing me. I was very calm and clear when I was responding to her and thought this was her way of coping with her friend's accident.
As Nurses we are taught to have clear boundaries. I think as Christian nurses, especially when a friend is involved this can prove to be challenging. We are constantly reminded of God's grace, wisdom and strength. I have often asked myself in this situation did I have keep professional boundaries with Beatrice and her family. I can honestly answer this question, most of the time my boundaries were clear.
We have seen Beatrice healed and restored, we have seen prayers answered. I have seen the family of God care for another person and their family. Parish Nursing gives us the opportunity to journey with others and to a part of their life.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT FROM BEATRICE STORY
This story has reinforced to me I am glad I am Christian, that our God is an awesome God, that God gives us the energy and strength we need at times. That Parish Nursing is what Gods wants me do. And that I cannot do this job without the Lord in my life. If we allow God to work through us He can work miracles.
On Wednesday I shared what I have written with Beatrice and Beatrice told me God has called her back because he still has plans for her