Read an Excerpt
A Ministering Spirit
By Judy Lee Green
Are not all angels ministering spirits . . .?
I had been in the hospital for five days and was out of my head with pain and suffering. Though it was midafternoon, the curtains were drawn tight. Only a dim light burned in my room. My exhausted husband was asleep in a chair. He did not wake when a nurse came in, shifted me to my left side, and changed the bandages on my incisions.
Rolling to my side caused such intense pain that when she left I did not move. My face was against the bedrail. My right arm was draped through the rail and hanging down toward the floor. Dear Lord, I silently prayed, how much more of this can I stand?
I was on a morphine pump, nerve desensitizers, muscle relaxants, and injections and pills for pain. I had an IV in each arm, one for meds and fluids and one for blood transfusions, and two drains, one in my back and one in my hip at the site of my incisions. With tears in my eyes I prayed, Please help the doctors manage this pain. Dear Lord, if it be Thy will, allow me some relief so that I can begin to get better and be able to go home.
Only moments passed, then in the semidarkness of my hospital room a wavering, shapeless, white mist rose off the floor. As I was still on my left side, my face against the bedrail, I saw the mist rise as high as my eyes. I did not move my tortured body but rolled my head back and watched it grow taller. The mist took the shape of a man in a long flowing robe. A loose hood about his head cast a shadow, concealing the features of his face. I felt the gentle touch of a hand on my right shoulder. A soothing voice said to me: 'It's all over now.' I felt comforted.
'You've had all the pain you can stand.' Calm washed over my body.
'Everything's going to be all right.' Peace entered my body through His hand. He repeated the same three statements over and over. I fell asleep and slept the rest of the day. A man dressed in nurse's scrubs was standing next to my bed when I woke up. When he told me that he was going to be my night nurse from 7 pm to 7 am the next morning I was not thrilled. I preferred female nurses. Two surgical incisions, one down my spine and the other across my hip where bone was removed, were not something that I relished sharing with the young man standing by my bed.
'I'm going to lift you,' he said, 'and move you up in the bed so that you will be more comfortable. I'm not going to hurt you.'
He was not a large man and I had my doubts about whether he could move me, but I nodded my head in agreement. He leaned over and told me to put my arms around his neck. As we touched, the smooth skin of his neck brushed against my face. There was no hint of stubble and no smell of harsh cologne or the heavy odor of aftershave. He smelled clean, like rainwater or a summer shower.
I was recovering from a spinal fusion. Prior to the surgery, I could stand for no more than two minutes and could not feel my feet or my legs. I had been in moderate pain for years and severe pain for months. During the surgery, my spine was opened up and donor bone was packed into the open space to keep it from reclosing. A steel rod and screws were inserted to secure and strengthen my spine. Bone had also been taken from my hip and used to stabilize my back.
Almost a week had gone by following the successful surgery, and I was still in extreme pain. And now here was a young night nurse who very quietly and calmly told me that he was going to move me and that he was not going to hurt me. When my husband offered to help, the nurse said that he could do it by himself. I felt calm and trusting when he spoke to me.
With my arms around his neck, he moved me up in bed as gently as if he were moving a newborn baby. It was the least pain that I had felt when being moved. Amazed, I glanced at his name tag for the first time. It simply said Chris. Though the other nurses wore the same hard plastic name tags, theirs had both first and last names, RN or LPN, and their hospital positions imprinted for easy identification. His simply said Chris.
He was in and out of my room throughout the night. He brought medication, checked on me frequently, and talked confidently about my recovery in a soothing voice. His presence brought me peace and comfort. As he prepared to leave the next morning I asked him if he would be back at 7:00 pm that night. I had entirely forgotten my bias against male nurses.
'I don't know,' he said. 'I go wherever I'm needed.'
When he left my room I was more comfortable than I had been in the six days since I entered the hospital. One of my surgeons arrived soon after and added additional medication to my drug plan. I felt as though I had turned a corner. When the day nurse came to my room and told me that she would be with me from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, I told her how much I liked Chris.
'Chris who?' she said. 'I don't know any Chris who works here.'
'He only had Chris on his name tag,' I told her, 'no last name, no position.'
After checking with other nurses and the nurse supervisor throughout the morning, I found that none of them had seen him, and no one knew of anyone named Chris who worked on the floor. Some nurses rotate from floor to floor to fill in, I was told, but no one named Chris was on the roster.
'He sounds like an angel,' one of them told me. 'If he comes back tonight I want to meet him.'
'I go wherever I'm needed,' he'd said to me. I was better because of him, because of his care. Somehow, I knew that I would not see him again.
©2013. Todd Outcalt. All rights reserved. Reprinted from For the Love of God.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.