49: Nothing Is Impossible

49: Nothing Is Impossible

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Nothing Is Impossible

The miracles on earth are the laws of heaven.

~Jean Paul

Mr. J was admitted to our hospital unresponsive. His CT scan showed a huge inter-cranial hemorrhage and he was rushed to surgery to relieve the pressure. His recovery was very slow in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Eventually he became stable enough to be transferred to the Progressive Care and Stroke Unit.

A Hispanic man in his sixties, Mr. J had a stroke twenty years prior to this admission, leaving him with right-sided hemiparesis. Amazingly, he went back to school after his stroke and became a high school teacher.

Mr. J had been in the hospital for three months by this time and was unresponsive except for opening his eyes. He was also non-verbal except for moaning sounds. I took care of him many times and each time his baseline remained unchanged.

It was a Saturday morning when I walked in to see how he was doing. He looked the same as every other time I’d assessed him. Except maybe, just maybe, I saw a twinge of movement in his right hand. I dismissed it as wishful thinking. Besides, it was pretty minimal, if it was anything at all, so I began rounding with my other patients, doing assessments, giving meds, reviewing the labs, and calling doctors for orders — the normal routine.

Over the years I have learned that sometimes God enters our “normal” and brings a “supernatural” manifestation that even doctors cannot explain. As I give care to my patients, I try to be alert for the supernatural. I strive to give excellent care as a nurse, and also keep the window open for the miraculous. I have seen it too many times to not believe.

Sunday morning on my way to the hospital, I prayed for my patients to be healed, as I did most mornings. After I got report from the night nurse, I walked into Mr. J’s room and said, “Good morning.” He looked the same, and his assessment was unchanged, so I went back to the desk to chart. I noticed the night nurse had also charted that his right side was flaccid, no movement.

I started feeling a little annoyed. Had I seen a tiny bit of movement the day before or not? I got up from the desk and walked back into his room and did something I had never done in my nursing career. I didn’t ask him if he could move, I commanded him. “Lift up your right leg.” He lifted his right leg off the bed! A leg that hadn’t moved for twenty years!

He looked at me in awe. “Am I doing that?” I had never heard him talk before.

“Yes! You are doing it!”

Excitedly, I said, “Lift your right arm.” And sure enough he did!

Next came his hand, and he grasped mine.

I ran to the front desk and called the house supervisor and then phoned the patient’s neurosurgeon. “I know we always call you to give you bad news and I want you to know that your patient who was paralyzed for twenty years can now lift his leg and keep it up in the air. And he speaks!”

I called Mr. J’s daughter and asked her to come in to see her dad. When she got there, I took her in to see her father. Mr. J. was smiling like a child who had a secret. When we had her full attention, he lifted up his right arm and then his leg.

She started weeping. “This is a miracle!” Throwing her arms around her dad, with tears flowing down her cheeks, she pulled out her cell phone and began calling her family. “Dad’s no longer paralyzed!”

During my shift, Mr. J. kept pushing his call light, something he had never done in the months he had been there. When I went into his room to see what he needed, he told me that an alarm was going off in the next room. He was right! Mr. J. was so alert, he was looking out for the patient in the next room. Even the cognitive part of his brain was back.

We nurses all know it’s impossible for atrophied muscles, unused for twenty years, to work again. But we also know, nothing is impossible with God.

~Elizabeth Carroll

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