God Supplies Angels

God Supplies Angels

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

God Supplies Angels

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh will also rest in hope.

Psalm 16:9

I lay flat on my back staring at the ceiling. It was late at night, and I could see shadows from the nurses’ station shining through the glass door into my room. I could hear the beeping of the machines around me. Each time I inhaled, I breathed in the horrible smell of the yellow Xeroform bandages that covered my raw, burned skin. I had been in a major motor home fire, and I was 48 percent burned. My back was shattered and broken. Within seconds, my life had been dismantled. My husband had a 9 percent chance of living and was just two doors away from me in the unit. I missed him so much and did not want to live without him.

Each night was like the night before, lying and waiting for the night nurse to come in and hurt me with the two-hour bandage change. My depression and anxiety continued to grow. Nighttime seemed the worst time. I THANK YOU could not sleep, and my thoughts ran amok with dogged doubt and little hope.

I remember one night vividly. My finger did a yo-yo motion with the call button. I did not want to bother the nurses, but I did need to talk to someone. The burn unit is busy, and one of the hardest in which to work. However, my emotional pain won the battle and I rang. One of the night nurses, Joan, entered my room. She was a tall, thin woman in her fifties who usually worked days. I was so glad to see her. She always called me her prize patient, and she listened to me when she had time.

“What’s going on with you tonight?” she asked. “Are you in pain? Why aren’t you asleep?”

“Asleep” was a post-traumatic trigger word for me. I was asleep when the accident happened, so I rarely slept now. Somehow in my emotional state, I thought the accident would not have occurred if I had been awake. So, in my drug-induced stupor I felt I needed to be on night duty, so I could be in control. When a person is burned, all four parts that make up our humanhood is affected: emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual. Each is damaged and needs to be healed. My pain was continual, and the fear of going to sleep, no matter what drugs they gave me, was impossible to shake.

As Joan stood in front of me, I noticed the pretty, gold, shiny earrings she was wearing. I started to share with her some of my fears of looking like a monster.

“Will anyone accept me the way I look now?”

Joan pulled a chair over beside me and listened.

“Will I ever be normal again, or pretty, or able to walk?” I sobbed. “Will this pain ever go away? Will I be able to feed myself and put pretty earrings on again?”

Abruptly, Joan stopped me. “Have you looked at your face yet?” she asked.

“No, I am afraid to,” I cried.

She immediately got up and left the room. I feared what was going to happen next.

As Joan reentered the room, she had a mirror in her hand. “No!” I shouted. “I am afraid to look!” I had seen my arms and legs during the bandage change and I knew I looked like a freak.

She came closer to me and started to brush my hair, quietly saying, “You are pretty. Your face is all right. It is rosy with first-degree burns but that will go away.” Then she took her earrings off and clipped them on to my ears. My tears gushed uncontrollably as I found the courage to look in the mirror.

For five weeks I had wondered what my face looked like; now I knew. Thanks to a nurse named Joan who took the time to listen and help me through this important transition, I now had hope. All would be well someday.

Susan Lugli

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Susan adds, “After six years and numerous plastic surgeries, the love of my life is back to normal, working as he did before the accident. We are thankful for each day we have together.” ]

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