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I started my New Year’s Day walking to the Hope Center with two other nurses/friends. The Hope Center is where patients who live far away from Tamatave (where the ship is docked) go for treatment. Think Ronald McDonald House – a facility for patients and caregivers. There were a few special former patients I wanted to see and this visit was the perfect way for me to begin 2015!
Our visit to the Hope Center had a few unexpected gifts. A few weeks ago I was teaching a group of men and women who will be working as the day crew at the Hope Center. When I saw them they shouted my name and rushed over to hug and kiss me. The second gift happened when we were able to have our photos taken with former patients. I can’t post them here because they were taken with a “Mercy Ship camera” and have to be approved, but once that happens you bet you’ll be seeing them! The third gift came when I got to see two of my favorite past patients. One man is 34 years old and I was his PACU and ward nurse. I affectionately call him “Trouble” and he knows it. He now refers to himself as “Trouble” when I am around.
The other patient is a young man who is 15 years old. I was his primary nurse on the ward and he and I just “got” each other. He wouldn’t eat for the other nurses, but he ate half of his food when I asked him to. I guess since I’m known on the ship as “Momma Lee,” my patients know I mean business! His mother is one of the women I was with when I shared my “sisters” photo earlier. When we were leaving, the day crew asked when I was coming back and my “gotta eat” boy asked if I was coming back tomorrow.
For me, all of these “gifts” just reinforce why I’m here. Having past students – now off-site co-workers – remember me, patients and their families wanting photos taken with me, and seeing a 15-year-old boy with a smile that can light up a room when he sees the nurse who “made him eat” mashed up food – THIS is why God placed me where he has at this time. Happy New Year to all!!