Tag Archive: health


Taking a Minute

After a busy twelve hour shift, while collecting my things, I saw the wife of one of my patients sitting by herself in a small waiting room. Her husband had had a long surgery. I’m sure the day and the wait hadn’t been easy on the lady.

I took a minute and asked her how she was. We chatted for a moment, and then I told her, “I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re a very handsome woman.” That morning, as I’d been helping her husband, I’d noticed her. She’s not exactly pretty. She’s not classically beautiful, but she’s hardly some unattractive hag. She’s solidly full of life. Handsome suits her.

Her whole expression brightened. I kinda think I made her day, and I know she helped make mine. She definitely took my words as a compliment, and she told me that she hardly ever hears compliments about her appearance. The lady then thanked me several times. I didn’t really do anything. I just told her the kind truth, and it made me happy to be able to share it with her.

Why Do We Need Religion?

“So,” a friend wondered, “why do we need religion?” Great question! Really, that’s a great question, especially considering that she believes that she doesn’t need it. She’s not religious. She doesn’t believe in God, either, but does say that there are things out that defy explanation. That’s my paraphrase, and I may be misrepresenting her views somewhat. Don’t quote me! I know I’m not quoting her!

Anyway, it’s a great question. We’d been talking about all kinds of things – politics, religion, counseling, abuse, life, death – and she popped that one into the mix. For her, she wasn’t raised with much religion, and I’d guess that plays a part in shaping her opinion. She also mentioned religion has sometimes very negative effects. That’s true. Even if a religion claims to be good and beneficial, it’s not always angelic, saintlike, and completely positive. The Spanish Inquisition, Catholic priests molesting children left in their care, and the Salem witch trials spring immediately to mind. History is awash with examples of religions that, either thanks to core beliefs, misbeliefs, or being warped to serve dark lusts, cause harm to those in its vicinity.

The harm caused by religion need not even be that dramatic. Harm can be something as simple as burdensome guilt.

What good does religion do? Why do we need it? I think religion, particularly Christianity, because that’s the one I know best, can be very good for people. Let me share a few thoughts.

  • It has helped keep people healthy. I could be wrong about this, but I’d guess religion has been around longer than science has. In the Old Testament, lots of religious laws were given to the people of Israel. Those poor, overworked Jews weren’t allowed to do things like poop in their camps. They had to go outside and make sure it was buried because God thought it “indecent.” Any more, most people would call that sanitation and be completely grossed out by a pile of human excrement collecting flies within a campsite (“ew! ew! bad smell! disease! WTB toilet!”), but humanity hasn’t always had flush toilets and knowledge of disease vectors. Jews weren’t allowed to eat pork or shellfish, meat that sometimes came with illness causing friends. I could talk about it more, but I don’t want to take that much space. This article, Bible Health Laws, from Tomorrow’s World, focuses on the health benefits of ancient Judaism. Knock yourself out!
  • Religion ought to be helping to meet social need. James tells us that worthwhile religion involves activities like taking care of distressed widows and orphans.
  • For myself, I learned a lot about how to become the kind of person I wanted to be. My dad wasn’t exactly the greatest example of virtue, integrity, or how to treat others. No father is. They’re all heroes, I think, to their children and are emulated by their children. Then the children get a little older, realize that Dad does have some flaws, and must grow beyond that childhood ambition of being just like Dad. There are all sorts of ways a kid can go. I picked the Bible, God, and Christianity, and I learned a lot about how to treat myself and others better. Take a look at Matthew 18. It promotes humility, advocates good treatment of children, gives advice about how to handle conflict or sin, and advises mercy and forgiveness. I Corinthians 13 talks about the necessity of love and explains what love is actually supposed to be. Proverbs is chock full of pithy nuggets promoting wisdom, illustrating folly, and other valuable insights. Reading through Psalms and even some of the OT prophets like Isaiah or Jeremiah helped me to reach my heart and feel the emotions I was packing around with me.

In some ways, religion has been great for me. I’m sure there are lots of other reasons why it can be beneficial, but I’m out of time and brainpower today. How about you? Got any ideas?

Came Home Tired

One recent workday sent me home exhausted. I’d started with eight patients and gotten a glowing report from the offgoing CNA. “Oh, they’re so easy to care for!” she bubbled. “You’re going to have such a great day!”

She was right about one thing. Most of them had few needs. But – there’s always a but, isn’t there? – on day shift, “few needs” doesn’t usually translate to “easy shift.” What it really means is “discharge orders.” Five of those eight left, most of them before lunchtime. The wheelchair’s seat didn’t have a chance to cool off before I was loading the next patient into it. To replace the ones who left, I had five or six other new ones show up. That happens, for sure. It just makes for some chaos!

Unfortunately, my cheerful predecessor did leave out a piece or two of pertinent information. I had one patient whose needs were definitely not insignificant. Thanks to a stroke, he had some mentation, communication, and continence issues. He also needed help with meals. I’d walk into his room to perform a routine task, discover that he had some urgent need, help resolve that, and leave to go do something else. I wasn’t terribly successful in getting other stuff done, because no sooner than I’d start elsewhere, I’d get summoned back to his room.

It was aggravating, all the constant interruptions and the sheer amount of time required. When working with patients, it’s really important to encourage and let them do as much for themselves as possible. This poor guy – nothing was fast for him! Mealtimes required at least 30 minutes to get him to eat maybe half of his food. Since everything else was on a similar scale, I spent at least 3 hours of my 12 hour shift focused on meeting his needs. It may have actually been more than 4 hours, considering that meals alone took an hour and a half. Anyway, at the minimum, I spent ¼ of my shift working with just one fellow.

That’s crazy! In a regular assignment, I don’t spend that much time with one person. I usually can’t, because I’ve got 7 – 14 other people who also need things. This particular day, it was okay. It just worked out. Actually, I made sure it worked. The RN, who typically would have taken care of some what I ended up doing, had an unusually busy assignment and did not have the time to spend in there, so up and down the hall I ran, always rushing back to be in time to help my busy guy.

I went home so tired, tired and yet curiously satisfied. Doing a good job is normal. I expect that of myself. That particular day, though, I felt like I did an exceptional job, and I know the care I gave made a significant difference in that patient’s day.