Telling the story…the park, the bench and the broken.

I went on the radio on Friday evening and on Monday patients were lined up outside the door long before we opened. Word got out…we had free medications and supplies. Patient after patient and before we realized it, we saw 62 patients in one day from 10:30am to 5pm. The adrenaline that comes with taking care of people fueled me.

He walked in. Broken. I could tell by his posture and his eyes. He was broken. He was brought in by someone who I had taken care time some time ago. They told him, “you need to go see my doctor. She will help you.” As he started talking, it became apparent that Irma had not only caused a physical upheaval but an emotional torrent as well. His partner for decades left. As the storm moved on from our island, so did his partner from his life leaving behind rubble. His house ravished by the storm and he was now homeless. And even in his broken state, he still found the strength to give back to those who like himself were broken by the storm. As I listened to his story, I jumped into action. I started putting together a bag of goodies, shirts, clothes, toiletries. I brought the bag into him. I could tell that his pride was tender but I let him know that it was indeed ok. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you are down.  I tended to the medical reason he was there…and then I broke.  Since Irma, my tears have taken on their own navigation system and as much as I try to regulate them, they betray me every time. We all cried. I have learned to not stop the tears because I cannot, plus we all needed a good cry that day. I hugged him and watched as he walked out with his shoulders lifted just a little higher. Even though he makes his place of abode the park bench, he left knowing that at least in our office, his dignity remains intact.

Advertisements

Wheels Up

I love to travel! It feeds my soul and gives me life! I wanted to be a flight attendant when I was a child for the mere fact that they got to travel! I had no thought of how labor intensive the job is. On my long haul to South Africa, I flew my airline of choice Delta. The flight attendants were just amazing. I have to give a shout out to Jana, Karen, Charlotte, Yvonne, Allison and Mary on the flight TO South Africa and a special shout out to Troye Washington and her crew on the trip FROM South Africa back to the US.

After 8 hours or so, I get out of my seat and join the attendants in the back, we chat, laugh, twerked…yes delirium set in and we did twerk on board DL flight # lolololol! These flight attendants are people who have the daunting task of dealing with people, some not so nice, highly entitled demanding people for 10+ hours! Kudos to them! As a physician, I understand that there are times you are not in the mood to really deal with rudeness or entitlement and when you don’t work for yourself, you have to do your best to represent the brand with dignity and integrity. Shared some health tips with my new homey Jana who was gracious enough to charge my phone for me in the flight attendants’ quarters since the outlets at our seats were not functioning. When our journey ended on the way to SA, we hugged and took selfies! What a great group!

On the way back, the team was equally awesome! Very efficient. Troye headed up the team…she was spunky just like Jana! My kinna people.

“Ladies and gentlemen if there is a doctor on board, please ring your call light”

aaarrgghh the dreaded announcement. I hesitated! Then jumped into action. One of their own flight attendants was ill. Myself and another internist and PA assisted. We checked vitals, took history performed exam, documented findings. I found myself doing what I would do for my own patients or family and massaged her hair. She cautioned me that she had dirty hair and apologized.

Me: That’s ok hon, this is better than diabetic ulcers…just relax…take nice deep breaths. You’re going to be ok.

She managed a smile…she started to feel better after some medication and Sprite. Rx for rest, no more work on this flight. Explained to she and her team leader what I thought the problem was. I checked on her again an hour before landing and was escorted up a secret place I never knew existed! Did you know that there were bedrooms upstairs in the plane. That there was even an UPSTAIRS in the plane. My lady was resting well and felt better..I became my silly self and managed to do some dance or the other while the flight attendants who were up there laughed.

Me: Dang this is some cool stuff up here! I never knew this existed!

Them: Now you know you’re special because you got the info girl!

We laughed about the very strange passenger who walked up to me talking thinking that I was one of the flight attendants she spoke to earlier

Passenger: I know you

Me: Uh uh, no you don’t. I don’t know you!

We laughed because this passenger had done this prior with someone else. Strange.

As I left the plane after we landed, Troye and the entire team thanked me and I was surprised to get a message through my website from Troye updating me about my lady. She was doing better and it was what we thought it was. I am so thankful that Troye displayed so much grace and gratitude.

No-one is ever ALL good or ALL bad and we sometimes don’t realize just how much goes into doing a certain job. I watched those flight attendant busting sweat balls in the back of the plane and I decided to provide comic relief….I appreciate the work they do because at this stage in my life, I would not want to do it. Some of these flight attendants were much older and while I know they must love what they do, I cannot help to think if it is a MUST for them…that they cannot survive without the income. They worked hard to make our 14 and 15 hour trips palatable. In light of all the fallout from a situation where we only know one side of the story, I think it is is important that we see the other side. I think it is important that we remember that we are not always ON and there are times when we too might err…let’s build a coalition where #thisiswhatateamlookslike

 

Tales from Zumunda and Other Adventures…The Prodigal

On the 19th I received an email from my business website that has not even gone live…It puzzled me but as the story unfold it became even more evident that God’s hand was in this.
The woman who “sent” me the message stated that she has a history of chronic pain for decades and has been to so many doctors none of whom has been able to help her. I sent her a reply telling her to call the island office and I will be happy to see her this weekend. Well I did not hear back from her. My Saturday on the 20th was quite busy in the morning as I scrubbed in on a surgical case…only had 4 hrs sleep. Then had clinic patients. Checked my email after seeing some of my morning appts and saw a response from the same woman stating she had been calling the office and no one answered. I got her cell number which she included in her email and asked the office staff to call and fit her into the schedule.
The staff put her as my last appointment for the day. No problem. day progressed and I must confess, I was so exhausted struggling to keep my eyes open. Patient arrived and was triaged. I popped my head in
ME: Hi I am Dr. Williams. I will be with you shortly ok?
Prodigal: Sure no problem. Thank you
Truth is, our team was exhausted and hungry. We had the best pastries from our friend Monsieur Gerard. But the tapeworm was in full effect lol…hungry. I ordered some delish food for the team…Stewed Oxtail, Curry Chicken…then ran in for this last appointment with the woman who called. Told the staff…call me when the food gets here.
I started our meeting…prior I envisioned that I would be sitting in the chair right across from her but this is not where we started…the appointment started out like any other doctors appointment with me collecting information from her medical history…I knew that I wanted to navigate into her emotional state…we went there. Initially she stated that there was really nothing about her childhood or past that was traumatic.
I prayed a silent prayer “Lord please help me to help her”
She was on every medication, seen by the BEST doctors, had the BEST treatments and none made her feel any better. I confessed that my approach would be to ask God to help me help her. She was open to it. I explained to her that I firmly believed that our physical ailments are related to our spiritual well being. I like to address what is going on in your spirit and soul and work from there.
There was so much that transpired but suffice to say…after about 10 mins or so into the meeting something I said triggered the flood gates and her heart doors flew open. Out marched pain, fear, disappointment, doubt, brokenness. There was some trauma after all…disguised as coping and caring for others…she never took time to process the pain. My position shifted to the one I envisioned sitting next to her facing her.
I spoke into her life and she cried and I cried with her. It seemed like she hung on to every word I spoke. I shared with her the love and faithfulness of God in my life. His Grace as I have experienced it. His plan for her. His Word for her. His unconditional love for her and His care for the little and big details of her life. That He was madly in love with her.
She: I totally did not expect this…this is so much more than I came for
Me: God loves you and this was a set up…
I was so overjoyed…and this washed the tired out of my body! I was ENERGIZED!
I prayed with her. Then….She prayed. She asked to know Him more. She wanted to come back to Him. She knew Him but felt so unworthy. Felt like He has disappointed her. I prayed with her and then she out of her mouth asked the Lord to know Him more, to come back home…she asked His forgiveness. It is amazing when we recognize that there is nothing we can do to lose or gain God’s love…His love for us just is…..The Presence of the Lord so filled the place and I know some of you may not understand or believe this statement per se but there was such power and energy and joy that filled that room.
She: this is a miracle. this is a miracle. I did not expect this. [at the beginning our meeting, i had said to her to raise her expectation]
Turns out that she did not even send the first email to me; it was her counselor in Vancouver who found my info [still don’t know how he/she was able to find it when the website is not public yet]…she thanked me profusely. We prayed. In her prayer she told God that she was empty and asked Him to fill her.
She, between tears: I came here so empty and I just feel so FULL, so full. [He answered her prayers instantly] I have not felt like this in 10 years. Thank you so much. this is a miracle. My soul has been so empty. I have not prayed in years, it has been years since i could pray. Today is the first time I have prayed in years. This is a miracle. I know I have to get this in order. I am…I am so grateful. I want you to meet my mother…she has been praying for me…
We emerged from my room after almost 2 hours. She introduced me to her family who was in the waiting room, a family who had been praying for her to come back to the Lord for years…hugged them. We said our goodbyes.
She came in one way and left another…a new woman.
The staff looked at me…eyes wide open…
With just word, He can change things. Just One Word.
Miracles do happen in Zumunda. It has little to do with us but WHOSE we are. And WHO we allow to use us. God alone.