Sunday, October 16, 2011

25 hours

A day in the life . . .  my first true weekend shift at the hospital.  For 25 hours I was the duty chaplain in a hospital with over 300 beds in one facility and the on-call chaplain for the other facility that sits across the river in Washington state.

Being "on" for so many hours I think was both over-stimulating and peaceful.  Weird I know.  Outside of the crises, I pretty much wandered from ward to ward, interacting with staff and visiting patients and families at my own pace. (FYI - there was actually some organization to the wandering.  Just saying.)

Of course these forays into the wards were punctuated with almost equal time charting on the computer.  The computer and I are beginning to bond - all the ins and outs of this particular system are beginning to make sense.  Beginning.  I think the bouncing back and forth between the ward and the computer was the most taxing.  I'm just not used to having to document ministry in this way.  I do not argue about it's necessity or it's value to my ministry, but after the first couple of hours -good grief.

It's in the moment of crisis, I think, where I feel an inner calm.  I know what my responsibilities are and I know the Spirit will help me to be present and responsive.  It's in the crisis where staff suddenly become comrades, and where we both know I will be there for them as much as the patient and family.

My 25 hours included typical crisis situations along side routine patient visits that were quite lovely.  Such stories these vets have to share.  What strengths and weaknesses they claim.  Mostly fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and uncles who joke or brood, who share their faith - whatever it looks like, who lay silently unable or unwilling to respond.

My 25 hours included the stuff that some would say was mundane.  Directing people through a facility that is still a mystery to me.  Helping someone decipher the weekend bus schedule.  Connecting stressed families or vets to the correct department.  These little things, though, made me feel good - like when you open the door for someone or help an older person with their parcels.

I even got to sleep.  For about four hours.  Not bad.

25 hours.  About 49 overnight shifts to go.  A lot can happen.

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