Saturday, December 25, 2010

Secrets of the Season

Every year of adulthood I've pondered again what would make Christmas most meaningful to me. Wouldn't I just LOVE to feel free to "squander" all the resources we devote to the season on the less fortunate. Some things are hard to justify while there is hunger in the world. But, of course, I remember childhood. And, as long as my kids expect the whole shebang, we'll be giving it to them as best we can. Grown up as they are, they aren't 100 percent beyond materialism yet. Don't think they are ready for a family mission trip instead of gifts yet! I've tried to suggest it. Went over like a lead balloon. Ah well, some say that "Do-gooders are just getting their own needs fulfilled" anyway. Maybe so, but Jesus didn't seem to care about that when he indicated that the giving is more blessed than the getting. I'm not denying that the giver gets the bigger gift. (That certainly has been the experience of DH and myself plenty of times). But, the beauty of it is-EVERYONE wins.

Brings a memory from my home care nursing days....

I was a "fill-in" nurse. That means, I did not carry my own patient load. I did admits, in-patient assessments for suitability for home care, and, mostly, filled in for other nurses when they were over-loaded or had a rare day off. So, it was not unusual for one of the case-managers to ask me to run by and check on her patient that afternoon. What surprised me was that she asked if I could pick up something at McDonald's for him. Because, as she explained, he was on such a limited income that he sometimes had to choose between food and medications etc. Oh, it was no surprise at all that she had been bringing him food. Most of the team was prone to go the extra mile like that. But, MCDONALDS??? Come on, these people are sick already. I'm not likely to add to anyone's possibility of demise by giving them Mcdonalds! So, without telling her, I zipped by home and threw together a tuna fish sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup for him. OK, it wasn't "health" food, but it was what I had on hand in a hurry-and a far cry better than Mickey D! Soup was in a snap top container that I figured she could retrieve from him on the next visit.

Back down to the grubby center part of town where his weekly rental motel was located. No-one answered repeated knocks on his door. No one answered his phone. I could hear it ringing and ringing. The manager at the front desk offered me a key, but, I was afraid of what I'd find in there. Made the desk man go with me. Peaked inside and....empty. BUSTED! He is supposed to be home bound to get home care nursing per medicare guidelines. "Oh, he went down the street to get cigarettes", explained a neighbor. Double busted! Knowing that he won't get another nurse visit to collect the dish, I make a quick decision to leave the food anyway. It would just go bad in the hot car while I visit other patients. (But, if he can afford to smoke......)

Back in the office later that afternoon a bunch of us nurses were doing our charting when the receptionist came in the room with a funny look on her face. Our patient had called in literally weeping with gratitude that someone had cared enough to make him a sandwich and a bowl of soup! No one had ever made a "home cooked meal" for him before. One.sandwich.and.a.bowl.of.soup. We all kind of gaped at each other in wonderment and a little bit of heart-break. It was one of those many moments where NOT many words were needed for us to know each other's minds.

Yes, we were blessed more than the patient.

(Per strict Medicare guidelines, he no longer qualified for the program and got a prompt discharge.)

No, I never got my dish back.

I think I can spare it.

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