Monday, November 14, 2011

Patient Stories Series #3: The man who prayed in his pain

A few nights ago I had a patient who I took care of after he had a below the knee amputation. He was an elderly man, who came up from surgery at about 8pm.

One of the major difficulties with post-op patients is managing their pain.
 We try our best to keep it under control, because the more severe it gets the more difficult it is to bring down to a manageable level.

He was a sweet man, who didn’t complain of much pain until three hours after he came up. 
I gave him morphine, which knocked him out for a bit, but less than an hour later he was complaining of severe phantom limb pain. 

Phantom limb pain is difficult to treat, and I didn’t have a whole lot of options of what to give him based on what the doctor had ordered, and how quickly his pain came back after the morphine. 
So I gave him an oral pain medication called Norco and an Ativan to help him calm down and sleep, since there wasn’t much more we could do for the pain.

I had noticed earlier that he had a bible on the tray table, held together by a rubber band because the binding was falling apart. 
All I could do was wait for the oral medication to take effect, and he was still moaning in excruciating pain. 
I hate that my job means I see people in awful pain on a daily basis.

I asked him if he had a favorite passage he'd like me to read from his bible.
He said Psalm 23. 
I read from his bible by the light from the cracked door - his bible that I swear was a version more ancient than the King James, if there is such a thing.
As I read, I could see him begin to quietly say the words along with me.

When I was finished, he continued speaking softly.
It took me a few minutes to catch enough words to figure out that he was praying, begging God to get him through the pain.
I only caught some of what he was praying, but at one point I heard him say “and thank you for Betsy.” 
I prayed for him as well, and as I left his room, he was quiet.

So many thoughts tumbled through my head as I left his room and headed to check on my other patients.
How humbling to be brought before God by this man I only knew for one night. 
What a privilege to be the one to care for him in a time of incredible vulnerability and pain.
These are the moments I’m so thankful to God for getting me through nursing school, and providing me with a job that is incredibly stretching and difficult, but immensely rewarding.

Nursing constantly reminds me that I am not enough.
I can’t save anyone physically, emotionally, or spiritually. 
I can’t take away anyone’s pain – but I can point them to the one who can.
It was this man’s faith in the God who is greater than all that brought him comfort in his pain.
May we cry out to Abba for our every need, acknowledging our complete and utter dependence on him. 
Thank you Jesus, that you are more than enough.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.


  1. you truly have an incredible privilege serving Jesus in this way. your obedience clearly has blessed you in this experience. how incredible.

    thank you for sharing that with us, your readers, praise God for his awesome ability to physically heal, as well as and more importantly spiritually :) <3

  2. Such an encouragement! Thank you!