Sunday, October 15, 2017

Highs & Lows

You'll often hear people on the Africa Mercy talking about their highs and lows. Whether its personal, work related or patient related highs and lows are a topic around here. I think it has to do with how emotionally intense it can be to live and work in this crazy, extraordinary, loving and challenging place that people from so many different countries choose to call home for a time.

Working in women's health here on the ship certainly has it's high and low moments. Somebody once put it that the highs are very high and the low's are very low when working with these ladies. Their stories are intense, full of emotions and details that really pull at your heart strings. During the recovery period, which is anywhere from 7-14 days, there can be infections, set backs, challenges, frustrations and tears at times. Sometimes the surgeries aren't completely successful or for some patients the recovery road is particularly hard but ends in triumph. The skills needed to care for these ladies are of a wide variety. It includes the ability to laugh, flexibility, tough love, cheerleader like qualities, listener or even a specialist in manicures and teaching new card games.

The nursing care and critical thinking skills needed to care for these ladies are easily learned. It is managing the emotions that go along with these patients that can be the most challenging for nurses. It is the highs and lows of the patients that in turn effect the nurses emotions and reactions. Isn't that true of nurses in any specialty or area. Nurses may have tough exteriors but at the heart of it all we do actually care and take on many of our patients emotions.

What I have been enjoying about working on the ship this time is watching nurses that have never worked here before care for these ladies. I see the emotions that they are going through and I remember what it was like celebrating with these ladies or sitting with a patient who's surgery wasn't successful for the first time. I love watching the patients reactions when nurses come onto shift and are greeting all of them, laughing and talking about something that happened the day before. The ladies are challenging nurses and day crew, expanding and stealing hearts and I love watching it happen.

The dress ceremonies are always a highlight. If you want more details about what a dress ceremony entails refer back to the following blog:

Obviously the dress ceremonies are a high. A high moment for the patients, nurses, day crew and all crew members really. I love watching other crew members as they listen to the ladies stories, dance with them in the hallway and celebrate with them.Maybe I just like seeing people enjoying something that I enjoy. Maybe I just enjoy seeing other people love on these ladies, celebrate with them, and walk with them through the highs and lows of their journey. Mostly I think I love watching other people discover the true beauty, joy, love, contentment, strength and boldness that these ladies exude.

So far over fifty women's health surgeries have been performed. Fifty ladies who have been cared for, encouraged, and who have taught us so much. Fifty moms, sisters, wives, daughters, friends, co-workers who I know leave this place walking a little taller, and smiling a little bit bigger. In the wake of them leaving there are nurses, day crew and crew members who's hearts have been stretched, wrung out and grown a few sizes. It is a beautiful relationship. One not without some pain, highs and lows along the way but in the end absolutely and completely worth every minute.

Grand entrance.

Singing, dancing and testimony time! 

Giving gifts to the ladies!

Left to Right: Chaplin, surgeon and physician praying for the ladies 

Getting the ladies ready!

One of my favorite pictures so far. So much joy!

"One of the most amazing things about my job is going with the obstetric fistula ladies through their journey; through their lows and their highs and in the end celebrating their transformation with them. For most of them it’s just been a month on the ship, but their faces are so different. They go back with shining eyes and with hope.”- Mercy Ships women's health nurse Brenda Friesen

All photo credit: Mercy Ships

Although I am currently serving with Mercy Ships, everything communicated here strictly reflects my personal opinions and is neither reviewed nor endorsed by Mercy Ships. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Mercy Ships

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