It's been a long week. I haven't had entire day off for a whole week. Me, who is use to my three-day a week work schedule. I'm looking forward to the weekend (I have off).
Even though my patients are far less acute then they were back home (I worked in a pediatric ICU) my shifts can be just as tiring. Any nurse would understand.
Being a nurse really requires giving of every part of yourself to your patients. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.
In Africa, I think we all try to give our patients a little more.
In America, I cared about my patients. My favorite moments at my job occurred when I had five non-task oriented minutes to give someone a little extra TLC. They were five treasured minutes.
But at the end of the day my motivations for working, regardless of how help-oriented my profession, were selfish. I worked for a paycheck. For health insurance. To occupy myself. (which I do think are all valid and good reasons to work)
But on the Africa Mercy, it's a little different. None of us are here for a paycheck. We are actually paying to be here.
Caring is not just a part of our job. It's the reason we came in the first place. It's our motivation.
We care about the physical and spiritual healing of our patients. We care about 16 year old Esther whose hand was thrown in a fire when she was three. We care about 15 year old Teemah who was shot several times as a baby while she was on her mother's back. We care about George, who was mutilated with a pair of scissors when he was two. We care about Mary whose lack of obstetric care left her body constantly pouring out urine.
It takes a little more energy to care. To love. To take those five minutes and run with them. But that's why I came to Africa. Because I do care.
Esther is going to be here for a few weeks while her skin graft on her hand heals. She's already been here for two weeks. Yesterday, three of her ward friends were discharged. Emmanuel's care taker told me Esther cried all night and all morning, but when I came to work, she was happy.
Esther and I are friends. She knows I care about her.
It really makes everything worthwhile.