Yesterday I was standing across from the gangway door at the copier machine when a familiar petite frame caught my eye. As second glance confirmed my suspicions; it was Mary.
In my mind I flashed back to taking care of Mary the day of her surgery. Her jaw had been permanently locked, disabling her speaking ability, and we had performed a release. I remembered giving her frequent nebulizers to keep her air way clear. I remembered her large feeding tube and multiple IV's. I remembered the painful eyes that stared at me as she awoke from anesthesia. I remembered changing her bed after she threw up gobs of old blood that had been sitting in her stomach.
Mary had no family members with her and would have been alone if it was not for Sally Peet, one of the moms on board, who was her adopt a patient crew member. Sally held her hand while she threw up and helped me change Mary's linens.
Mary was back on the ship to visit Sally and her family.
Mary was on the ward during, as I like to call it, "The Hope Ward Girls Club" phase of the outreach. She was one of a group of seven spunky dear females that I found incredibly wonderful. When I would talk and laugh with the girls Mary would always sit on the hand of her bed, listening, but obviously feeling like an outsider to the group. I would always have to invite her over before she would join in.
It was clear that she was use to being the outsider. I am quite certain she had very few, if any, friends.
But Mary had a sweet, sweet, spirit. She ate up every hug, every backrub, every hand hold, and every smile you gave her, and she would affectively echo back each response. I left my papers on the copier and ran past reception and enveloped Mary in a giant bear hug. She quietly smiled at me and slowly began to tell me she was in school and she had a test on Monday.
It was so exciting to hold and hug Mary; to see her doing well. It makes me anxious to meet our new patients.