When the Patient becomes the Chaplain

The page came in early in my shift, please stop by and see the patient in room xx. I added the name to the long list for the day and wondered how urgent the request was.  In the hospitals I serve, most of them qualify for ASAP.

While doing rounds in this patient’s neighborhood, I popped in. Instead of a languishing patient in a bed, I was greeted by a robust looking guy in a chair, except for all the tubing attached to his body. He smiled and warmly greeted me and gave me the cliff notes version of his medical demise. I cringed inwardly and hoped it didn’t show on my face.

The patient, on the other hand, kept smiling while he filled me in on his job status (none) and a few other stressors; at least they would be for me. I’ve see patients and friends (and sometimes me) cave under a small percentage of what was on this guy’s plate.

Not him. “It’s only a couple of months of my life, I’ll get back out there” referring to the length of this medical interruption. “I’m not dying” he gently reminded me, “I’ve got a great family,” and then added “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

I’m still wondering why he asked for a visit but he answered that next. “Can you say a prayer for me chaplain? I’ve given this whole thing to God and I’m all right with him but thought someone like you saying a prayer would be nice.”

I did say a prayer as requested but I think the page was for me not him.

How many of my “crisis of the day” moments do I allow to cross the boundaries of the brackets they belong in? Most dire-to-us events fall under “it’s only a few days/weeks/months” but we/I allow them drain so much energy from the rest of life for a long time after.

Thanks for the reminder, patient. I wish he could have donned the pager and gone out to see some of the other members of my list that day.

I’m glad he got to be my chaplain.

Hope for the best,




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