I know I’ve touched on this topic briefly before, but last night I was struck be a stark contrast between two of my patients here in the states. This will be a little trickier as I cannot give names or specific details, but stick with me.
Let me start from the beginning and give an update first. I found and started work about 2 months after returning from Madagascar. I happen to be working in the surgery and trauma population. I was surprised how fast I got back into the swing (or mad rush I should say) of American nursing. Call lights and alarms echo in my head when I return home to my quiet house, where I live alone. It’s just me, birds chirping outside, and bells ringing inside.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been nice to share a language with my patients. What still continues to frustrate me however, is lack of health literacy. I’m not an advocate of using the internet to diagnose yourself, but for God’s-sake if you HAVE a diagnosis, research it! Find reputable sources, read articles, join support groups, read a book! I should not have to tell a long-diagnosed diabetic that sugars/carbs are not good for you or will spike your glucose level. Ugh. We have the world at our fingertips on our little cellular devices, but we’d rather use it snapping our friends and watching endless videos on Facebook. Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.
Anyways, I digress. That example was not specific to a particular patient, but it happens. What touched me about the two patients I mentioned had nothing to do with their health status.
The first was a veteran and a working man. He got sick far from home, but still had the warmest demeanor. He wasn’t anything special to look at, but I was always happy to go chat with him. I found out that his family was traveling (a pretty long distance) to come see him and just be with him. He slept for most of my shift.
The second was a business man that had amassed quite a bit of wealth for himself. But he was…a grouch…and a lost soul. He was divorced from his wife, estranged from his daughter (literally hasn’t seen her in decades), and only has one remaining son that stays in contact. He didn’t sleep a wink. His plea to the doctor during early morning rounds? “Don’t forget me, doc.” If that isn’t a statement that stems from a deep inner wound, I don’t know what is.
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
If I’ve learned one thing from being in Africa it is this. Family first. Family always. Wealth and/or pride in your ability to amass it, will never fill the space that is left behind when families are torn apart. In the second man I saw pride, but no peace. Accomplishment, but no relationships. A bank full of savings, but a heart full of regrets.
I’m not sure that neither patient was a Christian, but one had an abundance of life that glimmered in his eye and lit up his face. I wanted to be around him.
Please, please, please…examine your priorities in life. Impoverished Africans are not happy because they’re just “so grateful.” They’re happy because they are already rich.