It felt like I was dragging bags of cement as I took a step, one at a time from the moment I arrived in the Prison Staff’s parking lot. The graceful swaying of palm trees greeted me, the usual way it welcomed me when I got hired 11 years ago. The lawns were lush and green despite the almost triple digit heat and the humid air swirling around. I was taking my time. I did not want to rush. How deceiving this place was, I thought to myself. So beautiful outside. But full of suffering inside.
Everybody was surprised to see me and most were thrilled to see me back. I was cautious yet responded to their “hello’s” with eagerness. I might not like some of them who I felt were not sincere, but that was just the right thing to do: “To respond in loving ways, whether I liked them or not.” That was being etched in my heart from these past days where I was on a leave and was not able to go to work because of some people’s decisions.
There were only 2 of us scheduled for the evening shift. I had met him before and though I knew he was a new grad, I knew he was a great nurse and had adapted quickly to this setting. The quiet night I was praying for turned out to be a very chaotic one and a very challenging shift for him and I. We were running the whole time, for the first 5 or 6 hours, only taking sips of water in-between and couldn’t even take a break. I managed to gobble a banana the fastest way I had eaten it and I saw him took a few, quick bites of Graham crackers and then, we both heard another “mandown” over the radio where the deputy advised that the inmate was unconscious, or so it seemed. I was in the middle of sending one female, pregnant inmate who was having a vaginal bleed to the hospital and dropped everything and offered my help to him. Off, we both ran the fastest pace we ever knew down the long, far hallways. Our sweats dripping from our brows but we both never complained. We just did what we needed to do.
“Octopus!” I yelled out to one of the medical secretaries talking on the phone, getting the inmate’s booking number requesting to be seen, as she was trying to grab the other phone behind her in the middle of that conversation.
She gave me a puzzled look why I called her that, only to laugh when she got done on the phone, realizing why I did. She knew I called her that because all of her arms were trying to reach all the in-coming what felt like thousands of phone calls, to help us out. She knew we were both tired and still were not done.
“Thank you,” I whispered to her.
“I’m so glad you came in early to help us out. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“Rcubes, I feel bad for you and Z. You guys are non-stop! What a bad night!”
“No! It’s okay…”
Again, her brows met with a confused look.
“Because I can have a busy night and have 3 or 4 nurses but if they are lazy, it’s no use. I know I’m working with a great nurse even though he’s new. We’ll manage.”
“That’s true,” she finally agreed.
And indeed, as I savored my dinner I brought from home, slumped on a wheeled, soft chair in the break room, I tried to gather my remaining strength just to finish that dinner. At that time, it had grown much calmer and that nurse and I finished dealing with all the emergencies and other problems.
“Put your feet up on the other chair!” yelled that medical secretary when she passed by to grab a cup of coffee.
“I’m fine now,” I replied smiling and feeling much relieved to weather that storm.
We’re all in this!!! How true it is with us, as believers, serving the One and only True God, weathering the storms of life as we share the same faith, sharing same suffering and comforts because of Christ. As we all go through different kinds of trials, I’m thinking of you through prayers but I also want to thank you for encouraging me and continuing to lift me up also in your petitions. Because of our Lord Jesus, our faith blesses us all, finding joy and having gratitude instead, as we all wait for what is to come: “eternal life with God” where there is true REST.
“Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” – Philippians 2:2 (NIV)