T is for Trauma

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

There are not many places you’ll still see a pager in 2018, but the hospital where I work is one of them. I have the small black beeper clipped to my lapel or in my pocket (if I’m lucky enough to find an outfit with pockets that day) at all times when on duty. The tones of my hospital pager are as familiar to me as . . . well, as any sound you’ve heard almost daily for over ten years. I always set mine to “Pleasing Alert” and that particular series of beeps is the most pleasing of all the options, it’s true. There are some times, though, when the Pleasing Alert is not what I hear. If the beeps instead are jarring, tapping out the same rhythm that in Morse Code means “S-O-S,” then I know that this is a trauma call. Continue reading “T is for Trauma”

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R is for Ready

(This post is part of my continuing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

Not long ago, my boyfriend and I took his two sons to a local waterpark, on one of the Saturdays I didn’t have to work. It was a fun day, and I felt quite relaxed as we floated down the Lazy River on inner tubes. But just then, I heard a familiar beeping, and I wasn’t so relaxed anymore. It took me a moment to locate the source of the sound. It was not, as my mind had instantaneously concluded, coming from the pager I carry at work in the hospital. Rather one of the nearby water slides used a very similar tone to let the person working at the top of the slide know that it was safe to send the next rider down. Once I figured that out, I breathed a sigh of relief. Still, after nine years of responding to all kinds of emergency calls that begin with that sound, I had a Pavlovian response to it every single time, a small rush of adrenaline. Some subconscious part of my brain has learned that when I hear that sound, I have to immediately be ready for anything.  Continue reading “R is for Ready”

“Why Did You Write a Book?”

booksigning16Recently my phone chimed with a message from a friend. It was one sentence: “Why did you write a book?” Such a seemingly simple question, but I thought about it all day before answering. There are so many reasons I wrote my first book, and few of them are simple to explain. I loved to read from a very young age, and loving books led me to want to be an author. That one’s pretty easy. But the whys of writing this particular book get more complicated. Continue reading ““Why Did You Write a Book?””

The Case for Chaplaincy

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Have you ever met someone who thought that what you do for a living was a waste of resources? Someone who questioned whether your job should even exist? It’s not all that uncommon for me. Some people just don’t get why having hospital chaplains on staff is a justifiable expense, especially in a public hospital like ours, with no religious affiliation. “Those visits should be taken care of by local clergy,” they often say, or, “Lots of patients these days aren’t religious and don’t have any use for chaplains.” Others suggest that nurses could be trained to provide spiritual care, since they spend so much time with patients anyway. This all results from a fundamental misunderstanding of who chaplains are and what we do. One of the reasons I started this blog and wrote my first book was to clear up some of those misconceptions.  Continue reading “The Case for Chaplaincy”

Confessions of a Frustrated Author

Writing a book is hard. I started one in 2009, and finished it five years later. Getting a book published is very hard. My first one was published last year, and it was very exciting. Selling published books is really, really hard. Every day I have to fight the fear that I’m a failure as an author because we haven’t sold out our first printing in a year. Every time I open the trunk of my car, I see a box of unsold books, taunting me. There are reasons not to lose hope, I remind myself. My publisher forwarded me a newsletter from Bibliocrunch that mentioned industry averages, so I could see that my first year sales are almost exactly what the average author can expect. I remind myself all the time that the people who have read my book, though fewer in number than I’d like, have loved it. And they want more. Continue reading “Confessions of a Frustrated Author”

Q is for Quiet

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

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Working in a hospital is sometimes enough to make you superstitious (though, like Michael Scott, I try to be only a little stitious). Full moons really do seem to bring out more of the crazy stuff. If someone mentions that we haven’t had a gunshot wound all day, ER staff members would bet that one will arrive within the hour. And whatever you do, don’t say anything to the effect of, “It sure is quiet around here.” In my book, I tell the story of how I got on a nurse’s bad side by jinxing her shift with the Q word. Continue reading “Q is for Quiet”

What Chaplains Don’t Do

Because this is Pastoral Care Week, I’ll be part of an event at my hospital which includes a reading from my book, and a question and answer session on the role of healthcare chaplains. The event is co-sponsored by our Pastoral Care department and the hospital’s Humanities Committee (of which I am a member), and has been advertised all over campus. Someone who saw the flyers was concerned that in a hospital committed to diversity and inclusion, we were promoting Christianity. I had to laugh at the irony. Such misconceptions of what chaplains do are exactly why such an event is needed! Continue reading “What Chaplains Don’t Do”

“A Must Read for Those Who Work in the Healthcare Setting”

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Some of my favorite reviews of my book are from readers who perhaps stumbled onto it or didn’t expect to enjoy it. The latest one on Amazon (where you can buy the Kindle version only; the paperback version is available here) is one of the best so far. It’s from a nurse with the screen name london68, who headlined it, “A must read for those who work in the healthcare setting.” How’s that for a recommendation?! The reviewer writes: Continue reading ““A Must Read for Those Who Work in the Healthcare Setting””

If It’s Good Enough for Stephen Colbert, It’s Good Enough for Me

I’m excited for the arrival of September. It will bring with it slightly cooler temperatures in Charleston, less crowded days on the beach, Clemson football game weekends with my boyfriend, and the debut of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Ever since the final episode of The Colbert Report, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the host’s return to television. (And this very insightful interview in GQ only made me a bigger fan.) In preparation for his new show, Colbert has been doing a Late Show podcast, and I found the latest episode more interesting and relatable than any other so far. By the end I was thinking, Stephen Colbert is just like me! Continue reading “If It’s Good Enough for Stephen Colbert, It’s Good Enough for Me”