S is for Self-Care

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

You’ve probably heard the saying that doctors make the worst patients. I’m here to testify that in many cases, caregivers are the very worst at taking care of ourselves. It took me years as a chaplain to learn how important it was to care for myself so that I could care for other people. And still sometimes I let it slide. Prioritizing self-care is hard for a lot of us. We live in a society that encourages and praises workaholism, so when we speak up for own need for days off from work, for example, we risk falling behind or being seen as less dedicated than our peers who happily take on extra hours.  Continue reading “S is for Self-Care”

“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””

N is for No

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

It was the most abrupt end to a patient visit I’ve ever had as a hospital chaplain. I had told the man that his comments were beginning to make me uncomfortable, and that if he didn’t go back to talking about something in which I could actually be of help to him in pastoral care terms, then I would leave. He continued saying inappropriate things, so I stood up to go. As I walked out of the patient’s room, all the visitors and staff members in the hall could hear him yelling at me, “Just one night! I need you! I NEED YOU!” Whether it was his medication talking or something else, he insisted that the answer to his numerous problems was spending one night with “a good woman like you.” I had no problem telling him no. Continue reading “N is for No”

Falling

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Here we are about halfway through Lent, and it feels like I have skipped right over to Good Friday and the darkness of the tomb. This has been a really, really tough few weeks. I won’t pretend to know how much of that I caused, how much God caused, how much was coincidence, and how much was a result of the changes I chose to make for Lent this year. There were a few doozies. And by far the most difficult Lenten discipline has been doing one thing. Just one thing. The idea came to me a week or so before Ash Wednesday, when I was thinking about what I needed to give up for Lent, what would really challenge me and help me make space in my life for God to fill. At the moment I had this thought, I was on the couch, “watching” The Daily Show, while I played Candy Crush, in between texts with my best friend, checking Facebook and email every time my phone buzzed with a notification alert. Continue reading “Falling”

The Value of Being Needy

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Wandering through the ER, I asked after an employee I know well, trying my best to hold back tears.  “Is B___ working tonight?”  A few staff members said that she was, but that they hadn’t seen her in a little while.  Finally one nurse told me, “I think she got sent to the C side.”  I made my way to that section of the emergency department, and found B___ sitting at the nurses’ station, thankfully not busy.  “Hey, Chaplain,” she greeted me with a smile.  “What are you doing over here?”

“I just needed . . . somebody,” I told her, letting the tears comeContinue reading “The Value of Being Needy”

What’s Saving My Life This Week

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As you might have guessed if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, my job can be pretty stressful at times.  Those of us in caregiving professions can easily become exhausted — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — by the constant demands of helping others.  Sooner or later, inevitably, we will experience what is known as compassion fatigue It happened to me during my first year as a staff chaplain.  (Actually, I’m sure it was happening to me during CPE as well, but it just felt like part of the gauntlet of that year of chaplain residency that we all had to endure!)  I had not yet learned to recognize the signs.  I was not getting enough sleep.  I was eating unhealthy foods at strange times of day.  For a while, I would burst into tears whenever anyone outside the hospital asked me how I was doing, because I was working so hard to keep my emotions in check at work. Continue reading “What’s Saving My Life This Week”