My work as a speech pathologist in a large Catholic hospital began when I got out of bed and went to my desk. Reading the Bible, and praying for my patients grounded me for work in a place where every day was different. Anyone who works in a medical setting is well aware of how the condition of the human body can change in a second.
The thirty-minute drive I completed in silence lengthened my preparation, as I connected with God and examined myself, asking for insight and wisdom as I evaluated patients who could range from infants weighing less than to pounds to adults requiring geriatric care.
Parking on the side of the hospital, I crossed the street to the hospital entrance.
"Hi Sunshine!" I heard from a landscaper, one of my former stroke patients.
"I'm glad to see you back at work.!" I replied, "How are you doing?"
"Just fine, Sunshine. Have a good day!"
I grinned and waved then passed the sculpture of three large interlocking doves on the front of the hospital, witnessing to the hospital's priority to treat mind, body, and spirit.
Walking down the hall shortly before 8:00 a.m., my gait slowed as I stopped to hear a reflection piped over the loudspeaker - a reminder God was with me. I continued on when they finished.
Unless I had to attend a department staff meeting, I always tried to sit in on one of the hospital services at 8:00 a.m. or noon.
The handles of the heavy chapel door were shaped like crosses. I'd take hold of one and heave the door open, passing a basin of holy water on the right wall. Sitting in the back, I appreciated the opportunity to rest in God as priests on the hospital staff led worship. Leaving the chapel I reached into the basin of holy water splashing my hands, asking God to bless my work.
With my stack of patient folders locked under my arm and other tools of my profession tucked in the deep pockets of my white lab coat, I began my rounds, filled with a sense of God's presence in order to serve God's people.
Usually I saw eight to ten patients each day, writing in charts, supervising student interns and giving an occasional lecture to medical students formed my day.
Reaching the floor, I began to assess patients with all types of neurological impairments and swallowing difficulty. Their suffering was reflected in a tangible way with the presence of crucifixes - one in each room and every fifty feet down the halls. While I performed my professional responsibilities, I prayed the visible Christ would become real to those in my care. Although I could not pray with my patients, I could pray for them.
"Are you awake?" I asked a middle-aged heart transplant patient having trouble swallowing, gently touching his shoulder.
"Oh yes, I'm just resting my eyes. They don't let you sleep here. Someone's always poking at me, asking questions. I need to get home and rest," he chuckled.
I began my assessment with this gentleman given a second chance at life. "Tell me about your swallowing. Do you have more difficulty with solids or liquids?"
While I was working with him, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jesus hanging on a cross, as if watching my work. And though that sculpted figure was not watching, Jesus Himself was fully aware of all that happened in these walls - one family suffering loss and another celebrating new life, and this man struggling to swallow solids.
God was with me as I worked to bring some healing to this man, and as I hoped and prayed he would recognize God was with him, as well - body, mind and spirit.