My Divine Appoinment!!!
In my previous article, “A Divine Appointment”, I started the story of Lola, my divine appointment. Now, we begin with the rest of that particular Sunday.
Lola had entered into the chart room to have a cup of coffee with me. Not exactly, what we normally do. Most days were spent, encouraging activities of daily living. Remember, prior to her catatonic day, Lola had not allowed me to hug her. But, since that day, I hugged her quickly as I buzzed up and down the unit taking care of patients. When she had those severe manic episodes she would come to me for help. She didn’t have to grab me like she did the first day. I have to wonder that first day she grabbed me what she saw in my eyes or spirit. Maybe, she instinctively knew, I was there for her.
Communication with Lola was never of any depth like conversation only short simple requests and grunts. But, this particular day, she seemed different. She asked me, “What are you doing?” I had prepared her a cup of coffee, she was sitting there watching me chart. She seemed lucid to me. A space, I had never seen her. She wanted me to talk with her.
I laid my chart down, and said “Lola, where are you from?” She said, I am from such and such town. I laughed loudly! “There is no! way you are from where I am from”, I said. Again, I said, “there is no way you even know where that is!!!!!”
She became quite loud, ” I am from there and I do know where that is!!!!
Please remember, I had read all of the medical archives on each of the 38 patients on the unit. Not anywhere in Lola’s chart did it speak of my hometown!!!! So I proceeded to explain to her why I thought that. She said, “But, I have only been in this hospital 8 years. Which explained, I had seen records for the last 8 years.
Lola began her story as perfectly clear as anyone ever tells there life story!!! I sat in awe!! You will too!!
Lola told me who she had married, and that she had 3 children. After, her 3rd child she had a hysterectomy. Then, she developed Bipolar or Manic/Depressive Disorder. I have to believe it occured by the sudden change in hormones and there was no therapy at that time. She said, her husband kept her home as long as he could, but when he couldn’t handle her, she was transferred to a Psychiatric Hospital. Her medical records said she had become Lithium toxic so I guess that is the only treatment that was used at that time. I was just a child at that time so I have no idea!!
Lola didn’t expound whether she had visits, but I knew of none in that last 4 months. She had been transferred to our facility 8 years ago, probably because of the bazaar manic episodes that I described in my previous article. Unlike anything I have seen before or since that time.
Just to test her, I began to ask who she would have known from my home. The oldest relative I had was a second cousin, that currently lived with my Mother. She was well into her 90s. Her eyes lit up and she said “Well, yes, I know her!!” I said to myself!! Yeah right!!
Lola said, “Let me tell you a story. I used to work with the local doctor when he delivered babies.” “One day we went to a home, the lady delivered, and hemorrhaged. The doctor rushed in the room with the mother and left me in the kitchen with the baby on the counter.” “The baby quit breathing!” “I didn’t know what to do, so I ran cold water in a bucket and dunked the baby in that cold water, she gasped and started breathing!!”
Even though this was a fantastic story, I am speaking with a woman who is never lucid. So, I guess I thought she was making this story up!!!
But, she proceeded to tell me that was my cousin’s niece who had the baby and the baby did live. She called the mother by name!!! All the time, I am thinking this cannot be!!!
The description of my hometown was very accurate. I did know the family she was talking about very well because they were my distant cousins. But, had never heard the circumstances about their only daughter who was handicapped but truly the love of their life. She lived in a wheelchair and probably had the mentality of an 8 year old all of her life. But, that was their baby!!! Lola was the reason their baby lived!!!
Here I am working in a basement, locked ward in a Psychiatric facility, 4 or 5 hours from my birthplace, listening to a story from a woman that definitely had been put in my life. I was in awe, still doubtful, but still astounded how all the circumstances of my life, had brought me right to her.
I wasn’t even sure this woman had children!!! So, we pulled her medical record, there were 3 people listed as her emergency contacts. I showed her, she proceeded to tell me the top one was her oldest daughter, the middle one was her second child, the last listing was a man, she said that was her son. Since, I had never seen Lola have one truly lucid day since the 4 months I had worked with her, I asked, “Do you want to call your children?”
Lola was delighted!! We started with the oldest, I made the call, explained in my most professional way, who I was and who was wanting to talk to her. She agreed to talk with her mother. This lady sounded very old!!! I did not listen but a short chat then they hung up. Again, I dialed the second daughter answered, she sounded clearer and younger. They had a short chat!!
The final call did not go as well!!! I called the son’s number, explained who I was!! The gentlement, said, “My mother is dead, is this a joke?” I responded, “Sir, this is no joke, your mother is sitting right here beside me.” Lola talked with her son, I guess for the first time in 28 years. I may have messed up his world and not sure if he ever believed me, but I kept reminding myself, I am here for Lola!!!
Soon, after the phone calls, Lola silently, got up and left the nurses’ station. I was stunned from the events of the day and curious if this story were all true!!!
Christmas came and I headed to my Mom’s for our usual celebration. Everyone had left on Christmas Day to do something. I was sitting at the kitchen table with my elderly second cousin, who my Mom cared for in her home.
She wasn’t a chatty cathy type person so there was an uncomfortable silence before I could even get up the guts to ask the question.
I looked her and said, “Minnie, you know, I take my career very serious. I would never break confidentiality about a patient!!” She assured me she knew that. I explained that a patient had shared an unbelievable story with me I needed to validate it was true. Honestly, I thought Lola had made the story up from her confused mind just to entertain me on that day. Yet, I still wasn’t sure how she knew all about my hometown.
I conveyed the whole tale to Minnie. She looked at me and said, “That story is absolutely true!! I didn’t even know Lola was still living. No sooner than I had gotten the story out of my mouth, the backdoor opened and in walked Minnie’s niece and with her the very daughter, in her wheelchair, that Lola had saved at birth. They came to visit her Aunt Minnie on Christmas Day. By now, I wandering around in my head going, really? This is too much to believe!!!
Later, I drew Minnie’s niece aside and relayed the story to her. She buried her face in her hands and just sobbed!!! Through, her sobs, she said I thought Lola was dead. She excitedly stated I want to send her pictures of my daughter. I tried to explain that Lola barely was aware of her surroundings most days but I would try to explain if she sent them
2 1/2 months later, I walked onto the unit and the staff came running. Lola has had an aneurysm and is unconscious. The doctors gave her a very short time to live. Cory and I suffered through the day, because yes, we both loved Lola. My shift ended at 3 pm, but I did not leave and neither did Cory. At 7 pm, that evening we both agreed we were doing nothing, Lola never woke up. She passed that night to her heavenly body. 28 years after entering an Institution, she had one lucid day to finish her work, and I was assigned to help her do that!!! The pictures of the woman she had saved as an infant came a week later. Of course, she would not have known who that was or remember she even told me the story. Because, she drifted off in her world right after she left the nurse’s station that day.
After my assignment with Lola, I fell in to a deep depression. I spoke with my Director and she assured me I was depressed. I can’t remember the names of the other patients because I was there for one. I left that hospital 4 months later. Care of the long term Psychiatric patient is hard because there is no hope!!! I admired the 5 CNAs who committed their lives to providing care on that unit. They were some of the best employees I have ever seen in all the years of working in Nursing.
I am not sure why I have been inspired to write this story at this time. I have had several sleepless nights about this. Maybe, Lola wanted her story told. Of course, the names have been changed and I left out locations on purpose. You can call this fiction that is fine!!! But, since that time, I am certain my life has been divinely guided!!!
One thing you need to know that I learned in training for my assignment on that unit. My Instructor said, “statistics show that only 20 percent of psychiatric patients are truly chemically ill. The rest can be helped, if they choose, but some give up and choose that route. If this story helps one person to seek help, then it has been worth it to spend this day. God Bless The Souls like Lola, who lived in a time, there was no medicine to help her.
I still help people look at my website: http://www.charlenekelley.com