Expanding Comfort Zones
17 years ago I found myself in my first month of nursing school with no clinical training sitting on a small stool in an under privileged community clinic where elderly diabetics came in to get their blood glucose checked and their toe nails clipped. It was my job to clip the toenails of aged diabetics that had neuropathy in their feet, open wounds, and toe nails as thick as my fingers. I was overwhelmed, undertrained, repulsed by the smell and suddenly woozy and scared. Deliberately, I remember taking a deep breath, focusing on the Savior and his willingness to wash feet and care for the downtrodden, and forcing myself to look into the patients’ eyes and smile. It made all the difference.
Similarly today, we found ourselves setting up a clinic in a remote leprosy colony an hour outside of Rising Stars gates. With years of experience under my belt, I was excited to see things I had never seen and serve these sweet people, but I remembered my day of cutting toe nails in earlier years and tried to put myself in our kids’ shoes. They excitedly donned mask and glove and listened to instructions, yet I noticed the fear and trepidation under their smiles as the first patients came in. The older kids quickly overcame their fears as they did things they had never done before- take blood sugars, apply eye drops, cut off bandages, wash ulcer ridden feet, massage healing ointment onto disease ridden feet and take and record vital signs. They smiled, laughed, greeted and sang to patients. Jake stayed close to us, unsure of how much he wanted to participate in, yet he was the patients’ favorite. I don’t think they see young American kids very often so he was quite the novelty. Towards the end of the line of patients he cut off one of their bandages and I could sense that he felt victory in that small act. The tools that we used seemed so archaic to me as I have been spoiled with the latest and greatest technology. The patients, however, were so much happier, patient and cheerful than the majority of the patients I met in my years of emergency medicine in a top trauma center in idyllic Orange County. Someone said that in India people are always happy because they are looking down at the people below them and are feeling so grateful that they are not in such circumstances. In America, it was claimed, that we spend all our time looking up and wishing that we were in their circumstances. I wonder if there is some truth to that…
Doning the appropriate gear-
Taylor asked the “Ensign Foundation” (a subsidiary of Mike’s company) if they would partner him in his eagle project and help him get to India. They were generous to agree to aid him in his undertaking.
This sweet lady loved Jake. She took him all the way back to her house to meet her husband and tried to offer him coffee. She walked him all the way back to the clinic and wanted us to take a picture of Jake with her.